Some of my happiest memories from growing up involve being up in trees (literally!) or out hiking in the hills near home. Having grown up surrounded by amazing, beautiful landscapes, nature has always been an integral part of my life. At the same time it was something that I took for granted and as I grew up, started to work, and became generally busier, I found that I spent less time out in nature. Recently it has become clear to me how helpful it is to get out into nature more often. When I spend time in nature I feel happier, I let go of worries more easily, and I generally feel calmer and more peaceful. I am a biophile. (Biophilia – a human’s innate love of the natural world.)
I recently read an article in Common Ground Magazine called Ecopsychology – The Healing Force of Nature by Aninha Esperanza Livingstone. I learned that “most Americans spend 90 percent of our time indoors” which I find baffling. And the brief time (relative to human existence) since the industrial revolution is the first time in human history that so many of us are so disconnected from nature. Our nervous systems have evolved alongside nature. It makes sense to me that when this connection is taken away we feel it. We suffer from “Nature Deficit Disorder”. This disconnection also allows us to be ignorant of things like where our food really comes from and not paying attention to the natural cycles of the year other than to change our wardrobe.
One story in this article really touched me. It talked about a couple “in the early 1900s whose son was kicked out of school for being too hyperactive. Desperate to find a solution, they began to pay more attention to the ways in which nature captivated and soothed their child. They decided to spend more time with him in wild landscapes ranging from rivers to sand dunes. That boy was Ansel Adams.” I find it so touching that his parents were able to pay attention to his needs and then nurture him in that way. I wonder how many children (and adults, too!) in our modern times would benefit from similar “treatment”. Would it change how we learn or how we work? Would there be less need for pharmaceutical drugs? What else could be “treated” through reconnecting with the natural world?
Personally I see time in nature as a way to slow down and listen. It’s a place where I can contemplate the larger questions of life and be open to receiving answers. Sometimes insights suddenly come into my consciousness as I immerse myself in nature. Being with nature has helped me regain perspective on my life. Feeling the breeze in my face, hearing the birds sing, smelling the earth, tasting something freshly picked, and watching all of the colors, movement, and light help me get out of that thinking cycle of worry or “to dos”.
It makes perfect sense to me that being with nature has this effect on me. At my most basic essence I am a natural being. I am a spirit of light and energy. I am one and the same with nature. As the article concludes, “We are reminded of a world in which everything is alive, has consciousness, and is in conversation. … we leave the realm of cause and effect and enter a place where the ordinary and the mysterious touch, a place in which we deeply belong … a place where we are reminded of who we truly are.” In nature we come home.
You can read the full article by clicking on the “Green Issue” and going to page 40 here: http://commongroundmag.com/back-issues.html