In 2008 we crossed a threshold; for the first time in our history more than half the world’s population now live in urban environments. As a species, we are also sick and getting sicker; is there a connection between habitat and health do you think? Western medical science has been slow to address this.
“ Less contact with nature, particularly in one’s young years, appears to remove a layer of protection against psychological stress and opportunity for cognitive rejuvenation. Japanese research suggests also that nature deprivation may have wide-ranging effects on the immune system. In the big picture, our turn away from nature is associated with less empathy and attraction to nature and, in turn, less interest in environmental efforts related to nature. An obvious concern is that a massive withdrawal from nature will immunize us against empathic views of nature. Sustainability of the planet is not merely about being a good citizen and recycling; it is ultimately about maintaining an intimate relationship with nature. Research shows that in order to truly care about “being green,” one must actually have meaningful exposure to nature.”
Your Brain on Nature, Dr. Eva Selhub and Alan C. Logan N.D
In order to heal we need to get back to nature, to rediscover our place in the web of life, to get out of the adrenaline/stress mode that has become the norm and become conscious of the process of natural healing. Healing is not an activity that we enact in separation from the rest of our lives; we don’t live like stage actors against backdrops of different scenery. We are participants in an intelligent reflective, resonant and constantly changing world.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
Healing is the process of uniting with all that is and can never be achieved within the erroneous idea of a separate self. On a practical level, you can’t unite with all that is via your computer, or TV. It might be possible when you lose yourself in a good book, but the best way is to get outside and get involved.
Remember walking in the woods? The smell of the Earth and the dappled sunlight through the trees inviting you in. Your breath slows and deepens, your shoulders drop and you begin to relax. In Japan this is called shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing.
Yoshifumi Miyazaki is Japan’s (and probably the world’s) leading researcher in shinrin-yoku. The term shinrin-yoku, is inspired by the ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices of letting nature enter your body through all five senses. He and his colleagues have found that leisurely forest walks yield a 12.4 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a seven percent decrease in sympathetic nerve activity, a 1.4 percent decrease in blood pressure, and a 5.8 percent decrease in heart rate. On subjective tests, study participants also report better moods and lower anxiety. (Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning.)
Another study by psychologists Paul and Ruth Ann Atchley found that after three days of hiking and camping in the wilderness, participants improved their scores on tests of creativity by 50 percent. Other studies have noted improvements in mental aptitudes too. These results are not achieved through walking in city parks, although if this is the only access to Nature you can get it is better than nothing.
Our approach incorporates elements of shinrin-yoku, along with Planetary Tantra, mindfulness and transpersonal psychology. We have tranquil spots for forest bathing and for gazing at the mountains and the sky. It is all about getting out of your head through expansion of the senses, engaging the imagination and participating.