We set off with the intention to hike around a lake we had never been to before. ⠀
But as we started down the trail we came upon this huge rock formation next to the water. The sun was shining down on it and we both stopped to take in the view. ⠀
It was a cool fall day but the spot had captured the warmth of the sun and beckoned with its serenity. We decided to sit in silence and go inward. ⠀
You could call it a meditation but it wasn’t formally so. ⠀
For almost half an hour we sat quietly. The only sounds were those nature provided – a lap of water from the lake, the wind through the leaves, a bird call here and there.
There was a great calm all around us and inside us. It was so powerful in its restorative effects. It is so rare in today’s world. ⠀
Afterwards, we went for an exhilarating fast-paced hike around the perimeter of the lake because we had to make up the time. That was great in its own way. ⠀
We followed that up with a cold plunge in the chilly Pacific Northwest waters, another super restorative practice (more information in an upcoming article).⠀
All in all, it was a profound prescription for health. It was a deep dive into engaging our environment – inner and outer ecology. ⠀
True thriving health needs to go beyond the kitchen and gym. While diet and exercise are an important part of a healthy life and proper lifestyle, they aren’t sufficient.
Whole health – mind, body, spirit – requires proactive interaction with your inner and outer ecology.
It requires you to truly engage your environment!⠀
Lucky for us, Mother Nature provides numerous opportunities to boost mental, emotional and physical health.
We just have to make the time and effort to get out there and experience it.
“Research led by the University of Exeter, published in Scientific Reports and funded by NIHR, found that people who spend at least 120 minutes in nature a week are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological wellbeing than those who don’t visit nature at all during an average week.”
One of the best things about this study…
Dr Mat White, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study, said: “It’s well known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people’s health and wellbeing but until now we’ve not been able to say how much is enough. The majority of nature visits in this research took place within just two miles of home so even visiting local urban green spaces seems to be a good thing. Two hours a week is hopefully a realistic target for many people, especially given that it can be spread over an entire week to get the benefit.”
… is that nature is defined as any green spaces – a city park, schoolyard, community gardens, forest, ocean, field, orchard, etc.
Tip: Here’s some links to the best urban green spaces in North America
What we often don’t think about is how our environment controls our feelings and thoughts. Just think about how you feel when you get a positive or negative response to a post on social media or an email.
Now think about how you feel walking in a forest, sitting in a park, visiting a beach.
Here’s our three easy ways to expand your health beyond the kitchen and gym and tap into the powerful healing opportunities offered to us by nature.
Take Time to Unplug
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
– Lao Tzu
It’s always ironic to post things like this on the internet but don’t lose the message in the medium. ⠀⠀
Taking back the weekend to really connect with nature, community and oneself is a great way to balance out the technocentric life most of us live. ⠀⠀⠀
We find unplugging for a whole day once a week is really rejuvenating and recharges the body and soul in ways the wired world will never. ⠀
Even a few hours can make a difference. The addition of nature as a setting enhances these effects as it combines the benefits of…⠀⠀⠀
a reduction in:⠀⠀⠀
- blue light ⠀⠀⠀
- neurotransmitter-sapping addictive apps ⠀⠀⠀
- sedentary screen time ⠀⠀⠀
an increase in:⠀⠀⠀
- phytochemicals from forest bathing⠀⠀
- negative ions for greater redox ⠀⠀⠀
- sunlight for beta-endorphins release, vitamin D, dopamine and melatonin production⠀⠀⠀
- exposure to natural resonances for syncing the body to its optimal vibrations⠀⠀⠀
- natural thermoregulation for vascular toning and immune boosting⠀⠀⠀
- movement for lymphatic stimulation, improved circulation and fun⠀⠀⠀
It might be hard to start but once you do, you’ll feel the magic that nature has blessed us with for millennia.
I’ll admit that it feels a little weird at first. But once you start making the conscious effort to do it regularly, you’ll be amazed at how much time magically appears. A freedom opens up to do those creative things that you’ve been wanting to try – learning an instrument, taking up a hobby, playing with your kids, painting, reading (an actual book), doing something you love. ⠀
Sit in Stillness ⠀
In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.
– Deepak Chopra
Something that is very undervalued in this fast-paced world. ⠀
When was the last time you sat in stillness? ⠀
- with no distractions⠀
- where you were fully present in the moment⠀
- where you released any expectations or outcomes⠀
- where you became one with the environment ⠀
- where you were grounded to the Earth ⠀
This is a simple practice with profound effects. ⠀
Yesterday, we had the opportunity to just sit.
When you fully release and sink into stillness anxieties melt away, your focus improves and you balance out the noisy world of information overload.
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
– Khalil Gibran
It’s as easy as tapping into the Earth’s electrical charge by conducting through a mossy covered tree on a fall hike. ⠀
This is a somewhat novel and really easy way to ground without having to be barefoot. ⠀⠀
Just go outside with your bare feet or hands on some grass or earth, or to immerse yourself in a body of conductive water such as the sea or a mineral-rich lake, river or stream.⠀
The Earth is a reservoir of negatively charged free electrons.
Without a connection to the Earth, the cells in our body are unable to balance the positive charge which results from things like electron-deficient free radicals. The effect of excess positive charge in the blood can be seen very clearly by the way in which the cells are attracted to clump together.⠀
Our modern environment is full of a wide spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, from computers, mobile phones & masts, radio & TV broadcasts, WiFi, Bluetooth, power lines, domestic wiring, and other electrical appliances. ⠀
This electromagnetic radiation induces voltages in our bodies, disrupting the trillions of subtle electrical communications which are a vital part of the function of our body’s systems.
By being grounded to the Earth we greatly reduce the levels of these induced voltages, as we are then effectively shielded by the Earth’s large electrical mass.⠀
What is it good for?⠀
Once a fringe practice that many dismissed as unscientific has now been supported with a considerable and growing amount of quality research. ⠀
Even esteemed cardiologists and neurosurgeons are prescribing this remedy with some of the benefits being:⠀
- Improved immune function⠀
- Improved digestion⠀
- Improved sleep⠀
- Rapid healing of injuries⠀
- Improved blood circulation⠀
- Harmonization and stabilization of the body’s basic biological rhythms⠀
- Accelerated recovery from intense athletic activity⠀
- Reduction of inflammation⠀
- Reduced stress/anxiety/irritability⠀
- Reduced electrosensitivity⠀
Less concrete but more intuitively, when we are truly connected to the Earth we become aligned with, and once again a part of, its inherent higher intelligence and life force.
Grounding is really a great way to proactively connect to the natural environment.
These three free experiences are a profound prescription for health.
You don’t have to do them all at once (although it’s hard not to ‘stack’ them).
They are a deep dive into engaging our environment – inner and outer ecology. ⠀
So much can be said and scientifically validated about each aspect of our outing but the stillness on the rock with the inner calm is really beyond words. ⠀
It was even beyond time. ⠀
Try it for a month. Commit to getting at least 120 minutes of time in nature a week and pay attention to how you feel.
Go to the park, walk in the woods, spend time at the beach, swim in a river, sit beneath a tree.
Take your shoes off or greet the trees, shrubs, flowers, by touching them with your bare hands, lay down on the grass.
Turn your phone off (or at least put it on airplane mode) and take some time to enjoy the beauty, life and regeneration that unplugging, stillness and grounding provides.
It does the body, mind and spirit good.