Nature anchors human functions. When broken, frozen, malfunctioning or erratic, nature can reset the human system. This has been known for thousands of years. My guess is that humans have known of the “natural reset button” for most of our existence, just as all creatures inherently and instinctually know it. The earth/world/nature will center/heal/empower you. One could easily say this has been a human tenet of existence up until very recently. The power of nature is still widely accepted across the world and is used commonly to help people heal, strengthen or achieve peace of mind and purpose. In western civilization, as technology and societies have developed, many people have started to lose this connection for the first time in human history. As people started to develop strange maladies, science started to look into why people were becoming ill, dissatisfied and broken. One of the areas that a few researchers looked into was nature. Could the ancient practice of using nature to reset the human body have some merit? More and more science is reinforcing what many have almost taken for granted as a truth of life: connection to nature resets the human body and mind.
As I continue exploring our craving for connection to the natural world, I come across articles that supplement my thoughts. This is a perfect example:
The article, from The Atlantic, reviews a few thoughts on how nature can help reset the body, most specifically in terms of healing. Patients in hospitals with exposure to nature or natural scenery heal faster. This has been well established and is widely used throughout hospitals and healing centers throughout the world. Interesting to many but right in line with my beliefs on craving for natural connection was the following:
In an even more direct test, researchers asked a hundred sets of parents with children who suffered from attention deficit disorder how their children responded to different playtime activities. Children who have ADD are often restless and distracted. But the parents reported that green activities — like fishing and soccer — left their children in a far more relaxed, focused state. It wasn’t that the children who spent time outside were merely happier, more likely to interact with friends, or more active — in fact, those who sat indoors, in a room with natural views, were calmer than children who played outside in man-made environments that were devoid of grass and trees.
These kids, labeled as ADD (to denote something was wrong with them) acted more normally when connected to nature. Just think about that for a minute. What if they’re not broken, but simply craving the connection to normal human experience? ADD may not be a disorder, it might simply be the brain screaming out for natural stimulus. What we see outwardly as trouble focusing, paying attention or keeping still and calm could just be the result of the brain trying to reconcile life with the absence of connection. Taking a closer look at other conditions might yield similar results. What if so many of our maladies and “disorders” aren’t really disorders? What if we aren’t broken but just craving connection?
Almost most revealing was the final statement that playing outside in man-made environment created less calm kids than being inside a room with natural views. The power of natural scenery outweighed the act of playing (when done in an artificial setting). Very interesting. Also mentioned was that kids with more nature exposure at home had better self esteem and coping skills at school. Correlation, yes. Shocking, no. Nature has great power and particularly with kids. Without decades of disconnected life to skew them, they are sponges for nature’s reset.
Up next we wrap up this series on craving for connection by looking at some of the most practical ways to put this into practice in your life to take advantage of nature’s powerful ability to heal, center and inspire.
Thanks for reading, have a great resetting day!
P.S. Among others, an article, Your Brain on Nature and a research review on Forest Bathing looks at the physiological benefits of spending time in a forest atmosphere. Hinting at the more traditional use of natural resets, forest bathing is an example of how powerfully nature can influence our physiology.