Nature Connection as Medicine

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a person of color sits by a tree reading a field guide with their backpacking pack next to them

According to a study done in 2018 by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average adult spends 90% of their life indoors and 11 hours a day on a screen. Youth are not far behind us at 7.5 hours per day** In addition, screen time is linked to higher risk of sleep disorders, poor mental health, and lack of social connection. Due to COVID-19, our screen time has increased exponentially. Our increasing disconnection to nature and over use of technology is an increasing public health concern.

 

In 1982 Tomohide Akiyama coined the term “Shinrin-Yoku” which translates into English as “Forest Bathing".  This practice involves  a mindful experience in nature that "bathes" the senses in the forest atmosphere and encourages a drop into the parasympathetic nervous system. Through this drop in nervous system activity, we allow our bodies to experience the healing benefits of nature on a deep cellular level.

From 2005-2006 the Center for the Environment, Health, and Field Sciences in Chiba held a study that showed time in nature is proven to provide a 12 percent decrease in the stress hormone known as cortisol, a 7 percent decrease in sympathetic nervous system activity (fight or flight system) , 6 percent decrease in heart rate, and a 1.4 percent decrease in blood pressure*. It is proven to boost anti-cancer cell production (NK cells), improve mental restoration, creativity, and boost social connectivity. Time in nature is also able to help with behavior and impulse control, and high-order cognitive skills. These powerful boosts in health happen through the exchange of breathing in phytoncide compounds from coniferous evergreen trees such as Hemlock, Pine, Spruce, Fir, and Cedar among many other trees and plants. 

 

 Throughout history people of color have been denied access to green space and healthy interactions with the natural world due to racism and lack of safe space. These immersions attempt to address those issues.

The intention of The Rusty Anvil is to bring people of color together in the backcountry to learn, connect, reflect, and find deep rest in a safe space. Participants learn the basics of backpacking and camping in a space that is non-competitive while engaged in a community centered around collective accountability. The goal of our programs are not based on the need to overwork our bodies to reach the highest summit or clock major miles, but to nourish our bodies with good food and to find the spaciousness for mindfulness, stillness, and connection to our human and more-than-human kin.