Reach Out And Connect

 

The Rusty Anvil

The Berkshires of Massachusetts

 

Raei Bridges

Raei@the-rusty-anvil.land

(818) 741 6557

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© 2016 The Rusty Anvil

Nature Connection as Medicine

photo by Ru Wharton @ The School of Lost Borders

Current research is proving the medicinal benefits of cultivating a relationship with nature, and spending time outside. This research originated in Japan in 1982 by Tomohide Akiyama. Akiyama coined the term “Shinrin-Yoku” which translates into English as “Forest Bathing”.  This practice involves engaging or "bathing" all of the senses in nature, and experiencing healing on a cellular level.

 

According to a study done by the Center for the Environment, Health, and Field Sciences in Chiba, Japan from 2005-2006 this practice is proven to provide a 12 percent decrease in cortisol levels, 7 percent decrease in sympathetic nervous system activity, 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 well being happen through the exchange of breathing in phytoncides from coniferous evergreen trees such as Hemlock, Pine, Spruce, Fir, and Cedar.

 

Phytoncides are a compound released by these trees that helps boost their immunity. These phytoncide compounds have been found to have a beneficial effect on the immune system and regenerative capacity of human cells when inhaled. This healing capacity is due to human evolution that occurred alongside trees for centuries, and the biologically appropriate environments and resources needed for our minds and bodies to regenerate. This healing power also exposes the critical need for humans to return to a relationship with the land.

According to a recent study done in 2018 by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average human spends 90% of their life indoors and 11 hours a day on a screen. This industrial based lifestyle and perpetual disconnect from nature is at the core of the physical, mental, social, and emotional issues we are facing, as well as the perpetual destruction of the planet.

 

The effects of this industrial based lifestyle can be seen clearly in marginalized communities who do not have access to nature in urban spaces, or who have a subconscious fear of the natural world due to ancestral trauma. All of these fall under barriers to accessibility. We can see other pathologies within wealthy communities who recreate with nature on a very capitalist and superficial level.

  • Racism

  • Trans/homophobia

  • Sexism

  • Ageism

  • Body shaming

  • Increased depression

  • Increased cortisol levels

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Immune dysfunction

  • Cancer

  • Behavioral impulses

  • Anxiety

  • ADD/ADHD

 

These are just a few symptoms of nature deficit disorder. Nature deficit disorder is a symptom of industrialization, and industrialization is a result of capitalism and colonization.

 

No longer do we trust our natural instincts, or live in sync with the cycles of  the planet. Instead we create clocks to track time and disconnect ourselves from the cycles of the sun and moon. We offer medicines that perpetuate our illness and create buildings to educate ourselves without educating ourselves about the effects of those buildings on our health and ability to retain knowledge. Humans have created a new way of existing and we are seeing the consequences in our physical and mental health, the health of the land, and the health of our animal kin.

 

A relationship with the land that encourages an appreciation for the natural world, accountability, reciprocity, and self-awareness is truly the only way to heal both ourselves and the land from the effects of the world we have created.

 

 

But why is it so important for people of color and LGBTQ+ communities specifically to connect to nature?

*https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793346/