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 health 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 expresses 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.
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. 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.
I focus on nature connection as a means of self-discovery, healing, and resistance to oppression that seeks to keep us indoors. Through my work in mindfulness based nature connection I hold spaces that encourage a transformation of our relationship with nature from a resource to a partner. I focus on analyzing our place as humans and learning how we can become more aware of both the beings in the natural world around us, and the effects of our industrial lifestyles on our health.
Join me for a day on the land to experience the healing our more-than-human siblings have to offer, and the wisdom they can teach us. Together we will re-member our place and find ways to show up for all those who need it.
Why is nature connection important for marginalized communities?