Nature Connection as Medicine

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According to a recent 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 , and youth are not far behind 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. 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 engages the senses 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.

According to a study done by the Center for the Environment, Health, and Field Sciences in Chiba, Japan from 2005-2006, time in nature 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 a phytoncide compounds from coniferous evergreen trees such as Hemlock, Pine, Spruce, Fir, and Cedar among many other plants and trees that support the human immune system as well.

 

 Bringing people of color into nature to experience the healing of forest bathing is a critical part of bringing balance and healing to our communities. Throughout history people of color have either been forced into wrong relationship with the land through enslavement and environmental injustices, removed from sacred lands through colonization, excluded from the outdoor culture by lack of diversity and safety, or simply unable to access nature.

 

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.