Not sure exactly when I started my odd practice of preferring to walk down the middle. During my adolescence, I remember doing this much to the delight of my friends (and horror of my parents if they knew), but can’t remember why I did it. I enjoyed being different but never wondered why I bent the rules this way. Maybe it felt more natural to be in balance with both sides of whatever was there.(Click to view full post…)
Today was a beautiful, clear sky 70-degree day in the sunshine. I spent several vitamin-D soaking hours walking the trails of the University of Michigan’s (UofM) Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, a place I’ve not been to before. Felt so good after the long winter, and these first days of such spring weather truly feel like there’s gold falling from the sky.(Click to view full post…)
Winter’s stubborn touch, like the whipping tail of a dragon that catches the brave knight unaware as the dragon retreats from battle, is still with us here in Southern Michigan.
We went from several days of mild, pleasant, sunny weather to a couple days of frigid 30s and windy, with nights in the 20s. Yesterday it even snowed a bit (that just ain’t right…). Fortunately, the forecast ahead looks promising starting with tomorrow’s high in the 60s.(Click to view full post…)
The Japanese call it shinrin-yoku and use it as a nature therapy for spiritual restoration. Developed in 1980 for preventative care and healing, Japan now has 44 designated shinrin-yoku forests across the island nation.
Research shows time spent in forest bathing can have positive neuro-psychological impacts on the nervous system, thus lowering our stress hormone and boosting our immune system. Other reported benefits include increased mental clarity and reduced blood pressure.(Click to read full post…)
Journaling and meditation aren’t selective about where or when you embrace them. But nature immersion can take a bit more planning, preparation, and cooperation from Mother Earth. The results, however, are well worth it:
I believe in God, only I spell it nature. – Frank Lloyd Wright
If you translate God to spirituality in Wright’s revelation, his wisdom aligns with my feelings when I immerse in nature. To be clear, this isn’t about getting away from home by taking creature comforts with you to a modern campground with conveniences, but it certainly can involve camping to an extent. Nature immersion, if you want its curative benefits, requires adherence to one definition of “immersion:”
a (particular) state of mind or body to involve something deeply, to steep, to absorb through some action or activity
This curative practice means going into nature in a way and for a time where you have little or no awareness of anything human or man-made. It’s not necessarily a solitary adventure, although usually more effective alone where you can reap the best insights and curative benefits from the deeper states you’ll experience. Simply stated, the purpose of nature immersion is to isolate yourself in nature so you can connect your nervous and mental systems to the purer, natural rhythms of Earth’s natural essence.
By the time we’re 60, we will have been alive for almost 22,000 days on this planet, rarely, if ever, stopping to watch just one. It is this total immersion into nature and commitment to simply being there, that we can entrain our nervous system to the natural, healthy rhythm of the planet. – Stephanie Nash
Nature immersion really is an ultimate unplug and tune-in moment. You’re unplugged from the internet, social engagement online or in person, no news media, no music, no podcasts, nothing but “plugging in” to nature’s essence. And by doing so, you’re instead tuning in to your internal experience, which can lead to rewiring many things from stress to improved awareness of bad habits to a deeper awareness of what’s real and important in this world.
So how does one pull this off? As with most things, there are degrees and levels of nature immersion limited only by your time and willingness to go deeper:
- If you can only start with local isolations for 15-, 30-minutes or more, those will still help you begin to connect better to nature. Take a lunch into a nearby woods to sit quietly, eat, reflect on things, and let your mind wander and absorb what you see and hear.
- Or invest a few hours on a sunny afternoon to hike a local forest preserve or park’s trails, leaving the phone off and concentrating instead on what your senses share with you from the forest’s fauna and flora, and the rhythm of your internal systems.
The ultimate experience, though, is taking multiple days and finding an isolated place in nature to go, camp out, and sit and walk in an absence of modern connections or even your own voice. It’s a silent retreat, and one best done without even journaling or noting anything while you’re involved in the immersion.
Immersing in nature, to some, may feel at first you’re abandoning everyone and everything you like to do. It’s only a few hours or a few days, maybe a week, and I’m sure the world will survive while you briefly unplug and immerse.
But the real question is… will you survive if you don’t reconnect with your true self and the natural world you live in?
If you’d like to read a little further on this, I suggest Stephanie Nash’s excellent article about her experiences found here (her quote above is from that article).