I read a lot of great articles this week, and thought I would share the ones that really resonated the most with me (and with WILD’s history and path forward). An article from the NY times and one from Scieneline generally talk about how being in nature invigorates our spirit, calms us and has real, positive and measurable impacts on our health, energy levels and ability to focus.
As someone who lives largely in the digital world, I notice how technology influences my brain and body everyday. I now think in 140 character phrases, which are typically disjointed from one-and-other and, more often that not, refer to something else that I read/saw/did on the internet.
In Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain/Your brain on computers (NY Times), a group of scientists head out on a rafting trip to see how time in nature can reverse the impact that technology increasingly has on how we think and act. Even the skeptics among the group ended the trip with a bit less of a “crackberry” addiction. Can a Stroll in the Park Replace the Psychiatrist’s Couch? A new generation of psychologists and therapists focus on the relationship between nature and mental health (Scienceline) describes the increasing popularity of “ecotherapy” and its increasing popularity with practitioners and patients.
While empirical studies about the effects of nature/wilderness experiences on our behavior, happiness and brain function are still developing, WILD, our partners and many others around the world have seen the ‘field results’ of nature as a healer.
Going back into our history, WILD and our sister organizations were founded in the wilderness. Dr. Ian Player and his Zulu mentor Magqubu Ntombela, who during the troubled years of apartheid, lead multi-racial wilderness trails. They new that in the wilderness, we could truly know ourselves and therefore better understand one-and-other. These founding footsteps still permeate our work today. The peace and reconciliation work done by our sister organization in the UK and the Umzi Wethu AIDS orphans program both use wilderness trails to foster leadership, environmental stewardship and personal growth.
One might also think of WILD’s symbol, the Erythrina leaf, which is so closely associated with this quote from Grey Owl, which rings true today as we turn to nature to restore our brain and body: “You are tired with years of civilisation. I come and offer you what? …a single green leaf.”
Reading these two articles and thinking about the importance of time in nature has prompted me to plan a hike in the Colorado mountains tomorrow. No phone, no computer (no twitter, no facebook)….just me and the trail.