Updated: Nov 25, 2019
Or, why contact with Nature is important
Nature is my biggest inspiration - simply, it is the place where I have always felt my best.
We are part of nature, and perhaps today, too much apart from her as well.
Walking outdoors, under a wondrous expansive blue sky I ponder, what better place to be, than out here, to witness this interplay of life and to bask in the source that is all around us where we thrive as one of so many species.
Ultimately everything that is good for us is found outdoors: fresh air, water, sunlight, plants and earth. Regular year-round contact with the elements of nature provides us with the best conditions in which to recover from illness and to rebalance from a highly artificial world.
Consider the built environment, rarely do we speak of cities, roads or buildings as being conducive to “recharging our batteries”. Ironically, they are static and energetically draining.
By spending most of our lives in artificially controlled environments, the body becomes less tolerant of environmental changes. We have become increasingly separated from the dynamic medium, the natural environment, where we have evolved and where cyclical changes kept us strong and healthy. This separation results in a weaker immune system, lowered energy, depressed mood, slower recovery from illness and an overall decrease in wellbeing.
Physical contact with nature is the key to nourish our civilization-induced deficiency. Nourishment comes from many sources, nature provides them all.
Historically, the intentional use of the environment as therapy was referred to as nature cure and more recently in a multitude of health practices including: nature therapy, forest bathing, eco-therapy …and yes, naturism. They are all rightfully encouraging us to take the therapeutic plunge into the elements. Nature is still arguably the best cure for our modern ills. Most health promoting philosophies describe in great detail the vast physiological, mental and spiritual benefits of daily contact with the natural world. There’s certainly no lack of literature to explore.
So, why not prioritize a regular plunge into a natural setting for your daily dose of daylight, fresh air and movement. Aim to spend your life outdoors, moving and creating where we all belong. Nature is not hostile, it is nurturing and we are part of it.
The following suggestions are fundamental health promoting pointers that fall within the context of nature bathing. They are meant to be general lifestyle guidelines and should be adapted to each person’s specific capacities. This list is only a brief summary of the many simple things we can do in our daily life. Consider exploring and reading about any of these points further. If you have any doubt whether any of the following is safe for you to practice, consult a qualified healthcare practitioner first.
• Connect to nature
Engage the world with all your senses; touch a tree, listen to the swaying leaves or singing birds, observe the moving clouds, smell the plants and earth. You can reign in a scattered mind by simply looking at the fractal patterns of a plant’s foliage. Find more ways to play and work outside, especially in your own garden or nearby city parks.
• Embrace a variety of weather
By spending time outdoors, in all weather conditions, we recharge by building resiliency and systemic strength through exposure to the fluctuating weather patterns of the natural world. When you’re prepared with the right clothing and gear, you can literally spend all your days outside.
• Stand up and move
Go outside daily and year round for sports and physical activity: swim, walk, tai-qi, cycle, ski, garden… anything to keep moving outdoors! If you take public transportation, consider getting off earlier in order to walk more. The natural environment greatly amplifies the benefit of all exercise.
Try spending more of your waking hours upright. As human species we did not evolve to spend our days sitting or lying down for the majority of our 24hour day/ cycle, yet if you do take count you will likely notice this to be a fact.
• Ground yourself
Walk barefoot whenever it is safe to do so on natural surfaces. Notice the sensations and textures of grass, sand or stones. Earthing is also one of the simplest ways to balance the intricate physiology of the body, it affects everything from the endocrine (hormonal) system to controlling inflammation (see previous post). Humans are the only species in the world who have disconnected themselves electrically from the planet with the invention of non-conductive rubber soles and by increased indoor time.
• Face the sun
Feel the radiant warmth, recharge your cells and increase your circulation, notice how your mood is affected. If you have the chance to shed the burden of clothing, go nude, expose the whole body to the benefits! Give your skin (your largest organ) a break from the elastic bands and clothes that impede the lymphatic flow just below the surface, let your whole skin breathe and feel yourself entirely into the world. Be careful, don’t let yourself burn, mid-morning sun is best, 15 min of direct summer sun is sufficient. Sun exposure is still the best way to produce vitamin D.
Try meditation or mindfulness, yoga or chi-gong… you can start just by paying attention to your breath, try to keep the mouth closed and use your nose. The breath is the most direct way to control your nervous system.
• Use Cold water
End your showers with cold water. Daily use of cold water (hydrotherapy) will boost your immunity and circulation. For beginners, start by dousing your feet only and later try the rest of the body as you become more resilient.
• Eat whole food
Get involved in preparing your food and maintain a diverse diet. Choose local, organic and seasonal ingredients. Refer to traditional diets for guidance. Avoid processed, refined and genetically modified foods. Grow a garden and use it as a reason to be and stay outside.
When you feel tired, shut-down your devices and avoid their use in the evening and night. If you need to extend your exposure to screens, use controllers to change the temperature or colour of the screen. We spend too much time looking at artificial ‘blue light’ which is naturally only present during midday hours. Constant exposure to this artificial light from screens throws our system out of balance and has serious repercussions.
• Connect with others and be active in the community. After all, human connections are a vital part of our natural ecosystem.
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” - Henry David Thoreau.