A blog by Laura Buchenlicht
This photo is property of Laura Buchenlicht and may not be used without permission
In the first part of this short blog series, the long history of green movements has been pointed out, showing how highly structured societies always bring about the same problems.
Sadly another pattern of history is the fact that the members of these societies never seem to learn from their predecessors. Scholars and scientists keep “discovering” the same old truths over and over again, but so far no one has found a way to stop losing them in the first place.
A good example of this is the puzzlement of western scientists at the Japanese practise of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku), which is all about being present and has been shown to have numerous health benefits in different studies.
Apparently it is healthy to spend time in nature!
My sarcasm stems from the fact that this truth is common sense to me. But I’ve also known people who were surprised at how good they suddenly felt when they went for a walk in a forest.
As I pointed out in Part 1, urban environments are a far cry from our species’ original natural habitat, and the fact alone that industrial societies have created these unnatural surroundings is a symptom of disconnection from nature.
A study from 2014 found that on average, people living in Western countries spend over 90% of their time indoors!
People’s disconnection from nature starts with disconnection from their bodies, because everyone feels the benefits of being in nature once they get there. However, they are so used to their urban surroundings (and other stressors) that they might not feel the urge to go out into nature.
And when they weren’t taken out a lot as children, then of course most won’t know what they miss, unless they are very sensitive.
But humans’ bodies are so much smarter than the cultural brainwash they have been subjected to. Our bodies – we - are nature, after all.
Apart from our bodies remembering tropic forests as our ancient home, this also is due to our primate ancestors surviving not only by being able to differentiate the colours of berries against a green backdrop, but also by distinguishing between different green plants.
In one study, people have also identified bird songs and calls as the most stress reducing auditory feature outdoors.
No matter how disconnected our culture has become, we all still carry the ability to connect in us (and this isn’t restricted to nature).
This is where salvation lies, and this is what needs to be nurtured. People need to experience how they come to life when spending a significant amount of their time in nature, and then share this awareness within their network.
Hence why a sanctuary retreat, as the Piece Of Heaven Project aims to be soon, would be an ideal spot to reconnect people to nature (including their own), at the same time offering another much needed source of income to pay for the sanctuary’s expenses.
As Mark and Sharon know well, the tranquil spot has a lot to offer in terms of breathtaking landscape and outdoor activities.