By Kelly McPherson

Research reveals that environments can increase or reduce our stress, which in turn impacts our bodies and how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working.

There are many cultures and examples around the world that suggest that being in nature, or even just viewing scenes of nature, reduces; anger, fear, and stress.  Research suggests that we have known this for millions of years and reality suggests that we have perhaps largely forgotten how important nature is to our well-being.

In Japan there is a practice called “shinrin-yoko” which translates as forest bathing. It is the practice of immersing yourself in nature to improve your well being by taking participants into the woods for a slow, mindful walk to contemplate nature and the all of the senses.

Native Americans use natural elements such as sage, clay, willow, agave cactus and honey in cleansing and healing sweat ceremonies.

Mayan-themed rituals include meditation in the shadows of area ruins and seaside purification rituals. One Mayan ritual guests are blindfolded and guided through a series of experiences that involve and awaken every sense.

Shamanism is a respected method that has helped to maintain and restore human health for centuries.  The Shaman practice revolves around the calling upon the spirits of native plants during healing rituals.

Hawaii have traditional healers called kahunas who use centuries-old lomilomi massage to help stimulate and drain lymphatic glands and ease sore muscles. Honey has also been long recognized by the Hawaiians for its tropical healing properties.

India’s 5000 year old medical system of Ayurveda and the centuries old practice of Yoga is being adopted by increasing numbers of people around the world for its healing and health benefits.

African Shamans use the practice of rhythmic drumming to induce a meditative state and progress along their healing journey.

Australian Aboriginals use drumming, repetitive percussive music and natural objects to gain insights into dreams, which they believe are mediums for important messages, including messages of healing.

David Strayer is a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah who specializes in attention and the study of what modern life does to our brains and he things he knows the antidote: Nature.

Strayer’s hypothesis is that by connecting with nature we allow the prefontal cortex, the brain’s command centre, to dial down and rest.

Motivated by large-scale public health problems such as obesity, depression, and pervasive nearsightedness, all directly associated with the amount of time spent indoors, Strayer and other scientists are looking with renewed interest in how nature effects our brains and bodies and are making impressive advances in neuroscience and psychology.

What they have found is “there is something profound” going on in our bodies and minds every time we spend time in a green space. Scientists are beginning to quantify what we all once knew and our mothers always told us, “Go outside and play”.

 

 

 

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