Nature Heals Us!
Updated: May 9, 2019
For most of human history, a connection to nature was a fact of life. We were intimately tied to the cycles of the sun and seasons and whatever the land around us could provide.
But in the last few generations, we’ve managed to distance ourselves from nature in ways our ancestors would have never imagined. Today we can earn a living, go shopping, have a social life, and enjoy endless entertainment without ever leaving the house. Unless we have somewhere to go, there’s no practical reason to venture outside.
Our indoor lifestyle is clean, comfortable, and convenient, but it may also be starving us of something vital to our wellbeing.
Research reveals that environments can increase or reduce our stress, which in turn impacts our bodies. What you are seeing, hearing, experiencing at any moment is changing not only your mood, but how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working.
The stress of an unpleasant environment can cause you to feel anxious, or sad, or helpless. This in turn elevates your blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension and suppresses your immune system. A pleasing environment reverses that.
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such.
In addition, nature helps us cope with pain. Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort.
Forest air has shown to increase the level of proteins that prevent cancer or fight a tumor if you already have cancer. This increased anti-cancer activity lasts for days after you’ve left the woods.
How is such majesty possible? The strength of that mountain, standing there for all those years! The miracle of this single flower, infused with sunlight! The revelation of a tree, rooted deep in the earth, stretching to the sky, and bearing silent witness to the world around it! You feel awe and joy and are whole again.
You feel that you belong to this Earth. That you are part of the community of nature. You are made of the same substance, and that you are no better—and no worse—than that bird, that tree, that other human walking up the trail.
You feel comfortable in your own skin, you experience your own quiet peace and strength, you sense the inner you that is the true you. The mask you present to the outer world is irrelevant for a time, and put in its proper place.
Whether you call it God, Earth Mother, the Great Mystery, or by another name, nature helps you to connect with this powerful, loving presence. You might feel this presence loving and supporting you. You might receive guidance and wisdom. Nature brings you closer to our own spirit and to Spirit.
These are the reasons why I believe we are so happy in the natural world. This is why nature heals, and helps us to live lives of meaning and joy.