Nature Delivers Benefits

Green space in towns and cities could lead to significant and sustained improvements in mental health, finds a new study published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology.”

Being In Nature Is Healing

These were headlines that I read in the paper this weekend.

This University of Exeter Medical School study is validating something that we all know.

Nature delivers benefits.

Connecting with nature is therapeutic.

Nature inspires, relaxes and ‘joyifies’.

It turns what might have been an ordinary day into an extraordinary one.

Nature is a place for our imagination to romp freely.

It inspires us to be kinder, gentler, more compassionate, and generous.

Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, and Beethoven spent time in nature in order to contemplate, be one with the universe, and let their creative juices stew.

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein

Anne Frank knew the healing power of nature -

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
― Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

As did Rachel Carson -

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
― Rachel CarsonSilent Spring

Nope – we don’t need studies to tell us the effect that nature has on our well being.

Ask kids in the inner city whose drug infested corner has been turned into a community garden.

Ask individuals who work in the city and eat their lunch on a park bench under the cool umbrella of a shade tree

Ask inmates in prisons who participate in gardening programs.

Ask parents on city playgrounds with their kids.

Ask your neighbors going for an evening stroll.

Ask yourself.

Being In Nature Is A Form of Therapy

If you aren’t spending 30 minutes a day in nature, it’s time to develop your ‘nature muscle’.

Go for a walk, join a soccer team, or a bird watching club.

Take up jogging, rowing, or biking.

Play outside with your kids.

Sit on a park bench and close your eyes.

Do nothing.

But be in nature.

It will rock your world. I promise.

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About Fran

Fran’s book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, now considered a classic, was groundbreaking when published as no one had written about gardening in the context of creativity, spirituality, and transformation.

In addition to being a recognized garden expert and deep ecologist, Fran is also a broadcaster, journalist, Ordained Interfaith Minister, and Soul Tender. All of her work is based on her deep belief that our need to connect to the earth is an inherent trait – and that by doing so, we heal and experience more joy in our lives.

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16 Responses to Nature Delivers Benefits

  1. Karen Jolly January 20, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    Thank you for this post Fran! There is absolutely nothing like getting out in Nature to restores ones alignment to all things living! I remember years ago when my kids were little and my husband and I went to church…my son would ask us every time, “why do we go sit in a church, God is out in Nature!” :) I still smile when I think of those words, which eventually led us to stepping away from church and into Nature. What a gift!

    I’m going to finish up early today and take a long nature walk…thank you!
    Karen Jolly recently posted…Winds of Change: 8 Ways to Shake Off 2013My Profile

    • Fran January 21, 2014 at 4:17 am #

      Karen – Your son has a wise soul! That’s exactly what Jesus said. You can pray or be with God anywhere. You don’t need a church, synagogue. or mosque (unless you choose). In discussions about God – which as you know can get filled with emotion – I have always said ‘If you can’t find God, spend time in nature’.
      Nature is a temple. Thanks for sharing Karen. :)

  2. Elle January 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    So true Fran. I love to just ‘sit’ for 5 minutes and watch the trees dancing with the breeze. And my early morning walk just opens my heart and feeds my soul.
    Elle recently posted…5 Pick-me-ups That Have The Power To Seriously Change Your LifeMy Profile

    • Fran January 21, 2014 at 4:19 am #

      Elle- I can visualize you doing that. I don’t think that most people know the ‘power’ of an early morning walk. It is transformative.

  3. Victor January 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Fran,

    That’s why I absolutely love summer weather. It gives me a chance to spend time in the woods, or walking on a path lined with trees, hearing the birds and listening to the wind. I love reconnecting with nature. It truly is therapy! Thanks for sharing!

    • Fran January 21, 2014 at 4:25 am #

      Victor-
      Isn’t it amazing how soothing and paradoxically – exciting – nature is? It has the power to awaken all of our senses….if we just open up to it. And it is ALL around us….it can be a flower caught in a paving crack. A crumbling, low roof covered with wildflowers OR – what someone might call a garden filled with weeds. I remember once staying at a B and B in Ireland in the country. Her walled courtyard garden was filled with wildflowers – (loved the red poppies) as well as a plethora of weeds. Thoughtfully designed and tended by humans? No! Nature had taken charge – and to my eyes – it was beautiful. The key is – we can connect with nature wherever we are ~ it’s up to us to find it! Thanks for sharing Victor! Fran

  4. Paige Burkes January 20, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    Even though it’s winter in Colorado, I have the windows of my office open to breathe in the crisp, cool air (yes, I’m bundled up and I love it!).

    I went from being a city kid to living in the deep woods over the course of my life. The outdoors breathes new life into me. I’m so fortunate to be able to raise our kids in that woodsy environment. They love it.

    Understanding the therapeutic benefits of nature, I’m leading an initiative to begin a community garden with classes and therapeutic programs for the behavioral health center I work for. The clinicians are so excited to have that resource to utilize with their clients – and for themselves!

    When I took a couple years off from the corporate world, I worked at a dude ranch. I loved watching the transformations that city people went through by spending a week in the outdoors, away from technology (no phone or wifi). I can’t speak about it highly enough. It’s the best therapy around!

    Thanks so much for sharing this Fran!!
    Paige Burkes recently posted…How to Mindfully Boost Your Self-ConfidenceMy Profile

    • Fran January 21, 2014 at 4:29 am #

      Paige – Your children certainly are blessed to be living in the woods of Colorado. How they view and place themselves in the world will be so strongly shaped by this experience. I know the transformations that you have gone through and so appreciate the role that nature plays in your life. I love what you’re doing at work with the community garden initiative. Please keep me posted on it. :)

  5. Cathy Taughinbaugh January 21, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    I love this one, Fran. I do try and make it a point to get outside into nature at least once a day. I have a dog to walk, so that helps. Some of my most vivid memories from when I was growing up was going to YMCA camp and being out in nature, occasionally alone just sitting on a rock somewhere looking at the view, or being gathered around the campfire together. It was beautiful and I know that experience had an impact on me, because I never forgot it.
    Nature soothes the soul! Thank you for the encouragement.
    Cathy Taughinbaugh recently posted…55 Top Addiction Recovery Blogs 2014My Profile

    • Fran January 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      Cathy –
      I do think that our childhood memories of nature have a significant influence on us as adults. Having gone to an overnight camp upstate New York for several years, I can identify with the campfire, sitting on a rock, looking up at the stars, skipping stones – and much more. And what’s really cool is that if you close your eyes and return to those times, you can re-live those feelings. They are powerful indeed. Thanks for your comment Cathy. Fran

  6. Jan Johnsen January 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    Fran – I agree wholeheartedly. “The glory of the garden lies in more than meets the eye.” – Rudyard Kipling.

    Thank you for this wonderful post!
    Jan Johnsen recently posted…The Magic of Tree GrovesMy Profile

    • Fran January 24, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

      Jan -
      You’re welcome. And thank you for the Rudyard Kipling quote. It is a keeper. Fran

  7. richmiraclefiles January 23, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    Hi Fran
    I liked the way you have conceived and presented this post ,because connection with nature is essentially connecting with our source.
    We can connct with natiure by planting a few seedlings and watch them germinate.We can switch to a vegan diet,and if we are more inclined to outdoors we can take a walk though the woods,or a lush field.We can pause in our humdrum lives and listen for a few moments to an exquisite birdsong.
    Thanks
    Mona
    richmiraclefiles recently posted…REVERSE YOUR PROCLIVITIESMy Profile

    • Fran January 24, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

      Hi Mona -
      You are one wise individual. Yes, to everything you say. The truth is this – you can live practically anywhere and discover the magnificence and magic of nature. It doesn’t take a lot – just open your heart – observe, listen, and be silent. Once you do that, nature’s gifts abound and become an integral part of your consciousness. Fran

  8. Betsy/Zen Mama January 24, 2014 at 3:14 am #

    Thank you for these reminders Fran! I love being in nature. Gardening and photographing nature are two of my favorite hobbies. But sometimes I get caught up in work and doing things around the house. Then suddenly my day is over without being outside. So I appreciate reading your blog today. I needed the inspiration!
    Betsy/Zen Mama recently posted…Be Inspired by Two Inspirational VideosMy Profile

    • Fran January 24, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

      Betsy – I know that you love gardening and nature. I’m a firm believer in making it a priority to do the things that give us joy. It is so easy – me included- to fall into the trap of having to do work, chores, etc…thinking that we’ll get to what we love doing later – sort of as a reward- and then later comes and we’re too tired. So a suggestion Betsy- make it Numero Uno on your list – With gratitude- Fran

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