by Cassidy Gillard
National Geographic just put out an article entitled “This is Your Brain on Nature.” It goes into detail about how much of a positive impact Nature actually has on our mental and physical health. In it, writer Florence Williams states that, “When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too.”
As I was reading this article, and seeing all of the facts listed, I was kind of in shock. I couldn’t believe that people are just now discovering how incredible Nature is. But I guess not everyone is surrounded by it as much as I have been in my life. I’ve always chosen green over gray, dirt over concrete, and mountains over monuments. But not everyone gets to choose where they live. Some people are stuck in the concrete jungle, without transportation or easy access to Nature; without the knowledge of how incredibly healing the medicine of Earth actually is.
There are many green spaces within cities that have been preserved, however some people aren’t even aware of the immense benefits that taking advantage of these spaces provide the human body, brain, and experience. I’ve spent the past six summers at the Ranch, and as a mountainboard instructor, I spend quite a lot of time in the dirt. One of my favorite things to do with campers - especially those who are hesitant to try mountainboarding - is to take dirt baths. We lay down on the ground and roll around in the dirt. Or we pick up handfuls of dirt and rub it all over our arms and faces. Once you begin rolling around in the dirt, this feeling of freedom ignites in your heart. And once a kid sees that freedom in someone else’s eyes, they immediately join in. It’s almost as if they didn’t realize that the dirt that we walk on and often take for granted holds this freedom and, although we are getting dirty, we are cleansing ourselves of the walls that we become so accustomed to. Those of us who are lucky enough to know this secret, those of us who grew up, or have grown into, or at the very least dream of having places like The Colorado Mountain Ranch hold an incredible secret.
But is it supposed to be a secret? Is it supposed to be something that only “the lucky ones” know, or is it our job to educate those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience Nature and all of its incredible magic? I don’t think it should be a secret. I think it needs to be broadcasted across the world. Nature should be integrated into every school and every business, where we are forced to be sitting, with nothing but concrete and computer screens surrounding us.
And let me remind you that Nature is medicinal, however it is very much a choice. Of course it is absolutely a choice whether or not you take a pill, but that only takes a second. In order for the medicinal magic of Nature to work, you must make time and space for it within your daily life. “Professor Liisa Tyrväinen and her team at the Natural Resources Institute Finland recommend a minimum nature dose of five hours a month—several short visits a week—to ward off the blues.” This is just a little more than one hour every week. Which is only about ten minutes every day. Think about ten minutes throughout your day where you could be a little more efficient, a little more intentional with your work, or your play, just ten moments throughout each day where you could tighten up your daily routine to give yourself the opportunity to tend to your health. Even if it’s just sitting outside breathing fresh air, or taking a short stroll through a park, give yourself the chance to reap the benefits that Nature so willingly gives us. And don’t forget to share the beautiful knowledge of this beautiful secret with everyone you know. Allow the ancient South Korean proverb “Shin to bul ee” to guide you to your most human roots in Nature.
“Body and soil are one.” If you’re interested on more facts on how incredible Nature is, check out the article here.