"Nature is not a place to visit. It is home."
- Gary Snyder
Nature Heals believes that in today’s culture, we have forgotten the healing and restorative elements of nature.
Only 10 percent of American teens spend time outside every day
American adults spend less than 5 % of their day outdoors
Since the 1970s, children’s ‘radius of activity’ – the area around their home where they are allowed to roam unsupervised – has declined by almost 90%
More than 50% of people now live in urban areas. By 2050 this proportion will be 70%. Urbanization is associated with increased levels of mental illness.
Individuals walking through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination (repetitive thought focused on negative aspects of the self, a known risk factor for mental illness).
Nature Heals believes that to be whole and healthy human beings that we must reconnect with the magic of the outdoors.
An underlying lack of connection and a corresponding lack of deep understanding of ourselves leads to a “dis-ease” with life. When we are not in balance or alignment with our true nature, this “dis-ease” manifests itself in chronic emotional, mental and ultimately physical issues. Being in Nature and actually just even seeing nature reduces anger, fear and stress. It promotes feelings of peace, acceptance and wellbeing.
Being in nature reduces stressful states
12.4% decrease in cortisol levels
7.0% decrease in sympathetic nervous activity
1.4 % decrease in systolic blood pressure
5.8% decrease in heart rate
Being in nature augments relaxation
55 % increase in parasympathetic nervous activity
56 % increase in Natural killer cell activity, an indicator of immune function
Nature Heals believes that When we relax into the space that Nature provides, there is a corresponding inner growth, which can lead to a more caring, compassionate view of ourselves. As we change as individuals, the world around us changes.
Nature helps people find the goodness within them and allows that goodness to emerge. In this way, nature helps people connect to their essence and feel the joy of being and the bliss of simple things.
Functional MRIs reveal:
While looking at images from urban scenes the brains of volunteers showed more blood flow to the amygdala which processes fear and anxiety
While looking at photos from nature, blood flow was increased to the anterior cingulate and the insula which are associated with altruism and empathy
Nature Heals believes that children need encouragement and the ability to not just “do “ things in nature, but to just “be” in nature and observe. Nature and animals demonstrate community and balance. They are also mirrors for healthy relationships.
The 1975 proceedings of the Children, Nature, and the Urban Environment Symposium concluded that children need opportunities to explore wild places and to learn about nature for healthy maturation and are not having these opportunities. Subsequently, there have been many studies and writings about the importance of the outdoors for children as they grow revealing that friendships develop, conflicts are more easily resolved and children who were going through difficult life experiences were much better able to deal with their emotions, express themselves, and positively interact with other children.
The preservation of our open spaces and environment begins with children having the opportunity to develop a deep and intimate relationship with nature. It teaches the interconnectedness of all beings and helps to develop care and respect for all.
The data suggest that if American youth are given more opportunities to have a meaningful experience outdoors, they will be more likely to value nature, engage with it, and feel empowered to do something about it. 66% of youth when polled, say that they “have had a personal experience in nature” that made them appreciate it more.