Tag Archives: ecopsychology

Nature Doesn’t Rush

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One of the things, that my boyfriend and I seek to do is to enjoy play-dates in nature.  Back in early October, we hadn’t had a nature excursion for over a month. During that span of time, things had become a bit strained between us.  It seemed like, despite our best intentions to nurture ourselves and our relationship, much of our time spent together was logistical and stressful.  As we strained to get the cooking, cleaning, pet-care, errands, work and commuting done, we weren’t present to each other.   It seems kind of crazy that is the norm in our society—being varying degrees of spread thin.

That said, our relationship was feeling very blah.  However, we finally made plans to enjoy one of the last summer-like days of the season at the ocean.  As we drove in the ride-share car out of Queens into Long Island, it felt like the energy between us lightened.   As soon as I got to the ocean, away from NYC, I just felt different.   The energy of the ocean was rhythmic and soothing.  I felt it like a vital force that filled my being.  I felt my heart open and my purpose become clearer.  The forgotten magic flowed between my partner and I again.  Once out of the energy of have-to, chores, work (neither of us make $ at our passions yet) and time-constraint, the love, understanding and playfulness was there clear and strong.

The very next day, the magic, non-rushed energy started to disappear.  I saw my partner’s face look distracted and no longer present, as he mulled over work plans and time seemed, yet again, constrained.  He had to go to work, even though he had intended to take the day off.  However, he still wanted to go out for tea with me beforehand and also do a playful power-walk/jog.  I wanted to eat before we had tea.  I looked up at the clock beginning to calculate how much time would be needed to do dishes, cook, eat, go for a walk-jog and then have tea.  I felt like there was very little time and that I must rush (on my day off, no less).  I instantly started to feel nauseous.  It had never been so clear before.  I was off course.

You see, nature doesn’t rush.  We have designed our society  in many ways contrary to nature and our own true nature.  And that is the adventure and passionate challenge I have set out to explore—creating a life nurturing to me and inspiring others to do the same, where we share our gifts and live in harmony with the Earth.

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Moonlight and silent silhouettes

A beautiful musing that a friend and fellow blogger wrote. Please enjoy.

No Synthetic, Please

I read the book, Your Brain On Nature, which totally rocked my world.  In this book, the authors mention numerous studies on the effects of nature on the brain and also the effects of urban scenes  on the brain.  This was both tested with photographic representations of both scenarios and actual immersion in a natural or uber urban setting devoid of plant life. Clearly, nature is better for the brain by:

  • decreasing stress
  • elevating mood and positive outlook
  • increasing empathy
  • boosting the immune system
  • sharpening cognitive function

Urban scenes, on the other hand, increase stress, anxiety, aggression and decrease cognitive capabilities and immune response– yikes!

That said, I made a *unique* connection in light of this scientific research.  It’s purely anecdotal, so humor me.  In the past decade or so, I have shunned synthetic furniture (plastic, pressed particle board, etc.)  in favor of  solid wood and other natural materials that look and feel earthy.  I know it’s personal taste, but I think I am onto something.  Not only is my favoritism for natural products probably better for the planet in some ways (less petroleum used, less synthetic chemicals released into the environment and less toxic crap for us to breath in), but heck, it may be better for my brain!

Perhaps, my brain doesn’t like looking at plastic and other fake stuff.  To be honest, it may not even be in it’s evolutionary biology.  As “Your Brain On Nature” expounds, we are hard-wired to notice, more quickly, the threat of a tiger than the threat of a machine gun.  This difference may only be a few milliseconds, but it says a lot:  all this synthetic stuff is very new to our brain’s evolution, while awareness of large, predatory animals has been embedded into our brains since the beginning of our hominid existence.

From my perspective, clay pots, baskets,  wooden furniture and other simple, timeless home and hearth items have been with us for much longer and much more resemble the raw materials from which they were made.  This may also make them more recognizable to our brains.  Not to mention, they probably still emit aromatherapeutic chemicals and other beneficial properties.  Have you ever smelled a cedar chest or enjoyed  the sweet smell of a straw basket? If you have ever sculpted clay, perhaps, some of the mineral-rich content of the clay seeps into your skin, nourishing you (they do say what you put on your skin goes into your bloodstream.)

Taking it further, I wonder if synthetic items create a stress response, decrease the immune system and all those other things that urban scenes did in the previously mentioned scientific study.  Not to get OCD (that is probably even worse for your immune system than having synthetic items in your house), but let’s consider that surrounding ourselves with beautiful, natural household items (when possible),  like an unfinished solid wood shelf, may at least be neutral on your brain.  Add plants and  some sort of nature view out your window, whether it be a single tree or a lush garden or a lake, and, voila!  Your brain is going to feeling pretty good.   Plus, you will not  have purchased something that toxically off-gasses in your home.

For more information on non-toxic, brain-loving and sustainable furniture choices, please see by two blog posts here and here.