“We may have left the natural world but the natural world has not left us.” - Michael McCarthy, Environmental Journalist
We may be living with smartphones, artificial intelligence and 24/7 availability as we work from home but our nervous systems are still only evolved for prehistoric times. We are still wild inside. We still operate as creatures scanning for danger and for many of us information overload triggers our nervous system as it would be triggered by danger. Especially if we are always “on” and only switching off when it is time to go to sleep. Some of us thrive with busy lives, that is the wild side of us that loves an adventure and needs to be a part of something. But there is a way to fulfil this wild yearning without the overstimulating buzz of modernity. That is foraging, frolicking and fossicking in the wild.
“There are many compelling reasons to gather from the wild: for health, for economy and for connection.” - Johanna Knox, The Foragers Treasury
After this long winter you might like to get outside in the spring air and forage for food, pick wildflowers, or collect various rocks and shells for your nature shrine. Being outside and focusing on the nature’s variations of shapes, sounds and textures gives us a sense of alert calmness. Studies show that just one hour of walking outside in a natural environment restores focus and relieves stress, as well as reducing heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels. The urban environment activates our amygdala, the center scanning for danger, so be sure to get out into the country, away from cars, concrete and computers.
“A wonderful opportunity exists for us to craft a relationship with the wild through the medicinal plant path, to bring it into our hearts, our homes.” – Erin Lovell Verinder, Plants for the People
Most of us are urban dwellers and most of us do not know how to identify medicinal herbs out in the wild. But all of us can have a house plant to care for (or a whole jungle inside if that’s your vibe), all of us can access a bush walk or a botanic garden not too far from home, and all of us can source a herbal tea for a quiet mindful moment. Anxiety and depression are on the rise while mental wellbeing in general is falling. According to Stats NZ mental wellbeing has decreased across all age groups over the past 5 years, and is significantly low for disabled people, the LGBTQ+ community, and sole parents.
“Listening in wild places, we are audience to conversations in a language not our own. I think now that it was a longing to comprehend this language I hear in the woods that led me to science, to learn over the years to speak fluent botany.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
Our mental wellbeing is measured by the WHO index that asks us how we have felt for most of the time over the past two weeks: Have we felt cheerful and in good spirits? Calm and relaxed? Active and vigorous? Fresh and rested? And is our life filled with interesting things? For many of us the answer is no and the reasons are complex. Exploring the art of happiness, what makes us feel alive and what quells our fears is serious business in today’s world. We cannot just snap our primitive brains out of it, we cannot just stay calm and carry on, we need a tangible approach to mental wellness. We need to satisfy our inherent biophilic love of the wild.
“The passionate happiness the natural world can trigger in us may be the most serious business of all.” - Michael McCarthy, environmental journalist
A biophilic brain is a child-like brain, cultivating the playful, dynamic, creative mind of a child. The biophilic movement is not just about making our urban spaces more green and alive, although this work is crucial. It is also about encouraging us to experience and remember what it feels like to explore something unpredictable and new, like the ever changing sights, smells and textures in a forest. It is not only fun but it invigorates the whole body-mind. We are fortunate to have access to washing machines, electricity and clean water, no longer do we need spend our days cleaning and collecting fire wood. Are we not free with more time to frolic? Once our basic needs of food, shelter and safety have been met, what do we need more than biophilic connection?
We may have left nature... but nature never left us.
Listen to our latest WILDERNESS meditation for a small yet significant step closer to your wilderness inside.