Nature Reconnection, in the simplest terms, is a way of thinking and of living life as if Nature mattered and that we humans are part of Nature. It’s acting and being in ways that enhance the livability of life on Earth. The implications of this effort are physical, mental/emotional, spiritual, social and planetary. This idea has a history.
When Dr. James Lovelock developed the GAIA theory in the 1960’s his hypothesis echoed the work of Alexander Humboldt from the early 1800’s. Humboldt, an intrepid explorer, philosopher and scientist, was the first to bring forward the ideas of interdependent ecosystems and the web of life. Fast forward to now and both Humboldt’s and Lovelock’s conclusions that Earth is a living system continually optimizing the conditions for life on Earth is more relevant and urgent than ever before. Human activity is part of this system.
Human thinking and activity that is nature-connected is nourishing to life on earth. Nature-disconnected thinking and activity is the most serious ecological, psychological, physical and spiritual crisis of our time. Reconnecting isn’t setting up a tent, throwing out technology, and dismantling our modern world. It’s being open to fresh and holistic ways of thinking and living in connection with Earth.
The consequences of leaving out conscious connections with Nature, the natural world, from our models of wellness, success, happiness and personal development are both ecological and biological.
Ecological consequences are evident in our mountains of waste, polluted air and waterways, and the degradation of our environments. It seems that our culture is missing a deep affection for our Earth. At one time I’d feel the sting of anger while collecting the plastic trash littering our beaches. The sting is still there but with another layer, sadness for those among us that live without an affection and appreciation for Nature.
Biological consequences are evident in the rates of chronic and lifestyle diseases including our debilitating levels of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual stress. Self-care isn’t a luxury it’s a way of honoring our place within Nature. Self-care is our micro to Earth’s macro. It’s simply following nature and optimizing the conditions for life in our own lives. It’s realizing that our symptoms are actually messages of life wanting to live. This calls for change and the elimination of obstacles blocking our natural life force. No doubt we have medical marvels responding to trauma and disease, yet without Nature and natural systems as a reference point we miss something vital, inspiring and transforming.
Times are changing. Gratefully, we are in a world-wide trend towards Nature Reconnection.
Mapping a path: My 12 years as founder and director of an extraordinary holistic spa, GAIA Spa, gave me a profound understanding of the role sensory intelligence plays in our personal development, healing and self-care. Sensory intelligence is our gift from Nature – it’s how life on Earth thrives. We offered our clients a sensory alchemy for relaxation and renewal. Architecture, aroma, sound, colors, water, steam, touch, texture, French salts, essences, saunas, earthy muds, algae infused baths – everything came from Nature in the purest way possible. Yes, the therapeutic massages and rejuvenating facials worked wonders on their own, and to top it off adding the sensory alchemy opened a wellspring of renewal. That wellspring is readily available to us all in Nature when we give ourselves the time and place to soak in its company, its embrace. Connecting to the natural world changes our thought patterns and helps dissolve mental/emotional blocks and to release our natural wisdom.
Driven by the need to align business practices with planetary health I played a key role in designing the tool for sustainability in spa and hospitality operations. It provides users with key insights and measures in all areas including Procurement, Waste, Energy and Water Use, Food and Beverage and Human Resources. The idea of “sustainability” was a good first step goal. Although, it does sound like we are hanging on by our fingernails. Maybe that’s true but there is room for taking our efforts further to a the holistic goal of “enhancing livability”. Imagine how that transforms human thinking and activity towards deepening our connection and commitment to Earth and each other.
I was mentored in the natural arts of healing by a master herbalist for 8 years. That wisdom along with my personal commitment to natural self-care with foods, herbs, energy, continual exploration and learning and my dedication to improving the livability of life on Earth touches everything in my world including our rescue poodle Adela and Wheaton Terrier Truffles.
In my workshops, coaching and consulting practice I make Nature central to the process.
- Nature is constantly teaching us about us. One failure of the biosphere project in the Arizona desert was the death of the trees. Trees need wind to grow their roots. Without wind the root structure will not be strong enough and the connection to Earth will not be sturdy enough for the tree to branch and grow. It’s the same for us. This analogy is helpful in situations where managing external stress is eased by focusing on our personal “roots” or values, behaviors and purpose. These aspects of our lives that have the potential to be clarified by excessive stress. It works personally, professionally and organizationally. That’s one example from my library of materials and activities delivered in a natural setting in order to access the transformational and guiding energy available to us in Nature. We leave the abstract world and venture into a safe, real world natural setting under the open sky, surrounded by the transformative sensory beauty of the natural to free imagination and creative thinking.
- I believe that our sensory intelligences are a form of natural genius that we rely on for living well. Activities and processes in Nature nourish these intelligences and capacities. We have many more senses than we normally think of because they rarely cross the radar screen of our mach speed lives. Life inside 4 walls in front of a screen compresses our natural senses, they aren’t needed for survival. Maybe they are needed for optimum living, creativity, problem solving, community building and health. Sensory intelligence is actually a vital key to our creativity, problem solving abilities and critical thinking. In the natural world we can become grounded and present in our own experience and trust that truth over the “stories” we’ve been told. This leads to growing confidence and clarity, two key qualities for living with passion and purpose.
- Scientific research into Nature continues to amaze us with new insights and horizons of discovery. We have more and more proof that plants are highly sensory life forms. They communicate to each other through biochemical messengers. These same biochemical messengers beneficially affect humans. Experiencing these “messages” in the natural world generates a new understanding and affection for Nature. We need to feel that affection so that we have the courage to change the way we “value” and care for the Earth, our home. New research studies, data collection methods and analysis Japan and Korea confirm that humans experience significant physiological changes simply by being in a natural environment and “soaking” in its natural elements. We discover ways to bring these connections into our everyday lives. You won’t need to fly off to a Hinoki Cypress forest to benefit from Nature! But if you have the chance go for it!
Nature is our wildly genius personal and planetary transformer physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. To sideline Nature is to sideline life.