El Sol ayhuasca healing Retreat Center
A walk in the forest. Watching waves crashing against the shore. Breathing in deeply just after the rain. That golden hue before sunset – Nature Medicine
The Greek physician Hippocrates said: “Nature itself is the best physician,” and his wisdom rings even more true today. Humans have evolved in communion with nature – indeed, we were never separate from it, despite today’s buildings and computer screens that seem to suggest otherwise. It is this very suggestion of separation that makes intentional connection to the natural world that much more crucial to our health and well-being today. It is easy to underestimate the benefits or forget to get outside regularly, but the latest research shows that taking the time to forest bathe or bask in the effects of blue mind (the calm, meditative state which comes from looking at or experiencing bodies of water) has numerous measurable benefits. From boosting the immune system, mood, energy levels, focus, and sleep quality; to reducing blood pressure, stress hormones, and symptoms of depression, the answer is clear – if you’re feeling caught in a pattern that doesn’t serve you, going for a walk can help calm the mind, connect to the rhythm of life, and maybe offer a shift in perspective that will get you out of that negative cycle. Even surrounding your indoor space with plants can boost mood (and productivity), offering a way to reap the benefits throughout our daily lives.
Many indigenous cultures practice animism – the belief that we are all part of a spiritual ecological system, that the world is vitally alive, and that there is a consciousness that underlies all things. In particular, animists believe that all of nature – the trees, the mountains, the earth – has a conscious spirit. There may be more truth to that than we think. On a macro-level, our planet is a living, breathing, interconnected organism that is – depending on your definition – vitally alive and conscious. Just as the collective living cells, bacteria, and other organisms in our bodies form a complete whole made of up individual, constantly interacting components, so too do all living things on the planet form a “whole” – a complete ecosystem that is continuously interacting with and reacting to its various component parts. Humans represent a significant part of this whole, and separating ourselves from it – physically and mentally – is detrimental to our health, and the health of the whole. We have evolved in a two-way relationship with the rest of our planet, and the further we disconnect, the worse it is for the well-being of all. Conversely, when we connect with the rest of life, it is there we can find the soul-lifting and powerful communion that many of us desire and spend much of our time and energy trying to find.