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Our habit of seeking out nature, and the palpable connection we feel with it, is because of Biophilia.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks.” – John Muir
In the last stage of an anxiety relief meditation that I do, I think of a person or place that I love, allowing that feeling to fill me up, and slowly letting I expand out of me.
Sometimes I think of my family and my time with them for this. But most of the times, it is my time at the Radhanagar beach, the pristine white sand beach in the Andaman Islands. I can almost never put into words what being there made me feel like, and this exercise takes me back right there, feeling the warm sea breeze on my face, as I behold the majestic waves in the turquoise waters.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. If I were to ask you to think of your favorite place, what’s it going to be? If you’re stressed, isn’t who being closer to nature one of the things you seek as a relief from the stress? Don’t we all always get into discussions about who gets the window seat?
Natural environments have a tremendous impact on our emotions and improve our well-being. Nature is restorative, calming and it makes us happy.
In a study conducted by Mind, a mental health charity organization, a nature walk reduced symptoms of depression in 71% of participants, compared to only 45% of those who took a walk through a shopping center.
There have been many other studies that have shown that exposure to natural elements reduces stress and anxiety, improves mood and energy levels, improves cognitive performance, speeds up recovery, stabilizes blood pressure, improves sleep quality and strengthens the immune system. Ecotherapy, also known as Nature Therapy or Green Therapy use nature-based approaches for healing.
There is a good explanation for the way we feel about nature. Our habit of seeking out nature, and the palpable connection we feel with it, is because of Biophilia, a term that was coined by the renowned biologist Edward O. WIlson. ‘Biophilia’ is derived from the Greek words ‘bios’ (organic life) and ‘philia’ (love).
“Biophilia is an innate and genetically determined love for the natural world felt universally by humankind. ”
Simply put, it is our innate biological connection with nature that stems from our evolutionary history. Seeking out nature is a basic human need.
In these times of physical distancing, as more and more of us are working from home, it becomes all the more important for us to keep honoring your relationship with nature, in every way we can.
There are 3 types of contacts with nature:
1) Outdoor Nature Contact
2) Indoor Nature Contact
3) Indirect Nature Contact
If you can go walk, jog, cycle or do yoga in parks or other safe areas, by all means do that. Outdoor Nature Contact is the most beneficial for your health and wellness. But if you’re not able to go outdoors in nature or don’t yet find it safe to do so, it is time to bring nature indoors, and get your daily dose of indoor and indirect nature contact.
Nature for your senses: Let nature fall upon your ears – use nature sounds for meditation, wash your dishes with soothing sounds of flowing water or tweeting birds. These will be pleasant changes from the construction or traffic noise you may have got used to living in the city.
You can also keep photographs of nature as your TV, phone or laptop screensavers and wallpapers.
Include smells of nature in your home – essential oil diffusers are a great option; I love the calming and soothing smell of lavender oil. Essential oil scented soy candles would make for a perfect evening ritual.
Biophilia is the connection with nature you didn’t know you always had. And now that you know how much of an impact your natural environment has on you, you can choose to invite more peace and well-being into your home by incorporating as many of these nature contacts as you can.
Living in harmony with nature, close to nature, is the only happily ever after.
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