Bringing the Forest Back Inside Us

Dear Reader:

Long ago Thoreau told us “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

However the latest popular movement to return to the woods, to the forests originated from Japanese physicians… but has now taken root  in our country….especially Colorado. It is called “Forest Bathing.”

For example, a  2010 study published in the Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine scientific journal involved 280 healthy people in Japan who walked through forests as part of the experiment. The researchers found that being among nature lowered the concentrations of cortisol, a stress hormone, and also lowered blood pressure and pulse rate.

Last year, another environmental research paper revealed that exposure to green space can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, stress and high blood pressure.

Recognizing the wellness benefits of forest bathing, the city of Boulder has been incorporating this Japanese health technique… adding hikes into its programming that’s available to the public.

“Doing a mindful walk allows us to get in touch with nature and to notice the blades of grass moving, the insects going from flower to flower, hearing bird calls,” Ford (Parks and Recreation) said.

The deep connection, he said, calms the buzz and chatter of our brains, which spends so much time focusing on emails and appointments.”

Trade in artificial, unhealthy light for nature’s light and see what a physical and emotional difference transpires.

Americans today spend an average of 93% of their time indoors or inside a car which means just 12 hours a week is spent outside. There is mounting evidence that spending time in nature is good for your body and brain…it teaches us patience…which turns out to be not only a virtue but a physical anti-aging element.

Impatience with COVID and all it represents in our daily lives like social distancing, masks, washing hands, etc…is on the up swing due to these extended periods of seemingly never-ending conclusions to the returns of COVID…but impatience might not just lead to contracting this potentially deadly virus but impatience elevates high blood pressure, anxiety, explosive anger/and growing older than our chronological ages.

Nature masters impatience and adds to our longevity…even just a 15 minute walk in a green space, daily, lowers our heart rate, blood pressure, and stress triggers…it slows down aging.

 

Nature boosts our immune system (helps fight cancer).

Have you ever heard of a NK (natural killer) cell? It’s a type of white blood cell that sends “self-destruct messages to tumors and virus-infected cells.” Lots of different life factors can decrease the count, but Williams shares Qing Li’s research that spending time in nature increases the NK cells in our body. Even better – the effect lasts for longer than the amount of time we spend outside.

Obviously I was interested in the research (above for cancer) but author… Williams has researched the smells from different trees and how the sounds of the forest lead to advanced learning over living near constant elevated noise levels which thwarts learning, especially learning to read.

We aren’t evolving as quickly as technology, so our brains aren’t necessarily capable of handling the stimulus of multiple tasks. Williams spends time in the desert with psychologists Paul Atchley and Dave Strayer. There she learns about the differing effects of technology and nature on our ability to pay attention.

She believes attention is a limited resource, and spending time in nature gives us fewer choices – thereby streamlining our attention and letting us function more efficiently and creatively. In a lot of ways, it’s a break from technology and it makes us more productive when we return.

So until tomorrow…

Life offers many distractions these days. When we take the time to return to nature we are creating an opportunity to be in our place of broader connection with God, Mother Earth, The Universe.

Try  “Forest Bathing” which simply means to “bathe your senses in the forest. ” If you breathe in a tree and really listen to it…the tree will listen back…without judgement or interruptions. Have a seat in nature. Be a child again. Dream, create, and dive into fantasy.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*And Winnie is not alone…Halloween was one of my favorite childhood days too. How wonderful to be anybody or anything (beside yourself) for a few hours one ‘magical’ evening in chilly October.

AND we are actually going to have a “chilly” Halloween in the low country today…high in the sixties…perfect trick or treating temps…in Mandy’s neighborhood they are setting up tables at corners of streets so children don’t have to ring doorbells…and Mandy is placing her give away candy in small Halloween bags…so a child can take a bag…Safe trick or treating for a COVID Halloween.

*Don’t forget “Once in a blue moon” we get a blue moon on Halloween night! Can’t get any cooler than that….

Personally I am a little sad that my favorite “Boo” name, that works perfectly with Halloween, is nearing closure…but “Bippity, Boppity, Boo” I will still be Boo tomorrow. (Perfect Halloween card Anne!)

Happy Halloween! Be Safe!!!!!!!

Even without Trevor…Go Clemson Tigers…You Can Do It!!! Keep the Faith!

****After all this…I ran to get a bag of candy last evening to leave for the trick or treaters before I head over to John and Mandy’s this afternoon…I got a call going in Walgreens...Mandy told me Jake jumped out of the swing doing a flip that went awry, broke his arm, and surgery was going to be required last night at MUSC.

Jake is into dinosaurs…so I found one in Walgreens…grabbed some gauze and called the famous dinosaur surgeon, who just happens to live across the street from me. Dr. Vickie, who performed the surgery on the dinosaurs’ left (T-Rex short arm) and put it in a sling.

Thank you Dr. Vickie…I’m sure  the Dino will help Jake recover. We took his temperature, he has none and is Covid-free so he can stay with Jake now.

 

 

 

 

 

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Bringing the Forest Back Inside Us

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Hope Jake feels better. We had that too with Ellie. Kids are so resilient. Love the dinosaur.
    Hope you have a Happy Halloween.

    Like

    • Becky Dingle says:

      Heading to Mt. P…Jake did have surgery at 7 this morning…recuperating….holding down the fort till everyone returns. Happy Halloween Gin-g!

      Like

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