How Being Immersed in Nature Benefits Your Wellbeing

The center of the Milky Way over Bliss & Stars, Cederberg
Our connection with nature has gotten weaker in the past few decades as our lifestyles have become more urban and technology driven.
We are very aware of the threats to the natural environment endangered species, yet we can’t tell the species of local flowers, we aren’t able to distinguish St. John’s wort from chamomile and we don’t know what food we can find in the near forrest and we never lit the fires.
We spend the majority of time within the four walls, offices and shopping and move between these confined spaces in a car. Home – work – shop – home – work … and maybe a fitness center with no windows but many screens. And nature becomes an abstract concept that can be seen on TV.

As a result many people suffer from nature deficit syndrome that leads to fatigue, stress, irritation, decrease in creativity, overall physical and mental imbalance. We need more contact with nature to achieve a balanced and healthy life.
Our urban and industrialized culture has suppressed our innate feeling of being connected with nature, the deep need for being in natural environments and being in contact with animals.
All living organisms are connected by a common ancestor, a single-celled microbe that appeared on Earth over 3.5 billion years ago and from which all species have evolved.

The ancient Greeks expressed this deep innate connection with nature through the myth of the giant Antaeus, who drew exceptional powers from contact with his mother Gaia. As long as he felt the Earth under his feet, he was invincible. Hercules, who discovered his secret, lifted Antaeus and held him until the giant lost his strength, and then strangled him. Humans also get weaker when they lose contact with Earth.

"A culture disconnected from wild nature becomes insane."

- Toby Hemenway

Immersion in nature, saturation with “vitamin N” allows us to stay healthy and rejuvenate.
A series of studies conducted by the team of psychologists at the University of Rochester show that contact with nature results in an increase in people’s sense of well-being and vitality. 90 percent of people admitted that spending time actively in the countryside helped them get rid of fatigue.

Researchers at the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter found that people who spent 2 hours a week in green & natural environments were more likely to report psychological well-being than those who don’t.

Other studies show that walking in the woods or parks enhances the immune system, regulates heart rate, blood pressure, and has a positive effect on the nervous system, resulting in a feeling of deep peace, which is associated with lowering the level of stress hormone. 20 minutes of looking at green causes the amount of cortisol in saliva to fall by 13.4 percent, as demonstrated by research by Yoshifumi Miyazaki, University of Chiba.%

"Mindful contact with the natural environment allows us to discover ourselves, reconnect with our roots. Mindfulness practice set in nature allows us to observe playing wild animals, clouds passing through the sky, river flowing, or a dead bird, and bring us to realize that everything that happens with nature is reflected in our bodies and minds. We are able to recognize this mind-body-nature identity and reestablish the connection with nature. "

- Daria Rasmussen, Bliss & Stars Co-founder
At every retreat here at Bliss & Stars, we tap into nature as a way to heal and rejuvenate. Our activities take place in the sublime, raw nature setting where we are confronted with something bigger than ourselves. Star studded sky, wild animals, grand boulders stimulate us to contemplate infinity, eternity, the cycle of birth and death and the mystery of life.

Without these experiences we forget about our place in the universe, we lose the ability to experience being fully present and alive.
Experiences in nature can be so powerful that they leave no room for anything else. Body, mind, and surroundings become one. Such an experience can be ecstatic and liberating. The feelings of awe. There is no place for doing or ruminating in such moments. You can only be and rest in who you are.
References:
Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods, 2005
Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia: The Human Bond with Other Species, 1984

One Year of Life in Wilderness

Daria & Heine Rasmussen, Bliss & Stars founders

One year ago, we moved to the place of our dreams. A farm off the beaten track in the African bush where time is measured by the position of the sun and the only reminder of civilisation is the odd jet stripe when a lonely aeroplane is crossing the big blue sky.

We feel grateful and humbled to be the keepers of land boasting a beauty and diversity far beyond our wildest imagination. It’s been a long and exciting journey.  Both measured by the countless kilometres of dirt road (some more challenging than others) as well as the mental journey embracing the unknown.

 

Daria and Heine Rasmussen at Bliss & Stars
Deprivation of basic commodities has been one of the most interesting experiences. In the modern lifestyle we often forget the bigger picture. Our needs can be satisfied with an effortless push of a button causing us to loose awareness of our interdependence to nature. For us, embracing the basic life has been  a transformative journey. Life in the bush has learned us to let go of expectations and re-connect with  nature. A nature where the beauty and brutality becomes very present. When we moved here there was just one cottage that gave us shelter, but no electricity, no running water apart from beautiful spring. And no internet or mobile coverage. These conditions dictated the rhythm of our days. Getting up with the sunrise, going to bed just after sunset. And being connected to each other and surroundings rather than World Wide Web 😉
We’ve slowly established our solar power farm, water system for refreshing showers & baths and irrigation for our gardens. We’ve learned so much. We learned to value things we took or granted before.

The joy to see water flow from a tap, a bulb light up or taking a warm shower all reaches a new level of satisfaction and gratitude when you know this is the fruit of the merge of your own ingenuity, the natural resources around provided by an environment which can both crush or nourish you.

Everyday, the aliveness and silence of the bush, the beauty of the night sky put us in awe. We feel our interdependence with nature every day.

We have not only built our very own miniature municipality services (who else will provide flowing water, electricity, waste management etc. when you live 40 min. away from the public road) but also built stunning chalets and tent platforms. Bliss & Stars wilderness retreat is getting closer to be finished.
We are wiser, more mindful and resilient going through ebbs and flows of running a building project and meeting all sorts of challenges, baboons eating our watermelons, our cars breaking down, people letting us down, dogs chasing snakes, road disputes, mice chewing on cables, running out of the building materials in the middle of lockdown, and so on and on.

This is definitely most stressful situations we have tried in life (the corporate hassle stress pales compared to this), yet we’ve never felt less stressed.
We can’t wait to welcome you at Bliss & Stars Wilderness Retreat and embark together on exploration into inner and outer space.

The Loss of Darkness

Man standing under the Milky Way

Imagine losing the ability to dream. It’s a scary thought because it is already happening and impacting large parts of the global population.
This imminent threat doesn’t lurk in the darkness as it’s light itself causing the problem.
I’m talking about light pollution and the loss of the natural night sky.

Due to increasing urbanization and poor light management, fewer and fewer people have experienced the magic of the Milky Way crossing the starlight sky. Currently, it is estimated 83% of the world population is living under light-polluted skies.

The stars are a big part of our history. Virtually all civilizations have been inspired by the night sky, using the stars to tell their stories from generation to generation. The stars have guided farmers when to seed and harvest and directing sailors to reach their shores.

Limiting light pollution and preserving natural darkness has several benefits important to all of us.The light pollution is interfering our hormonal balance and sleep patterns increasing our risk of developing health issues and depression, impacting our physical and mental wellbeing.
Wildlife and ecosystems suffer greatly from the increasing light pollution, as both animals and plants survival and reproduction is harmed with the loss of night.

The aspect of saving energy when limiting light pollution is a nice bonus and should be taken seriously by every town planner and government.

It shouldn’t be a privilege for future generations to experience the awe of the night sky. It’s our responsibility to turn off the lights, look up and let the dreams live.