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
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