We miss the great gifts when we take nature for granted
A note from Johann
In retirement, we can take the time to reflect more thoughtfully on some of nature’s wonderful ways of impacting our lives. An example is how suddenly the scarcity of water is a major issue all over the world and we only now come to realise how we have been wasteful and ignorant of the precious benefit that we get from water. Clean, breathable air is another example. Pollution and its problems impacting our breathing and our general health has become a major issue in many countries.
But when I think of nature, my mind automatically wanders to the African bush and its wild animals. In our recent webinar, our special guest Tony Frost showed us how, in his time as head of the WWF, they developed a range of powerful leadership training programs using the Big Five and their life in the bush to illustrate leadership. He described how teams of participants were taken on walks in a game park and had to learn the basic principles of night watching to care for your fellow team mates while also appreciating the impact sourcing water and of paying full and proper attention to a sunrise.
Slowing down and living in the more relaxed manner of retirement gives us the opportunity to spend more time outdoors. Tony Frost says not only should we focus on the big bush experiences, but that wonderful bush wisdom is contained in watching small elements of life in nature. The list to focus on is endless, from all the bird life to the vast range of insects and little animals like meerkats, rabbits and lizards, all showing their special ways of foraging, procreating and just surviving.
But there is also the bigger picture. Even stargazing and picking up some wonders of the universe with a telescope focuses the mind on the spectacular majesty of nature and our place in it.
For those people still working full time, there is an enviable awareness of the opportunities retirees enjoy with their less demanding time and responsibilities. Retirement is a splendid time of life to invest ourselves in a more aware and appreciative connection with nature and with all that it provides.
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We look to nature and the many gifts we receive in abundance. From knowing our place in the grand scheme of everything which helps to keep us grounded, to the lessons it teaches us on so many things from creativity to regeneration and co-operation. We’re exploring ways to appreciate nature’s incredible bounty as we grow older.
Our top 3 article picks this week:
Getting Started with Forest Bathing
You love the forest – now let it love you back.
We are afforded many opportunities to enjoy recreational activities in the great outdoors. There are so many great options to choose from – from hiking to kayaking, bird watching and fishing. We’re featuring an article on Forest bathing because of the interesting psychological benefits and the idea that anyone can do this regardless of fitness and ability. Have you tried it? This article is the perfect guide to get you started.
There are two ways to look at the benefits of Forest Bathing: the benefits for you and the benefits for the forest and its inhabitants. The benefits for you are related to your physical health and well-being, resulting from reduced stress levels. Forest Bathing might be compared to yoga or meditation in this way: the practice itself puts you into a calmer state of mind, which in turn reduces cortisol, lowers blood pressure, and sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system responses (supporting study here). I have had participants tell me that weeks later, they are reminded of something that they noticed on the walk and that this memory brought the feeling of the forest bathing experience back to them. Perhaps this is a reason that the impact is so lasting?
Another benefit unique to forest bathing—breathing in the phytoncides, or scents released from the trees. Phytoncides are a tree’s immune response to fighting off unwanted threats, like a fungus or insects. These scents are actually beneficial to the human immune system, boosting our natural killer cells (supporting study here). So when we bathe in the forest, we are bathing in the forest air, taking in the phytoncides and clean air that trees provide us and all other forest dwellers.
Our hope and inspiration as forest guides is that the practice of forest therapy also offers the human participant an opportunity to more deeply experience and connect with the more-than-human world around them. The process of slowing down and noticing the world around us with multiple senses might teach us that the natural world has a rhythm, for example, which we are a part of, not separate from. We are nature, and nature is us. By remembering this connection (we remember it because it has always been true), we might find ourselves becoming better caretakers of the more-than-human-world, as a natural extension of caring for ourselves. And because of this deeper connection, we know are not alone.
Click here to read the whole article on treelinereview.com
The Short History of Plants as Medicine
Respecting all remedies that live around us.
This article by @healtline is an informative look at the history of our use of plants as medicine. Many of us would have grown up with home remedies which have since been scientifically proven. And many us if still use herbal teas to help us with everyday ailments. Peppermint tea to ease digestion anyone? It seems there is a mind shift toward preferring natural remedies where they are helpful and this article may give you renewed appreciation for the amazing properties of plants or may even inspire your own inner herbalist to the fore.
Most of our ancestors came from animistic cultures, which believed that all things — including plants — hold a spirit.
And this is also true today: Indigenous people worldwide still revere much of the natural world as sacred, and safeguard the plant spirits within — as is still done today in the sacred groves of Africa.
For much of humankind, possessing plant knowledge, or having access to a person who did, made the difference between life and death. In fact, the majority of the world still relies on traditional medicine, and even in industrialized countries, folk remedies are still used to treat illness every day.
Only recently have we lost this primal connection to the natural world.
Is it a surprise then, in these modern times with the growing options of medical technology, that there’s a rising movement to restore ancient plant-based healing practices?
We know, access to healthcare is not easy: Medical costs are skyrocketing, leaving many to grapple with high prices. Others also face difficulties accessing quality care due to their race or gender and are eager for options outside of the mainstream medical system.
While they do require responsible use to avoid interactions with other treatments prescribed by your doctor, herbal medicine might be a more accessible solution for managing some chronic conditions.
Click here to read the article on healthline.com
The Stoic Life in Accordance with Nature
Maximize your potential.
There are many lessons to glean from nature and the ancient stoic philosophers themselves based much of their thinking on what they saw as natural law.
“The founder of Stoicism, Zeno, sweepingly defined nature as “the way things work,” and wisdom as acting in accordance with natural laws. Read more about the way stoic philosophy draws on nature and see if if it inspires your inner philosopher too.
Open any Stoic thinker and you’ll find the instruction to live according to nature. Stoic Emperor Marcus Aurelius put it this way in Meditations: “Philosophy requires only what your nature already demands.” The founder of Stoicism, Zeno, sweepingly defined nature as “the way things work,” and wisdom as acting in accordance with natural laws. Another Stoic, Seneca, put it this way: “Let us keep to the way which Nature has mapped out for us, and let us not swerve therefrom. If we follow Nature, all is easy and unobstructed; but if we combat Nature, our life differs not a whit from that of men who row against the current.” In another instance Seneca defines ‘living according to nature’ as the motto of the Stoic school.
Click here to read the full article on dailystoic.com
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You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re busy – then you should sit for an hour. – Zen Saying
Here’s one of the great benefits of retirement – we get to change the way we spend our time. This comes with its challenges too which is why it’s important to be intentional about how we do it. Make a priority of spending time outdoors enjoying the natural world. Reap the benefits. Reduced blood pressure, improved mood, better sleep and even faster healing are all part of the gifts of spending time in nature.
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Last week’s question:
Which of nature’s gifts do you most benefit from at this stage of life?
• Hikes in the woods, beach walks, listening to the birds before dawn.
• Walking in nature to relax and recharge.
• Its beauty, its vitality, the lesson of its graceful decline to death and, in some instances, its resurrection.
• Connecting with the subtle changes of the seasons.
• Relaxing, breathing properly, joy, wonder, appreciation.
• Just fresh, crisp air and natural habitat.
• Water… drinking it … swimming in it … listening to it and looking at it
• Unsurpassed exquisite beauty.
This week’s poll question:
How can we continue to grow beyond retirement?
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