Connecting to Nature

learn how to connect to nature from the indigenous first peoples of Australia

connecting to nature connecting to nature Living a busy life in modern suburbia, it can sometimes feel like nature is distant from us, almost abstract. Working and socialising online, we have moved into virtual worlds, away from the reassuring rhythms of the world outside. The frenetic pace of screen spaces has replaced green places in our lives, and we often feel pressured and distracted. Finding time to sit quietly in a natural place that’s special to you will help you find calm and stability. Doing this regularly, you will notice the plants and animals of your place and grow roots of connection. First Peoples, who have lived on Country for thousands of generations, have much to teach non-Indigenous folk about this deep feeling. Dadirri (da-did-ee) is a word from the Ngan’gikurunggurr and Ngen’giwumirri languages of the peoples of the Daly River region in northern Australia. It means ‘deep water sounds’ and describes their way of being on Country. It is focused on quiet, still awareness; inner, deep listening and feeling nature. This way of being contrasts with the way we non-Indigenous people are often quickly moving through the world, either walking, running or driving. We also tend to talk more and ask lots of questions. Elder, Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, in her reflection on dadirri writes, “in our Aboriginal way, we learnt to listen from our earliest days. We could not live good and useful lives unless we listened. This was the normal way for us to learn – not by asking questions. We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting. Our people have passed on this way of listening for over 40,000 years. … My people are not threatened by silence. They are completely at home in it. They have lived for thousands of years with Nature’s quietness.” She goes on to explain the quiet stillness and waiting part of dadirri. “Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course, like the seasons. … To be still brings peace – and it brings understanding.” The practice of deep listening to Country is widespread in Australia, although the language shifts depending on where you are. Given the new understanding we have of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, perhaps non-Indigenous Australians are beginning to sense this old way. Maybe we can pause and learn from the First Peoples of our ancient land and celebrate their knowledge of how best to be in this place. To find out more check out the resources below or buy Nature, Our Medicine. Online Miriam Rose Foundation  Books Treading Lightly by Tex Sculthorpe and Karl-Erik SvelbyBraiding Sweetgrass and other books by Robin Wall KimmererSalt by Bruce PascoeSand Talk by Tyson YunkaportaTell Me Why by Archie RoachBecoming Indigenous to the Universe by Kerry Arabena Photo credits:Photographs by Dr Dimity Williams All Post Blog Green Living Health and Wellness Nature An Introduction to Nature, Our Medicine Read More Journalling After Nature Immersion Read More What is Nature Play? Read More

Nature Prescriptions

nature prescriptions nature prescriptions This is a new type of prescription where a doctor suggests their patient spend a certain amount of time in nature on a regular basis. Why – because spending time in nature has great health benefits! For our body: increases physical activity so improves fitness and lowers rates of obesity, healthy exposure to sunlight which will help sleep patterns and aid the formation of vitamin D in the body (crucial for bone and muscle health and immune function) and better heart health by lowering blood pressure. This time outside even lowers our blood levels of stress hormone cortisol and enhances the activity of certain white blood cells which fight infection and prevent the development of cancer. For our mind: time in nature lowers feelings of stress and anxiety, lifts mood and improves focus. After being out in nature, focus and concentration are better and there is less tendency to ruminate (dwell on negative thoughts and feelings). For children: getting out into nature on a regular basis is especially important for child health and development. Apart from the benefits outlines above, having free time to simply play in rich natural places provides the best opportunity for kids to engage in ‘nature play’- link to blog on this here How- unplug from technology and connect to nature! Choose your special place: where’s a spot you feel comfortable that’s easy to get to?  Is it your balcony? Your garden? A nearby park or beach? Choose your nature dose: how long can you realistically commit to spending?  Set an achievable time and frequency ie. 30 minutes daily. It’s good to aim for a ‘green hour’ each day- this can be broken up into smaller pieces.  If you’re starting from very little time in nature, just 15 minutes to begin might be most achievable at first. Set your intention to connect To get the most benefit from your nature prescription you really need to be where you actually are, rather than have your attention somewhere else (listening to a podcast/on a work phone call etc…) To make this easy for yourself consider leaving your phone at home, or at the very least putting it onto airplane mode. Then, put on your nature glasses and check out the world around you! Try to engage all your senses- feel the breeze on your skin, notice the flower’s fragrance, lie on the grass and look up into the sky, touch the bark of that incredible tree- maybe even put your cheek against it. To find out more, sign up to receive a free nature prescription template, or buy Nature, Our Medicine. Photo credits:Tree hug Photo by Trent Haaland on UnsplashWoman on beach and hand touching tree photographs from Shutterstock All Post Blog Green Living Health and Wellness Nature Journalling After Nature Immersion Read More Connecting to Nature Read More What is Nature Play? Read More

What is Nature Play?

what is nature play? what is nature play? Nature play is simply providing the time and space for children to be in nature. It is child-focused and child-led with no adult-directed outcome. Why? Because free time playing in nature supports optimal child wellbeing! For growing bodies: nature play encourages physical activity so strengthens bones, muscles and heart health. Playing on uneven natural surfaces improves balance and co-ordination. Looking up into tree canopies or out to the horizon helps eye health reducing rates of visual problems like short sightedness. For growing minds: encounters with animals and natural phenomena like puddles, rain, sunrises and rainbows foster awe and wonder. These states of fascination stimulate curiosity and a love of learning. Problem-solving, creativity and resilience are all nurtured by nature play experiences. For growing nature lovers: children who grow up with nature in their lives are more likely to care about the natural world as adults- becoming the nature stewards and environmentalists of the future. How- create time and space for all children to play in nature! Make time: nature play can start as soon as children can play on their own outside, around the age of three. Cancel an organised, adult-driven activity in your child’s current schedule and replace it with a time for nature play. Try to fit in some time for this play every day. Find green places: nature play can be in your own backyard, the nearby park or you could bring some natural objects home and have a nature play corner inside if it’s really difficult to get to a green space. Nature play uses ‘loose materials’ like sticks, leaves, flowers and stones that children can incorporate into their games as they wish. Step back: this may be the tricky bit! Adults need to step back and simply allow children to play as they wish. It might be good to offer some ‘play invitations’ like a pile of sticks or leaves to help initiate play but remember not to set a goal or desired outcome! To find out more check out the resources below or buy Nature, Our Medicine Books: The Last Child in the Woods and other books by Richard Louv The Sense Of Wonder by Rachel Carson How to Raise A Wild Child by Scott D. Sampson  Online: Schools Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten film directed by Lisa Molomot Project Wildthing film by David Bond- access on thewildnetwork Kids In Nature Network  Photo credits:Child with leaves Photo by Janko Ferlič on UnsplashChildren with tree branches Photo by Markus Spiske on UnsplashChildren leaning against tree Photo by by Marcus Wallis on Unsplash All Post Blog Green Living Health and Wellness Nature An Introduction to Nature, Our Medicine Read More Journalling After Nature Immersion Read More Connecting to Nature Read More