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Why do I think clearer and am less stressed outside?

 
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Andres Edwards wrote: I remember doing a training once and the leader as a way to introduce ourselves to the group asked us which habitat we feel most connected to: forest, desert, ocean, mountains, etc. This is another way to dig deeper into our connection with nature. Is it the vastness of the ocean, or the sounds of the forest, or the sight of the mountains? Noting what aspect of a habitat calls us fills in the picture of what attracts us to nature. And how do we express it back? Through writing, art, contemplative practices, or simply taking it all in by being present in the moment?



I find this fascinating, because my husband and my ideals of nature are drastically different. He grew up in Souther California and Idaho--so dry, deserty areas with big open skies. I grew up in the rainy Seattle area. I feel at most at home in mossy woods. I remember visiting Idaho as a teenager, and noticing with dismay that there was no moss! I love my moss and ferns and trees...and places without shade really freak me out, especially when it's hot. My husband and I  had taken a boat ride to a little jetty, that had absolutely no trees. It was hot and humid and I felt like I was dying. My husband still laughs about how I tried to hide under driftwood to escape the sun/heat!

My husband is the exact opposite. He loves the heat and the dry, and feels claustrophobic when surrounded by trees or even hills/mountains. He wants to see the SKY and be able to gaze miles upon miles into the distance. I like looking at such vast expanses of sky, but I feel disoriented after a while if I can't get back to my trees. He needs the sky as much as I need the trees, and he always yearns to leave this "mold state" and go back to the desert. "There's nothing living there!"  I protest. He doesn't care--"At least it's not moldy and I'm not penned in by trees!" He usually refuses to go outside if it's raining, and doesn't even like going out if it's cloudy. Meanwhile, cool cloudy days are wonderful for me, especially since it means the neighbors usually aren't out doing yard work. Invariably, if it's sunny, they are all out with their lawn mowers and power tools and wheedwhakers and MAN it's loud!
 
pollinator
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Andres, this is a nice exercise! I use it too and I extend it:
- what climate do you like best?
As a child I found out it was continental, because I liked to feel the stength of cycles and the change.
- what breed of dog do you like best?
I liked the primitive dogs and their link to impulse and their social and communication skills. I also like te cooperation skill of sled dogs, the openess and curiosity of samoyeds to know new persons...
- What animal do you like is more open. I like squirrels for their memory and their capacity to care for the future by making reserves. And I like that what they loose and do not remember serves a purpose too!

About empathy:
I have learned to express it differently, to not let myself contaminate by hard feelings, in order to be able to contaminate who feels bad with my pleasant feelings! And this is a big reward when you get a sad person laugh and have sparks in the eyes! This also lift me up and is thus very rewarding after the initial effort.

hahaha, it is like reversed empathy! Infect the world with good things... does it ring a bell to permies people? :)
 
pollinator
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Andres Edwards wrote: I remember doing a training once and the leader as a way to introduce ourselves to the group asked us which habitat we feel most connected to: forest, desert, ocean, mountains, etc. This is another way to dig deeper into our connection with nature. Is it the vastness of the ocean, or the sounds of the forest, or the sight of the mountains? Noting what aspect of a habitat calls us fills in the picture of what attracts us to nature. And how do we express it back? Through writing, art, contemplative practices, or simply taking it all in by being present in the moment?



Oh I love this! I grew up in NE Ohio, it's cloudy, wet, humid, very green and lush with plenty of trees. I love it. I lived out in NW Montana for a few years near Glacier National Park and it was very beautiful, huge blue skies and much sunnier but it never felt like "home". Even the forests didn't smell "right", there was a certain odor that really bothered me.
I'm back in NE Ohio now and have a whole new appreciation for it.

I love just taking nature in. I'm also really drawn to nature journaling, and I've also started learning about Natural History Illustration which teaches you how to observe and really "see" nature and then draw it in accurate detail. It's given me a whole new appreciation for the intricate beauty and design of the natural world.

 
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My mom gave me this book ("the Nature Fix"), which goes into great detail about how we connect to nature and how it improves our mood and health in measurable ways:

https://www.florencewilliams.com/the-nature-fix

Several Asian countries are actively studying the phenomenon and park tourism is becoming a growing business as a result. Researchers take several measurements of respiration, blood pressure, heart rate, and even blood samples for hormone levels like cortisol, before and after an hour walk in some parks, and found a statistically significant improvement in those vitals, which can last for 1-2 weeks in some cases.

Edit: Here's the Youtube video explaining the book's overall concepts:
 
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I agree that being outdoors every day makes a difference to me too. I try and go for a walk outdoors every day ideally over half an hour. And I've noticed how being in the woods vs. a tree lined street makes a difference as well. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors in a more secluded natural area is even more beneficial than say walking outdoors where there may be a busy street and noise nearby. Either way, just getting out and spending time in nature has a calming effect. I'm excited that the science behind the benefits of being in nature is becoming widely available. And the beauty is that it's such a simple thing to do! Our bodies and nature take care of the rest in terms of the health benefits. Perhaps they'll many doctors prescriptions in the near future that will call a thirty minute walk in nature every day for thirty days!
 
Andres Edwards
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I feel a calling for the ocean and for the mountains. For most of my life I've lived close to the ocean. And when I lived away from the coast, I felt something was missing-- the breeze, the sound of the ocean waves breaking on the shore, the smells of the ocean, the sun, the seals, seagulls, pelicans, the texture of the wet sand while walking along the shore--- all these memories bring me back to the ocean.
I'm also drawn to the mountains-- more specifically the alpine habitat where there are lakes, beautiful rocks, trees and the sight of higher, often snowcapped peaks. In the wintertime, I'm drawn to the thrill of cross-country skiing in this type of habitat. For me when I think of these habitats they come to life when I remember them with all my senses: the smells, sights, textures, sounds, and even the taste of the wild berries for memory of enjoying a delicious lunch while there.
 
Andres Edwards
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Maybe our attraction to certain habitats is related to what we're most familiar with. For me it's the ocean (and more generally water) and mountains. And perhaps when we're not in these environments we seek what is closest to them: lakes or rivers in urban environments that are away from the coastline, and maybe hills with views in cities which is the closest we get to being in the mountains.
 
Adrienne Halbrook
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I've wondered about this too. If it's just what is most familiar, something subconscious or is it something else?

I'm also very drawn to the ocean and use to dream of living by the ocean even though I had never been to the ocean! I did not go up anywhere near the ocean but I did go to a small lake pretty often, played in creeks, and occasionally went to Lake Erie which is a little like the ocean - water as far as the eye can see and plenty of waves.
Now I live within 3 miles of Lake Erie and love sitting on the sandy shore and watching the waves hit the shore.

I wonder if being drawn to the ocean is something many people feel? The popularity of going to the beach and exotic beach side vacations seem to point that way.

I also love going to the mountains, enjoy camping in them or trail riding my horse but I'm not sure I'd be happy living there full time... unless I had a meadow near by.
 
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I saw this a few years ago and still watch it occasionally. While spoofing prescription drug commercials, I find it rings true.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf5TgVRGND4
 
pollinator
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After a delayed 'absorbing' of this conversation, I recognize some stuff that strongly resonates.  I also am often totally 'captured' by the 'screen'... the dopamine that is supposedly triggered by 'learning something new' is a seriously addictive 'drug' for me.  'Curiosity', typically so highly valued, may be a danger for me.  I have to remember that 'moderation in all things' applies in spades for the draw the internet/computer has for me.  Being 'here and now' is my antidote... and nothing brings me 'back' to here and now like stepping out my back door... into reality : )  (Oh, and also, gratitude assists!)

I'm not often in the 'city' (Seattle), so it still has the appeal of a 'different' experience, plus childhood memories, that I can appreciate and enjoy, but even there, my attention goes to the natural world... the plants : )  I'm wondering, now, if the 'artificial screen' world vs the 'real plant' world doesn't reflect the 'thinking' vs 'being' dichotomy?  the head vs heart (however those are defined by each of us)?  And, that my challenge (as always!) is practicing the discipline to 'moderate'... for me, personally, that is :)  Thanks, Nicole... got my work cut out... er, clarified?... for me.   (Hope this isn't too OT :)
 
pollinator
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Here's my two cents: Take a creature that normally loves outside. Now out it in a box with extremely limited views of its natural habitat, surround it with with solid blocks of color, no sky, just a closed in ceiling,and hard,uniform floors. Coop it up for awhile. Now let it out into the fresh air, sunshine, non-stop stimulating sounds of birds, crickets,frogs,insects,wind,water, squirrels, and countless other animals and noises. It can feel the uniquely textured ground, the breeze on it's face, the water in the creek, the nipping mosquitoes. It can inhale the fresh air that sustains it and the very soil that feeds it. It can't even comprehend just how vital every piece of nature is in sustaining it. The sheer magnificence, yet peacefulness of it all simply overwhelms the creature into quiet submission. If it's a human were talking about, you know how feels.

Anyway, that's how I see it.
 
Huxley Harter
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Andres Edwards wrote:Maybe our attraction to certain habitats is related to what we're most familiar with. For me it's the ocean (and more generally water) and mountains.


I totally believe that everyone has a natural habitat like you say. Mine is pine woods/palmetto/oak scrub that speaks to my soul.
 
pollinator
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It might also have something to do with Schumann's frequency, that Earth's atmosphere emits, but our technology messes it up inside. Some people use 7.83HZ generators, that imitate that to help them to sleep. Interestingly those generators are also used by musicians to make recordings sound better.
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