Is it unacceptable to be still in nature?

I went for a walk earlier today near to where I live and was observing a large tree that had been uprooted by the wind recently. Three people walked past together and a lady then stopped to ask if I was alright, I told her that I was fine and was looking at the tree. I then continued my walk by some different trees and it struck me that unless you have a dog, in our culture it is deemed strange to be walking alone and generally enjoying nature. It is quite acceptable to jog on your own but if you want to slow right down and really connect with nature in the same way indigenous people from around the world would do people generally do not understand this. It pains me that humans in this country our so disconnected from their spiritual roots to the earth that they cannot grasp that sometimes people want to just ‘be’ in nature rather than run or march past it. Contrast this with the Native American Cherokee tribe for example who refer to the trees as ‘standing people’ because they felt that trees had some kind of ‘sentient awareness’. The Buddha was said to have reached enlightenment whilst sat under a tree and examples can be found in many cultures which demonstrate the importance of trees to our physical and spiritual well being.

All over the country the importance of connecting with nature to our mental well being is being recognised and it is common for occupational therapists to incorporate gardening and working on allotments into rehabilitation for people with mental health issues and recovering addicts. In Manchester there is a charity called Ecominds which does just this. I was really pleased to see a local counselling company offering ‘walking therapy’. Grove counselling quote the University of Essex as saying 88% of people who took part in a study reported an improvement in their mood within 5 minutes of being in an outdoor environment. Yet the wider public are still not quite open to the idea that merely being in nature, not necessarily walking a dog, jogging, but connecting with out natural environment can bring us immense benefits and is in fact part of our spiritual heritage which pre dates Christianity by thousands of years.

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