Today unofficially begins Memorial Day Weekend here in the States which typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end. For people on the East Coast of the U.S, taking off to the beach is a tradition many people have been embracing for generations. After a long winter of snow, ice and rain, a day at the beach is the ultimate spa day filled with sunshine, salt water and fresh air. There is something special about the combination of all three that heals the body, mind and spirit and we often take these things for granted.
As a young girl, when I spent summers with an Aunt who lived close to the ocean, all I can remember is sleeping like a baby. I just had the best slumber! It’s hard to know if it was the ocean air that lulled me into a sound sleep or just the beautiful day I spent outside riding my bike to beach, swimming in the ocean and soaking up the sun. Nature was a wonderful elixir and sedative for me and there is no other comparative experience that both stimulates the senses and calms the body except sex! Don’t you agree? Think about what I am talking about here! lol
Just today, I read this great short piece from a UK newspaper on the healing powers of the ocean, and you will be thrilled especially if you aren’t headed to the ocean this weekend. Much of what they share in the article are spa treatments but they also recommend contacting a The General Council of Natural Homeopaths, which you can find here in the U.S or your part of the world too. I am providing the U.S directory here for your perusal, because you may want to explore it when seeking a healing modality that looks to nature for cures.
What is really interesting, is learning more about water therapy wisdom, which has been carried on for centuries by many cultures and began with the great ancient Greek healers. It is in Greece that the healing tradition called ‘The Water Cure’ evolved. The Water Cure is the common term for a collection of therapies which, in one way or another, creatively make use of the healing virtues of Water:
Hydrotherapy: techniques of therapeutic bathing and use of water
Balneotherapy: therapeutic bathing in medicinal and thermal springs
Thalassotherapy: the therapeutic use of ocean bathing and marine products
So you can understand why we all head to the ocean when we can! Yes, nature provides and we need to protect and cherish beautiful mother earth, because she is a part of us. ‘Nature therapy’ is just a modern term used for ancient wisdom. But wait, there are many who love the mountains. No surprise, because all of nature is restorative and healing. Read John Muir’s (the famous naturalist) quote I have highlighted from over a century ago, and pay attention to the ‘century’ part, because it is amazing how culturally relevant his words are today.
As mentioned earlier, ancient cultures have been turning to nature or rather immersing themselves in nature for thousands of years! Chinese Taoist created gardens and greenhouses to improve human health. But today in Japan the belief in the benefits of connecting with the earth is so strong that a national movement ‘shinrin-yoku‘ was launched, supporting the use of nature to improve health and well-being. The Japanese Society of Forest Medicine has conducted numerous studies showing measurable medical and mental health benefits to connecting with nature. The Japanese government invested more than $4 million in research to prove the tangible benefits of nature, and has also built “forest therapy bases” and has inspired the rest of Asia to follow. This is wellness culture in action!
Don’t despair, you know you don’t have to go to Japan to commune with nature. Western science is catching up with ancient wisdom and new research is supporting that nature therapy helps control pain and negative stress. ‘Nature’s RX’ has benefits that may go way beyond just outdoor exercise. Certain scientific findings ( evidence still building) has become so convincing that mainstream health care providers are promoting nature therapy for an array of illnesses and for disease prevention. Don’t forget last weeks ‘weekly wisdom wrap’ where we covered ‘Vitamin D’ and sunshine. Moderation was the key takeaway…
So here is the good news! As I said, you don’t have to go to Japan, you don’t even have to go to the ocean or the mountains to reap the benefits of ‘Nature Therapy’. You can just go for a walk outside. Many docs and experts promote the benefits of reconnecting with Mother Earth simply by walking into our own backyards barefoot, also called ‘earthing‘ or “grounding.” Research has shown that this simple action may offset some of the harmful effects of the electromagnetic fields surrounding us and transfers the negatively charged free electrons in our bodies into the earth.
I personally wanted to share some of my passions in addition to loving the beach. I am a certified Flowerista which essentially means I love flowers! Gardening is a great way to dig in and commune with nature. There is an old book from 1699 called the ‘English Gardner’, and it advises “spend spare time in the garden, either digging, setting out or weeding, there is no better way to preserve your health’. Remember the Chinese had this down thousands of years before this!
Since I’m a Flowerista you would think I have my own personal garden–but surprise I don’t! I have lived in urban city apartments for a big part of my adult life but always found my way ‘out into nature’. My work allowed for International travel and guess what I always did no matter what part of the world I was in? I found a Public Garden! I still do this is my own area and always find gardens greatly uplift my mind and spirit. I also love visiting working farms and farmers markets which keeps me ‘grounded’ and healthy in numerous ways, especially from the inside out. Below is one of my fav local farms in New Jersey…
Here are two links I thought you would find useful and hopefully will inspire you to get outside for some nature therapy. Of course there are National Parks, Eco-Travel vacations and tours but communing with nature doesn’t necessarily have to be saved for a vacation. If you live in a concrete jungle like New York just go over to the new ‘High Line’ and enjoy a wonderful path along the outskirts of the city. Green Spaces are becoming more available because ‘the wisdom’ is becoming understood that nature is good for communities. Go figure! How this escaped us I will leave to the historians of industrialization!
Find a Public Garden
Find a Farmers Market
So here we are again, coming to a familiar conclusion. Mind, body, spirit are all interconnected and health is dependent on caring for all three. It’s truly amazing how Mother Nature provides healing medicine for all three and it is often right outside our front door…
Enjoy the Holiday Weekend!