What Role Does Nature Play in Your Life?

What are your experiences with nature?

How typically do you are taking a leisurely stroll by the grass, a backyard or the woods? How typically do you cease to have a look at, contact or odor a flower?

How do you’re feeling when you find yourself alone in nature? Do you discover it enjoyable, invigorating, therapeutic?

In “The Healing Power of Gardens,” Oliver Sacks, a neurologist who died in 2015, wrote:

As a author, I discover gardens important to the inventive course of; as a doctor, I take my sufferers to gardens at any time when attainable. All of us have had the expertise of wandering by a lush backyard or a timeless desert, strolling by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and discovering ourselves concurrently calmed and reinvigorated, engaged in thoughts, refreshed in physique and spirit. The significance of those physiological states on particular person and neighborhood well being is prime and wide-ranging. In 40 years of medical observe, I’ve discovered solely two varieties of non-pharmaceutical “remedy” to be vitally necessary for sufferers with power neurological ailments: music and gardens.

The essay continues:

I’ve lived in New York City for 50 years, and dwelling right here is typically made bearable for me solely by its gardens. This has been true for my sufferers, too. When I labored at Beth Abraham, a hospital simply throughout the highway from the New York Botanical Garden, I discovered that there was nothing long-shut-in sufferers beloved greater than a go to to the backyard — they spoke of the hospital and the backyard as two completely different worlds.

I can’t say precisely how nature exerts its calming and organizing results on our brains, however I’ve seen in my sufferers the restorative and therapeutic powers of nature and gardens, even for many who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many instances, gardens and nature are extra highly effective than any treatment.

My good friend Lowell has reasonably extreme Tourette’s syndrome. In his ordinary busy, metropolis atmosphere, he has a whole lot of tics and verbal ejaculations every day — grunting, leaping, touching issues compulsively. I used to be due to this fact amazed at some point once we have been climbing in a desert to appreciate that his tics had fully disappeared. The remoteness and uncrowdedness of the scene, mixed with some ineffable calming impact of nature, served to defuse his ticcing, to “normalize” his neurological state, at the very least for a time.

An aged woman with Parkinson’s illness, whom I met in Guam, typically discovered herself frozen, unable to provoke motion — a standard drawback for these with parkinsonism. But as soon as we led her out into the backyard, the place crops and a rock backyard supplied a diverse panorama, she was galvanized by this, and will quickly, unaided, climb up the rocks and down once more.

I’ve various sufferers with very superior dementia or Alzheimer’s illness, who might have little or no sense of orientation to their environment. They have forgotten, or can’t entry, how you can tie their footwear or deal with cooking implements. But put them in entrance of a flower mattress with some seedlings, and they’re going to know precisely what to do — I’ve by no means seen such a affected person plant one thing the wrong way up.

The essay concludes:

Clearly, nature calls to one thing very deep in us. Biophilia, the love of nature and dwelling issues, is an important a part of the human situation. Hortophilia, the will to work together with, handle and have a tendency nature, can be deeply instilled in us. The position that nature performs in well being and therapeutic turns into much more vital for individuals working lengthy days in windowless workplaces, for these dwelling in metropolis neighborhoods with out entry to inexperienced areas, for youngsters in metropolis faculties or for these in institutional settings akin to nursing houses. The results of nature’s qualities on well being aren’t solely non secular and emotional however bodily and neurological. I’ve little doubt that they replicate deep modifications within the mind’s physiology, and maybe even its construction.

Students, learn your complete Opinion piece, then inform us:

— What position does nature play in your life? Do you actively search it out? How a lot time do you spend there? Tell us about your experiences in nature.

— Have you ever skilled any of the restorative or therapeutic powers of nature and gardens — bodily, non secular, emotional — that Mr. Sacks describes? Where do you go to calm down and discover peace when you find yourself feeling wired or down?

— What is your response to the tales of nature’s impact on individuals with psychological and bodily sicknesses that Mr. Sacks recounts? Which story stands out or fascinates you probably the most and why?

— How accessible is the pure world the place you reside? Are there many gardens out there to walk by or sit in? Do you’ve gotten any crops in your college or residence? Are you extra prone to search out nature after studying this text? Do you suppose younger individuals spend sufficient time in nature?

— Look by the pictures featured within the article. Select one that you just discover most lovely, or one which exhibits a spot you wish to go to and expertise. If impressed, write a poem concerning the image.

Further Resources:

Heal Me With Plants

Take a Walk within the Woods. Doctor’s Orders.

Students 13 and older are invited to remark. All feedback are moderated by the Learning Network workers, however please needless to say as soon as your remark is accepted, it will likely be made public.

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