When I was a child, we celebrated May Day with the traditional Maypole, May baskets and community gatherings for these events. Sadly, those things have gone away in most communities, but it does not lessen the joy of the month of May. From blossoming trees and buzzing bees to the sound of frogs and baby birds chirping, the earth around us has come alive with life. The color splashes and glorious sounds of spring refresh us, bathing us in the natural world. This is termed “nature bathing” and yes, this is a real thing!
Science has begun to explore the benefits of human alliance with nature. A study of the Japanese practice of nature bathing called “shinin-yoku” showed evidence-based health benefits and explored how simply being in nature for a period of time impacts the human body profoundly. The body’s immune system and ability to produce “killer cells,” those cells which attack invading infectious microbes, improved at a statistically significant rate. The Japanese studies were conducted with a series of half-day exposures to the natural world.
There is an entire branch of psychology devoted to the study and therapeutic intervention of nature. Eco-psychology researches the beneficial effects of exposure to the natural world. The Yale School of the Environment publishes the periodical Yale Environment 360, and cites in January 9, 2020 Jim Robbins article numerous works devoted to correlational studies associating time in nature with overall well-being.
The Robbins article further identifies that it takes 120 minutes to experience positive effect, however those minutes do not need to be a simultaneous period of time. Rather, the 120 minutes can be stretched out over a week and have equal benefit. This time frame was discovered in research conducted with 20,000 individuals. Matthew While and his team through the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter found that this two-hour period was a hard boundary. Less than 120 minutes showed no evidence of improved well-being; emotional, physical, or mental well-being.
We are creatures of carbon, stardust and of this earth. To remain a viable species and not take all other living creatures down with a sinking ship, we must awaken and embrace our humanity and its place as citizens in the natural world. This includes both the use of the earth’s gifts and our existence upon it, but stewardship of all of its components and support of all living things. We are interdependent. Each creature, microbe, plant and aquifer feeds, supports or lives in symbiotic fashion with all others. This is the greatest human lesson to learn and hopefully before it is too late.
Bathe in it and absorb its beauty and life force with all your senses. Get that 120 minutes of earth medicine weekly and tell us how you feel, and what Mother Earth has done for you.
As always, it is a pleasure to share these thoughts with you. If you have questions, email me at email@example.com. Comment below and share your experiences and thoughts. Find us on Facebook, our page is A Sandy Place. Sign up for our newsletter for more information about us and all the goings on here at A Sandy Place.
We value your connection!
Sandra L. Place