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What is immersion in nature and what are the benefits?

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"We can never have enough of nature.” ~ Henry David Thoreau 

There’s nothing quite like being deeply immersed in the natural world, completely removed from the distractions of today’s chaotic society.  It’s no surprise that spending time in nature makes us feel great. We have known this for centuries. 2500 years ago, in an overcrowded city in Persia, Cyrus the Great recognized the need to boost the health of his subjects and create a feeling of "calm" among the population. In response, he planted a garden in the middle of the city. In Japan, the practice of shinrin-yoku, which translates to “taking in the forest” or “forest bathing,” first appeared in public health in the 1980s. Since then, it has become a cornerstone of preventive healthcare and healing in Japanese medicine. Now, science in proving[1] what we have always known instinctively: nature has a beneficial impact on our overall health and well-being. It not only makes us healthier, but also happier, and more creative.

The Healing Power of Nature

A woman who is immersion in nature

Nature is the antidote to today’s stressful and demanding world. It takes us outside and brings us into contact with our natural environment. It provides an inexplicable sense of tranquil awareness. This contact with the natural environment offers many positive benefits for our overall health and well-being. When we get closer to nature, whether exploring untouched wilderness, taking a long walk in a familiar park, or sitting under a backyard tree, we are immersed in the natural phenomena of nature. We see trees, plants, animals, and other creatures. The natural sounds of nature are only complimented by the sound of our own breathing, our footsteps and the wind rustling through the trees. The scent of nature is in the trees, the grass, the flowers, and the smell of the earth right after the rain. We are exposed to the elements, through the changing weather and season, and the natural rhythms of day and night. The natural sunlight, shining through the leaves is full of vitamin D. Nature provides us a sense of comfort and the ability for our bodies to heal.

The Status Quo 

Although, it is undoubtedly clear, nature has an incredible power to heal, it seems, somehow, we have lost our way, and gotten lost on the ever-more hectic highway of life. Very few of us spend time outside. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)[2], the average American spends a STAGGERING 93% of their life indoors- without enough daylight or fresh air. Broken down, the numbers are even more shocking. While 87% of their life is spent cooped up indoors, another 6% of their life is spent sitting in their car.

It's gotten so prevalent, that we don’t think about it anymore. It’s become the new normal. Especially now, when staying at home is encouraged more than ever. While isolating ourselves from the uncertainties and discomfort of the natural world, we've also managed to isolate ourselves from the therapeutic benefits of nature. However, science has consistently shown that spending too much time indoors can be harmful to our health and well-being.

 Reconnect with Nature

Research suggests that, although we have become more and more distanced from nature and its health benefits, there is still time to make a change.  In a meta-analysis of 10 studies[3], researchers have found that going outside and moving, for as little as five minutes at a time, improved not only mood, but also self-esteem. What about the times when we cannot venture out into the deep woods for a substantial period of time? According to a 2008 NIH study[4], simply viewing pictures of nature improves attention and concentration. 

Mudita Pause is a creative alternative for those moments when venturing outside is not an option, but when we still crave a moment of reflection, which comes from exposure to nature. It provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the phenomena of nature and reconnect with the natural world at any time. Mudita Pause provides a moment of deep focus and introspection in a world full of distractions. Even if we are not immersed in wild, natural places, having a view of trees from a window or viewing natural scenes can also be beneficial.

How much time did you spend with nature today?

Also find out: How to spend offline time? List of outdoor activities.

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