Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by Spinoza99, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. Spinoza99

    Spinoza99 Member

    Sep 2015
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    Timothy DeChenne, Ph.D.

    Sometimes it takes a complicated effort to remember simple things.

    In the decades following publication of E.O. Wilson’s Biophilia (1984), which proposed an inherent inclination to affiliate with other forms of life, a cascade of research was unleashed.

    All of it examined the effects on people of contacts with nature. The areas studied were diverse, including stress, longevity, hospital recovery, work productivity, anxiety, depression, and more.

    The studies varied in their methodological rigor, and not all of them showed salutary results. But overall it does appear that interacting with nature can have demonstrably positive effects on health and well-being. Even relatively brief exposures have yielded positive outcomes, and the effects do not appear to depend on physical immersion in the natural setting. Just visual exposure—for example, patients recovering from surgery having a view of greenery through the hospital window—has had apparent benefits.

    So we’ve rediscovered, at last, what was obvious to our ancestors. In that venerable tradition of reinventing the wheel, I also want to sing the praises of “nature”. In particular, of a walk, alone, in the woods.

    As those who went before us knew, there is much to recommend it. And the secret, I think, is neither the pine scented breeze nor the stretching of one’s legs. The secret, I think, is consciousness.

    How does that change in the woods? Well, most of the time, it doesn’t. Most of the time on the trail one walks in one’s head, dredging up a memory, spinning out a fantasy, grasping at a worry. But sometimes that changes. Sometimes there are just these trees, right here, right now. Thoughts still come, as always, but since you’re not pushing them, they float away easily. The trail seems more spacious, more still. Your feet know the way.

    The impact of things that grow, or just develop, is much different from that of things we build. Construction implies, suggests, a sequence of thought, a manipulation of thought toward some end. Just being in the presence of construction draws us, unconsciously, toward that linear frame of mind. But stepping away from that, stepping into a field of natural growth, can be freeing. It can, for a time at least, be a letting go of compulsive thought. A letting go and, if you will, a coming to one’s senses.

    Release from a grasping at thought is supported by speechlessness. Hence a walk in the woods alone. Not all sounds are at issue here; rather, only the sound of words. Words are the scaffolding of thought. They draw the train of thought along ceaselessly, even when our lips are still. Actually moving those lips, in the form of speech to a companion, adds fuel to the fire. So for the purpose of changing consciousness, it’s just easier to stroll out solo.

    It’s also easier, and more liberating, to stroll with no destination. Yes, there may be a trail ahead, but so what. A goal can be tyranny. Actually you’re free to do many things: stop, sit down, wander off the trail, go back the way you came. Refuse to cut a path through the world, and you find yourself settling into it.

    Beware of props. Exhibit #1: the camera. As a landscape photographer myself, I know the temptation. Photography is rewarding, of course, but it’s a different experience than the one we’ve been discussing. It is a standing back from each scene, a viewing it through the lens as an object to be crafted. Furthermore, the entire process of the walk becomes colonized by the effort. As Annie Dillard explained in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, once you have a camera in your hand, you stop just walking; rather, you travel from shot to shot.

    What about other settings? For those who prefer, say, the desert or the sea, let me stress that most of what I’ve said applies to these settings as well. They grow, or simply develop, and as such can be liberating. If your heart is with them, so be it.

    But for me, well, there’s just something about the woods. The strength, and yet the sensitivity, of trees. Their sheer grandeur as partners on our planet. The way their branches take the breeze, pass along sounds of the morning.

    Setting out alone
    Tall trees will do for shelter
    Shadows point the way
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2016
  2. In the running

    In the running Well-Known Member

    May 2015
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    Yes, but do you trade on the stock market?:cool:

    Joking aside, that was a very good post. Point well taken and there really is something to be said about the power of nature. A power that we are seeing less and less of as more and more of us pile into the big cities for more "opportunities".
  3. L_B

    L_B Well-Known Member

    Jul 2015
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    Very good read. Thank you for posting! I have always enjoyed spending time in nature, whether it be hiking, walking or camping. Spending time in the outdoors is a great stress reliever and helps with depression also. People need to stop more often and enjoy all the things that nature has to offer. Its those little things in life that mean the most.
  4. kgord

    kgord Senior Investor

    Aug 2015
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    I love the woods. Admittently, I don't usually walk in them., but my house is surrounded by trees. i am more or less in the woods. A large wooded area is right behind my house. II love being so close to trees and nature. It is much more relaxing than having people around all the time. It is pretty majestic in the Fall and the Spring. I would recommend it.

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