Benefits of yoga outdoors – connecting with nature

Word Count: 991    Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Back to nature for health, sustenance and well-being is what we’re all about. Well, that and supporting folks who work in fields encouraging just that.

Working in wellness retreat venues for many years, I have been fortunate to experience many different teachers of various modalities and techniques.

The most refreshing and invigorating wellness practices I have experienced have been done outdoors. I love meditating outdoors in the wilderness and joining sessions with friends who guide Nature Therapy walks and Noble walks.

Yoga outdoors is another big fave, it feels to me during a session that is how it’s meant to be done. If you think about it’s historical roots, that’s probably right.

Increasingly the importance of connecting with nature returns to the forefront for most teachers in wellness fields.

Even the scientific data is confirming far reaching benefits to being outdoors in nature and we find it the perfect antidote to what Richard Louv calls, nature deficit disorders.

 

Word Count: 991    Reading Time: 5 minutes


 

 

Back to nature for health, sustenance and well-being is what we’re all about. Well, that and supporting folks who work in fields encouraging just that.

Working in wellness retreat venues for many years, I have been fortunate to experience many different teachers of various modalities and techniques.

The most refreshing and invigorating wellness practices I have experienced have been done outdoors. I love meditating outdoors in the wilderness and joining sessions with friends who guide Nature Therapy walks and Noble walks.

Yoga outdoors is another big fave, it feels to me during a session that is how it’s meant to be done. If you think about it’s historical roots, that’s probably right.

Increasingly the importance of connecting with nature returns to the forefront for most teachers in wellness fields.

Even the scientific data is confirming far reaching benefits to being outdoors in nature and we find it the perfect antidote to what Richard Louv calls, nature deficit disorders.

 

Yoga and meditation outdoors

 

I grew up in Western Australia where at certain times of the year massive storms would roll in off the Indian ocean.

In my later years there I used to go to the beach when these storms rolled in, even if during the night, and would sit and meditate facing them, as close to the torrid water as I dared.

Invigorating beyond belief, I would come away feeling as if the winds and rains of the storms literally blew and washed away stagnation and lethargy, seemingly straight through me.

Working in the outback of Australia for many years gave me ample opportunity to practice what is known as grounding.

I found this exercise especially powerful in the wild outback, desolate as it often looked, there was no mistaking the immense power in the earth and the trees that managed to exist there.

I am always moved by the sensation of being barefoot on the ground and love sinking my feet into dirt and mud.

So too of being naked in water or shirtless leaning back against a tree, preferably a big old oak.

It’s my favourite way of meditating to be sitting beneath an old tree, an ancient tree, grounding myself and remembering to let go the mental and emotional boundaries and simply radiate outwards into nature.

I find this too with the practices of yoga and qigong done in nature, for me it seems more powerful somehow more cleansing.

 

Connecting with nature

 

I’m not a yoga teacher, so I thought it best to let Masie Barefoot-Judson talk about the benefits of yoga outdoors from a teacher’s perspective:

 

Have you ever felt the earth beneath your feet – I mean really felt it? Have you taken your shoes off and felt the cold soil or spread your toes wide to really feel the surface of your yoga mat?

What I remember most about my childhood is the freedom of going barefoot — of playing without shoes and exploring wide-open spaces with my hands and feet.

 

Although I have grown up, there is still a bit of this child in the way I practice yoga.

My yoga mat may not physically be a wide-open space, but still… it gives me the chance to explore its textured surface on my skin with child-like delight.

 

Connecting with your natural setting is grounding and playful, and with practice, often meditative.

 

Perhaps you too have felt this connection with the earth moving into your practice. In my teaching style, the seasons often play a vital role in the sequences I use.

On warm days, I may notice that my students seem more limber, but often feel tired by the end of the day; and on cooler days, I get requests to open the shoulders where we’ve cinched tension around the neck.

 

As we move through Spring, I create intense internal heat with long, slow movements, taking the time to linger and find ease within the movement.

Spring is often the perfect time to take your yoga outdoors to bask in the sun or enjoy a nice shaded spot. Or forget your mat altogether and leap into nature as your yoga mat.

I’ve rested my back against boulders in tadasana, connecting with the mountain. The options are endless – imagine yourself in bidalasana, alternating between cat and cow poses.

Or you could rise into tree pose, while reaching out and resting your palm on a tree’s trunk. Connecting with your natural setting is grounding and playful, and with practice, often meditative.

 

If you would rather practice meditation instead of yoga outdoors, you can still practice outside and connect with nature.

You can sit at the base of a tree and use the canvas of your mind to grow upward like the tree.

Feel your roots growing down into the soil from the base of your spine.

Expanding our consciousness, we dive deeper within our own connection to nature.

 

I invite you also to play like a child and have fun in the process.

( Masie’s article originally appeared on artoflivingretreatcenter.org/blog. )

 


Scientific research agrees there are benefits

 

During the last two decades more and more research studies have demonstrated the benefits of reconnecting with nature.

Our friends at the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy can tell you a lot about the benefits of being in nature, as can the Japanese who practice Shinrin Yoku, or forest bathing, for health and wellness.

Although the scientific community use cautious language, they do comment on the potential benefits of connecting. You can find a more in depth discussion of this in our article Amazing Facts About Nature Connection.

Did you know that doctors in Shetland, Scotland can now prescribe time in nature for their patients?

We’ve known about the benefits of connecting with nature for some time and highly recommend Guided Nature Therapy walks with certified guides, like our friend Marion Edler-Burke in Galway, Ireland.

The benefits of connection with nature were known by our ancestors, this knowledge common place up to the industrial revolution. It’s going to go mainstream soon as it increasingly pops up in popular news like The Guardian.

If you’re up for a spot of video explaining the concept of nature connection for health and happiness, pop over to our Resource page and check out some rather humerous videos by Nature Rx in the media section.

Enjoy!

 


Resources

nil

Why smart leaders of change embrace technology for future success

Word Count: 1,072    Reading Time: 5.5 minutes

 

Successful leaders empower people and conservation through the smart use of technology

 

You need to use technology appropriate to your niche and size to be heard and be a successful leader of positive change, whatever your message.

Skilful choices and ways of living, symbiotic with nature and humans, are often drowned out by online noise.

Entertainment, news, frivolity, sensationalism and distraction win the most traffic and revenue.

Therefore, to connect to a wider audience and increase engagement, leaders of change must use technology in smart ways for future success.

 

A Startup 30 years in the making, supports leaders of change

 

We at Eco Freelance Support launched April 2019 to service genres like ecotourism, wellness, conservation, nature based education and evolving human consciousness.

Boosting their success and cementing their position, so as to make more positive change possible. Employing the best tactics and tools of big business to get good causes off the runway.

Founded on decades of experience in the fields we service, we provide IT, business and project management services to these genres.

Word Count: 1,072    Reading Time: 5.5 minutes


 

 

Empowering people and conservation through the smart use of technology

 

You need to use technology appropriate to your niche and size to be heard and be a successful leader of positive change, whatever your message.

Skilful choices and ways of living, symbiotic with nature and humans, are often drowned out by online noise.

Entertainment, news, frivolity, sensationalism and distraction win the most traffic and revenue.

Therefore, to connect to a wider audience and increase engagement, leaders of change must use technology in smart ways for future success.

 

A Startup 30 years in the making, supports leaders of change

 

We at Eco Freelance Support launched April 2019 to service genres like ecotourism, wellness, conservation, nature based education and evolving human consciousness.

Boosting their success and cementing their position, so as to make more positive change possible. Employing the best tactics and tools of big business to get good causes off the runway.

Founded on decades of experience in the fields we service, we provide IT, business and project management services to these genres.

Why did we startup?

 

Firstly, we found many of the folks in these genres struggled to succeed, despite working for the common good and being good at what they do.

Secondly, they often lacked the tools, technical skills and business experience to keep up with rapidly evolving technology and changes in business.

Thirdly, engaging the services that create a bigger audience is often too expensive, or overly complicated and time consuming for them to do it well.

Finally, they were losing too much time to these aspects because their expertise lies in different fields. Thus reducing their effectiveness and diluting their message.

 

Click to unlock the Complete Branding Checklist here.

So we started with a simple goal…

 

Provide an affordable service for those people to get off the runway and flying quickly.

Combining the best technology for their needs with sound business structure and workflows to boost their online and business performance.

Scalable to where they’re at, no matter their size, experience or vision.

Working with them to chart and support their success.

Making them more effective over the long term.

 

Click to unlock the Complete Branding Checklist here.

Real leaders of change

 

You don’t have to change the whole world, just yourself. You know the outer reflects the inner. Therefore, we need only change the inner landscape to change the outer world.

People who understand this are the real leaders of change. But they are not leaders of change because they actively try to change others.

Positive change leaders are such by way of example. They share with others ways of living that are more skilful.

More skilful is to be in balance with nature, with interpersonal relationships and the work-life balance.

Disconnection from nature and each other spreads separatism, dis-ease and stress.

 

Disconnection from each other

 

Despite being more connected than ever in the digital sense, the rise of depression, discontent and malaise demonstrate that our lives are not better for it.

Moreover our interpersonal relationships are more transactional than ever, often more about social proofs than anything else.

Specifically we mean common modern day proofs such as social media likes, shares and comments

 

 

Work-Life Balance

 

Are we using technology to make our lives better yet? Better meaning more skilful, as opposed to more convenient.

Being more connected online can mean less time connected in an organic interpersonal way.

Strangely, being online (or connected) means disconnecting from real people and nature in the here and now.

 

A laptop in the woods, smart leaders of change leverage technology for their success.

It’s a paradox

 

In modern society you must use technology to forward or promote any message.

If you are sharing more skilful ways to live, relate, build community, most likely you used technology to get the word out. I mean, what choice have you got?

Unless of course you are working at absolute grass roots level only, within your local community.

Leveraging technology correctly, drives more traffic to the source of your content, and it’s quality content that stands the test of time.

If it is not properly optimised for search engines, well you might as well go home! Non-optimised content goes nowhere, unless you get lucky and manage to go viral on something. That is statistically rare.

Consider the numbers

Seotribunal.com report these revealing statistics:

Google’s 90.46% share of the global search market equates to 63,000 searches per second.

That equates to 3.8 million searches per minute, 228 million searches per hour, and 5.6 billion searches per day.

For people to find you it is essential to rank well in search query results. Nailing your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the only way to achieve this beyond the short term.

NeilPatel explains The 10 Most Important SEO Tips You Need to Know. Neil is a world renowned luminary on the subject.

 

A laptop in the woods, smart leaders of change leverage technology for their success.

How to swim in a big pond full of hungry fish

 

Those statistics above attest the online world is staggeringly massive and growing rapidly. It’s very easy to drown in all the noise, such as entertainment, news, frivolity, sensationalism and distraction.

Many important messages about positive change don’t get heard, or heard enough.

Typically it takes resources to compete with all the noisy online traffic.

A poor indictment of consumerist society, that entertainment, sensationalism and distraction get most of the traffic and make most of the money.

Consumerist bohemiths have the resources to drown out or out compete more skilful messages and choices in the market place and the social feed.

Therefore, a good degree of understanding and skill in using the technology to promote more skilful choices is required in the modern landscape.

The web has become very complex with massive user volumes.

It is now a very big pond with huge numbers of hungry fish in it, thus you need the most appropriate tools and familiarity with those tools to swim successfully in the big pond.

Or know somebody who does, like us.

 

Be a smart fish

 

In conclusion, the right tools used the right way are essential for you to continue to communicate your message and bring about positive change.

Furthermore, engaging pro support specifically geared to boosting leaders of positive change, no matter what scale or the stage of their mission they’re at.

Maintaining your work-life balance, interpersonal relationships and symbiotic relationship with nature.

Lest you start to drown in the online world, your example and message is lost and you fail to realise your vision.

The web is a tool, let’s keep it as such, and get back to reality…nature!

 

Resources

Robbie Richards.com: SEO Copywriting: 15 Killer Techniques (With Examples and A/B Test Results!) 

How to achieve your goals and dreams

Word Count: 1,946    Reading Time: 11 minutes

 

Do you know what you really want from life?

Do you know where you want to go, who you want to be?

Is your idea a ‘life project’, a business project or a creative expression?

Will that project, business or creative outlet get you to your vision?

 

Visioning and Goal Setting

 

Answering the above questions are vital before you start any project or make any significant life choice. For the sake of this discussion let’s group them all together under the term ‘project’.

As such this can also be a way to approach a project management task, except your bosses might not be too keen on the intuition part of this post (below)!

Visioning and goal setting are extremely important first steps in assessing, planning and developing a project.

First, imagine the project complete, up and running successfully as it were, identifying all the realistically achievable parts of it.

Then define steps or goals that can bring you closer to your vision, helping you to see where you are at, relative to your vision, and what steps to take next.

Everyone involved in your project should contribute to these two steps, the more inputs you have, the clearer your picture will be!

Word Count: 1,946    Reading Time: 11 minutes 

 

Do you know what you really want from life?

Do you know where you want to go, who you want to be?

Is your idea a ‘life project’, a business project or a creative expression?

Will that project, business or creative outlet get you to your vision?

 

Visioning and Goal Setting

 

Answering the above questions are vital before you start any project or make any significant life choice. For the sake of this discussion let’s group them all together under the term ‘project’.

As such this can also be a way to approach a project management task, except your bosses might not be too keen on the intuition part of this post (below)!

Visioning and goal setting are extremely important first steps in assessing, planning and developing a project.

First, imagine the project complete, up and running successfully as it were, identifying all the realistically achievable parts of it.

Then define steps or goals that can bring you closer to your vision, helping you to see where you are at, relative to your vision, and what steps to take next.

Everyone involved in your project should contribute to these two steps, the more inputs you have, the clearer your picture will be!

Step One: Visioning

 

Here you develop a vision of how you would like to see your project (a business for example) in a few years time. Choose a time frame of five or ten or twenty years in the future, trying to be realistic.

Do not spend too much time thinking about how you are going to get to the goal right now, but form a positive picture, making sure to keep it realistic.

Combine the most desired and valued outcomes of all the stakeholders involved with the project, creating a vision that addresses everyone’s needs.

This exercise can be done in writing as well as ‘mind maps’ or similar diagrams to help visualise the successful project and all its component parts. Feel free to draw and sketch your vision to make it lively and ‘real’.

The diagram can then form the basis of a written plan or project flow chart, each step now more easy to identify, and then the next, and so on, creating what becomes a coherent project plan.

Step Two: Goal Setting

 

In this step you identify concrete objectives of your project with the view of creating realistic waypoints to navigate towards.

These can also be used to help assess your project’s progression, and more easily recognise needs for adjustments and adaptations along the way.

Maybe even major changes in course, as visions and goals have a way of changing over time as you change and your project evolves, or does not.

Tip: Describe at least two goals in each of the major sections within your overall plan. Take for example an ecotourism development, it is helpful to have a balanced weighting between goals of the economic, social/cultural and environmental aspects of your project.

These should be detailed, making sure they are realistic, relevant and that can be measured. Then add these goals to your Visioning diagram and respond by adjusting your overall project plan if necessary.

Step Three: Strategies

 

Next you establish strategies to achieve each of the goals you have identified.

These are best devised by breaking down each goal into all its component parts and evaluating each of these in logical order, step by step.

Once you have mapped each step, group the steps together in logical flows and voilà, now you have a very detailed strategy.

Now For The Hard Part – Action!

 

At first, perceiving a vision and then devising a plan to achieve it can seem daunting, but once you get into the swing of it, you’ll find it becomes a creative process that can be highly stimulating and rewarding.

Sure it takes a lot of work to come up with a clear and concise plan, but in relation to the road that lies ahead, it’s a relatively short exercise and doesn’t require so much energy.

Seeing the plan through to the end and achieving your goals is by far the bigger challenge.

It requires you to work towards your goals every day, day in, day out, week after week, year in, year out.

It requires diligence, stamina, self belief and discipline. These are the biggest challenges in any journey towards a long term goal.

Especially when things are not going so well or according to your well thought out plan!

Holding the clear and unwavering picture of each waypoint you have mapped out, and the end goal in sight, as you work your way along slowly to your end goals is a challenge, a far bigger challenge than setting out on the road in the first place!

You are going to be tested often by difficult circumstances, perceived failures and unforeseen bumps in the road.

You may even come to sense that what seemed like the reason for commencing the journey towards your goal ends up being secondary, that the experience of the journey itself, and how it changes you and your perceptions, becomes primary.

Making Difficult Decisions

 

We are very selective in what information we filter out from our consciousness stream, making our awareness highly subjective.

Furthermore, most people are only able to hold a relatively small number of data points in the conscious mind at any given time.

There is far too much data streaming through your total awareness for you to be aware of it all, through all of your senses and senses most people are unaware of as yet.

In this way it is pretty much impossible for us to ever accumulate sufficient data to satisfy the rational mind that we are making the ‘correct’ decision in any given situation.

The rational mind seeks security, needs to know it is okay and that everything will be okay in the future.

It seeks safety and isn’t normally comfortable with risk, especially if it perceives risk as being threatening to its comfort and physical well-being.

So when trying to make big decisions, because we can never accumulate enough data to satisfy the rational mind that everything is going to be okay, no matter how things turn out, we have a tendency to overthink the situation, or procrastinate.

Procrastination Sucks Your Energy Dry

 

Overthinking and trying to rationalise everything out will drain and deplete your energy. It is the rational mind’s way of avoiding decisions it finds scary and potentially threatening.

You could say that this procrastination is actually self sabotage, that is, it is getting in the way of your progression towards your goals. Don’t get me wrong, considering all the angles and thinking things through is of course important and responsible.

But when you consider that there are far too many data points and streams, or to put it another way, there are just too many angles for you to be able to see them all, well you have to accept there comes a point where you have to rely on something else…your gut.

Don’t Underestimate Your Intuition

 

In the end your feelings play a huge role in all decisions, much more than many people realise or admit. The gut feeling, that inner knowing that something is right, or isn’t, or which fork in the road feels right, and which doesn’t. We’ve all been there.

If you’ve put yourself in enough situations where you’ve tested that gut feeling out, tested that inner voice or feeling, you know it plays a huge role. You begin to trust it.

When you’ve been through enough situations where you put your trust in that inner radar and things worked out okay, you know it’s far more reliable than the procrastinations of the rational mind.

You also know that how things appear on the surface are rarely how they are once you get through a situation and have the perspective of hindsight, can look back and see what ACTUALLY happened.

You know how the facts APPEARED to be, you know what choices you made and what the outcomes were.

Do this enough times and you will know that your intuition is your strongest ally, and a fearless guide.

Sure Make Plans, But Don’t Be Too Attached To Them

 

You’re planning a project, a business venture, a startup, you’re changing your life direction.

You’ve got a plan, or maybe even several. That’s cool, as we said, it helps big time to have a clear picture of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. It stimulates action.

A BIG word of advice though!

Have you heard the saying “The best laid plans of mice and men”?

“Often go awry!” is the end of that saying, adapted from a line in “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns.

Essentially it means, that no matter how much you plan and scheme, you can NEVER know everything life has in store for you. There can be pitfalls, there can be failures and there can be catastrophes.

Guess what? There can be amazing windfalls, incredible turns in events that far exceed your plans and expectations too!

So try not to get too attached to all those plans you made, in all likelihood you are going to have to change them at some point. Adapt them, rearrange them, turn them upside down, expand them or drop them altogether.

Don’t be too rigid or too attached to your plans as rigidity and stubbornness may prevent you from realising your dreams, or recognising when your priorities have changed or when something even better has come along.

Allow For Contingencies

 

As we said you can not possibly know everything that is going to happen, you can not see around all the corners, no way. Sure, life would be really boring if you could now, wouldn’t it!

So, if you are starting a new project, something significant, making a major life choice, and you’ve got a plan devised, one word of advice is to allow for contingencies, lots of them!

For all the reasons we were just discussing above, you can’t see everything that may happen. If it’s a major project or decision, there’s going to be many potential waypoints, decisions and choices to be made.

So, when working out time frames, projecting costs, forecasting energies required to make it all happen, add extra on top for contingencies, those things you are currently UNAWARE of.

Those unforeseen things that you couldn’t predict.

But how do you allow for things that are unforeseen, you may ask?

Good point!

If you can not allow for everything, if you don’t know what they are, how can you cost them, how can you time frame them?

More good points!

You can’t, BUT you can make some guesses and you CAN decide on how much you are prepared to allow for contingencies.

As an absolute minimum, we always factor in 15% on top of whatever it is we’re planning.

That’s 15% more time, more cost, more energy required. Depending on the project, the location, the complexity, even as much as 50% contingency.

If your project doesn’t stack up financially or energetically with that contingency added on top, our advice is seriously reconsider the risks! But that’s all still being rational now isn’t it..

SO, don’t forget your intuition, even when considering your contingencies!

IF it’s telling you add 50% contingency, our advice would be go with that.

IF it’s telling you it’s too risky, no matter what the rational data looks like, then go with that.

IF it’s telling you to hell with all the risks, well……

We think you know our answer!

 

Remember this acronym:

False Evidence Appearing Real

Resources

Our experience

Why We Throttled Social Media?

Word Count: 943    Reading Time: 5 minutes

Why Throttle Social Media?

 

To save time, enhance productivity, limit distraction and attention fragmentation.

Furthermore, to eliminate social media related anxiety, preserve health, be more active and have a life!

We limit ourselves to the use of LinkedIn and Twitter for publishing articles and professional networking.

In addition investing some time in networking with bloggers in specifically relevant fields and we publish on our blog. But that’s it, that’s where we draw the line, for our own purposes.

However that’s not to say that we think all social media is a waste of time, no!

We do understand its value in networking, dissemination of information and of course marketing, depending on the nature of a service or product.

For instance in some of our project work it is an important component of developing a presence and positioning for a venue, service or product.

Word Count: 943    Reading Time: 5 minutes

 


 

Why Throttle Social Media?

 

To save time, enhance productivity, limit distraction and attention fragmentation.

Furthermore, to eliminate social media related anxiety, preserve health, be more active and have a life!

We limit ourselves to the use of LinkedIn and Twitter for publishing articles and professional networking.

In addition investing some time in networking with bloggers in specifically relevant fields and we publish on our blog. But that’s it, that’s where we draw the line, for our own purposes.

However that’s not to say that we think all social media is a waste of time, no!

We do understand its value in networking, dissemination of information and of course marketing, depending on the nature of a service or product.

For instance in some of our project work it is an important component of developing a presence and positioning for a venue, service or product.

Google and Social Media

 

Social media was considered to be an important component in SEO for search rankings.

However Google explained in 2016 it is difficult to accurately determine authorship identity of social media content, so did not (as of 2016) factor social media into search algorithms for ranking.

That said, social media does remain highly relevant though as a vehicle for driving qualified traffic to your sites and businesses, building and positioning a brand, and being an additional point of contact with potential customers.

 

Digital Marketing Value Versus Addictive Behaviour

 

It’s clear that social media platforms are valuable in the modern landscape.

We recommend and conduct integration with social media for our clients where appropriate.

Most importantly we aim to assist our clients to minimise their time and energy drains related to being online and IT in general.

Furthermore we are advocates of returning to nature for health, well being and sustenance. Most definitely including reducing time consuming social media.

Our issue is with overuse of social media as with any other addictive behaviour, it has detrimental effects, chronic and acute.

If you doubt the validity of claims about social media consumption as being potentially addictive, there are websites on the subject.

See It’s Time To Log Off, and 30 Signs Of Social Media Addiction for just a small sample.

In addition the rise of Digital Detox Retreats across the world in recent years for people wanting to “get unplugged”.

In fact we have supported digital detox type retreats in Ireland and Portugal, so far!

Finally there are numerous studies on the subject of social media use and depression and other negative effects.

Anya Zhukova provides a good introductory discussion of Negative Effects of Social Media over at Makeuseof.com.

See Resources at the bottom of this post for some related studies.

 

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

 

A typical argument against not being an individual consumer of Facebook and other hugely popular social platforms is the Fear Of Missing Out on something.

We travel a lot, we meet literally hundreds and hundreds of people in the course of a year.

We experience new real world stuff most of the time.

We certainly have plenty of adventures and probably travel more than most people.

We’re very open minded and well informed.

Furthermore, we lead rewarding lives and enjoy ourselves aplenty.

All achieved without a Facebook profile or any of the other popular platforms, save for those mentioned above we use for professional networking.

 

What We Gained Leaving Social Media

 

As the title of this article suggests, we did use popular social media when it first came out.

However we found quickly that we didn’t like it and the amount of time needed interfered with our lives.

Recognising the oscillation of background anxiety that came with its use and its design elements that were aimed at creating a kind of dependency akin to addiction.

We felt the effects of being mentally overstimulated and distracted away from the world outdoors, nature, fresh air, natural environments.

Our conclusion was that it is a form of entertainment that we don’t like.

We tired quickly of watching rooms of friends communicate with each other through their devices, and of conversations being interrupted by people’s need of a fix of their social media.

Not to mention the modern posture, head down, eyes transfixed as they finger scrolled through their online life.

What did we notice when we deleted our social media profiles, way back then?

 

We saved time, yep lots of time!

 

In addition we found that our background anxiety levels dropped away.

That is, after the initial period of discontinued use, which came with some passing feelings of anxiety and fear of missing out.

This left space and time to reconnect with oneself and develop that inner relationship more, without the need of any external validation of our activities, choices, preferences, opinions and lifestyle.

 

Sedentary Lifestyles Are Literally Killing Us

 

There is a fast growing body of research demonstrating how social media use may be a major contributing factor in the rise of anxiety and depression in children, adolescents and adults alike.

There are also physical impacts associated with the sedentary lifestyle and extensive use of screen interfaced technologies.

The human body did not evolve to sit for prolonged periods, it evolved to move, and move a lot!

Technology use sees many of us sitting for periods of time that are literally killing us!

It is estimated that 90% of premature deaths worldwide are attributable to this modern habit of sitting too much.

An overly sedentary lifestyle is shown to be connected to many chronic health conditions.

Check out Murat Dalkilinç’s TEDEx lesson “Why sitting is bad for you“ for a cool presentation on this matter.

 

Sitting Makes It Harder To Think

 

A sedentary lifestyle diminishes concentration also, by reducing blood and thus oxygen circulation to the brain.

Concentration is actually aided by movement which enhances circulation.

Too much sitting is a major factor in modern body posture related health issues such as spinal problems, circulation both blood and lymph, nervous system function and fat metabolising.

There are plenty of sources out there discussing the implications of sitting too much, here’s just a couple worth a look;

Why Sitting Down Destroys You | Roger Frampton – YouTube

Why Sitting Too Much Is Seriously Bad for Your Health – Authority Nutrition.com

We also notice a bunch of effects when we have to engage in prolonged use of screen interface technologies, such as;

• tiredness
• sore eyes
• anti social tendency and moodiness
• over stimulation
• anxiety
• compelled to repeat/prolong the experience of tech engagement
• reluctance to engage in outdoor activities
• less restful sleep
• diminished positive attitude

 

Other Purposes Behind Social Media

 

We feel it is also important to point out that social media is not a fundamental technology in and of itself, it uses technology to deliver a product that is essentially entertainment.

It is also a means of data mining private information of individuals and populations for selling on to marketers and promoters.

Social media companies employ attention engineers whose function is to make social media as addictive and compulsive as possible to maximise user engagement and optimise data acquisition and product/service promotion.

As with all things in life, social media use is ok in moderation, but give it some thought, do you really know why you spend the time and energy you do using it?

Give it some real deep thought, go inside your choices and behaviours, do you really know what motivates them?

Can this be extended to other aspects of our lives? You bet ya!

What could you be doing with your time if you didn’t spend as much time online?

Check out the work by Dr Cal Newport on this subject and others. Watch Cal’s TedTalk, Why You Should Quit Social Media.

Cal is a professor at Georgetown University.

In his latest book Deep Work, Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age.

 

Resources

Social media use and perceptions of physical health
Bridget Dibb, 2019

Investigating the Effects of Social Media Usage on Sleep Quality
Dinesh Kaimal, Ravi Teja Sajja, Farzan Sasangohar, 2017

Health Effects of Media on Children and Adolescents
Victor C. Strasburger, Amy B. Jordan, Ed Donnerstein, 2010

 

Amazing Facts About Nature Connection

Word Count: 866    Reading Time: 4.5 minutes

 

The Importance of Nature

 

We humans are a part of all the natural life on this planet, we come from nature, we grew out of it.

Throughout evolution we have always been in and with nature, in fact we are inseparable from our environment. No organism can exist without an environment.

We rely on our environment, nature, for food, water, air, shelter and energy. Without nature, we can not exist.

But the modern lifestyle has distracted us from a healthy relationship to the natural world.

Our consumption habits and addictions are altering and destroying our environment, the nature on which we rely for our existence.

Many people can not tolerate being without their smartphones or an internet connection for very long.

We are seemingly more networked and connected with each other than ever before, but are we really?

Instant access to information is prevalent in modern society. But information is not necessarily knowledge, or wisdom.

It is clear, and there is plenty of research out there to demonstrate it, that our preoccupation and distraction with information technology and consumerism are major factors in our diminishing relationship to the natural world and thus ourselves.

This diminishing affinity with nature has serious effects on our health, well being and happiness.

 

Word Count: 866    Reading Time: 4.5 minutes

 


 

 

The Importance of Nature

 

We humans are a part of all the natural life on this planet, we come from nature, we grew out of it.

Throughout evolution we have always been in and with nature, in fact we are inseparable from our environment. No organism can exist without an environment.

We rely on our environment, nature, for food, water, air, shelter and energy. Without nature, we can not exist.

But the modern lifestyle has distracted us from a healthy relationship to the natural world.

Our consumption habits and addictions are altering and destroying our environment, the nature on which we rely for our existence.

Many people can not tolerate being without their smartphones or an an internet connection for very long.

We are seemingly more networked and connected with each other than ever before, but are we really?

Instant access to information is prevalent in modern society. But information is not necessarily knowledge, or wisdom.

It is clear, and there is plenty of research out there to demonstrate it, that our preoccupation and distraction with information technology and consumerism are major factors in our diminishing relationship to the natural world and thus ourselves.

This diminishing affinity with nature has serious effects on our health, well being and happiness.

Nature Deficit Disorders

 

American author Richard Louv says in his book The Nature Principle, people living in high-tech societies often suffer from what he calls nature deficit disorder. See Louv’s other book, Last Child in the Woods.

As described by Louv, this is not a medical diagnosis, but a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. (Wikipedia)

The costs of alienation include: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.

Benefits of Being in Nature

 

During the last two decades more and more research studies have demonstrated the benefits of reconnecting with nature.

Here are some of them:

 

Walking in nature may reduce the risk of mental illness.
Participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment […] showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment.

Source: https://www.pnas.org/content/112/28/8567.abstract

 

Experiencing nature decreases rumination and anxiety and improves cognitive abilities.
Nature experience produced clear benefits for affect (e.g., decrease in anxiety and rumination).

Nature experience produced some benefits for cognition (complex working memory span task).

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204615000286

 

Certain microbes present in soil may increase serotonin production, making you happier and relaxed.

Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has indeed been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide.

The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier.

Lack of serotonin has been linked to depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar problems.

The bacterium appears to be a natural antidepressant in soil and has no adverse health effects.

Sources: Identification of an Immune-Responsive Mesolimbocortical Serotonergic System: Potential Role in Regulation of Emotional Behavior, by Christopher Lowry et al., published online on March 28 in Neuroscience.

And: http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jul/raw-data-is-dirt-the-new-prozac

 

Nature contact may enhance the wellbeing of individuals experiencing chronic mental, emotional and physical health difficulties.

Evidence demonstrates that separately, physical activity, social connection, and contact with nature enhance human health and well-being.

The case example illustrates how ‘active’, ‘social’ and ‘adventurous’ contact with nature may be combined within a treatment intervention to protect and enhance the health of individuals experiencing chronic mental, emotional and physical health difficulties.

Source: Health and well-being naturally: ‘contact with nature’ in health promotion for targeted individuals, communities and populations. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16916314

 

Spending time outdoors is associated with greater vitality.

Being outdoors was associated with greater vitality, a relation that was mediated by the presence of natural elements.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494409000838

 

Excerpt From Our Work With Forest Schooling Ireland

 

With the rapid and all encompassing emergence of consumer technology in the last 20 years, many disturbing childhood trends have also appeared: obesity, attention disorders, behavioural problems and depression are rising fast.

Research clearly indicates that Nature Connection is essential for children to develop physical, mental and emotional health.

Howard Gardener, Professor of Education at Harvard University developed the theory of 7 multiple intelligences in 1983 and recently added the 8th, naturalist intelligence, which he calls nature smart.

Forest School is transformative and transferable as it engages multiple intelligences, and therefore offers each learning type opportunities to grow and shine.

The Author, Mentor and Tracker Jon Young also talks about nature smart in a YouTube video from his own experience over 30 years working with children and youth in the wilderness.

He also points out that Nature Connection is the foundation of a healthy and vibrant Culture as it is only through Nature Connection that we can deeply connect to ourself and then others.

Another good reason why Forest School is so important in our time of uncertainty and climate change is to build resilience and resourcefulness into our children so they can react and adapt appropriately in different circumstances.

And finally Nature Connection develops love and respect for Nature, the realisation of our interconnectedness and our role as humans to take good care of it to secure our future on earth.

A nice article on the subject:

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/01/call-to-wild/

 

Resources

 

Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Gregory N. Bratman, J. Paul Hamilton, Kevin S. Hahn, Gretchen C. Daily, and James J. Gross, 2015.

The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition. Gregory N.Bratman, Gretchen, C.Daily, Benjamin J.Levy, James J.Grossd, 2015.

Identification of an Immune-Responsive Mesolimbocortical Serotonergic System: Potential Role in Regulation of Emotional Behavior. C.A. Lowry, J.H. Hollis, A. de Vries, B. Pan, L.R. Brunet, J.R.F. Hunt, J.F.R. Paton, E. van Kampen, D.M. Knight, A.K. Evans, G.A.W. Rook, and S.L. Lightman, 2007.

Health and well-being naturally: ‘contact with nature’ in health promotion for targeted individuals, communities and populations. Pryor A, Townsend M, Maller C, Field K., 2006.

Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature. Richard M. Ryan, Netta Weinstein, Jessey Bernstein, Kirk Warren Brown, Louis Mistretta, Marylène Gagné, 2010.