I just got back from camping in Sedona over Labor Day weekend. To say it was Epic is an understatement. The first night, I camped with a group of beautiful people near a river. It was deeply gratifying to sleep on the earth in a sleeping bag and to stand around the campfire chatting under the stars. I spent most of the next day sitting in a chair staring at the trees in a deep state of relaxation. My mind felt very still and I was content to just be and not do. By the end of the day, I crawled into my tent with the sound of crickets to keep me company and drifted off to a peaceful sleep. The last night was by far the most epic! I hiked out to meet my friends in a remote canyon. It was a 6-mile hike into the wilderness and I tracked through deep water and swampy grasses. Our sensational, private, camping spot was nestled up on a canyon wall in the red rocks of Sedona. It had an overhang that was almost like being half inside and half outside of a cave. The campsite was pristine, had it’s own fire ring, rock lounge chairs that someone before us had created, and even a secret ledge that overlooked the water below. It was our favorite spot for early morning river viewing and late night star gazing. Peace, Victory, and Bliss are just a few words I can use to describe the experience. We made lovely warm meals over the campfire from the food we packed in, but our food was not the main source of nourishment. It was the air, the earth, the water, and fire. I began to remember that The Elements feed us on a core level. Connecting and blending with them without the distraction of technology of any kind was the best gift I’ve had in a long time. After a day and night out in the river, basking in the sun, swimming in the streams and swimming holes, getting up close and personal with the flowers, plants, and rocks, I felt full and satisfied. I’m sure I could have spent many more days out there and definitely will go back again, but even just the weekend getaway was enough to rejuvenate and replenish me.
Here are some ways in which nature provides:
- LOWER STRESS HORMONES AND FEEL HAPPIER-Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks. City dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside. Source: NY Times. Walking in nature can make you feel happier and reduce your anxiety and negative thinking. According to Gregory Bratman, a graduate student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, participants in a study who walked in nature vs. in traffic showed that the participants who walked in nature had improved quieting of the mind and improved moods. Meanwhile, the participants who walked on a busy street had no mental improvement and they still felt negative upon their return
- VITAMIN D– Did you know that Vitamin D is a hormone not a vitamin? It plays an important role in balancing our moods and creating a healthy immune system. Those who don’t get enough Vitamin D have higher risk of cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease. Spending just 20 minutes a day in sunlight (nature) can increase your vitamin D levels.
- IMPROVED EYE SIGHT-If you work a lot on a computer or watch TV or Netflix most evenings, you’re at risk of developing blurred vision, double vision, dry/red eyes, eye irritation, headaches, and neck or back pain. Getting outside and focusing on objects farther than two feet in front of your face can greatly help to prevent and even reverse these symptoms. Natural light is healing for the eyes. Contrary to popular belief, one should not wear sunglasses while in the sun. Exposing the eyes to natural light can recalibrate your brain and help improve your eyesight. So take a break from reading this right now and go outside and breathe for a moment!
- LUNG HEALTH– Speaking of breathing, filtered air through air conditioners or heaters is not ideal for the lungs or the mind. Getting fresh, unfiltered air is ideal. The lungs are our main source of detoxification so breathing in clean fresh air is so important! That is one of the main reasons I moved out of a downtown area in Tucson and into the hills of Marana. I get to wake up every morning, walk a couple miles, and breathe in the freshness of the day. Even if I only have 20 minutes, an outside walk can make a huge difference in how the day unfolds.
- GET GROUNDED– Go barefoot whenever possible. Have you heard of earthing or grounding? This is an ancient remedy. You can’t see the Earth’s energy but it can be felt. You may experience it as a pleasant sensation rising up through your body as you walk on the beach or on hard, cool dirt in the forest. Books on Earthing give excellent facts on how sleeping, walking and immersing ourselves in earthly substances can completely change our sleep patterns, mood, outlook, and create a new sweet spot in life. We have evolved away from sitting on rocks and squatting on dirt, we have replaced our earth with rubber shoes and synthetic flooring. This has completely messed up our connection with Mother Earth. Getting outside and going barefoot will reconnect you with nature, help you to feel more balanced and peaceful and may even make you want to garden or give back to the earth in some way.
- BEST SLEEP EVER!-The best part about camping is sleeping on the Earth, staring up at the stars and hearing nature sounds. You may wake up early, eager and refreshed. There is no better remedy for insomnia or sleep problems than a night out in nature. As a matter of fact, even though I love the luxury of sleeping in, I don’t feel the need to do so when I’m sleeping outside.
Do you need more proof that we need nature, and we need to spend more time outside? If you live in a city, make it a point to go on nature hikes during your down time. Go out to a park during your lunch break and just sit or lay on a blanket on the grass for 20 minutes. You can also meditate outside in your backyard or in a quiet spot. Being in nature may become one of your new favorite ways to feel Super Human!
Want a nature rejuvenating experience like mine? Inspired by my new found passion for getting outside and helping others do the same, I have teamed up with Eden Hot Springs Return to Eden Retreat to give my students a chance to get earthed, re-energized and connect with other like-minded souls while eating the best food ever. Check out my upgraded Level 3 plant-based chef certification and join me for an Epic adventure into the healing hot springs of Eden.