“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” John Muir – 19th Century naturalist and writer.
These words speak to that elemental part of us that knows, and they resonate with a far deeper relevance today than they probably did then.
Worldwide research shows that our brains tire easily, they are not merely mindless machines.
David Strayer, cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah specialises in attention and has researched the psychological benefits of being in nature.
He says there is a 3 day effect. “If you can have the experience of being in the moment for two or three days, we don’t only feel restored, it seems to produce a difference in qualitative thinking and mental performance.” Through EEG scans of his students while out backpacking, he has now been able to show this.
The cottage sits snugly half way up the mountain side enveloped by trees, and the energy and essence of the forest is palpable.
Peter Gummer (Lord Chadlington) founder of PR firm Shandwick and former CEO of Huntsworth, says, ‘People have lost their sense of awe. Big open spaces give that to people.’ Twice a year he takes a week away on his own. ‘It’s a cleansing of the brain and the body. So much blunts life’s senses. Creativity comes from sensitivity. Crude unthinking, insensitive people can’t be creative.’
It’s long been known that being amongst trees makes us feel good. The Japanese have a name for it – shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. This is the ritualised practice of being in the forest, stopping to breathe in the smells, walking slowly through the forest and paying attention to the minutiae and magnificence of your surroundings. The Japanese think this is so beneficial that they offer this as a prescription therapy.
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