The Cure for Mental Illness

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I have been off the water for a week. On the York boat, I spent about a week’s time continuously in nature, and this just reminded me of an inspiration I had about few weeks ago: spending time in nature is the cure for mental illness.

We humans are complex beings. Putting ourselves in boxes — apartments, condos, office buildings, skyscrapers — is simply not a good way to treat such amazing, creative beings. It is akin to putting wild animals in zoos or fish in aquariums. They are neither happy nor healthy — they need stimulation, territory to roam, prey to chase and the world to explore. Freedom. So do we also need stimulation, space to explore and be free, and there is no better place than out in nature.

I know some people get sad over trees being cut down and green spaces in cities being removed. I can relate — but I can also show you places where the trees are eager to grow! They are so close together, it’s amazing they have enough soil. I’ve seen trees grow out of cracks in rocks. Don’t fret about the trees — they are still growing lots, all over the place! You just aren’t in the right place to see them.

We have a connection to nature that no other being on the planet has, and when that connection is rusty, it shows. We can observe nature, learn from the animals and plants that we see, but most importantly, we can learn to appreciate it. Appreciation is the most important vibe in the universe, and feeling raw, unencumbered appreciation is incredible freeing. It is impossible, I think, to be depressed while watching birds chase each other around the sky. And they sing just for the joy of it! How can we worry or fret when facing the abundance of a mighty river or the soft, green moss of a lush forest? Even in the desert there is an amazing beauty, and life abounds everywhere on this planet.

Except perhaps in big cities. Sure, there are some birds, but it isn’t the same. Cultured outdoor spaces, like golf courses or manicured parks, aren’t the same as nature either. Wild animals simply don’t go into urban areas with no plants, no green. Every city needs some parks, so if you live in a city, find the green space and go sit in it. Even better — get out of the city, and breathe some fresh country air. Get into the wildest (unmanicured or untouched) place you can. Watch the birds fly. Notice the trees sway. Soak in the blue sky and become fascinated by the clouds. Feel the sun warm you and enjoy the breeze on your skin. Listen to frogs, look for critters and remember who you are: a creature, yes, but a creative one, full of imagination and life, intuition and connection, Spirit and intelligence.

I would love to help someone do a formal study of mental health patients spending time in nature, going for walks in the bush or sitting on a river bank. If you know someone who would be interested in studying this, please contact me.

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