Many years ago, humans and nature coexisted in a harmony that has been missing in present days. We didn’t live in the technical and sophisticated way we do now. We needed to connect to nature on a much more personal level because it was integral to our very existence.
Humankind’s very survival depended on listening to and feeling our connection with nature. We relied on plants for our medicine, used the stars to navigate and tilled the land using animals to plant our crops. That is just the tip of the iceberg.
In years past almost everything people needed was tied to nature. These days, while nature is still present in our life, there is a certain disconnect for people. This is especially true for those of us who live in suburban, or urban environments. We have pills for our headaches, GPS units to navigate and we get our “crops” from the supermarket.
Our advances in technology and convenience aren’t necessarily bad things. We should embrace the advances we have made as a species. There have been some truly impressive feats realized in modern times. We need to keep things in perspective though and not forget about our past. Our connection to nature should always be cherished and remembered.
There are many benefits to “getting back to nature”. Past research has shown that a connection to nature has been shown to decrease stress levels and stimulate healing. Newer research has even drawn the conclusion that it makes people nicer!
A series of studies posted on the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that immersion in nature brings individuals closer to others, whereas human-made environments make people more interested in selfish or self interested ends. When you think about it, this makes sense. When you immerse yourself into nature, you get a feeling of being part of a community, of belonging to something “bigger”.
We know that immersion into nature, can lead to a healthier, fitter, stress free and now friendlier personal lifestyle. Is that the most important outcome of connecting with nature though? Is personal growth the end all and be all or is there is actually more to it?
Skeet Sutherland, of Sticks and Stone Wilderness training puts it best when he says “Wilderness Awareness Skills save more than one life but whole communities...Sticks and Stones Wilderness School brings expert skills to the local community in the name of forest preservation and practical ecological initiatives. We help people feel at home with their habitat by giving them the skills to implement sustainable objectives that produce practical and reliable results that enhance biological diversity and ecological integrity.”
When people learn more about nature, they will be more open to conservation efforts. If we connect with nature - we will be able to relate to things like loss of habitat, loss of wetlands and tragedies like extinction.
Although we don’t rely on nature like we once did, we still need it. It is still part of what makes this Earth special. It can help us heal faster and makes us better people. The best way we can make sure our natural habitat is protected is by teaching ourselves and our children about nature and the wilderness. We need to feel the connection with nature that our ancestors once relied upon. That is the key to ecological conservation and preservation.