Happy Valentines Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Falling in love - is it about that sense of wonder, that sense of excitement... even finding your place?

That’s what many tell us its like when we actively deepen our relationships, our connection to nature. Feeling connected to something larger than ourselves- a relationship , which in turn is supporting of our lives, that we can be nourished and draw strength from. 

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves autumn.” - John Muir (1838 – 1914) was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness.

I asked some friends - How do you reconnect with nature? What do you love about it? 



Justin H. reckons the way he gets in touch with nature is “I come home to the mountain, its fresh and refreshing- I feel calm and still.” 

While Nancy B., long term volunteer at Wild Mountains likes to sit and meditate with it, she says “ Its  a loaded question - What do I love about it?- it is just a part of my life. And I feel alive in it, connected."


Cobi U. “ I dunno. I go to nature. I try and bring it into my home. I like how it always finds a way to - how do you say - to retake space in my life. To silently wander in unnoticed and always present. It reminds me to be hopeful. “


Emma W. told me she just loves getting out into it and when she does, for her its all about the joy, “from the experience of watching it all unfold around me. Its a strange mix of calm and excitement”. 



So today the telephone lines and internet waves will be filled with love - love for each other, love for our families, love for our animals and love for the earth. Lets think about the joy of love that we can bring to today and the rest of the days in this year. Remembering what joy may be found in wind dancers, leaves falling, turning ...  dancing in the wind.


With love today (and the rest of the year) from the crew at Wild Mountains! -Lizz 




MAGIC SPOT MYSTERY - from the archives...

I wanted to put out a poem from our magic spots for today and this was the first one I cam across- seems perfect!


Its from last years  Earthkeepers Camp with Samford Valley Steiner School one of the accompanying dads had this to share when we lifted the veil of silence. 


In the green toned highlighted spaces,

lurks a spectacle of processes; shimmies and shakes.

Fertile moist, rotting relationships make whoopee with air flows,

moving the sweet sweating perspiration along the armpits of the gullies;


Clouds shape in the pirated beards of moss,

lichen beauty spots mesmerise their cousin fungi,

dancing to the Fibonacci tango in a multitude of chameleon appearances.


Sun’s spotlights photograph the web of life’s fluctuating dance of change.


Nicholas Redmond


Article from the Pachamama Alliance Blog:- 


Love is its Own Language

We at the Pachamama Alliance believe that love and nature usually tend to speak for themselves. But, sometimes, adding a few words doesn't hurt either!

Here are 8 love quotes involving nature that conjure vivid images of both love and nature.

The Journey Begins

You find yourself waking in a field. Countless flowers grow across the Earth. White chrysanthemums, waves of tulips, red roses, yellow lilies. They role over the hills. They are everywhere, but each flower is unique. As you look upon each one, you do not just see flowers. You see lovers. You see family members. You see children. You see all the things that make you laugh and cry...You see the world.

1. "Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature." - Gerard De Nerval

You embrace the flowers. You embrace the field.

2. "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin

You begin to discover you too are a flower. You feel locked up for an instant, but a spark hits you - tickling your senses. Maybe it's the outstretched arms of your love...maybe it's the thankful look in your child's eyes. Maybe it's the feeling of satisfaction you feel when you feel you have done your part to help the world...maybe it's the creation of a fresh piece of art.

Either way, it is love.

You embrace this sacred sensation and you too begin to bloom with the other flowers. By embracing the flowers, you become one with them and one with the world.

3. "People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us." - Iris Murdoch

There is a great joy in front of you that you could previously not quite find. It is everywhere.  You feel utterly awash in it. You are blessed with deep tidings of joy.

4. "Nature always wears the colors of the spirit." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are all part of nature. But, through life, we drift apart from the inborn nature that resides within. We drift apart from love. The cultures of today would have us always drifting, without giving us a moment to breathe. But, there is solid ground in this shifting world.  It is all around us.  It is the very the Earth we stand on, and it is never too late to reconnect with the Earth. Through the ancient ways we can do this, because love lies at the core of many of these ancient beliefs.

And love is truth. But, we often find ourselves shying away from truth - shying away from its brave palette.

Nature is always present to remind us of these lovely colors. Nature helps us remember love. Nature never wears a false-coat over the color of it's spirit. It reminds us to let our spirit run free.

5. "Discovering this idyllic place, we find ourselves filled with a yearning to linger here, where time stands still and beauty overwhelms." - anonymous

It is in these sacred moments of tranquility where we are touched by nature that we find peace. We find truth.

These are the moments we wish would last forever. Only what is natural - what is love - can truly bring about these moments where our hearts stir our breath becomes deep with profound weight and all spiritual baggage is set firmly down.

6. "Whoever loves and understands a garden will find contentment within." - Chinese Proverb

The world is a garden. The soul is a garden. As such, the soul must be tended. It must be cultivated, made so it can grow and expand, take shape in beauty, not domineered, suffocated, tamed, or controlled.

Contentment comes from understanding. Understand the garden. Understand oneself.

Understand love. You stand in this universal garden and you are free.

7. "Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby." - Langston Hughes

You feel a light trickle touch upon your scalp. The clouds converge in thick hazy shrouds, yet they are still lovely as you peer up, such is the unconditional.  The air grows chill. You hear a crackle followed by a boom. Lighting traces across the sky.

The rain starts to fall harder. The drops explode across smooth stones in the garden. The ground is slick and shiny, the dirt moistened. You can hear a rustling in the forest ahead. Animals are scurrying.  The circle of the world has been set in motion. Your skin feels moist beneath the cascading drops. Your being feels like rebirth.  You look into the woods ahead, trees bunched tightly together, branches swaying overhead.

Something is calling to you - a lilting melody unsung, daring your heart to stir - your pulse a hushed flicker.

You begin to descend into the now-shadowed woods. You wonder when the rain will stop. You wonder if you'll be glad when it' gone. Perhaps you might miss the refreshing cascade and its soft tranquil patter.

You wonder when love will come. You wonder when love will go.

You know love is all around you - it is fleeting...yet immortal. Like all things...like the Earth itself...love must be nourished within us all - down every winding path - down every lush shaded thicket.

8. "The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep." - Robert Frost

Sometimes what we seek seems illusive. Sometimes it's right in front of us - waiting. But, the truth is that it resides at our center. It is up to us to center ourselves to better appreciate the treasure that lies everywhere. 


Go to Your Happy Place: Understanding Why Nature Makes Us Feel Better

BY Bob Lalasz

Let’s say you’re prone to depression — like an estimated one in every 20 people worldwide.

What if there were a pill called “nature” — proven to quickly boost your mood, tailored to give you the maximum dose response, and able to change the way you think about yourself for the better?

Would you get out into nature more than you do now? Help conserve it? Live in cities that have more of it?

That “pill” is the Holy Grail scientist Greg Bratman is chasing through his research. While lots of past studies have argued that being in nature generally makes us feel better and perform better on cognitive tests, they haven’t increased rates of outdoor activity.

So Bratman (a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford) is diving deep to find out which kinds of nature at which lengths of exposure impact which groups of people the most, and for how long.

It’s state-of-the-art stuff, using tools such as MRI machines, skin conductance sensors, and working-memory tests delivered to people via cell phone as they’re on a nature walk. And the research is far from finished — Bratman’s first paper was just published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.

But if the data bear out Bratman’s hypothesis, it could open up another new way people would value and use nature: for its psychological benefits to them as individuals.

“A lot of people grasp intuitively that nature makes them feel better, and the research generally shows it,” Bratman says.

“But how do you push them over the tipping point and into action? How do you get cities designed so that more nature is set aside within them? Finding the mechanisms and modeling the benefits on an individual level will make the science much more convincing.”

Stop Brooding about It: More Nature, Less Rumination

But first: Why does being in nature make many people feel better than, say, being in a city?

Evolution offers one explanation: we’ve developed an innate preference for nature experiences — particularly those landscapes (such as savannas) that provided our ancestors with food and refuge from predators.

But Bratman’s new paper suggests another cause: nature is much better than urban environments at defeating our propensity to brood or ruminate (what Bratman calls “engaging in repetitive, negative autobiographical thoughts”).

And that anti-ruminative quality might be key to nature’s psychological benefits, because rumination is highly associated with depressive episodes, says Bratman — both their onset as well as prolonging them.

“I’m very interested in rumination because a shift in this type of attention allocation might help explain what nature experience is doing to the way we think, which could then explain the other mood benefits we see from getting out into nature,” says Bratman.

For the study, Bratman took 60 randomized subjects, gave them cognitive and mood assessments and then sent them either on a nature walk on the Stanford campus (a grassland with occasional trees) or a walk along a Palo Alto boulevard with heavy car traffic.

All the participants took 10 photos of “whatever captured their attention” during the walk, to prove that the walk took place and obscure the true purpose of the study. (They used a phone Bratman provided them, and were told not to use their own.)

Then they underwent 75 minutes of additional testing after the walk — self-assessments about how they felt as well as memory and other cognitive tests.

The self-assessments showed that being in nature does a much better job than city life at decreasing anxiety, rumination and negative emotions while also increasing positive emotions.

But is it just distraction from negative thought patterns, which other environments or experiences might also accomplish?

Or does nature provide something above and beyond distraction that cities or video games or movies can’t?

Reframing a Grunt: Emotion Regulation and Nature Experience

While his research into the mechanisms behind these results is just beginning, Bratman says that nature might be prompting what psychologists call “cognitive reappraisal” of events, thereby changing their emotional meaning.

“If I’m talking to you and you grunt when I say something,” says Bratman, “I could either think you’re grunting because I said something stupid or because you’re clearing your throat. Those interpretations are going to have vastly different kinds of emotional repercussions for me, and that’s just a silly example of what reappraisal can do — reframing an event that changes how I feel.”

“So simple distraction can help people who have high levels of rumination and negative affect,” Bratman adds. “But there’s another type of emotion regulation that is a possibility as well: that nature is encouraging cognitive reappraisal, and that it encourages the ability to engage in this adaptive way of thinking that could help explain affective benefits.”

Again, it’s just a theory, and much more research is needed. But if nature experiences turn out to be particularly good at reappraisal, such findings could have ramifications for global mental health trends, says Bratman.

That’s because numerous studies suggest that recent increases in the levels of mental disorders globally are tied to increasing urbanization and people’s decreasing exposure to nature.

“We’re at 50 percent urbanization worldwide, and we’re headed toward 70 percent in a couple of decades,” says Bratman. “Our hypothesis is that urban life involves a constant stream of stressors that raise the baselines of our cognitive loads and rumination levels, adding to our risk factor for mental illness.”

In the meantime, Bratman has made important steps toward a better understanding of the link between nature and better moods, says Ben Levy, a co-author on the new paper and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco.

“Most of this [previous research] is correlational, which I didn’t find that compelling — a kid who has a view of nature outside his window will perform a little bit better than another kid who doesn’t have that view,” says Levy.

“Experimental research, like what we did here, where we have control over who gets exposed to nature and over other variables — like amount of exercise — is quite rare. Greg was very careful here, he included more measures of affect and cognition to see what is actually influenced. It’s clear from these findings you get an affective benefit from nature.”

Finding Your Happy Place: The Long Research Road Ahead

The ultimate goal of Bratman’s research agenda: To build a detailed “map” of which kinds of nature experiences deliver which emotional and cognitive impacts to which kinds of people (as well as most broadly overall).

People who tend to depression, for instance, might search that map to find the precise kind of forest or grassland walk that could best stop them from ruminating.

Or urban planners might use it to create “smart” nature experiences in their cities — oases that could  appeal to corporations looking to give their workforces an edge over the competition, say.

Such knowledge could turn the “nature = well-being” narrative from just a vague feel-good story into an amenity — one that citizens might seek out and demand in their communities.

“The field is moving toward figuring out the causal mechanisms behind these effects, and also they differ across cultures and individuals based on personality characteristics,” says Bratman. “What’s the dose-response relationship? How much nature does it take, and what kinds? Do different kinds of nature have different impacts?”

Bratman himself is digging into what he calls the “psycho-physiological impacts of nature experience on rumination” — tracking differences in heart rate, skin conductance, and other measures of bodily responses as people ruminate in both nature and urban settings, and examining if these different environments have different impacts on physiology and rumination.

The science needed to make the hard case for nature as a psychological amenity — one that you could map, administer in self-dosages, or even market — seems vast and painstaking: the work of a decade, perhaps.

But Levy thinks we might not need to wait for all the research to be in to act on the early findings.

“The questions about what exact natural environment provides the greatest benefit to whom are really interesting — but if you know that nature does provide this benefit, it certainly doesn’t hurt to start providing nature to people, right?” Levy says.

“Yeah, you might be able to find something else that’s equivalent, but if nature works, it works. You can take advantage of that observation.”