Rediscovering natural beginnings
Human beings are largely all-natural, purely organic creatures when they first arrive on this earth. They arrive with a few wrinkles, occasionally some hair and, by and large, they are delivered naturally in the most pristine condition they will experience in life.
But from day one, it will be all downhill. They’ll be swaddled and washed, combed and cuddled, fluffed, puffed and stuffed.
Never again will their slightly wrinkled birthday suit be as fresh as it was upon original delivery. Neither will their brain, which actually begins responding to stimulation while they are in the womb.
Physicians and psychologists agree that the human brain is still hard wired for an agrarian, nature-oriented existence that first came into focus about 5,000 years ago. Neurologically, the human brain has not yet caught up with the current over-stimulating environment it often has to deal with.
The brain is strong and flexible, so 70 to 80 percent of children adapt fairly well. But some of the others don’t.
Experts agree that getting kids out in nature can make a lot of difference. The evidence is largely anecdotal but several studies suggest that natural play can actually be a useful therapy for children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Research indicates the positive effects of spending time in a “restorative outdoor environment” can produce a greater positive affect than most researchers had ever expected.
Humans subconsciously seek a connection with the natural world by utilizing senses we rarely exercise. As a result, many of our natural protection systems have atrophied from lack of use.
Our ears may pop to alert us to the potential danger of a potential storm brought on by an approaching low-pressure system.
But, because we have become so accustomed to getting our weather information from the media, we’re no longer sensitive to the natural alarm signals coming from our senses.
Scientists who study how people perceive the world say that humans, conservatively, have 10 senses and possibly as many as 30. However, many of these senses are no longer needed or utilized in the urban environment, or they have atrophied from the lack of use.
However, regular travel in the deep woods has a way of restoring these senses, which serve to enliven us and make us more aware of our surroundings.
Babies often cry due to a natural sensitivity to changes in atmospheric pressure. We never really lose our senses, but as we age, we increasingly choose to ignore or disregard such natural alarms.
Adults will usually just yawn to pop their ears and carry on with what they’re doing, although they’ll later complain when they’re caught in a thunderstorm, remarking, “Boy, I never saw that one coming, it really snuck up on me.”
Yet, buried deep within all of us are the 200,000-year-old genetic records of humanity’s endless exposure to fish and birds, plants and animals, as well as all other natural matters between the sea and the sky.
Despite the continuing effort to develop artificial intelligence, there are no means with which to replace the vast files of indigenous knowledge of the natural world that we have accumulated in our genetic soup.
We arrive on this earth with our own prepackaged personal alarm systems. These all-natural security systems have been fine-tuned to protect our species over thousands of years, and yet we rarely rely on them.
Our species has developed many unique biological traits that allow us to rapidly adapt to change. We arrive prepacked with bipedal mobility, opposable thumbs and, reportedly, a highly developed brain.
Despite such unique advantages, humans continue to allow their senses to atrophy due to a lack of exposure and experience in the outside world.
Humans might as well be senseless indoors due to the disturbances caused by carpet cleaners and deodorizers, piped in “muzak” and air conditioners. They can no longer feel the earth with their feet since they’ve harnessed them from heel to toe within hard leather or plastic covers.
We’ve lost the natural ability to hear low tones and distant sounds because we blast loud noises into our ears with miniature loudspeakers which often destroy sensitive nerve cells that allow us to hear either tones or good vibrations.
Most folks don’t even have the good sense to cup their ears to amplify sounds or to determine which direction the sound is coming from.
We use perfumes and cologne to cover our natural scents and we attempt to shade our eyes with plastic lenses.
Is it any wonder we’re losing our senses? We rarely provide them with the practice and free rein to be useful anymore. Without a regular opportunity for natural practice, our senses will never again be perfect.
And without regular practice, they’ll eventually begin to atrophy from lack of use. “Huh, what’s that you said?”
By the time we hit our teen years, the natural stuffing that was so finely tuned over the centuries to protect our species has largely been ignored, underutilized or simply forgotten.
Yet this knowledge is never really lost, and with a little practice, most folks are able to easily retrieve it from their own personal internal hard-drive.
Fortunately, the fastest method to reboot the system is also an interesting and enjoyable process. Best of all, it is often available just outside your own back door and it comes with no additional fees.
Medical professionals have begun to recognize that time spent outdoors can have an increasingly positive effect on the quality of human life.
For most of history, families had every reason and every opportunity to encourage their children toward work, learning and play that was steeped in nature.
The outdoors was where life skills could be learned and strengths could be developed. It was also where the most fun and action could be had.
However, due to a variety of factors, including the disappearance of open spaces, the continued allure of electronic entertainment, the emergence of safety concerns, longer school hours and busy two-wage-earner families, today’s kids lack the access to, and the motivation for, pursuing nature-based outdoor experiences.
It is truly an unfortunate situation since the opportunity for children to spend time outdoors has positive effects that are the equivalent of Ritalin. Pediatricians have labeled it Vitamin N, and it has proven to be the finest all-natural medication available. Best of all, it is the safest drug available and no prescription is required.