“Americans’ connections to nature and wildlife have shifted profoundly over the last generation. American children currently devote 52 hours each week to electronic media, while spending less than 40 minutes outside. Yet new theory and evidence indicate that human physical and mental health depend on beneficial contact with nature. Rather than being a mere recreational amenity, connection with nature is a biological and cultural necessity.” – The Nature of Americans
The Nature of Americans study is in process and the results are being made public sometime in 2015. Thanks and kudo’s to The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and others for partnering in this effort.
Breezing along the scenic 395 I tuned to a refreshing interview: an episode of Women@work on Sirius channel 111 from the Wharton School of Business. Denise Torres, Co-Lead J&J Consumer, North America and President, McNeil Consumer Healthcare along with Jennifer George, BA, CGFI Performance Coach shared how Johnson & Johnson and the Human Performance Institute have sized up the potentials of corporate culture to inspire, train and support employees in becoming “black belts” of energy management.
This is how they see it:
In a 2.0 version I hope they consider replacing “Seek Stress” with “Seek to Stretch”. And trade, “Down-Time is Productive Time” for “Timelessness is a Necessity”.
Otherwise, American corporate culture may have the beginnings of a map out of the rut of routine, burn-out and disgruntled. Denise and Jennifer sounded upbeat, energetic and at the leading edge of a movement to bring humanity into the corporate environment: “Self-care isn’t vanity it’s sanity! “Yes!
The well-being model includes body, mind, emotion and spirit! According to Jennifer, “Spirit” translates as living with purpose. Love it! Until recently the only companies and corporations that spoke of spirit in the context of business were spas, healing retreats, resorts and yoga centers.
“The times they are a changin'”. Sweet.
On a recent exploration of Shinrin-Yoku I joined my small group of 5 diverse individuals setting out to soak in the forest atmosphere at the Morton Arboretum, which hosted a training for Forest and Nature Therapy Guides. 3 people (including me) shared a common question: can deep Nature connection, Forest and Nature Therapy, become a “go to” modality for influencing corporate wellness culture, leadership and personal performance? Edgy.
There in early summer’s lush green of Elms, Oaks, Maples and Yews, we were a slow-moving dream come true to mosquitoes. Fortunately, we snagged skin-saving personal body netting at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Covered from head to knee in fine mesh, we didn’t mind looking like lost aliens moving at the speed of clouds on a windless day in the eyes of the hot footed double-taking joggers that bounced by on their well-worn forest path. Their body language said: Whaaaaaat?
The runners couldn’t possibly get that we were all in natural states (no drugs) of sensory fascination and attention restorative therapy (ART).
Timelessness. You know the place. Being so fully immersed in an activity that “time” is no longer relevant. (I know what you’re thinking.)
For most of us it doesn’t occur in any form often enough!
According to all the research on Shinrin-yoku we were experiencing a stream of biochemical benefits with a transformative dose of Forest Medicine.
A Nature and Forest Therapy Guide facilitates deep restorative Nature connection through the selection of a setting of safety, complexity, mystery and beauty, and invitations to shift sensory awareness and attention. Participants receive thoughtful guidance as they relax into a personal state of fascination and restoration while soaking it all in. Applications of this modality include: performance coaching, team building, problem solving through perspective shift, health recovery, and activating resilience.
The tipping point for the broad application of Nature Therapy modalities isn’t too far in the future. After all, as human beings we have discovered our own brilliance, creativity, and innovation in partnership with the natural world from the beginning. Modern technology hasn’t changed that reality. Our infatuation with our devices and screens has delivered excitement and temporary amnesia. There’s a lasting, enriching love affair waiting with Nature.
True story: “Mommy, look they put tomatoes on that plant.” A child visiting the San Diego Botanic Gardens. circa 2014
Invest your energy where it matters. “Self-care isn’t vanity it’s sanity.”