The alarm clock blares. You wake up and while still in bed reflexively reach for your cell phone to check your email. You don't want to miss anything important that has come up while you were asleep. The phone's bright glare invites you in further, and you peruse the news headlines. So much has been happening lately; you want to stay on top of things. The emails and news of the day make you agitated. A colleague misread your comments. You're frustrated by the political climate. And now it's time to get out of bed and continue with your day.
Here's an alternative: In the same room you awaken and notice the soft light of the morning sun. You hear a dawn chorus of birds chattering in interweaving patterns. You take a moment to stretch your body. Then you turn your attention to your breathing, noticing its rhythm. A new day has arrived. It is time to get out of bed and continue with your day.
Which feels better? Which feels more sustaining? Each approach is a possibility, an opportunity. How can we gravitate towards what sustains us?
Welcome to Over the Edge, the Urban Edge Forest Therapy blog. In this blog I'll be exploring ways you can hack your daily life to develop a connection with nature and a deeper connection with yourself, leading to greater happiness and wellbeing. The strategies I'll be writing about will be helpful if you live in a city or densely populated area, or if you just want to enhance your connection with nature, for any reason. I live in Manhattan, a place not generally known for its ready access to nature. That's why I am writing this blog. The fact is that nature is everywhere in New York City, but it helps to know where and how to look for it. I'll be discussing simple and creative ways to enhance your nature awareness.
In 2008, humanity passed a milestone. More people live in cities or highly populated areas than in rural areas, and this trend will continue, with over 75% of humanity predicted to be living in cities by 2050. What does this mean for us? Sure, it's convenient to live in densely populated areas and to have many of the resources we need nearby, such as schools, stores, and work places. And, urban environments can facilitate social networks, support abundant arts and cultural offerings, and provide vibrant energy to fuel the growth of ideas.
At the same time, we risk losing something. Our species has spent all but the past 150 years living close to nature. Our bodies and our senses are designed for that connection. We don't yet fully understand what we lose when we reduce our contact with nature, but a number of people, like Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix, and Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, are exploring this, and medical science, discussed elsewhere on this website, is proving how important it is for us to connect with nature. And, just as a disconnect with nature can adversely impact our physical and mental wellbeing, it also can impact--at our own peril--our stewardship of nature, the ultimate life support system. We protect only what we care about.
In this blog, I'll be writing about how to reengage our urban environments and day-day-day rituals, how to adjust the ways we notice the natural world around us, whether during our commutes, inside our homes, in office spaces, or outside. Aspects of this might seem familiar to those who have explored mindfulness. But we will go beyond mindfulness and venture into some pretty mind-bending ways to connect with nature.
By noticing nature around you--everywhere, even if you're in a subway or high up in an office building--you can tune into your "sensing" and "being" self, sustaining parts of ourselves that are often overlooked in our fast-paced, modern lives, and you may find yourself in a more joyful and fulfilled frame of mind.
As you will see, I will focus on a sequence of themes. But, like every good walk in the forest, sometimes I will veer off the path to turn attention to something forest therapy-related that feels timely or relevant.
Please join me on this written journey as we explore ways that a forest therapy perspective applied to daily life can improve the wellbeing of urban dwellers, and click here to be added to our email list for notice of new blog entries!
About this Blog
Hi! I'm Nancy Kopans, founder of Urban Edge Forest Therapy. Join me on an adventure to discover creative ways to connect with nature in your daily life, ways that are inspired by urban surroundings that can reveal unexpected beauty, with the potential to ignite a sense of wonder.