We’ve all heard of the concept that we have an inner child inside of us that may need healing. This aspect of ourselves may be where our fear and lack of self-worth resides. Many of our behavioural, emotional and relationship difficulties stem from childhood hurts and trauma and how we internalised them when we experienced them. Through good therapy and personal development we can learn how to accept, protect and love our inner child, as a result our inner child may no longer call the shots and control our reactions to events. But what about the aspect of us that is even more ancient, an aspect that resides much deeper in our psyche, in our genetic make-up!
Our brains and bodies have been evolving for thousands of years, our ancestors have been around for 6 million years and humans as we know them today evolved around 200,000 years ago. Around 11,000 years ago we evolved from foragers to farmers and in the last 200 years we have seen the rise of industry and more recently the digital age.
In the blink of an evolutionary eye we have gone from foraging, hunting, building our homes and living in tribes to a world where robots do everything for us, we live in boxes next to each other yet rarely communicate, everything is fast paced, there is danger round every corner yet nothing we can actually run away from, our stress levels and risk of depression are higher than ever before, we don’t get enough sunlight, exercise or regular contact with green spaces. No wonder the rate of suicide and sick leave at work due to stress is at record levels. Our bodies and brains are confused and not built to be living in such conditions.
Around 99% of our evolutionary past was spent as a hunter-gatherers, our brains are just not wired to deal with traffic jams, desk jobs with a huge amount of screen time and schools.
Studies have now shown that when we spend time outside amongst woodlands and beautiful countryside our immune system functions better, cortisol levels are reduced, our creativity is increased and the exercise means we release endorphins which contributes to us feeling good.
There is also studies which show how the brain will release dopamine when we forage wild food. Our ancestors were very good at pattern recognition, which helped us to distinguish between edible and poisonous plants, essentials skills ensuring our very survival. Every time we recognise a plant and pick it, we are contributing to the ‘happy hormones’ in our bodies, we release dopamine. The good stuff doesn’t end there, once you have processed the plants and eaten them you are upping the nutrition taken into your body, most wild edible plants are full of vitamins and minerals and exactly what your body needs at the time of year they appear. Nature is truly marvellous and gives us what we need when we need it, if only we just took notice!
The foraging courses we put on at Woodland Classroom are the best selling courses we run, they are extremely popular, it seems that people are getting excited about wild food again, the art of foraging and wild cooking is on the up! My Mindfulness in the Woods courses have also proved very popular too, it is chance for people to slow down and unwind. They are always reminded how much they love getting out into nature and how much it enhances their lives. Here is a quote from one of the participants:
“Yesterday I attended a ‘Mindfulness in the Woods’ course led by Lea in the beautiful surroundings of Chirk Castle. Lea is a lovely, warm person who quickly put the group at ease. We practised engaging with nature with all our senses and learnt some strategies to deal with stress and anxiety. I am a walker so this will really enhance my walks and make them more meaningful” Course Participant
As a Counsellor and Woodland Activity Leader I regularly take my therapeutic work outside, into the woodland for one-one and group work. I earnestly believe in the power of nature to heal and invigorate, to nurture and nourish the soul and provide a safe place where we can truly feel at home and be our natural selves.