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Nature deficit disorder can cause cognitive, behavioral and health issues - here's the cure

Nature deficit disorder

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(NaturalNews) Getting back to nature was one theme of the hippy era, as some gathered to form communes. There is much less of that now, although the latest version of getting back to nature has to do with realizing that potential doomsday scenarios are possible and perhaps it's time to become prepared for the worst. But in between those extremes is where most of us are, and we all need more contact with nature.

This has become increasingly obvious among children in this era of staying inside and amusing themselves with electronic devices, video games and TV shows instead of running wild in the wild. Their ignorance of nature appalled Todd Walker, especially when one of his middle school students proclaimed that meat could be grown.

So educator and owner of prepper website Survival Sherpa Todd Walker is initiating a program called "Doing the Wild Stuff" to help resolve what has been coined "Nature Deficit Disorder" (NDD), by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods.

Such a small unpublicized program has existed for around five decades in southwest Ohio called the Glen Helen Schoolcamp. Unlike most summer camps, which do have some merit, the emphasis is not on social activities and intramural sports competition. It's a week of hands-on outdoor education to familiarize kids with nature along the Glens's several trails.

There are over 400 such small camp courses, better known as Residential Environmental Education Programs, existing throughout the USA for mostly grade school children. The accepted government school curriculum is maintained but applied directly within the natural environment, which includes being outdoors in the wild at night. This has been observed to have profound effects on inner city children especially.

The bonus is that whatever is being taught in the way of biology or botany or even math is duplicated better by those who are exposed to applying those subjects to their real outdoor experience. According to the article "A Life-Shaping Week: The Outdoor Education Experience" in education.com children who learn and play outdoors have:
  • Longer attention spans
  • More creativity
  • Higher levels of self-confidence
  • Higher standardized test scores
  • Greater academic success.
  • Significant improvements in cognitive development, self-discipline, imaginative and creative expression, language skills, and social interactions.

Connecting to nature goes beyond educational benefits

Residential Environmental Educational Programs may help foster more ecologically prone activists or at least raise general awareness of the importance of nature beyond conceptual understanding.

But as a species, we have become so urbanized and indoor- and automobile-bound that most of us don't really understand or experience our individual connections to nature. Everyone needs to increase their time in nature to refresh themselves spiritually and enhance their health.

Exercising by taking long walks in natural settings, even city parks, is advocated by Ayurveda practitioners, not just for the physical exercise, but for communing with the energy field of nature. That is considered part of developing better health.

Leave your smart phones and other electronic goodies behind, or at least off, while you expose yourself to nature's tranquil grandeur, whether it's in an urban park, the desert, mountains, seashore or out at sea, woods or at someone's farm. Also leave behind your job or career concerns, your cultural manners and behavioral conditioning, and let nature be in charge as your host.

This is what great American poets, novelists and philosophers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau did. In addition to learning how to survive in the wild with little, disconnecting from the mold of the hive-mind led to their insightful explorations of human consciousness and societal issues.

Many great composers from Beethoven to Sibelius lived in country or wooded settings as much as possible to gain inspiration from nature, even more than disconnecting from the clutter and distractions of urban life, which was less hectic then.

Getting away from crowded interior living and urban madness is merely a step toward something greater -- connecting to the living subtle energy that exists in nature to refresh our hearts and souls.





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