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Saving the world is an inside job

In an increasingly urban world, with urban soundscapes and smells and endless opportunities for human interaction, could nature, help lead the way towards inner stillness?

The healing effects of nature

Science has shown that nature does actually calm our nervous system. In a matter of minutes the reactions start in our bodies. After some time, when our nervous system has calmed down, our mind starts feeling clearer and calmer too. These healing effects are sorely needed in a world that is becoming increasingly complex and seemingly volatile.

While a nature guide talks to people about what they see and hear in human terms (for instance, dropping scientific names, explaining the functions of different species in an ecosystem, etc.), forest bathing, a practice originating from Japan called shinrin yoku, is essentially about experiencing the (mostly) forest environment with all our senses, leading us to the present moment and relaxation.

Forest bathing invitations or exercises are practices in which senses are engaged to experience a surrounding forest. These mindful practices have the power of showing nature to the person walking through it in a new light. After an outing, many forest bathing participants share that they have never experienced or seen the forest quite in this way before. This is the power of stopping and paying attention.

Peace is your priority, not saving the world. That follows that. – Eckhart Tolle

Bringing the forest inside us

In our society not many can live in nature. We live in an increasingly urban world, with urban soundscapes, smells, and constant reminders of the human world around us. 

And while the forest can and does offer the perfect surroundings and companion to practice stillness, the work is mainly an inside job. In order to clean up our outer world, we will need to become aware of our inner world.

When we are more in touch with the present moment, in other words, recognizing and getting to know our emotions and thoughts, we might think twice before reacting in a short-sighted, wasteful and/or harmful way. 

Becoming aware

When we are aware of ourselves, our motives and reactions, we can be more in charge of our lives and act in a more responsible way. A way of being that is no longer just floating from one moment to the next, seemingly powerless when facing decisions that need to be made.

When we become aware that we have a possibility to influence our thoughts, a larger rising of consciousness ensues. We may start questioning our own life choices and behaviors, not just pointing the finger at others. These realizations might end up leading to more fulfilling lives.

And let’s face it, when we are content in our lives, this calm energy ripples out into the world through our loved ones, our colleagues and communities. And following this line of thought, people who are content with themselves are not at war with themselves, the “other” (whoever that might be) or the planet.

It will be like we have brought the serenity of the forest inside ourselves.

Navigating this world

With hopes for myself and the world, I am happy to share that I am embarking on the journey to become a certified mindfulness teacher by following the upcoming teacher training with Brussels Mindfulness.

I would like to establish a more disciplined approach to my own life which I believe the training can help me accomplish. As I learn to navigate myself in this world more mindfully, I hope to be able to guide others inside and outside of the forest, for a better world that has its ingredients sprinkled in all of us.

About Katriina Kilpi

For the past five years, Katriina has been working in the field of “nature and health”, researching nature’s wellbeing effects on humans, as well as raising awareness on nature's importance for human wellbeing. She’s also created nature-based applications to respond to the various kinds of mental health challenges we commonly face.