The Healing Power of Nature – Taste of the Forest

We usually go to the forest to get a breath of fresh air and move ourselves a little bit during hiking or a light walk. Exercising in nature has healing effects on our body and brings us pleasure. However, the healing power of nature and especially that of the forest offers us a lot more.

(less than 17 minutes of healing reading, 2209 words, 2 pages)

Mankind evolved to live in nature. Cities were rare and only after the end of 18th-century massive urbanization started. Today more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. The city is not a natural environment for humans and it has an impact on our lifestyle and wellbeing.

In the last article (in the Slovak language) I pointed out how we enjoy seeing nature, but also how the colors and shapes of nature and the sunshine have a healing effect on our organism.

This article will be about the healing power of singing of birds (hearing), wild berries (taste) and walking barefoot (touch).

healing power of nature
Photo by James Hammond on Unsplash

Hearing – the music of nature

The noise of traffic in the city, but also headphones to interrupt this noise are among the usual causes of hearing damage. And not only that – constant noise and annoying sounds of the city keep us alerted and don’t let us rest. We are organisms of nature and our hearing is connected with the brain for the purpose of giving us a warning if we hear something unusual. The problem is that the sounds of the city are viewed as a threat by our brain almost constantly. That stresses us out and tires us.

We could use silence.

That is why most people like to go into nature – for silence.

However there is rarely silence in nature.

It is true, that nature is quieter than the city – if I leave aside tornados and thunder.

In winter there is almost complete silence in nature. You can hear your own breath and buzzing in your head. If you want to go into nature because of silence, winter is the best time. And when you listen to the silence, only once in a while you hear twigs breaking from the frost and far out the rumbling of the forest when wind moves through it. Sometimes even the distant sound of the city or the sound of an airplane flying above gets into the forest. Then a bird flies by, wind blows, twigs rub against each other, woodpecker knocks… And when you walk on the frozen soil you hear the sound of cracking leaves and snow. But except for that? There is silence.

Silence heals and nature’s sounds do too. The burbling of the creek and sounds of waves hitting the shore of a lake, creaking of leaves and stones under our feet. These are noises we used to fall asleep with and they accompanied us on our travels with our tribe.

That is why they have a positive and healing effect.

Natural sounds:

  • we like them more than city sounds,
  • lower stress and fasten recovery from exhaustion,
  • stop over-thinking and negative thoughts,
  • suppress the sympathetic system (fight or flight),
  • boost the parasympathetic system (relaxation, calmness).

Singing in the brain

Bird singing has a special strong effect on our minds. Imagine thousands of years when humans and birds lived together. When there was a predator around, the birds became silent or flew away. That’s how we knew something dangerous was going on. On the contrary, when we hear a bird singing our brain knows that we are safe. No wonder that bird singing has a relaxing effect.

However, in spring it’s another bird hullaballoo. Especially in the morning when the birds guard their territories, shout on intruders and attract females – that’s the noisiest time of the day. Try to sleep with an open window at that time. You are awake at 4:30 in the morning and you won’t sleep anymore because everything chirps, pecks, chatters and jabbers…

Visit this webpage and turn on all of the birds at once – that is what I hear at our place in April.

Luckily, noises we hear in the forest (when we don’t want to sleep in the moment), are the noises that calm us down. Where there are birds, there are trees and bushes too. And green is calming too. Positive effect of bird singing according to this study last for couple of hours after leaving the forest.

“If you want to enjoy the hearing bath, close your eyes. But don’t forget to stop walking!”

Cognitive silence

Calvin and Hobbes, autor Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes, author Bill Watterson

Our mind is overloaded with information from work and life. Besides that we constantly go through e-mails and social media, we solve unresolved problems and get into conflicts with people. Our mind has to go at full speed. And then, when we want to stop and relax, our mind is hutling downhill and doesn’t know how to stop.

Neither at home, nor in the evening can’t we calm and clear it. We have cognitive noise in our heads – thoughts, emotions and pictures come to our minds and their flow can’t be stopped.

But nature can slowly stop it and bring us into a state similar to meditation. It is also thanks to the sounds of nature. They can stop noises in our mind.

Walking for an hour in the forest can invoke cognitive silence.

About the healing effects of taste and touch on the second page.

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