Jan 28, 2020 at 12:48 am #3629010
Companion forum thread to: Nature Therapy in the Backcountry (Traveling Light Towards Mindfulness and Wellness)
Nature Therapy in the Backcountry is an exploration of mindfulness, wellness, and the mental/emotional aspects of ultralight backcountry travel.Jan 28, 2020 at 8:37 am #3629038James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
” Nature is a safe and inviting space for deeply meaningful and enriching experiences to occur. Nature in and of itself is a sacred space.” Yup!Jan 28, 2020 at 8:54 am #3629044Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Changes Often
Good interview.I think most backpackers appreciate the therapeutic effects of being in the outdoors. Not only does it get you away from the stressful, technological world Sherri describes, but it also fulfills a primordial need that’s lacking with most people today. Just think of how it was during the past 1000,000 years of human evolution where hunter/gatherers spent hours each day trekking through the wilderness in order to procure food. Agriculture and cities are a relatively recent phenomenon when when you look at the entire span of human history.
There was a recent thread here on BPL that was about how long distance hiking helps deal with depression and addiction problems.I wholeheartedly believe that physical exertion and being away from technology in the outdoors can help most people struggling with such issues. As Sheri says, it won’t take care of deep seated mental problems , but it will help with many milder ones. However, too much solitude can be bad as well because all primates require a certain amount of social contact in order to be happy.Jan 28, 2020 at 9:55 am #3629062W I S N E R !BPL Member
Can there be too much nature?
(from the interview)
- “It becomes an obsession.
- It causes preoccupation regularly interfering with other aspects of life.
- It becomes more about thrill-seeking and unsafe, risky behaviors or interests.
- If health conditions are negatively affected by spending time outdoors.”
I want to get out every chance I get.
I find myself preoccupied with trip planning, gear, training, reading about the outdoors…
I find myself doing quite a bit of thrill seeking and otherwise potentially “risky” behavior (solo hiking, surfing, climbing, canyoneering, etc.)
Negative health consequences? I currently have an injured back from surfing, retrocalcaneal bursitis and bone spurs in both heels, mild flare ups of Achilles tendinitis, two cases of basal cell carcinoma from sun exposure, and IT band flare ups if I’m not diligent about stretching.
I would actually call it the price one pays for living the good life… : )Jan 28, 2020 at 10:47 am #3629069
I’d say you have to look at what failure to engage outdoors would look like. I’ve had lots of outdoor related injuries and engaging outdoors certainly hurts some of those. I however would likely lose my ability to walk and develop debilitating arthritis if I stopped. Compared to many people my age, I look younger, I have more athletic ability, am fitter.
On the interference with daily life aspect, it doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy aspects of planning and they are a highlight of your life. It’s when they cause anguish, and unintentionally interfere with or prevent day to day activities which must be done. Like you are so busy planning a trip you go AWOL from work for three days and get fired. Totally fine if you take three days off to plan the trip. Not fine if you forget to take the days off because you are obsessed.Jan 28, 2020 at 11:23 am #3629074
As for the risk part, to explain where it becomes problematic. Two scenarios:
Scenario 1 – Non-Problematic Risk Taking
a) I see a risky situation and think: there is a perceived risk but I know have the physical and mental capabilities and experience to mitigate the risk to a low level. It is unlikely I will get injured and will most likely not die. I’m going to engage.
b) I see a risky situation and think: there is a perceived risk, I’m not on my ‘A’ game today and it is likely I could get injured or killed. I am not going to engage in that today.
Scenario 2 – Problematic Risk Taking Behaviors
I see a risky situation engage in it where:
a) do not have the capacity to identify the potential risk or mitigate it.
b) recognize the risk and am unclear if I can mitigate it and don’t care if I can’t or hope that I don’t.
c) see the risky situation and intentionally plan on not mitigating the risk for the sake of the thrill and/or a lack of desire to preserve self.
Or some combination of all three.
As you can see, risk is then on a sliding scale. My risk might be greater or lesser than someone else’s depending on my mental and physical capabilities. My ability to safely participate in ‘risky’ activities may change day to day. Engaging in ‘risky’ activities is different for each individual. What is low risk for me, might be high risk for someone with less experience, physical aptitude, or mental awareness or vice versa.Jan 28, 2020 at 3:36 pm #3629106W I S N E R !BPL Member
Good points, no argument here! My post was intended as a tongue-in-cheek point that most serious outdoorspeople could potentially check all of those boxes.Jan 29, 2020 at 10:09 am #3629208
I agree! I know I do! (but not to the extent that is harmful; not yet anyway.)
As a group, outdoors people sometimes ignore symptoms and say things like ‘l’ll be fine, I just need to do xyz outdoor activity’ which might be true sometimes. Other times I think it’s really important to make sure our heads are on straight before we go.
Outdoor enthusiasts usually have the luxury of being physically strong enough to compensate if, mentally or emotionally, we are a bit frayed. However, if something bad is going to happen to us, it’s usually human error, due to poor or compromised decision making.Jan 29, 2020 at 10:53 am #3629215jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
nmJan 30, 2020 at 12:09 am #3629284Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Outdoor enthusiasts usually have the luxury of being physically strong enough to compensate if, mentally or emotionally, we are a bit frayed.
Oh my yes. I can relate to this.
It has put me into some extraordinarily dangerous situations in the past.
When I was young (late teens, early 20s), I would find myself in a mentally frayed condition and my first response was to go whitewater kayaking or solo alpine or rock climbing.
I’m very glad I’m still alive today and some other force compensated for my lack of rational judgment.Feb 1, 2020 at 7:32 pm #3629539David SugenoBPL Member
@davesugenoLocale: Central Texas
This is a very good article. I understand your financial model for this website, but I wish there were some way to make this particular article free to the public. It contains some very important information and is very well written, much more thorough than the typical “nature will magically cure all your problems” fluff pieces I’ve read. My wife is a nature therapist, and agrees that this is far better than the popular articles she typically sees.Feb 1, 2020 at 8:45 pm #3629551
Thanks David, I appreciate the support. We try to keep the articles as available as possible and I think our publisher (and I) agree whole heartedly about access to this article. It is in fact completely open and shareable and has been since it launched. Please feel free to share the link.Feb 2, 2020 at 5:23 am #3629573David SugenoBPL Member
@davesugenoLocale: Central Texas
Great, thank you!Feb 3, 2020 at 8:06 am #3629685KatttBPL Member
I enjoyed the read; thanks for taking the time and effort to write this.
Adding to the idea of Nature Therapy, I would encourage people to go beyond thinking of nature as “out there in the wild” or even “out there” period. Once you realize you “are” nature, your own life becomes nature playing itself out regardless of the environment you find yourself in. Awareness, reflection, adaptation and all other states of being that come with our outdoor adventures are available to us even when we navigate our towns and cities ( not saying the outdoors are not a superior place to experience these). If you are asleep at the wheel in town you will likely be so in the mountains and viceversa. One ought to try and never shut that reflection off.Feb 3, 2020 at 10:27 am #3629702jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
+1 to KatttMar 27, 2020 at 4:38 pm #3638113Paul SBPL Member
Katt nails it!
Yes, we are not separate from nature. We are of the earth in every way. The thought that there is nature “out there” is not quite right.
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