“Being connected with Nature” is an important subject. Always, I felt i am close to nature, from my childhood till today. We had very small house, right in the centre of nature, surrounded by 100s of acres of agricultural land, with lot of Water streams and wells, on the rear side of our house, there was 50 to 70 acres of Palm plantation, Mango plantations, Grapes owned by famous Industrialist, Mr copper. To reach our primary school, we used to walk, daily five kms from my KG std, through Pirwadi fields (satara), crossing two water streams. We were always surrounded by cows, buffalos and dogs and cats at home. During sainik school tenure, half of the time we were out of class room, sitting under banyan tree. After that joined this profession as, it was more inclined towards nature.
In my profession life also, I volunteered to do tasks, which connected me to nature, even i played selective sports, which connected me to nature like, golf, open sea adventure sailing, trekking, or riding Biking. During service luckily the house allotted to me, were either on island or next to sea or next to forest. One time I had six German shepherd dogs, one cocker spaniel, one pug, parrot, pigeon’s, rabbits. After having so much experience of nature, thought i will share with you, and to next generation, how to get connected to nature based on my experiences.
If you have read news in last ten days, there was famous Personality, who was affected by Covid19. He said, i paid 5000 Dollars, to hospital authority for, oxygen in last ten days. ”Thanks to Nature”, I don’t know how much money, i owe to nature, for giving me free oxygen in last 60 years. That’s the beauty of nature. The word “Nature” has been translated into English, from ancient Greek word i.e Physis, in simple terms Nature is “everything, which is not created by human being.
There is a big relationship between human being and nature. We think, we are not directly connected to nature, but as per research. We ourselves are nature, we are made of the same elements, or same components that’s creates, stars or oceans or universe. Let me put in simple terms, our body is made of 99% oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and calcium. Out of which 60% is water, which is clear evidence that we are nature. Its same water, or same oxygen, which millions of years, before, dinosaurs or plants used to breath or drink. We are sharing the same place or universe, which 8.7 million spices, are using and finally, we are following same Natural course of evolution over the last 4.5 billion years.
As per the Darwin’s law of evolution “First Nature came into existence, and then human beings. Human being cannot survive without nature…but “Nature can very well survive without Human. For nature our existence or non-existence doesn’t matter at all. Nature just goes on and on, and on, as it is happening for last billions of years. The world famous, American architect cum philosopher, Frank Lloyd Wright, hundred years before said, Study nature, Love nature, Stay close to nature, and. It will never ever fail you, or harm you. But we human-beings define nature as if Natural resources are created for our benefit only.
From last thousands of years, humans have developed special bonding with the Natural world. In the course of our evolution, we have tried to domesticate, nature in many ways, from agriculture to horticulture to gardening etc. Let me give you one example, the study showed that, people who are connected to nature, by their natural behaviours, such as feeding the birds, or planting flowers plants for bees, have significant increase in health, happiness and wellbeing, or children’s who are exposed to the Natural World, showed increase in Self-esteem, and are more ready to take on risk, and are more creative, then children’s who stay Indoor. Now you can yourself correlate with your own members of family or friends. The researcher in Finland, found that Urban dwellers, who strolled for, as little as 20 minutes, through an urban park, reported more stress relief, than those who strolled on city footpath. The reasons for this effect are unclear, but scientists believe, that we evolved to be more relaxed in Natural Spaces. We must learn to respect, the Natural Order of Things and find a way to live accordingly, or else one day, nature may take a big step. And that day is not far away.
In this urban landscape, world where the pace of your life is been dictated by someone else, by his targets, by his long To-do lists, has somehow disconnected us from the natural world, and if we don’t connect our self at earliest. We will achieve, almost everything in life, but still we all will lose everything.
How to get connected to Nature
Try to do some outdoor activities; make sure, you consistently get out of house in nature do some or the other outdoor activity. Challenge yourself, to break out of your comfort zone and try something new that will automatically spend time outside the house. Like do cross country cycling, or jogging around the park or lake. Play the sports like Golf or kayaking, find something outdoor, which you love to do, that will keep, you happy healthy and connected to Nature.
Spending time in nature, can reduce your stress level, drastically.
It’s clear that Hiking, Trekking or any nature related Physical activities can reduce stress and anxiety drastically…In one recent experiment conducted in Japan, half of the participants were assigned to walk in forest and half on streets of Japan with equal distance and equal difficulty level. On the completion of hike, their heart rate and blood pressure was measured and they were asked to fill up questionnaires, about their moods, stress levels, and other psychological measures. The Results showed that those who walked in forests had significantly lower heart rates indicating more relaxation and less stress and they reported better moods and less anxiety, than those, who walked on streets of Japan. Let me give you practical assignment, when you come from office, after parking your car, do not go home directly. Go to Society Park, in same attire, or any garden for 10 to 15 min…Play with butterfly, Observe plants, Flowers, Birds, or if there is nothing water one or two plants… and then go home. Try this for 10 days, I’m sure, that will make you forget your office Stress or tension and you will enter house with good mood that will make house environment happy.… Make this as your habit. IT people, by continuously staring at the computer screen, the condition called CSV ie Computer Vision Syndrome, is developed which leads to problems like Dry eyes, Myopia or Chronic headache. So in your office you can place your table next to Window and at every interval say 20 min, keep on looking at trees, birds or sky for at least two minutes. This will give you relief, from the developing stress and also solve your CVS problem. When you book a room in resort or hotel you are ready to pay extra amount for a room which has balcony, or forest view or Sea view. Even when you get admitted in hospital you prefer bed next to window so that you stay connected to nature. That means Nature is part of our body.
Being in nature, you will be happier and less worried
Their can’t be better example, than self, in last 40 years I have seen nature, from very close, I was fortunate to do wind sailing at open sea for 11,000kms, on just 18 feet boat where the height from water is just 2 feet, Twice we sailed from Mumbai to Lakshadweep island and back, for months together, we were at open sea. Or ride a bike alone from Chandigarh to all, three worlds’ highest Motorable passes. This adventure gave me tremendous satisfaction, happiness and energy to live life. My friends keep on asking from where you get so much of energy. But friends let me tell you today Nature is secret of my energy. Finland Public Health Department, recommends every citizens to spend time in forest, in order to reduce their depression or time to preserve their mental health for at least 5 hrs a month. Based on these recommendations, lot of Asian countries have also figured out that nature should be a fundamental part of democracy. Let’s hope one day India also adopt this, recommendation.
Nature Relieves Tension, Fatigue and Increases Creativity
In today’s world, we are living, with hi-tech gadgets, like, I-phone, I-pads, think pads in this 4G, 5G world. We use our brain to prepare complex balance sheet, power point presentations, and Architect plans. If you see the history of Evolution, Our brain was developed 40,000 years back when we were actually Hunters or Food gatherers in thick forest and not VPs or CEOs in big companies. We know that human being uses only 10 % of his brain, rest all 90% is dormant. One more thing, you must have experienced, when you work in farm for the whole day still you will never feel tired or fatigue compare to same amount of work you do in city.
Now one most imp thing…. most of our parents are staying in rural areas. If you really care for them, don’t force them to join you, in this concrete jungle. Because, they cannot suddenly adjust to the City population, pollution or to your 5 Star rated AC house with vitrified tiles. Let them stay wherever, they are, they will live, longer and peacefully in the lap of nature. Let them do meditation because mediation is also one way, to connect to nature. Let me give one example, in a 2012 study, showed that group of hikers, who returned after four days of hike, could solve more puzzles requiring, Creativity, compared to a group of people who were waiting to go on the same hike.
You can be more generous, being in nature
The generous behaviour of Villages is the best example, but the moment if you shift the same villager from Rural to Urban life. You will notice, change in their behaviour. In series of experiments, published in 2014, at the University of California, Berkeley, They studied the behaviour of same teams, who practiced, and played Rugby after staying for 10 days in Forest…..and same team, played after staying in City. As part of their study, the researchers found, players to be more generously and more trusting in the game, when they stayed in forest, than in City.
Nature makes you “Feel more Alive”
Nature makes us, feel more alive and more vital. Being in out-door, it gives us immense energy, “makes us happier, “helps us to relieve everyday stresses, “opens the door to creativity, and “helps us to be kind to others. Let me give you my personal small example. I am inclined towards nature, so I was successful in convincing eighteen of my batch-mates, to stay connected to nature. We purchased, piece of land in Konkan, constructed, small rustic farm house. Now whosever wants to visit, with family kids or parents, spends quality time with children’s, relax with nature, and then they return with lots and lots of energy.
Today, more scientists are discovering, we were never designed to live within the urban crowd. Staying connected to nature will cure, almost everything that ails from depression to stress to social isolation and even fatigue. Let me tell you, when we used to sail for months together in open sea, half of the time we are wet, facing cold breeze, but never we reported sick or faced any health issue as compared to sitting at home.
Small and frequent doses are a wonderful way to weave nature into your daily life.
There are lot of ways, like on Sundays, you pack up your tiffin, drive to nearest river bank or pond or forest, spend some time with plants, pets with kids, have your lunch and return. This is enough to give energy for next five. Don’t hesitate, to get your hands dirty, go for gardening and play in mud like child. Let me tell you playing in mud is biggest stress relievers in the world. You yourself observe when your kids are playing in mud, the amount of happiness they show on face. If you want to cry, better cry under tree, at least you will not get stressed while crying. If you feel to hug the tree, just do it, do not care what the world will think. If you feel to sleep, under tree, don’t think; stop your car next to road and lie under tree, its hundred time better than watching some useless movie. And if you go to sleep, that’s achievement. The amount of energy, you will get will be tremendous, there is no comparison for it, because, we are nature, we are supposed to be like that. We were not meant to sleep on artificial fibre mattress, and breathe through synthetic pillows. If you are feeling stressed or tensed, go to water body. Our brains love the water; in fact our brain itself is made of 73% of water, and looking at it, hearing the sound, or smelling the water. Our brain produces the kinds of happy molecules that only nature can supply. You must have experienced during first rain the soil gets wet and produces typical smell which makes you so happy.
Let me give personal example. In adventure wind sailing, we sail day and nights, each boat has just four crew members, so at night we stay awake in buddy pair. I still remember in 2006, it was 10 day of sailing, after we started from Mumbai, for Kavarathy Island. It was moonless night, we were around 150km short of island. I was at steering, my buddy was at watch and at around 0200 am suddenly the whole sea got lit up for around 30 sec…. It was a big shock for all of us. First, I thought its some big ship or container is in front us who switched light suddenly and it going to go over us. But the light remained for 30 seconds. Later after reaching to Kavarathy island, we found that the light was due to small microorganism floating on sea surface called planktons and in very rear situations they lit up the sea in such fashion. Who must fix time, for everyone, to light up? How do they communicate to each other, who is 5km apart? It’s really complex to understand Nature.
One more example, given by my biology teacher when I was in 8th std. There was one farmer, who used to visit his farms, daily on scooter, he used to water the plants, manure them and he used to sing song in happiness. So daily whenever the plants used to listen, sound of scooter, the plants showed sign of happiness the kind of vibration in them. In South India or in teak farms lot of farmers are playing instrumental music in farms to increase the production of rice. That proves plants, can sense, they can hear and they can talk to each other, even they can understand your mood.
How to get children connected to nature.
We were lucky to get our education in such a wonderful atmosphere. Our school is spread in more than 110 acres of land, with so many Banyan trees, Ashoka, Nilgiris trees, all around the school building, houses. I have seen best schools like in Colaba. Most of the schools doesn’t have even a basic amenity, like playground, forget about or garden. If the teacher’s want to show, parts of tree, teacher show on big projector, which is really sad. It’s time for our next generation to understand the nature and get connected, else their life going to be challenging. A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation in the US found, that the average children’s, from age group between 8-to-18year spends more than 53 hours, a week “using entertainment gadgets”. So, my suggestion, is instead of encouraging, our children to spend time ‘on-Screen’. As parents, we must push, them to spend more time ‘on-Green.
During our time, we were of our own, from the age of eight “Climbing trees, building nests, ‘collecting birds’ eggs and frogspawn. Today, we don’t even want our kids to get dirty. Today we don’t want kids to play unsupervised, till he or she is above 14 years may be because of abduction cases. But let me tell you It’s going to be big problem and we need to address, because the consequences of failing to allow our children to play independently in natural world, has a tremendous impact on his confidence and health. If child play independently, it will bring improvement in “ADHD i.e. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”, it will improve Childs learning ability, his Creativity, his psychological and emotional wellbeing.
By climbing on tree, we didn’t only get physical strength, but we “learned how to take responsibility for our self, and how to measure risk, for our self in case we fail or fall. I have hundreds of my childhood memories to tell. But after 10 years, if I ask my daughter to count 10 childhood play memories, you will be surprised, out of 10 memories 8 will be indoors memories. It has been proved; free and unstructured play in the outdoors boosts problem solving skills, improves focus, self-discipline, social sense of cooperation, flexibility and self-awareness in child. Moreover, emotionally it reduces aggression and increases happiness. Your Child will be smarter, better able to get, along with others, healthier and happier. The survey conducted on children in Australia, revealed that school-aged kids who participated in outdoor activities had better vision than kids who spent more time in indoors activities. A study at the University of Kansas found that spending, more time outdoors and less time with our electronic devices, can increase our problem-solving skills, and improve creative abilities.
Environment also play important role in shaping our behaviour. How environment plays imp role in behaviour was mentioned in Marco Polo’s diary an Italian merchant. In 1272, when Mark Polo was travelling through, the different parts of Western Asia, he noted that the people of Kerman provinces of Iran were polite, humble, and well-behaved. While the people in Persia were cruel, unkind and threatful. Environmental changes affect the way we communicate with each other, the way we perceive emotions”, and the way “we reciprocate to the same. Secondly, climate play imp role in human life let me give example, a team of physiologist from US, UK, Australia and China studied how the Climatic Conditions affects human personality. The report indicated that people, who lived in a moderate climate, with temperature ranging in between 22 to 24 degrees, score higher on personality traits such as suitableness, openness, and extraversion.
Nature cleanses our body – Very important, the environment is a natural purifier, spending some, hours outdoor, helps in releasing the toxins from our body and leave us all fresh and rejuvenated. The amount of bad air, that we breathe in because of the pollution or industrial fumes and indoor pollutants is bad for our respiratory tract, giving birth to breathing troubles, bronchitis, and asthma more in children’s.
What is the effect of COVID 19 on NATURE
We human beings take the disaster as disturbance, as negativity, but for nature it’s not. Disaster such as fires, flood, hurricanes processes our natural world, gets often beneficial in the long term. Let me give you example, in case of fires outbreak. It clears out debris, and return nutrients to the soil, in case of floods, it makes land fertile, remember because of Past floods, we have fertile lands at present. When climatic change takes place, animals migrate from one place to another, plants learn to adapt or die.
Sometimes Nature acts as buffer between human and dieses. If you see Amazon forest which is source of worlds 1/3 oxygen, is called lung of world, is ideal habitat for mosquitoes, but due to deforestation, there is increase rate of malaria, or Ebola. Study published in Uganda showed, increasing diseases from animals to human is 60% and in that also, 70% comes from wild animals, like Aids from chimpanzees and now corona from bats …So destruction of forest is sign to increase in diseases. Last week news, UN Environment chief Mr Andersen says ‘Nature is sending us a clear message with the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
Last four months, how nature is responding during lockdown
Plants started creeping back, Animals started returning slowly, Birds started singing, lions have been spotted on streets of Gujarat, elephants Rhino on streets of Assam, Deer’s sitting on Main circle. This is what it was actually 30 to 40 years before. If you speak about the effect of disaster on us, as per report of World Economic Forum, half of the world’s GDP depend, highly or moderately on Nature. This ‘Covid19 is a reminder of our dysfunctional relationship with nature. Due to lockdown, Ecological succession can occur, humans may abandon cities. For example, decreases in economic activity, in Europe and China have led to improvements in air pollution, Our offices, Sports grounds are empty, this would benefit nocturnal species, to reproduce. Due to lockdown of trains and trams, few species that communicate acoustically such as frogs and birds would benefit. Deserted roads could potentially add to clear existing wildlife corridors. This would allow species, to move from, one place to another and help them to re-colonising again. The air is cleaner, the water is clearer and animals are growing bolder. Most important now the Himalaya ranges are visible, from many parts of India after many decades. Normally, air pollution causes about 4.6 million premature deaths worldwide per year, as per the report of WHO. Worldwide the carbon emissions were 35% lower in April compared to last April. China, level of nitrogen- dioxide, a greenhouse gas that causes respiratory problems and cancer was down by 42%, according to Government Monitoring Stations.
Spain, saw fall in Nitrous oxide levels by 56% in first week of April. In Italy, the fall in electricity demand reached 20%, coal and oil industrial activities, have dropped, so carbon dioxide emissions have also decreased. Most important Oil price may drop, as there is no space to store, because consumption is rate is zero and production is same. Under global pressure, China Vietnam, ban wildlife trade, like bats, dogs, cats snakes and many other.
How Eco-activists can use this terrible moment, to help to save the planet. Environmental activists should use this moment in history to help people understand that we can, we should and we must make changes, to our behaviour, our lifestyles and our consumption habits. Corona virus shutdowns, was the wonderful gift, to the environment on Earth day i.e 22 April. A last small advice, We all know pandemic crises is going to lead to anger, fear and emotional breakdown, in many middle class and poor families in your office staff, in coming months. This Pandemic may also, cause societies to become more Selfish. So, it is requested to, stay cool, keep positive health, sleep well and exercise regularly, and most important is, stay connected to nature… It will take care of you, since you are also nature.
Keep ECO and not EGO….
Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra
Mr. Shashikant Waghmode … The author is Engineer by profession; he has seen nature from very close, since childhood. He ensured he stayed connected to nature by sailing 11000 km on 18 feet boat, or riding the bike to all three world’s highest motarable passes and by doing lot of adventure activities.