Written by Evolve Holistic Co-Founder, Lilian Motta.
Would you believe me if I told you that trees have their own social media? I don’t mean that they are snap chatting their lunch or uploading their seed’s graduation pic on their facebook but they do talk to each other. Ecologist Suzzane Simard has proven that trees are social and they share information using their own unseen network similar to how we communicate using the internet, you can find out more by checking out her TEDTalk.
One of the things that fascinated me while researching her work was the ability for trees to recognize their own kind and even favour and nurture their own kind, similar to the human species. This brought up the question: If we are social, trees are social, how can we be more social with the trees? In this technology driven world what are the benefits of interacting with nature and how can we get more of it and get our children involved?
When I was a kid the closest I got to a screen was when I got up to change the channel, now screens have become the norm in the way we communicate. We play, work, shop and even date on our electronic devices, the internet has become the network to which we live, love, feel and act on! It’s crazy to think that I will be one of the last generations to have lived “before the internet” so most of my childhood was spent outside; before I plugged into the supernova of information online I was connected to the network of trees, water and wildlife. Nature is an essential part of our wellbeing, so let’s re-connect to this wonderful place of curiosity, exploration and fascination. I want to help you get some vitamin nature to be more grounded and connected, specially if you have kids! Author of Vitamin N, The nature principle - Richard Louv says it best:
“Children need nature for the healthy development of the senses and therefore for learning and creativity… The mind, body, nature connection also called Vitamin N will enhance physical and mental health… Utilizing both tech and nature experience will enhance our intelligence, creative thinking and productivity giving birth to a hybrid mind.”
So let’s get to it, here are 5 ways to be more social with nature:
Get to know your friends! The more knowledge you have about trees, the more compassionate you will be towards them. Did you know that that trees have a below-ground pipeline (aka mycorrhizal network) made up of fungi that allow them to transfer water, minerals, nutrients and vital information to other trees? So the underground conversation can sound something like this, “Hey anyone have some Carbon out there, there seems to be a lot of shade up in these woods”. This does not mean study the whole ecology system, it can be a simple google search that says: cool things about maple trees. I guarantee maple trees will not look the same!
Climb some trees or let you kids climb them (remember safety and knowing your abilities comes first). This allows you to enhance your body awareness, balance, spatial orientation and not to mention you might even get some cherries!
A simple nature walk or run can be a whole body experience so let’s explore it with all of our senses. Feel the ground underneath your feet, is it damp and soft? Dry and bumpy? Stick out your tongue, can you taste anything or feel the direction of the wind? Listen for bird sounds and try to spot them. What smells are present? If you look straight can you see things moving through your peripherals? These may sound simple but when you get your kids involved (and their untainted imaginations) it is an adventure!
Build some forts! Think about it, it is one thing to build something on Minecraft but to actually feel the texture and use real life problem solving skills is a whole other world. Be aware of bugs, soil texture and your imagination blowing you away. This can be as simple as some sticks and rocks so you do not need to build a treehouse although you might be inspired to after this.
Plant something! I do a little experiment with my daughter where we put some beans and a wet napkin in a ziplock bag and watch the little guys germinate. You can see the process of the plant breaking out, pretty cool to see. And if you want plant them and eat some beans later they grow like vines so put them where they can be supported.
So there you have it, simple and fun ways to interact with nature. So put your phone away and go spend some time with the things that are keeping you alive because in case you forgot trees give you oxygen in exchange for your CO2! I have a 6th suggestion for my nature lovers, go be a tree hugger! Haha seriously, touch or hug a tree! They already give you the fuel to keep you breathing so physically they are your buddies; Imagine what they can do for us energetically. I hug trees all of the time but that is for another blog post! If this is too much for you at least get your feet on the grass, nature has a magical way of helping you release stress and make you feel a little lighter.
“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.” -Richard Louv