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Nature Resets the Nervous System and Biological Clock

connected parenting nature connection spirituality sustainable living trauma & mental health Aug 23, 2020

For the past few summers, since we lost our rainforest home in Dominica, we’ve been making it a priority to plan a of couple camping trips, completely off the grid, in the forest, where no interference is possible.

Last year we took the boat to Forestry Island on Lake Nipissing, and this year we landed on Duck Island, also on the same lake. This was an island I looked at for almost 20 years growing up, a mile off shore from my cottage on Sandy Island, which is a much bigger island in comparison. The fauna and flora are very similar - the wild blueberries are plentiful. Having been grieving a tremendous loss and living life quite cautiously, trying to calm my nervous system and loosening the grip of fear, dissolving PTSD, rising from exhaustion, nature allows me to arrive fully in my body and surrounding environment. Nature has been a significant part of my healing process. As a Highly Sensitive Person (someone with Deep Sensory Processing Sensitivity; a trait in 20% of humanity), I’ve noticed how my nervous system has responded to being back in town - the constant noise, over fifteen WiFi signals coming into our home, dogs barking, and an oddly complete quiet at night (without the crickets and frogs), leading me to sleep with ear plugs. Street lights coming through our curtains, having to wear a sleep mask, which also blocks the sun’s natural rays that would otherwise wake us up gracefully come morning. I used to think, it’s ok, we won’t be here long, but it’s been way longer than expected. Needless to say, this has not been a very healing environment for my healing, but radical acceptance is healing. We are exactly where we need to be.

This is when camping came in, as a necessity. An opportunity for me to completely disconnect, and connect with gaia. To see my children in total activation by the wonders of nature - the frogs, toads, salamanders, fish, crayfish, in those moments, all become a part of our family. They explore the environment, turn on their animal instincts and fill their little buckets with all sorts of new friends. Nature, a place where the mind can reach ultimate quiet, the heart can open, and the body reaches absolute homeostasis. No noise pollution, no sound pollution, no air pollution - the only light shining at night being the stars and the moon, and perhaps the sound of a loon in the distance. The symphony of nature is sound frequency so different from the blare of town. Not only do I reset, the entire family does. In nature, after a day in the sun/lake/forest, the kids happily lay their heads down as the sun sets, and we the adult children, follow close behind them, after sitting by the fire a while longer and reminiscing on the day’s play. The morning dew and crips air with rays of sunshine coming through the openings of the tent are like a soothing, natural alarm clock - our biological clock (circadian rhythm) waking us up. Sometimes a little stiff from the mattress, but regardless, we still feel so fresh, so grounded as we step out of the tent and onto the pine needle covered ground. Breakfast on the fire, our food blessed with the energy and aromas of the surrounding elements. As the sun warms the Earth, the urge to swim comes. A jump in the lake, so rejuvenating, the ultimate reset. The best kind of pick-me-up!

How Nature Resets

To our surprise, the fish were hungry and bitting. This was my children’s first real fishing experience, where they caught their own fish, and many of them for that matter. It was also my husband’s first time. For me, it brought sweet memories of my childhood at the cottage, heading out fishing with my dad after having dinner. We were so ecstatic to see the fishes dancing around our hook, chasing the worm as we reeled in. There is an extra level of excitement when you can actually see the fish at the bottom. A sense of knowing in our mind, that we aren’t fishing for rocks and weeds. The island turned out to be a fishing heaven, with its small perimeter; one side had us fishing for small mouth bass, the point for pickerel and the West side with the reeds, lots of pike and musky. Wow - what an assortment for first time fishers! It sounds too good to be true, but in our first five minutes we caught four fish! The children caught most of them. It had been a while, so the only time I turned on my husband’s phone was to call my dad to describe the fish, to find out what kind it was and if it was within the slot size, to see if we could keep it. It was a small mouth bass, the biggest I’d seen in a while. It brought me back to the time when my brother and I used to sit by the dock for hours, together as children, catching these fish, but much smaller ones. Camping had just gotten even better. We looked forward to fishing twice per day, once at dawn and once at dusk. And once midday. And another time before dinner. Frankly, my daughter would have fished all day if we didn’t get tired of putting worms on her hook. Fortunately, we’d just got our son his first fishing rod a few weeks ago. This was the moment he’d been waiting for.

Here we were, fully immersed with the lake and the fish, completely in the moment. The children and us. For me, that has been difficult in town. I couldn’t turn my mind off. It felt like I’d been living in sympathetic fight-flight-freeze mode for two years. There was no tigger chasing me, but my body thought there was. After the hurricane, my body was running from the imagined tigger, all of the time. Anxiety and panic attacks had become a part of daily life. In nature, with the fish. My body felt safe. Grounded. It was just me and nature - no interference, no racing mind, no overstimulation, no tiggers, no restless children. Only calm. We were all there living now, with the fish. The beauty and awe of nature is miraculous. The sights, the sound, the smells, the touch, the feeling of being with our Great Mother, it’s comforting, it feels like home. Home? I’d not known where that was for so long, since we were displaced, but deep in nature, I’m constantly reminded that home is everywhere our feet touch the Earth. Home is where my roots are permitted to ground. 

In nature, our nervous system resets, our biological clock resets, our whole spirit resets to its pure essence. Being in nature helps us to come back into our body, into our heart space. Out of the head and into the heart - this is where our deep knowing is - where all the answers to our deepest questions lie. When we connect to nature every day, whether it be for a few minutes or a night out with the stars, there is a deep part of us inside that remembers who we are and what we are here to do. As we look up at the vastness of the sky, we remember that we are a tiny spec in contrast to the enormity of what lies out there, that our reason for being here, our meaning on this Earth is so important, as we are much more than our thoughts, than our emotions, than our struggles, than our daily reality  - we are part of an intricate system, where every living being plays an important role. We are all connected as one, we are all intertwined. Nature helps us to remember this. We are so much greater than we think. In nature, we can connect to that energy, The Universal energy that flows through all of us. This is where our ultimate truth lies, in this embodied space connected to the flow of life. In this energy, there are no limits. We can be anything and do anything. We are everything. Move out of contraction and fear, and move into expansion. Trust nature, trust yourself. Expand into your greatest self and trust that The Universe will hold you.

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