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Soulful Solstice: Noticing Nature and Rekindling Our Connection


Happy Summer Solstice!

Early summer days are a jubilee time for birds. In the fields, around the house, in the barn, in the woods, in the swamp—everywhere love and songs and nests and eggs.

— E.B. White


Summer solstice offers us meaningful moments to connect with the enchanting rhythms of Nature. Throughout history, the summer solstice has sparked jubilation and merriment in cultures far and wide.


Imagine the Ancient Egyptians eagerly awaiting the rising of the Nile River, an annual event perfectly aligned with this celestial occurrence. To them, it marked not just the start of a new season but the dawning of their New Year, a time of hope and anticipation.


Joyful Midsummer festivities unfolded throughout Europe, weaving a tapestry of communal gatherings and merriment. Picture the mystical ambiance surrounding Stonehenge, where people gathered to pay homage to this celestial ballet.

I am summer, come to lure you away from your computer… come dance on my fresh grass, dig your toes into my beaches.

— Oriana Green


As we celebrate the solstice, let us also explore the profound impact of Nature on our wellbeing.

When we are captivated by the fragrance of flowers or enchanted by the sunlight filtering through the leaves and the shadows dancing on our path, we nurture a connection with ourselves and the world around us.


In noticing and appreciating Nature, our connection grows.


It is not merely the minutes we spend but the depth of our engagement that brings us closer to kinship.


Nature Connectedness refers to the way we relate to and experience Nature.

According to the Nature Connectedness Research Group, Nature Connectedness =

captures the relationship between people and the rest of Nature. Nature connectedness is a measurable psychological construct that moves beyond contact with Nature to an individual's sense of their relationship with the natural world.

A strong connection with Nature means feeling a close relationship or an emotional attachment to our natural surroundings. Connectivity and a sense of belonging to Nature improve cognitive, sensory, and social development while stimulating physical activity, positive emotions, and increasing our value of the natural world.

Research shows that people with high levels of nature connectedness are happier, less stressed, and report having more vitality and meaning in their lives.


Feeling connected to Nature generates positive emotions like calmness, creativity, joy, facilitates focus, concentration, and lessens feelings of isolation and loneliness for all ages (Weir, 2020).


Yet, our society is growing increasingly disconnected from Nature.

A research review cited the following, from a 2020 National Trust survey :

Approximately 80% of people rarely or never watched wildlife, smelled wildflowers, or engaged with Nature through drawing or photography.
62% of people rarely or never listened to bird songs or observed natural cycles like the vernal equinox.

These alarming statistics indicate a concerning disconnect from Nature, compounded by the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.


A study conducted with 2,096 adults from the United Kingdom aimed to bridge research gaps on the influence of nature connectedness and engagement on wellbeing. Surprisingly, the study challenges the common belief that the amount of time spent in Nature is the primary driver of wellbeing.


Instead, it emphasizes nature connectedness and engaging in simple activities, such as immersing ourselves in the scents of flowers and listening to the sweet sounds of songbirds.

The study found that individuals with a higher level of nature connectedness experience elevated levels of hedonic wellbeing (happiness and life satisfaction), as well as eudaimonic wellbeing (positive relationships, autonomy, meaning in life, competence, personal growth, and vitality). The Gallup World Poll is considering nature connectedness as an essential global measure of wellbeing.

The research consistently underscores the importance of nature connectedness and engaging with Nature in our daily lives.


These elements are far more influential in promoting wellbeing and reducing ill-being than the quantity of time spent outdoors.


We can nurture our mental health and wellbeing by cultivating a deep and mindful relationship with Nature.


In light of these findings, researchers advise that nature-based programs, governmental policies, and urban planning initiatives prioritize and promote nature connectedness and everyday engagement with the natural world.


Co-Creating green spaces, incorporating trees and flowers into our neighborhoods, and designing urban "greenways" can enhance the lives of residents and foster a greater connection with Nature.


Moreover, reducing urban noise to allow for the experience of natural sounds and encouraging encounters with wildlife can further deepen our bond with the natural world. Limiting light pollution paves the way for urban dwellers to experience the boundless wonderment of the night sky, filled with constellations and shooting stars.


As we celebrate the summer solstice and embark on this journey of reconnecting with Nature, let us heed the call to notice, appreciate, and honor the beauty surrounding us while tuning into the emotions and feelings Nature evokes.



Can we collectively rekindle our relationship with the natural world?


References


Lambert, L., Lomas, T., van de Weijer, M. P., Passmore, H. A., Joshanloo, M., Harter, J., ... & Diener, E. (2020). Towards a greater global understanding of wellbeing: A proposal for a more inclusive measure. International Journal of Wellbeing, 10(2).


Richardson, M., Passmore, H. A., Lumber, R., Thomas, R., & Hunt, A. (2021). Moments, not minutes: The nature-wellbeing relationship. International Journal of Wellbeing, 11(1).


Weir, K. (2020). Nurtured by nature. Psychological research is advancing our understanding of how time in nature can improve our mental health and sharpen our cognition. American Psychological Association.

Continuing Education Opportunity


Are you ready to embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and wellbeing?


Join us for a two-day, at-home experiential learning retreat.

Learn and experience evidence-based practices, simple yet profound ways to grow nature connectedness and promote overall wellbeing.

By participating in this program, you will not only gain valuable insights and skills, but you will also have the opportunity to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and receive a Care Outdoors Leader Certificate.


Let us embark on this journey together, grow nature connectedness, and nurture wellbeing while learning to share care outdoors with others.


Interested in joining a cohort? Send me a direct message and receive information on upcoming sessions. Enroll today to begin this meaningful and enriching experience.

Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are.

–Gretel Ehrlich













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