CHILDREN, BIOPHILIA, AND A HEALTHY UPBRINGING

All of us, but especially children, need … confidence that others will know, affirm, and cherish us. Without that we can’t develop a sense of agency that will enable us to assert: “This is what I believe in; this is what I stand for; this is what I will devote myself to.” As long as we feel safely held in the hearts and minds of the people who love us, we will climb mountains and cross deserts and stay up all night to finish projects. Children and adults will do anything for people they trust and whose opinion they value. But if we feel abandoned, worthless, or invisible, nothing seems to matter. Fear destroys curiosity and playfulness. In order to have a healthy society we must raise children who can safely play and learn. There can be no growth without curiosity and no adaptability without being able to explore, through trial and error, who you are and what matters to you.

The role of nature – Biophilia

The biophilia hypothesis also called BET suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book, Biophilia (1984). He defines biophilia as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. Hence, all of us, especially children, benefit from a healthy exposure to nature, feeling responsible for the environment, connected to the source of food, friendships with animals as well as people in nature based, outdoor environments.

Exposure to nature has never been more important than it is today. … Businesses can reduce the negative impacts of sterile, lean workplaces and actually enhance their environments by integrating a variety of biophilic features such as green walls, plants, natural woods or stone, and more that mimic the natural world. Download: The Economics of Biophilia and Deacon University on Biophilic workplaces

TRAUMA AND HOW IT BLOCKS NATURE – CONNECTION – LOVE

One does not have be a combat soldier, or visit a refugee camp in Syria or the Congo to encounter trauma. Trauma happens to us, our friends, our families, and our neighbors. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that one in five Americans was sexually molested as a child; one in four was beaten by a parent to the point of a mark being left on their body; and one in three couples engages in physical violence. A quarter of us grew up with alcoholic relatives, and one out of eight witnessed their mother being beaten or hit. It takes tremendous energy to keep functioning while carrying the memory of terror, and the shame of utter weakness and vulnerability.

The parts of the brain that have evolved to monitor for danger remain overactivated and even the slightest sign of danger, real or misperceived, can trigger an acute stress response accompanied by intense unpleasant emotions and overwhelming sensations. Such posttraumatic reactions make it difficult for survivors to connect with other people, since closeness often triggers the sense of danger. And yet the very thing we come to most dread after experiencing trauma — close contact with other people — is also the thing we most need in order to regain psychoemotional solidity and begin healing.

Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives. – We need to heal this trauma .. better than now.

Chris Walker

With unhealed trauma, we evolve a refined mechanism for detecting danger — we’re incredibly attuned to even the subtlest emotional shifts in those around us and, even if we don’t always heed these intuitive readings, we can read another person’s friendliness or hostility on the basis of such imperceptible cues as brow tension, lip curvature, and body angles. But one of the most pernicious effects of trauma is that it disrupts this ability to accurately read others, rendering the trauma survivor either less able to detect danger or more likely to misperceive danger where there is none.

Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety. No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love: These are complex and hard-earned capacities. You don’t need a history of trauma to feel self-conscious and even panicked at a party with strangers — but trauma can turn the whole world into a gathering of aliens

THE WAY I SEE IT

We’ve defined nature. We’ve called it green things. We are visual, so understandably, the beauty of nature is inspiring and healing. However, if we think like a brick, act like an alien, criticise ourselves for being less than organic we are committing the greatest of crimes, we are separating ourselves from nature in our mind, on one hand saying “I love nature” on the other hand saying “my emotions are more important than nature.” This is where the opportunity sits. Bringing our mind into step with nature, we become nature, not through glass windows and camera lenses, but in our heart, mind and body. This is where the healing and health of children begins.

Chris