Gifts of the Forest for Kids

B-Leaf-mapleBirds and the bees have always come to the aid of parents when explaining difficult concepts in life. Nature has it’s own way of communicating with children and teaching them difficult concepts in simple ways. Beyond the obvious  health benefits of being in nature, here are some precious gifts that forests give kids.


*This video is free to reuse and re-share. Download it at this vimeo link.

In the modern world many parents have to rely on television, tablets or mobiles to distract their kids or keep them busy and occupied. This might appear to be an easy and quick solution to get children to quieten down and give some breathing space to the parents, but one has to consider the actual impact of this habit and the long term consequences.

Technology works by stimulating the brain and invigorating the senses. And as with all stimulants it can be addictive in nature. In the long run, this habit may lead to abnormal times being spent in front of a screen. This has a very bad affect in the development of a child’s physical, mental and social skills.

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On the other hand, when children spend time in nature their bodies and minds experience multiple benefits. Nature has a calming effect on the senses and provides positive energy for the body through physical exercise. The less evident benefits of being outdoors is the growth in the child’s understanding of life and development of the child’s value systems. The children begin to realise that they are part of a larger more complex world. They learn to give respect and take responsibility. The concept of inter dependence and frailty of humans teaches them invaluable lessons of gratitude and humility.

LIST OF BENEFITS

  • Sense of discovery and wonder
  • Joy, Excitement, Curiosity
  • Improved attention spans
  • Greater calm, lesser tantrums
  • Sharper observation skills
  • New friendships
  • Better health & immunity
  • Higher self-confidence
  • Greater respect and responsibility
  • Gratefulness and humility

With new knowledge and new research proving the benefits of being in nature, it is time to cut back on the screen time and go outdoors to have some fun. Spending time in nature is not just a great opportunity for growing your child as a person, but also growing close together as a family.

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*forest art by Shohei Emura

ACTIVITIES WITH KIDS

Here are some fun activities to do with kids in the forests
Animal Poses: Ask the kids to make poses to imitate the different animals or birds they might spot.
Silent Walking: Set up a short interval of time to walk in silence and observe all that you can. At the end of the silent walk you can discuss the different things one observed.
Nature and Art: Create some wonderful art using materials found in the forest.
Show and Tell: Create a sense of discovery and curiosity in your child by asking them to collect something unique from the woods and create a story about it. Go home and read about the new things that you find in the forest.
*Inputs by Nancy D’Antonio

If you any more suggestions or interesting exercises, please send us an email and we’ll add to this post.

NATURE AND KIDS

B-Leaf-3Children are the inheritors of our future. If we can instil a love for nature in them, we have chance a building a cleaner, greener planet and overcoming the challenges that the changing climate may bring about.

Here’s a short film that talks about how simple actions can help our children create a better future and a better world.

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Healing Forest is a project to explore fascinating forests and collect inspiring stories of healing from nature. Our aim is simple. Helping people heal. Helping Forests heal.

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Recovering from Accidents and Injury

B-Leaf-3This month’s story is about an unusual lady called “the queen of canopy research”. World renowned biologist Nalini Nadkarni pioneered the use of mountain climbing equipment to assist her climbs of Costa Rican rain forest canopies in the early 1980’s. Years of research, countless ascends (on four different continents) came to an abrupt halt during a normal afternoon 50 feet above ground in the Olympic National Park, Washington (America). Nalini eloquently describes her near death fall and offers some insight into a life altering, meaningful disturbance.

FILM CREDITS
Production vitabrevisfilms.com + videowest.kuer.org
Directed by: Skylar Nielsen | Interview: Doug Fabrizio

Forest Healing from Accidents, Injury and Surgery

There have been multiple studies on the link between the mind and the body and how a calm and healthy mind boosts one’s immunity and helps the body recover faster from illness and injury.

People who are recovering from an accident, injury or operation have to go through a testing time. Simple tasks which were easy to do earlier can take up a lot of effort and also require assistance. Beyond the physical difficulties, most people also face a host of mental challenges. Sadness, anger and anxiety about their present condition can change their outlook to life as well as affect their behaviour.

Therefore it becomes very important to supplement their physical therapy with a more holistic approach to their problems. Something that can help them find answers to unsolved questions in their mind. And forests serve as friends to give comfort and hold space for connecting with something deeper so that the process of healing can begin.

Richard Mitchell, an epidemiologist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, did a large study that found less disease in people who lived near parks or other green spaces. Compared with people who have lousy window views, those who can see trees and grass have been shown to recover faster in hospitals, perform better in school, and even display less violent behaviour. *Source

TIP: So if you know someone recovering from an accident, injury or surgery ask them to spend a little time in nature. It will help them find the connection that triggers faster healing and reduces the recovery time.

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ABOUT DR. NALINI

Dr. Nalini is an exceptional scientist whose work has challenged our perspective on trees and prisons. Nalini Nadkarni explores the rich, vital world found in the tops of trees. She communicates what she finds to non-scientists — with the help of poets, preachers and prisoners. See a short TED talk on her work here:

“The web of social relationships is essential for our health”

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We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any suggestions or stories of healing from nature do write to us at healingforest(dot)org(at)gmail(dot)com

Healing Forest is a project to help people reconnect with nature and build a community of friends who have a deep connection with forests. Our aim is simple. Helping people heal. Helping forests heal.

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Sleep is nature’s way of recharging our batteries and raising our energy levels. When a person is not able to sleep properly it has a bearing on his or her mental and physical health in multiple ways.

One in three people may suffer from some form of insomnia during their lifetime. Inability to sleep is more common than you think and can affect anyone, anytime, anywhere for a wide variety of reasons.

But there is a need for greater awareness on dealing with insomnia and many people continue to suffer in silence. Fo more information on insomnia, follow the link to this helpful article.

B-Leaf-1Watch this short 2 minute film to see how a young girl found healing from her insomnia and the gift of sleep from a magical forest.

How Forests Help

Forests have the ability to calm people down and soothe troubled minds. It has been proven that silent walks in the woods calm areas of your brain that are related to stress and anxiety.

Nature helps you slow down your thoughts. It makes you see yourself as a small part of a larger whole. This can shift focus from your individual anxieties and problems and produce insights and philosophies that bring peace.

The next time you are in a forest, pay close attention to not just what you see but also to the sounds and the smells in the forest. When you actively engage with the woods with all your senses, then you are redirecting your brain to move away from sleep preventing thoughts and giving it the much desired time to unwind.

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Benefits of a good sleep

When you sleep well you wake up feeling positive and have the energy to go through your day with vigour and zest.

A good sleep affects your emotional balance which in turn creates an impact on the quality of your relationships as well as interactions with other people.

The quality of sleep is linked with the ability of making better judgements and decisions. When your mind is well rested it is sharp and alert. On the other hand sleeplessness can hinder your decision making skills. In fact lack of sleep is one of the leading causes of road accidents.

The healing ability of your body and the immune system also rely on your sleeping conditions and habits.

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Tips for better sleep

Kaleido-circleThe secret of a good sleep lies in it’s preparation. Maintain a proper sleep schedule with fixed times for sleeping and waking up. Avoid things which can hamper with your sleep like caffeinated drinks, heavy dinners, too much time in the company of a TV or your mobile phone.

One of the biggest challenges for people who are unable to sleep is turning off their thoughts. The trick lies in switching focus from disturbing thoughts to soothing feelings. Here are a few tips. Give them a try.

Relaxation by parts: As you lie in bed start by paying attention to your feet and gently relax them. Move your attention up the legs and repeat the process, mentally relaxing each body part. Scan and relax your whole body, part by part until you reach your brain. Finally send a feeling of relaxation to your brain and also your thoughts.

Reverse counting: Try counting in reverse in your head. Start with 100 and count down to 0. Remember the purpose of this exercise being to shift your thoughts from things that are disturbing you and keeping you awake. It is similar to counting sheep but less traumatic for the sheep.

Creative visualisation: For people with an active imagination, this technique can channelise their abilities into relaxing thoughts. Simply visualise yourself in a place where you feel absolutely calm. You could be at the top of a high snow covered mountain surrounded by a sea of ranges, lying by a gentle brook in a beautiful wood or floating on a cloud watching a million stars overhead. Let your imagination take you to a place where sleep falls on you like gentle mist.

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Pl note: People suffering from chronic insomnia – which lasts more than a month should contact their Healthcare professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

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HEALING FOREST is a journey to reconnect people with nature. Our aim is to help people and forests heal. As part of the idea we are collecting stories of healing from nature. If you have a personal story that you would like to share and inspire other people, please email it to us: notes(at)healingforest(dot)org

For monthly updates to new stories, films and helpful articles please subscribe to our blog at this link.

Music of the Sacred Forest

MUSIC has a deep connection with our mind. Like the scent of a flower that fills an entire B-Leaf-3room, a simple tune or song can change our entire mood, lift our spirit and transform our thoughts. This month we travel to an ancient sacred forest in Meghalaya, India and experience the magic of nature’s music.

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If trees had a voice how would they sound? If a forest could sing what would it sing of? Imagine yourself on a mountain, sitting in the middle of a dense forest. You are surrounded by moss covered stones that lay scattered in odd circles and patterns. A floating cloud descends upon you and you begin to hear this music:

ladybug_50Bah Kerios Wahlang is a folk music legend from a small village in Meghalaya. He lives in a log house surrounded by naughty grandchildren and a brood of temperamental hen. He creates his own songs and mostly sings about the sacred forest that lies close to his village. To know more about his village and the sacred forest, follow this link. If your footsteps ever take you to this corner of the planet, do pay him a visit. Ask anyone in the village and they will point you in the right direction.

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Science of Music

It’s strange but true. Music only happens in your brain. Outside your brain, sound is simply air molecules moving. When these molecules vibrate your eardrums, this energy is converted into signals for your brain. Processing these elements involves almost every region of the brain.

Music activates the emotional parts of the brain as well as the rational parts and also induces mood enhancing chemicals. Just how different sequence of sounds produce different emotional reactions is still a mystery.

But studies by neuroscientists have shown that music can affect not just your mood and thoughts, but also alter your mental makeup and influence your behaviour and actions. For a more detailed write-up click here.

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The Sacred Forest, Mawphlang

The sacred forest is a protected forest land that was used by the surrounding community for ancient customs and religious ceremonies. The peculiar stones that are found across the sacred forest are known as monoliths. They are often found laid out in fairy rings or odd angled benches or standing as solitary guardians – holding secrets and stories of times long forgotten.

Sacred groves of India are forest fragments of varying sizes, which are communally protected, and which usually have a significant religious connotation for the protecting community. Hunting and logging are usually strictly prohibited within these patches. Sacred groves are considered ecologically important hotspots of bio-diversity.

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Have you ever heard the music of a sunrise?

Birdsong at first light. Wind rustling through tree leaves. The gentle gurgle of a flowing brook. Undoubtedly, some of the most beautiful music comes from nature. And as always, it’s absolutely free. But for those of you, caught up in work or unable to make it to the great outdoors, here are two places you can go to find your own song of nature:

asoftmurmur.com A website that let’s you pick and choose from various sounds of nature to create your own symphony.

Calm.com A free app for android as well as iphones. Calm features a wide range of soothing sounds from forests to oceans.

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We hope you enjoyed this post. Do send us your thoughts and feedback in the comment box below. Next month we cover the science of sleep and how nature can influence it. To stay updated subscribe to our monthly blog update at this link.

May the music of the forest always be with you when you need it.

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Please share this with people in your life who may need a moment of calm in their life.

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Let go

A 90 sec. film from amazing Arunachal (India). Arunachal is one of the most incredible but less explored regions of India. A place of breathtaking beauty that fills the mind with calm and tranquility. Film credits: Words and Images by Nitin Das (filmkaar.com); Music – Rainy Embrace (Apple Music Library). Peace poem words for translation:

LET GO

Let go the darkness,
Let go the night.
Clear a little space,
Let in the light.

Let go your loss
Let go your pain.
Dark clouds pass,
So will the rain.

Let go your anger
Let go your hate.
Escape the prison,
Unlock the gate.

Let go the hurt
Let go the regret,
Peace flows when you
forgive and forget

Let go your fears
Let go your tears
Add a little life,
to these fleeting years.

When you are feeling low,
Just remember
Nothing lasts forever

Let go

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Please share this with people in your life who may need a moment of calm in their life.

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