The full moon shines brightly through the trees. Rustling noises in the duff of the forest floor remind me of all the little creatures going about their nightly business. If I’m lucky, I can spot the great horned owl whose call I just heard. It’s dark and I’m alone on a trail far from home, but feel at peace and truly at home, the darkness like a soft blanket wrapping around me.
Biologist E. O. Wilson introduced a hypothesis back in 1984 that he called the biophilia hypothesis, which means love of life. He proposed, somewhat based on the works of philosopher Erich Fromm, that humans have an innate connection to nature and other life forms. While some scientists and psychologists refute the biophilia hypothesis, I think it makes quite a bit of sense. A deep connection to nature is in our genetic memory.
In his book, Biophilia, Edward O. Wilson put forth the hypothesis that there is an instinctive bond between people and other living things. Building upon that idea, it’s logical that the natural environment can be a therapeutic place for healing and rehabilitation. Historically speaking, the use of gardens as places for healing and rejuvenation is nothing new.
What are your own experiences and relationship with nature? Do you find peace sitting under a tree or would you prefer to view it from a window or in a photograph? Sometimes, on a backcountry hike and especially in the twilight hours, I feel like I’m not alone. Not in a spooky or frightening way, but in a very comforting way. I feel almost as if the trees, the rocks, the soil are all wrapping a reassuring cloak of strength around my shoulders. I reach out my hand and feel a connection. And if I stand very still, and listen, I can hear what they are saying.