"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Let's Go Play Outside

I just finished reading an article about the cognitive benefits of nature.
Specifically getting American children out in it.
According to research, our kids currently spend more than 4 hours a day interacting with technology.  Then more time viewing concrete and blacktop.
"Natural settings and untamed landscapes have a restorative effect, calming our frazzled nerves and refreshing the tired cortex.  After even a brief exposure to the outdoors, people are more creative, happier and better able to focus", states the research.  
"Brain reacts to natural settings by, essentially, sighing in relief."

I have always known that--experienced those sighs, even.
Trees.  Dirt.  Bugs. Critters.  Lack of climate control.

Living in Alaska for the summer allows me a lot of sighing time.
We are surrounded by untamed landscapes and, as anyone who has read
any of my previous blogposts knows, I thrive here.
And so will little Abigail.

But the data proves that even a small patch of nature can
 "confer cognitive benefits".  
In simpler terms, give your brain room to expand! 

Though we live on a tiny lot in a large development in central Texas,
we specifically chose a spot with a backyard that opens to a "greenbelt".
This stretch of Texas wildness invites coyotes, deer, owls, turkeys, 
foxes and assorted trees, grasses and wildflowers.

And this patch of "untamed landscape" becomes
a wondrous place when combined with two darling grandchildren

and masses of magical, colorful butterflies.

Countless silent lessons abound in nature.
One such lesson is that bugs don't live long on the palms of young girls,
even when surrounded by love.

The cycle of life is a tough lesson as this grave marker shows.
Gigi cried and told me, "Grandma, we need a rip sign."
(A "rip" sign???)
Aha!  We had been to an old cemetery just awhile ago.
 This paper headstone translates:
Baby Roly Poly  
And Gigi drew herself shedding copious tears.

The researchers say it's when you "have an extended period of time surrounded by that softly fascinating environment that you start seeing all kinds of positive effects in how your mind works."

How lovely, it sounds like what it is: softly fascinating environment.

Want to concentrate better and cope with life's stresses?
Park the car.  Turn off the cell phone.
 Open your mind and soul to God's world around you today!
In other words, Go outside and play!


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