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2 The Outdoors: The healing power of nature

In troubled times, we can turn to nature for solace.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As society lurches through this time of turmoil and chaos, we struggle to find a place of solace in which to heal both our body and soul. 

Though many seek respite in the digital wasteland, that is nothing more than a fool's errand. At best that distracts from the true path to find a true cure to what ails us, the comfort of our Mother Earth. 

Sandy Geffner is Coordinator of Experiential Learning at the University at Buffalo's Department of Environment and Sustainability, and he believes that "nature becomes your psychiatrist. You don't need a counselor if you have a tree."

"Interesting enough, our ancestors were more connected with Nature. We're not, we're no longer because we're attached to all the technology," said Ken Parker, a Horticulturalist at The English Gardener. 

Credit: Terry Belke
Nature's great beauty brings peace to those who seek it.

The earth's embrace is always there for us. Geffner believes that all we need to do is seek what she offers.

"Any place where there's peace and where there's a gentle flow about you, it allows you to breathe deeply, it allows you to center yourself, it puts you in touch with the real priorities in your life," Geffner said.

Credit: Terry Belke
Even a backyard veggie garden can be a place of solace.

Though a hike through deep woods or meditation on a secluded lake has great restorative power, that isn't always possible. So don't neglect the small green spaces, a home yard or garden can help reconnect.

"No, we don't have to go into the deep forest, we can create our own spaces, in our backyards, in our cities, around our office buildings." Parker said, adding, "Create our own little bit of oasis, and I think that has a positive impact."

Credit: Terry Belke
Much can be learned from observing Nature.

If we look deeply enough, we can learn much from observing nature. Take, for example, watching a caterpillar change into a butterfly, and ponder the wonder of transformation.

"Crisis always has the potential to bring about transformation, that's the nature of crisis," said Geffner. "The rest is up to us, but you know I think humans do their best when they're on the precipice."

Or one can consider the importance of diversity when observing the importance of that in nature. 

Parker thinks this can be an important lesson, saying that "nature grows in habitats, and it's very complex, it's kind of organized chaos, and diversity is very important, and I think humans can learn that diversity is important and to tolerate each other better. "

Credit: Terry Belke
Preserving our environment is of paramount importance.

And once society calms again, Geffner believes it's most important to never forget the mother who always there.

"This is our only home, and it's only logical that we take care of her," Geffner said.