Our world is an increasingly individualized and digital one, leaving us little time or space to enjoy what the earth offers naturally. The more time we spend, in cities, indoors, and on screens, the more our overall health and wellbeing suffers. Nature is the medicine that so many people need, and there is plenty of research to prove it a potent one. In February of 2016, a report was published that “shows that taking part in nature-based activities helps people who are suffering from mental ill-health and can contribute to a reduction in levels of anxiety, stress, and depression” (BBC Earth). Another report from the University of Kansas found that “spending more time outdoors and less time with our electronic devices can increase our problem-solving skills and improve creative abilities” (Positive Psychology Program).
The benefits are not just for mental health either. Research done by Dr. Miles Richardson, head of psychology at the University of Derby, showed that “exposure to nature can reduce hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure), respiratory tract and cardiovascular illnesses” while also noting that interacting with nature has shown to “significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness, and lower cognitive anxiety” (BBC Earth). It seems more important than ever to do what we can to get out into those special preserved natural spaces.
It may seem nearly impossible to reap the benefits of being in nature, as few of us have the time or money to travel to the vast wilderness, but fortunately we don’t have to do that! Nature-based activities or nature-related spaces can be just as beneficial to our health as being deep in the woods. This can range meditating under a tree, getting a few houseplants, or taking a few minutes to study how a tree moves in the wind or a weed grows from the concrete. This reconnection with nature is essential to our practice at Creative Nature HQ. We seek to help counterpoint the polarization between modern city life and the natural world, and share democratic creative experiences to promote wellbeing.
We accomplish this reconnection in several ways, beginning with our materials. The wood used in our woodworking and spoon carving workshops is locally sourced, harvested from a variety of tree surgeons and yards. A new relationship we are forming is with a charity called, Woodland Farm Trust, an 89-acre city farm in Shooters Hill just a few miles from our workshop. If we did not use the wood, it would be chipped up and used for mulch, so our crafts help to employ this bountiful resource. Called green wood, it has been recently harvested and has a high moisture content, which is perfect for beginner woodworking because it is soft, easy to carve by hand, and hardens slowly. Our willow weaving materials are also sourced from a variety of small scale growers.
Working with natural materials in a simple, meditative, and sustainable way helps promote feelings of mindfulness and calm, as well builds as a deeper connection to our natural surroundings and those around us. The interaction with raw materials provides an opportunity for reflection, concentration, and immersion in the natural. Even the smell of wood in the workshop starts these fuzzy feelings.
We also want our ancient making practices to be done where they are meant to be done: outside. Starting this spring, we will be offering woodworking, spoon carving, and willow weaving workshops in a variety of open spaces. There is no better place to learn how to split a log and carve it into a spoon than where the wood was grown. We are very excited to bring mindful making into the new outdoors space.Follow our story to keep up to date.