There are studies that show that immersion among elements of wild nature deactivates the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that houses patterns of ruminative depressive thinking. In other words, a walk in the woods might help calm down the fire in your brain that burns the brightest when you’re feasting on self-doubt and ruminating on despair.
I’ve experienced that. When I get stuck on a thought or an emotion that isn’t serving me, or when I get fixated on trying to find a fix for everything that’s wrong with the world, I know it’s time for me, Maya, and Dillard to head out for a stroll along the Presumpscot River.
The woods by the river are great because they insist: You aren’t sealed off from the stuff of life around you. When I exhale a full breath and then draw a new breath in, I am inhaling a gift from the trees that are sighing in the wind.
Thanks to Florence Williams’ The Nature Fix for making neuro-scientific studies somewhat accessible. And for the Robert Louis Stevenson quote on page 62 about, “That quality of air, that emanation from old trees that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”