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Can You Hear That? How Nature Supports Cognitive Quiet

‘Natural silence has been called one of the most endangered resources on the planet.’

– Dr Qing Li

If you have even taken yourself deep into the woods, the mountain ranges or immersed yourself deep in Nature, far enough from civilization, there is the most incredibly, peaceful, restorative commodity to be found there; silence.

Natural Silence- An endangered resource in our noise polluted world of notifications, humming of electrical goods, traffic and human noise. If your trace back your day from the moment you woke until now, can you list all the noises that you would have been heard?

Alarm (most likely off phone), central heater keeping your home a comfortable 22c, traffic outside, rousing the family for the day, conversations, tap water running, fan circulating, the TV/ news on the radio, electrical goods; kettle, toaster, fridge humming, microwave, blender, car alarms, more traffic, phone ringing, message notifications and that’s just the first hour of your day.

Imagine the effects of a day’s noise taken in for processing by our sensory organs, our nervous system. With such high levels of noise everywhere, most people don’t have the opportunity to enjoy the restorative sounds that nature provides.

Natural silence is not void of sound; however it is free of human noise.

When you are immersed in nature, silence takes on a deeper dimension; the whistle of the winds through the branches, the rustle of leaves, of waterfalls and oceans waves, of birds and wilderness that creates the most peaceful and meditative soundscape.

These places aren’t hard to find, we need only search. Leave the podcast at home, the music for when you’re in the kitchen cooking. When we step outdoors, engage our senses and tune in we are activating a primal memory within our cells that creates calm unparalleled to Mother Nature.

We are primal creatures that lived in sync with our Mother Nature for thousands of years, hard wired to her environment, she offers her seasonal gifts for a restorative sonic stress relief. The rustling of leaves in the autumn, the rain on the roof in winter, the birdsong in spring and cicada’s in summer…

In the forest, by the sea or the open plains we can learn to listen to the sonic landscape we were built to hear. Studies at Brighton & Sussex Medical School in the UK have found that we are more relaxed when we listen to the sounds of nature.

Researchers had participants perform cognitive tasks and monitored their heart rates, nervous system, blood pressure, metabolism and digestion as they listened. Results showed that those who listened to artificial sounds, their attention focussed inwards. Inwards focussed attention is associated with anxiety, brooding and ruminating thoughts. When listening to sounds of Nature, they turned their attention outwards, with their cognitive scores much higher, reduce heart rate, decreased rate of nervous tension and indications of deeper relaxation when listening to Nature.

Other studies have found that the sounds of the forest are more restorative and stress relieving. These are: running water, like that of a stream or river. Wind through the trees, bird chatter and birdsong.

It can be quite confronting, even challenging to quiet our mind and tune into Nature. Humans are so used to noise, and even when externally we experience environmental quiet, our minds are noisy inside our heads.

A few steps to try, to quieten the mind and tune into Nature:

· Slow it down. Find a quiet space to sit, as thoughts pop to your head, see them and let them go.

· Breathe. Focusing on our breath, inhalation- exhalation and tracing the breath through the body allowing a pin point focus to assist in quietening the mind. Deep breathes nourish your body with oxygen and allows for removal of carbon dioxide, it also assists the nervous system to reset.

· Close down your eyes/ open your ears. Muting our sight brings elevated attention to our other senses. Imagine you are opening your ears, listen in all directions. What is close? What sounds far? Drink it all in, feel the body shift; mentally and physically.

Lift mental fatigue and create cognitive quiet with the sounds of Nature, refresh your senses and rejuvenate the soul.

Explore the benefits of Nature Immersion.

Amanda x


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