In this week’s group we discussed the length of time in which humans have been domesticated as primarily indoor creatures. Group leader Zoe had me, and the other members of the group stand, arms outstretched, fingertip to fingertip. We represented the length of time humans have been on earth. Our combined wingspan was about 45 feet. We were then asked to guess how long humans have been living indoors. As various group members called out, “One arm, a whole body, two people!”; the answer was finally revealed. A fingernail. Now it may have been because I was able to see the actual physical representation of time, or that it was my fingernail that was being pointed to, but I was shocked. So recent, such a small fraction of time indoors, and we humans have forgotten how to be wild. The amount of people suffering from mental disorders has skyrocketed in recent years, and it makes me wonder what the correlation is between these two ideas. Taking humans out of the wild, providing enough resources that our waste is considered a global issue, all while spending less and less time in the natural world. Could this have to do with why I feel my problems are so gargantuan? As we set off on a silent walk through the woods, it was all I could think about. If I were to have existed in a time prior to domestication, the hardships that I face today would be nonexistent. I began to look up at the trees and wonder what memories they hold. I wonder if they miss human connection as much as we miss a connection with nature. What I do know is that every time I go home after spending time outside, I feel lighter, more cheerful and carefree. I must awaken and nurture my primitive self, rewiring and rewilding my brain so that I am able to access more than a fingernail in time.
Lauren is currently attending Johns Hopkins University in pursuit of her Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She obtained her BS in Psychology from Towson University. She currently volunteers at the Center for Nature Informed Therapy and hopes to integrate mindfulness and nature into her future practice She will be receiving her practicum and internship training at the Chesapeake Mental Health Collaborative. Lauren is also a veteran of the United States Navy and is currently assisting in the development of a nature informed veteran support group.