My name is Courtney Kersey and I am in a class at Simpson College centred around your book, Your Brain On Nature. I’m going to be honest, when I first heard about the concept for my class and your book, I was less than amused. I figured this book would be one of those “reduce, reuse, recycle”, “think of the penguins” books that preach of people saving the world one candy wrapper at a time. Little did I know, this book would change my life in ways I never knew possible.
As my class read your book chapter by chapter, we would go on nature adventures to try to apply what we read about to ourselves. It started with the simple sit in nature and try to clear your head just enough to not fall asleep. As a regular college student, my first thought was, ” oh thank god an easy credit class”. I mean the ‘textbook’ was a chapter book and so far we meditate most of the week. Once we got into nature bathing or Shinrin Yoku, things in my daily life started to change. As described in your book, Shinrin Yoku is the simple act of taking a walk through the woods. Although it seems so simple, forest bathing has so much more to offer. The first time I walked through the woods with my class, I have to admit that it felt like a waste of time. I had my phone in the car and I spent the 40-minute walk wondering if I had any texts or notifications waiting for me. The next time we went out I decided to make a change. The next nature bathing I did, I actively chose to surround myself in the forest and focus on on the things close to me. No cell phone, no homework, no nothing. Just me, myself, and I staring at the clouds or watching how the leaves fall off the trees. After that conscious choice, I was changed. Well, I still checked my phone when I got back to my car but for those 40 minutes, I felt free. I had no thoughts weighing me down, I had no stresses making my mind move a million miles per hour, I was just me.
In your book, you also talked a lot about technology. I’ve listened to my parents and grandparents tell me for years that my generation is addicted to their phones but your book put technology into a new light. It is hard to listen to someone telling you to not use your phone as much just because they don’t use theirs, but when it is broken down to the actual proven stress it causes, it really changes things. I had no idea that we were slaves to technology. I always check my twitter and facebook but doesn’t everyone? I never thought twice about how much stress and anxiety I was bringing to myself through a 6-inch screen. The study in your book that really hit home for me was the study about the waiting room. People who waited in the waiting room were much more calm when there were nature scenes on the tv or even better, no tv on at all. It was such a simple thing but I had always thought the hospital management knew what was best so obviously tv and distracting technology was best. I took that and tried to apply it to my life. My professor has always had a strict no phones policy for our class. Not to say there wasn’t a single text sent or a quick peek at facebook but by the middle of the semester I tried to put a stop to that. Every time I reached for my phone under my desk or in the middle of the woods when my professor wasn’t around, I felt like a junky. I was addicted and there was no turning back. That was until I conciously decided to make a change.
Now that the semester is almost over, I have made many changes to my daily life. Above all, I do my homework or studies or anything I can make mobile, outside. My campus has a beautiful park and I never imagined myself using it as much as I do. I take walks outside when I talk on the phone, which yes, I’m still on my phone but at least I’m outside. I try to take runs outside instead of on a treadmill where I stare at a screen as I run towards a wall of nothingness. The biggest change has been in my phone habits. I leave my phone in my room more often. I make it through an entire biology lecture without checking my notifications, which if you ask me, is a miracle. I try to only let myself check my social media on my computer so it seems like more of a waste of time rather than something to do while walking from point A to point B. I observe more. I notice the leaves changing colors and the loose bricks by the library. I have opened my eyes to a new way of thinking through little changes that took little to no effort at all.
I’m writing you this email because I want to thank you. Thank you for giving me a reality check on myself. Thank you for being the slap in the face I needed before I was at a point of no return. I have already recommended your book to multiple family members and I can’t wait to see the changes they make for themselves.