Developing Pro-Nature Attitudes Through Positive Participation in Nature

Are you eco-centric or anthropocentric?

Participation in nature
"There’s no wellbeing without nature’s wellbeing" - findingnature.org.uk

Pro-Nature Attitudes and Behaviors in Your Perspective

If you join The Mindful Tourist’s Shinrin Yoku Guide Certification Training – Level 1, on your first week, you will be asked to write a 500-word essay on your participation in nature. Participation process explores how we can experience and be present in natural spaces. The process of participation facilitates a movement between an outer and inner experiences.

Ask anyone interested in Forest Bathing and nature connection, a lot of discussions would revolve around the values of forest and nature to human beings, a one-dimensional humancentric or anthropocentric perception.

Anthropocentrism, philosophical viewpoint arguing that human beings are the central or most significant entities in the world. This is a basic belief embedded in many Western religions and philosophies. Anthropocentrism regards humans as separate from and superior to nature and holds that human life has intrinsic value while other entities (including animals, plants, mineral resources, and so on) are resources that may justifiably be exploited for the benefit of humankind.

Many ethicists find the roots of anthropocentrism in the Creation story told in the book of Genesis in the Judeo-Christian Bible, in which humans are created in the image of God and are instructed to “subdue” Earth and to “have dominion” over all other living creatures. This passage has been interpreted as an indication of humanity’s superiority to nature and as condoning an instrumental view of nature, where the natural world has value only as it benefits humankind [1].

When I read an assignment submitted by Amy Wargo‘s, one of our Forest Bathing students, I was delighted. She wrote, “Being in nature is a much different concept than participating with nature. As humans, it can be easy to see the forest and nature as resources solely for our use and consumption. When thinking about creating a connection to nature, the mindset changes. We become part of nature instead of apart from nature. And I believe that is where the healing starts.” Like Amy, many of our students bring this pro-nature attitude to the training sessions. These students are the driving force for positive changes in the challenging world we live in today.

In a way, our students believe in what we believe in. For us, Shinrin Yoku is a path way that connects us to our ikigai or the reasons for being, and our purpose is to inspire a balanced and sustainable way of living.

Individuals practice Shinrin Yoku for several reasons. Nature connectedness helps foster pro-nature attitudes and behaviors. It is an important concept that can help develop a more sustainable relationship with the natural world and inspire humans’ reverence for nature.

Pro-Nature Attitudes and The Food We Eat

Photos courtesy of Adelynn Shan Lee

“My recent trip to the @greencirclefarm had me intrigued; now I know that flowers like hibiscus could be eaten. And one of the flower I ate, I often see it in parks. There is so much wisdom in nature, how they complement one another, how animals find themselves plant medicine when they are sick, it makes me think about the fruits and veggies I eat. Like what the farmer said, it is not what we put into our mouth, it is what we feed those plants and animals. We are eating what they eat. Time to go organic,” wrote Adelynn Shan Lee, The Mindful Tourist Forest Bathing Guide in training in her reflection essay week 10 assignment.

We all know food plays an important role in our well-being and we all know that consuming healthy foods leads to good health. But for some very odd reasons, there seems to be a disconnect and most people do not realize that what we feed our vegetables and animals with will end up in our bodies.

And while we tend to think that there is not much we could do about it and leave the matters up to the government, it is surprisingly simple to make positive changes to your lifestyle just by figuring out where to start. Buying organic foods, eating less meat, shopping local when possible, opting for eco-friendly alternatives and adopting the ‘Mottainai‘ Spirit (もったいない or 勿体無い), the Japanese term that encompasses the 4Rs of reduce, reuse, recycle and repair, could be a good start. Even if you just make one change rather than turning your entire household eco-friendly overnight, you’re working to build better habits in your corner of the world.

‘Nature connectedness’ refers to the way we relate to and experience nature. A strong connection with nature means feeling a close relationship or an emotional attachment to our natural surroundings. Greater nature connectedness delivers better mental health and is key for both carbon cutting pro-environmental behaviours and wildlife friendly pro-nature conservation behaviours – more so than passive exposure to nature.

Our actions determine the fate of other animals and the Earth

“Seventy thousand years ago, our human ancestors were insignificant animals, just minding their own business in a corner of Africa with all the other animals. But now, few would disagree that humans dominate planet Earth; we’ve spread to every continent, and our actions determine the fate of other animals (and possibly Earth itself). How did we get from there to here?” Historian Yuval Noah Harari suggests a surprising reason for the rise of humanity.

Today the very survival of trees, forests, rivers, birds, lions and elephants depends on the decisions and wishes of fictional entities such as nations and companies, entities that exist only in our imagination.

This TEDTalks, Why humans run the world by Yuval Noah Harari, the #1 New York Times Bestseller author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has inspired this blog post.
We, homo sapiens, are the only specie capable of a large scale cooperation. Let’s make that cooperation a positive one!

The Way Forward - Where do we go from here?

Deep in the Himalayas, on the border between China and India, lies the Kingdom of Bhutan, which has pledged to remain carbon neutral for all time. In this illuminating talk, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shares his country’s mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation.

“Our economy is small and we must strengthen it. Economic growth is important, but that economic growth must not come from undermining our unique culture or our pristine environment,” said Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

Bhutan is arguably the world’s happiest country. It’s also one of the greenest. Watch the TedTalks below to find out more.

 

The government shall ensure that, in order to conserve the country's natural resources and to prevent degradation of the ecosystem, a minimum of 60% of Bhutan's land shall be maintained under forest cover for all time.

Reference

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