On Monday 23rd July, I drove to Pretoria to speak to a full house of medical students eager to learn about brain Health. It was part scientific, part personal journey, part lessons learnt along the way.
The interest hook was that I was in their exact positions, over forty years ago. 1977, to be precise.
No death by PowerPoint; no notes; just speaking for an hour from the heart of medical experience and current views on well-being; providing a life map to improve quality of life; of making better decisions; about mitigating risk; and possible strategies to reflect upon.
Med school teaches you how to heal patients; and assumes you will look after yourself. That is a very, weak assumption.
Overall, most medics self-care is meeting basic needs, not optimal health.
Physician, heal thyself, daily, in many ways, throughout your career, so you can best treat your patients.
It was a week that began the big clean up of the seven ponds, and surrounds at Huddle Park; and all the tensions that a project manager endures.
I fell and bumped a couple of times; a double parallel gash to my forehead, and abrasions to wrists and shins. It looks great (that is is the ponds) and is a world class site, ready for launching my shinrin yoku (“forest bathing”) project.
In over thirty years in psychiatry I have never felt so excited, my belief in its value add never deeper, its potential to heal relationships in all four directions, profound and intuitive.
I sourced a major review article published in an international accepted scientific journal about shinrin-yoku.
Confirmation of my reading and experience of how nature calms and restores.
Longitudinal studies are still required as in all decent research – about lifestyle interventions: exercise, food, sleep, relationships, stress reduction, brain challenges.
But the evidence is clear! Go for it! Powerful healing mechanisms released when you deliberately front the natural; consistently, continually. Letting be. Letting go. Letting in.
It is time to launch the Mindfulness-In-Nature project.
When I reflect back on my life, precipitated by so many good questions asked by the varied audience of people I meet at talks, or places I visit (internal and external), there are three interconnected personal themes that combine to make a formidable three ply cord:
– my intense curiosity about the brain, nature and teaching.
Over sixty years worth of contemplation clearly inform my passion, skills, and solving problems. Trying to make the world a better place.
For there is so much negative stress, burnout, suffering, disconnection; all around.
It is time to launch shinrin-yoku (forest bathing), locally. It is about healing relationships through a slow deliberate reconnection with nature: the breath of air; the warmth of the sun; the firmness of the soil; the texture of water.
Nature is just above your lips; fragrance on the tip of your tongue; a smorgasbord of smells in front of your nose; birdsong in your earlobes; the wind touching your skin; your feet standing firmly on the earth.
It is about activating all your senses in hundreds of ways, tech-free. It is about stimulating your embedded DNA resilient genes. It is about you being in control of your destiny. It is about personal responsibility.
It is, seriously, about linking your inner forest to the outer one. It is all concerns relationships. Inwards. Outwards. Upwards. Downwards.
Let me help get you started on the most adventurous journey of yourself!
Dr Jonathan D Moch
Special Expertise In Optimizing Brain Health
Mindfulness in the Park. Sundays 90 minutes before dusk (July 4:15pm)
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