If you’re like most of us, you find yourself feeling stressed more than you’d like. But once you connect with the natural world, it’s easier to feel the way you want to feel and be the person you really want to be. That’s because immersing yourself in nature has been found to calm the nervous system and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone). It’s also linked to more generosity, cooperation, kindness, creativity, social connection, and resilience—not to mention less nervousness, anxiety and fear.
In the latest episode of Happiness Break—a podcast series from our partners at The Science of Happiness—indigenous scholar and contemplative teacher Dr. Yuria Celidwen teaches the art of connecting with the natural world by finding your “roots” in it. Her powerful grounding practice is informed by her Nahua and Mayan heritage and focuses on the connection between your bare feet and the earth beneath you.
“The belief that connecting with the natural world improves well-being repeatedly appears throughout recorded human history,” says The Science of Happiness host, psychologist Dacher Keltner. “It is, at the heart, my own research on awe.”
Here, Dr. Keltner links contemporary scientific exploration of well-being with some of mankind’s longest-held wisdom about how to live well.
Dacher Keltner: “Scientists are beginning to find evidence that connecting to the Earth’s surface (aka the ground), which naturally has a negative charge, does some pretty incredible things. It has an antioxidant effect, reduces inflammation, and increases vagal tone, which helps you stay calm and bounce back from stress faster.”
DK: “It’s well past time we paid heed to the rich world of Indigenous contemplative science and traditions, like what Dr. Yuria Celidwen offers in this week’s episode. If you find yourself wanting to learn more from her after trying this practice, start with this interview.”
DK: “There’s a lot of science backing up why nature is good for us. Here’s a great, super digestible breakdown of the breadth of research.”
DK: “Not sure how to tap into the natural world from the heart of a city? Here’s another recent Happiness Break, where I guide you through a visual practice in connecting with the nature around you, wherever that may be.”
DK: “If you haven’t already read Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass— and even if you have—check out her beautifully written article in Orion Magazine for a taste of how she laces her poetic prose with indigenous wisdom. She’ll unravel your false sense of separation from the natural world.”
DK: “I’m so inspired by Dr. Celidwen’s conviction to keep Indigenous languages alive. Did you know there are 150 Native languages being spoken in the United States today? This episode of All My Relations is an important dive into how indispensable indigenous languages are.”
DK: “It’s so exciting to see the shift away from thinking that access to nature is ‘nice-to-have,’ and instead appreciating its core role in our well-being.”
Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., is the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Keltner is also the host of the Greater Good Science Center’s award-winning podcast, The Science of Happiness as well as their new series, Happiness Break. In each episode, an expert guides you through a happiness practice you can do in real-time and Dr. Keltner shares the science behind it. All in under ten minutes.
In addition, he is the best-selling author of The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence and Born to Be Good, a co-editor of The Compassionate Instinct, and author of the forthcoming book Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life.