Walking in zone 5


In permaculture we take inspiration directly from nature. It’s the wild places that we go to unwind and to only observe and not to interfere, that we call ‘Zone 5′. These places are harder to find these days but small pockets do still exist in the UK.18193951_10154860022116622_2441948835739621272_n

Going for a walk in the countryside is a therapeutic way to exercise, calm the mind and even lower your blood pressure. I like to call this ‘Nature Therapy’ because I find it so good for my spirit and it improves my whole sense of wellbeing.

I am not alone in noticing this health benefit. It is also known as Ecotherapy which stems from the belief that people are part of the web of life and that our psyches are not separate from our environment. This means that if we can build a deeper relationship with Nature and it’s self-righting capacity and it’s complex systems of balance, it is believed that we can harmonise our own selves and improve our well-being.


This certainly feels true to me. And it echoes the words of Chief Seattle:

“..Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in memory and experience of my people.DSC_0058

We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer. the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pone and man all belong to the same family…

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.

P1010111This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself…”


I certainly believe that the more disconnected we’ve become from Nature and her harmonising influence, the more sick we become as a society. The clue is in the fact that there is no mental illness such as depression to be found among the native hunter-gather tribes that still exist today, at least according to this interesting article ’The Caveman Cure For Depression“.


18268586_10154860022276622_4751414748179626455_nI love to go walking in bluebell woodlands in the Spring. They are a great example of how nature finds her balance between native species that have been growing symbiotically together for centuries. Woodland flowers come into their glory just as the warmer Spring sunshine hits the forest floor and just before the canopy closes above them. They have found their niche – in time as well as space, which I find very inspiring.

I am trying to copy this natural pattern of succession in my own garden. I’ve planted alpine strawberries in my ground cover layer, which is now flowering at the same time as the bluebells, and so are beginning to fruit before the deciduous trees planted around them (apple and willow) get their full canopy of leaves. Another woodland plant now in flower is wild garlic, otherwise known as Ransoms, and I would love to have some of this growing in my garden too.18268529_1864145096945234_8428929558081558690_n

I have noticed that if I’m having a bad day, or my mood is low for whatever reason, then getting out into the countryside always makes me feel better. And I feel so lucky that I have a garden too. On bad days when my bad health stops me from walking, at least I can sit on a chair on my patio and listen to the birds singing and watch them in the trees. And if I feel up to it, I can potter around with my seedlings, watering them and planting them out. I call this my ‘happy place’.

What kind of things do you do to connect with nature in your own life? How often do you manage to feel that connection? Can you think of a recent example of when being in nature really shifted your mood and lifted your spirits? How might you build more of these opportunities into your regular routine?




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