According to psychological research, a connection to nature increases mental and emotional well-being. Scenes of nature reduce anger, fear, and stress. Exposure to nature reduces blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. The spaces are quieter and with less physical stimulation than an urban street, and some ecosystems generate an added bonus of oxygen-rich, negatively charged ions.
Accessible nature is one aspect of equity. A “Wild Space” doesn’t have to look like a three day backpacking adventure up a mountain; I’m not someone who wants to sleep on the ground. I do like camping, but I pack a queen sized inflatable air mattress and my overnight kit of all-natural skincare products with me. We can learn from the nature around us, as long as we are willing to listen.
I use “Wild” as a very open concept. These are the stories of the accessible nature spaces, and how they contribute to physical health and emotional wellness, like negative ions at a waterfall, a quest for meaning on a road trip, or participating in a hike to an active Lakota Medicine Wheel. “Wild” is learning how to see myself and how to shift my interpretation of the world through a connection to the natural elements around me.
Any activity or experience that merges and open mind with natural elements is a Wild Space. A conversation with the tree outside an open window is wild. A breathless three mile hike, whether on a flat, paved surface accessible for mobility devices, or rugged over muddy roots and brambles, is wild. A quest or a challenge pursued through a sacred intention to alter a pattern of thinking, behaving, or feeling is wild. On our shared Earth Journey, let’s live wild.