European research from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany suggests that city dwellers who live near nature experience positive effects on their brains compared to their purely urban counterparts, especially on the amygdala, the brain’s integrative center for emotions, emotional behaviour, and motivation. When we think of stress or fear responses, we should be thinking of the amygdala.
Have you heard of “Nature Deficit Disorder”? Author Richard Louv created the phrase in his book Last Child in the Woods. NDD refers to the disconnect that exists in the modern world between children and nature. It also reflects what many teens, adults, and seniors are experiencing in our busy lives. Many of us are spending too much time in the ever-expanding and enticing online digital world of social media, emails, and YouTube videos. We are losing our connection to ourselves, to nature, and even to other humans (meeting or speaking face to face). Our senses are being dulled from lack of use and our brains are overstimulated and overloaded, resulting in mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. Thankfully, there is a solution: A daily dose of Mother Nature can help bring balance back to our busy, stressful lives.
Amidst the majestic coastal mountains, epic waterfalls, and warm beaches of Costa Rica, the first Sustainable Living Expedition was, for me, the educational adventure of a lifetime, and there are many more on the horizon.
As a member of the team, my role was to provide hospitality, accompany guests on excursions, and write about our collective experience. Fortunately, the entire eight-day event, from February 27th to March 6th, was very well organized, and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time.
Alexander Hill, a nutritionist from New York City, described the event as “an incredible week of valuable information and wisdom for a new paradigm.”
Designed by social benefit organization Upward Spirals, the program helps guests create action plans for transitioning to a more sustainable way of living. Field trips to nearby projects showcase both innovative and low-tech systems of renewable energy generation, natural building, food forestry, organic farming, holistic education, regenerative business, and community development. Local experts provide valuable knowledge and practical experience with demonstrations and hands-on workshops.
At the end of the experience, participants are equipped with a flash drive containing an extensive sustainability learning library with thousands of guides, plans, tools, and other digital resources to assist them in creating a regenerative future. By empowering visitors with systemic solutions while supporting local projects, the Expedition strengthens the local economy and ecosystems worldwide.