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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Friday, 31 December 2010

An excerpt from my dissertation


Linden & Grut (2002). Informs us of the ‘Great Prophets’ who in NATURE found “Spiritual renewal… Jesus in the desert, Moses up on the mountain, the Buddha in the forest" (p.22) or an ‘Addict Meeting a Tree’, nature can and does touch us on a very profound and deep level.

Letter from Holland.



Hi Everyone.

I thought you might find this letter useful to read. This is why I do what I do... to have the honour to be a part of someone’s journey, to share in that and to learn from them about my own journey and to discover who I am is truly a great privilege.

I hope you enjoy it.

Sending you all lots of Love, Light and Joy

Geoffrey.

**********************************************************


Hey Geoff,

How are you? I really loved speaking with you last time… I promised you that I should write some of my experiences, I’ve had during the natural awareness games, down.

I am not much of a writer, when paper and pencils come in mostly I am out, he he he. But okay I have to learn, and I really do not know why it is that I don’t like to put my feelings or emotions on paper.

I hope my experience could be helpful to you.

**********************************************************

My name is Yolanda and I am a 39 year old recovering addict from Holland. I am in the lucky position that I have joined the game of "find you’re tree" (Meet a Tree), that all happened almost 1.5 year earlier. I really did not know at that point what I could expect from it.


I just did what was asked me to do. Under the guidance of my partner I was brought to my tree. Blindfolded I felt my tree and connected with her. After a couple of minutes my partner brought me back to the beginning. Geoff asked me if I was ok. I was okay. I was now ready to go find my tree. For me then a miracle happened.


In one straight way I walked to my tree and without any hesitation I said “this is her; this is my tree” My partner with very big eyes at that point said ........”Yes it is” Off course I was happy that I found my tree. I felt proud, happy, peaceful and special.


At that point I had really no idea what so ever that this game was a life changing experience for me. That would work down in every level of my life, and most important for me, in my recovery.


During the week after the came, I felt at peace and experienced a feeling of being useful. The feeling of being useful I haven’t experienced for more then 24 years at that point. So that was a major feeling to have for me. It gave me hope and faith that there was deep down, inside of me a good person. Through the year after that, I have to admit, that I never thought about finding my tree that day very often anymore.


Although I talked to Geoff a couple of times there were other thing we discussed. A couple of weeks ago two friends of mine were going to visit Geoff in the UK. They asked me if I would join them. They made my day asking me to join them.


A strange feeling came over me just a couple of days before we were leaving Holland. I told another friend about it. I told him that I had a feeling deep inside of me that something important for me was going to happen there. I could not tell him what off course. It was just a feeling that I noticed.


The first days in the UK were good. I felt good, was happy to be with my dear friends and enjoyed the surroundings. I had a really good time. The third day Geoff asked us if we would like to assist with the game that day. Off course we would. I, to be honest was a little excited inside.


When we arrived in the woods, Geoff started to explain the game to the non addict group, the group of addicts and my friends. All the people were listening, but I felt a little restlessness in the group of addicts. They reminded me of the time I did the game for the very first time. Although I did not play the game this time, I guided a person, I was excited again. There was a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my stomach.


I guided the lady around for the first game, (tunnel vision). I watched how she connected with her tree. And noticed that the restlessness slowly disappeared. After several minutes I guided the woman back to the beginning. Geoff asked her if she was okay. She was okay. So now she could go and find her tree.


I think I was more excited then her at the moment. I hoped so much for her to find her tree and experience the benefits of it all in the future. I was in a distance from her and not paying to much attention to her anymore. I really enjoyed the surroundings, the other people looking for there tree, the sounds of birds, the smell of the woods.


I was having a great time and was feeling so happy. My eyes started to get wet at some point I guess it were tears of joy. The lady was still looking for her tree, and in one split second she turned around and pointed in a direction and walked over and found her tree.


I looked at her and said yes that is you’re tree. And immediately started to cry, (as I am doing now). I gave her a hug and apologised for being so emotional. I noticed that the woman, (just like me when I did the game my first time) was not realising how important this experience could become for her in her future live. The thoughts of that made me feel so happy inside.


I watched all the other people and my eyes stayed wet for the rest of the day. I realised that through guiding another person, the power of the game I played 1.5 year ago kicked in my inner soul again. I realised that I could with some exercise, tune in to that inner soul whenever I want to. What a lucky person I am that I had the chance to experience such a powerful tool.


After years of denying my feelings, did not want to feel them. Hiding my emotions behind a poker face, and realising that because of that I did not even know anymore what I was feeling or in what kind of emotion I was.


Today I learn to recognise my feelings and emotions. I do not have to hide from them anymore. The find you’re tree game was for me a very important event in my road of recovery. Because of the game I learned how to tune into my deepest inner soul. I learned that my thinking is not always telling me the truth; I learned that I can trust my HP (Higher Power) if I choose to connect with him.


And I also learned that this is an ongoing process. Once I had played the game the healing power of it is doing its work day in day out, if I keep tuning into the feelings instead of my thoughts every now and then, if I take moments of silence and connect with that feeling, I am convinced that I will grow as a person and the healing process keeps going on.


Thank you Geoff for this great experience.

I love you and am so proud to call you my friend.

Lots of love, joy and laughter,

Yolanda

Sunday, 26 December 2010

The Snake

Oct 23 – Nov 22

Most shamans are born under this Native American animal symbol. The Snake is a natural in all matters of spirit. Easily attuned to the ethereal realm the Snake makes an excellent spiritual leader. Also respected for his/her healing capacities, the Snake also excels in medical professions. The Snake's preoccupation with matters intangible often lead others to view them as mysterious, and sometimes frightening. True, the Snake can be secretive, and a bit dark – he/she is also quite sensitive, and caring. In a supportive relationship the cool Snake can be passionate, inspiring, humorous, and helpful. Left to his/her own devices, the Snake can be despondent, violent, and prone to abnormal mood swings.

Wisdom, Healing, Initiation the symbol of eternity

This is a powerful totem, it is the symbol of transformation and healing.
The Snake is wisdom expressed through healing.

It is a protector and guardian totem,
along with its sister totems, the Dragon and the Serpent.

If a snake totem has come into your life, your creative forces are awakening.
Your intuition will sharpen and be more accurate.

Snake energy is the energy of wholeness, cosmic consciousness, and
the ability to experience anything willingly and without resistance.
It is the knowledge that all things are equal in creation.

It also signals a transition in your life.
New opportunities and/or changes.

Snake is fire medicine, the medicine of transmutation.
On a material level, it is vitality; on an emotional level, it is ambition and dreams;
on a mental level, it is intellect and power; on a spiritual level (the highest level),
it is wisdom, understanding and wholeness.

Snake magic is heavy magic.
Become the Magician and transmute the energy and accept the power of the fire.

The Desert Flute...


In 1991 while preparing in the desserts of Saudi Arabia for the Gulf War, I found I was being woken every morning at around 5am to the sound of what I can only describe as someone playing a flute, it has to be said it was a beautiful sound indeed and I use to just lay there listening to it.

This went on for several days and I began to wonder who could be playing this flute? especially at five in the morning, nor was I was not aware that any of my men could play an instrument. I decided I would find out who it was, so at the end of my morning briefing I asked.


“OK which one of you is playing a flute at five in the morning”?


My men all looked at me as if I had well and truly lost it, “Boss what are you on about, has the prospect of the war got to you already” came one reply, others believed I had just landed from Mars.


I insisted that someone was playing a flute and it was OK as I thought it was wonderful, “now we know you have lost it” came another response as they walked away to get on with their tasks for the day.


“OK”, I said “I will find out who it is”, and so the next morning I awoke once again to this beautiful sound. I jumped out of my sleeping bag and started to head towards where the sound was coming from. I must have walked for about 10 minutes or so, as I rounded one of the many sand dunes I encountered I eventually came to the place where the sound of the flute was coming from.

I was drawn to look up and to my astonishment and total amazement I saw a Hoopoe Lark falling like a stone and tumbling on its way to the ground, having climbed to a great height, it was singing as it tumbled. I concluded that it was the larks singing being cast in all directions and as the song bounced of the sand dunes, this was clearly the sound of the flute.


This has remained with me and without doubt is the most beautiful song I have ever heard, in fact as I write this I have come over all emotional from the recall. Such beauty in the mist of what we were about to enter into was something quite surreal, in amongst the horrors of WAR beauty can be found.


“We just need to be open to it”.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Letter from Turkey


Some four years ago I was working in a Rehab when I first met my friend just a few days ago we were in touch and he told me about how Natural Awareness and being in Nature still helps him with his active recovery. He wrote this letter because he wanted to share some of his experience with you.


England 2006


The first time I participated in the Nature Awareness workshop, I remember being a little sceptic. I wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing. I remember wanting to be over with it as soon as possible as the weather was cold and rainy.

As the games started in the workshop, my eyes were tied with a band and I wasn’t allowed to see anything. I was assigned someone who would help walk as I could not see. First thing I realized was my resistance to any kind of help to walk in the slippery ground. That was quite interesting for me. I really had thought of myself as someone who was open to help.

I realized that I was relying too much on myself and not enough on others. As the game moved forward, I was asked to choose a tree with which I felt a connection. I chose a tree that made me feel good after that my partner took me around on a little walk around the trees so that I would forget the way back to my tree. After a few minutes of walking away from my tree in different circles, the band on my eyes was taken off. I was told to find my tree.

At first, I thought I could trace my step back to the tree but it wasn’t that simple. Then I figured if I could trace myself to the area where the tree was then I could maybe feel which one was my tree. Interestingly, I had a feeling that a tree on my left was my tree. At the same time there was a voice in my mind saying that the tree on my right was the one. I wasn’t sure which voice to trust but I went with the first one. When I hugged it I knew instantly that it was the tree. When I checked with my partner whether that was the tree, I was told yes it was.

It was an amazing experience.

After the first workshop, I attended the Nature Awareness workshop 5 more times. Each time, I got more and more into the workshop becoming aware of the Nature’s healing effect. As a person who has always felt very comfortable in nature, the workshop was a huge support for me in realizing that I didn’t have to do it all by myself and that I could hug a tree anytime anywhere when I felt that I needed a friend. At first, I did think whether or not people would think I was crazy if I hugged a tree but then I said if people smoke them then they can hug them.

I love the nature and feel that the nature Awareness workshop has an incredible healing effect on the mind and soul of a person like me who is very prone to obsessing with millions of thoughts. I sincerely wish that anyone who has the opportunity to participate in this workshop should take the step give themselves a chance.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

As a Child I wanted to go Home...


When I was little I use to cry a lot at night I remember being afraid a lot and when my mum would come to my room and ask me what was wrong. I would tearfully say that I did not want to be here and that I wanted to go home, at the time she thought I had meant go back home to Northern Ireland, you see we had only just moved to Maidenhead.

A few years ago I made the connection to what it was that I was talking about all those years ago.

I do not follow any main stream religion, I just have my own personal relationship with my Creator (I like to call him the Big Guy) as I understand him, and as a result of my upbringing i.e. Northern Ireland I tend to dislike any reference to Christianity for example like the word heaven, I prefer to call heaven HOME and that's when it clicked.

All them years ago I was crying because I did not want to be here on this Earth I wanted to be at HOME with my Creator.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Slow Down Geoff...

On the way to college last week I was driving down the 361 from Barnstaple when a Buzzard took off some distance up ahead of me, it flew over the road and then banked left to fly back over the 361, suddenly another Buzzard that had been resting somewhere on the left verge took off right in front of my windscreen.

I braked and avoided hitting this stunning bird, had I not braked it would have clipped its legs on the top right corner of my windscreen and as with the other Buzzard this one also banked left and flew off in pursuit of the first Buzzard.

I took this experience to mean that I needed to slow down as I can tend to tank it a bit. I then joined the M5 and looking at my clock I realised I was going to be late for college, quickly forgetting about the fact that I needed to slow down I sped up, and soon afterwards there was a car right up my backside with white flashing lights coming from his grill and I could see a camera in his car as well.

I thought, dam or words to that effect I have been dicked, so I pulled in fully expecting to be pulled over but no, the car sped off at a rate of knots, I thought he clearly seems to be on a mission of some kind.

At this point I looked ahead as I was approaching my exit and there just up in front was a mobile speed camera which had just cleared my exit. By my reckoning, had I not braked for the Buzzard or pulled in for the speeding car behind me, I would most certainly have hit the mobile camera doing speed plus.

The say things happen in threes.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Sit-spot in Northern Greece

Some would consider the Sit-spot as forest bathing or tuning in, the name is not important what is important is that you go out and find yourself a Sit-spot and spend time with nature.

I am in Greece at the moment with my friend Rob and while out looking for Bear tracks the other day with the help of our guides we went up into the mountains of Northern Greece. During our search for tracks we decided to do a Sit-spot, while Rob was doing a gratitude prayer a male Sparrowhawk swooped down through the trees and landed on a branch 10 metres away and as it watched us it became aware that I was observing it, at which point it flew off dropping down in front of us and then up and round over the back of our heads.

Rare moments like these are to be treasured, nature has blessed us with her presence, what a magical moment that was.

The Beauty of the Sit-Spot:

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Swimming without rings...

When I am in the swimming pool I like to see if I can get from one end of the pool to the other causing as few concentric rings as possible.

Sometimes it takes me back to my army days, when doing a river/lake crossing and hoping you are not pushing out to many rings to draw attention to yourself.

Try it sometime it takes you to a different place.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness Therapy is often considered to be referring to the external environment and there are many discussions about what that means.

Some even feel that the phrase Wilderness Therapy does not describe accurately or even cover all the different aspects of nature-based therapy and some even question it's effectiveness for some groups such as eating disorders.

Can I suggest that Wilderness Therapy may also be referring to the Internal Environment?

Picture: JP

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Drum Stalk and the 12-Steps...

I remember once that a client I was working with related his experience of the Drum Stalk to the 12-Steps.

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable.

"Wearing the blindfold reminded me of being active in my addiction and my sight guide represented the Fellowship and my Sponsor, there to pick me up when I fall over and to guide me but not to tell me what to do"

Step 2
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

"As I walked through the Cathedral of Trees I never once bumped into a tree nor did I fall over or even hurt myself"

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

"The Drum Beat was my Higher Power calling out to me, guiding and reassuring me that the way forward was safe"

Monday, 29 November 2010

Light it up to Live

Last weekend my friends Barry, Rob and I were running the first course in The Science and Art of Natural Awareness for the UK with a group of people from a London rehab.

The weekend was designed around the Hero's Journey and involved various Natural Awareness activities and Martial Arts skills, one of the activities Meet a Tree was so powerful for one of the participants that we ended up crying with her, my God was that Powerful.

One of the themes that ran through the weekend was singing a song we were given at the Art of Mentoring UK by Mark Morey from the USA this was completely unplanned. The song is called Light it up to Live, what was interesting for me was several things.

Firstly: I found myself singing it all weekend and I do not sing and cannot sing (but I gave it a go).
Secondly: Was how relevant the song is to addiction as it also refers to the internal landscape.

Anyway, to the reason for posting this. We came to the end of the workshop and we decided it would be nice to leave the camp by getting a fire going while everyone sang the song. It was proving difficult to get the fire going by bow drill, but we sang and sang, then someone had the idea that we had already had our fire the one we light on day one so it was decided to transfer the embers from that to the farewell fire.

We carried on singing and then something quite wonderful happened.

There was no wind, the day was cold and still and suddenly the tree that reached over our heads started to shed its leaves and they drifted down on us like confetti and everyone responded to this with a Big WOW...

I felt that this was the tree responding to our joy in the moment and the singing and it felt like our Higher Power was very present.

The song:

Light it up to Live
Tend it well and it will always be there
It's inside me
It sets me free

Repeated until you get fire.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Hello Geoffrey I just wanted to chat about my tree...

Geoffrey: Hi. How are things?

Friend: Hi Geoffrey, Things are really good thanks! I miss my tree though!

Geoffrey: That’s true for everyone who really makes that connection between themselves and nature. I take it you are not going to a tree then?

Friend: I thought people might find me quite weird blindfolding myself in the local park and going on a wander. So I have yet to do it!

Geoffrey: You do not need to blindfold yourself. Also I find that when people call me weird I tend to thank them, because it means you are unique, you are being who you are and you are not conforming to how they see their world.

Friend: So how do I find my tree if I am not blindfolded? I thought the whole point was that you were spiritually drawn to it and not to find it by looking with your eyes?

Geoffrey: Well the idea with the blindfold is to show you that you can connect on a deeper level; you can still be drawn by your feelings when you connect with your heart. The blindfold helps me to show you how powerful you really are, by taking you away from your thoughts that tell you what to do every day and to help you see how you behave when they they manifest into the physical world and from this experience and the way you connect with your feelings in nature often comes that spiritual awakening if you like.

Friend: Oh right. Man I miss those sessions we used to do, but I guess the idea is that I can do that anywhere, whenever.

Geoffrey: Yes that is true, it is up to you if you want to move with it, I am powerless over your outcome, you can connect to your spirit and the spirit of the tree anywhere you choose. And it is not always about finding the tree it is about the journey of self discovery.

Friend: I may just try and do that this Sunday then!

Geoffrey: Sweet, you will be surprised at how well you do, remember it is about being in the heart and trusting. Do you remember how it affected you back then?

Friend: Yeah, it was weird but pretty amazing.

Geoffrey: Yes it is amazing, what was amazing about it for you?

Friend: I don’t know. I was ignoring all the logic and just letting go like it wasn't me, remembering that I went a certain way, because that actually didn't help, just connecting.

Geoffrey: Yep you got it

Friend: And you just knew there's something cool about it, being 'beyond all logical thought' and just trusting and feeling I quite like that I guess.

Geoffrey: Nice, good luck with your journey.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Trusting our animal senses in experiencing the world

The underlying assumption of the modern world seems to be that the future will be a continuation of the past - only brighter, better, with even better technology, more virtual, faster, 3D and more of everything. For some, it’s enticing. For others, it’s despairing; we become increasingly detached from the living world as we give our attention, time and energy to the cyber realm.

There is no doubt in my mind that the world around us, the world that nurtures and supports us is under severe threat on a number of fronts.

We do what we want with the world – a human centred cosmology. We do this because we believe the world around us is there for us (humans) to mine, cut, eat, burn, poison and trash. We have a cosmology based on a utilitarian ethic, one assuming that the world itself does not have a voice, is not alive, or if it is alive, that our human lives are more important.

At some point in our recent history, our species went from respecting nature to destroying it. We need a new cosmology.

David Abram’s new book Becoming Animal, is subtitled An Earthly Cosmology. It starts: “Owning up to being an animal, a creature of the earth. Turning our animal senses to the sensible terrain: blending our skin with the rain rippled surface of rivers, mingling our ears with the thunder and thrumming of frogs, and our eyes with the molten gray sky … Becoming earth. Becoming animal. Becoming, in this manner, fully human.”

Dominant cosmologies (both monotheistic religions and “new-age” spiritualities and others) often place us above and beyond nature. We think of the world around us as a derivative reality that can be understood only by reference to hidden realms (stars, disembodied spirits, microscopic domains of axons and dendrites, DNA). Direct experience, through our unaided senses, is not to be trusted. So we find ourselves in thrall to experts who mediate our experience.

Abram articulates a way of directly experiencing an alive and sensuous world, rather than seeking to represent it through abstract ways, or objectively studying it.

The earth is the very body of wonder – and demands respect and reciprocity - according to Abram. There is “ the upwelling creativity in the land itself”. In a chapter called Mood, Abram describes the interplay between our sensory bodies and the weather. He describes his play with whales and seals. There are chapters on the discourse of birds, and of his time with a shaman in Nepal. He covers shadows and depth as areas to practice our sensuous engagement with the world.

We can be altered by our engagement with our surroundings, if we attune to them through our senses. He says: “Our animal senses are neither deceptive nor untrustworthy; they are our access to the cosmos. Bodily perception provides our most intimate entry into a primary order of reality that can disparaged or dismissed only at our peril”.



Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Imaginal - Your Body Wonderful


"Your body is wonderfully intricate interaction with everything around you, which is why it "knows" so much just in being. The living body is always going beyond what evolution, culture and language already built" ~ Gene Gendlin. Our bodies don't end at our skin - but extend and embrace everything around us - we are always interacting with nature in all its manifestations.


Sunday, 17 October 2010

Does anybody recognise this either in themselves or in our children?

"The late Edward Reed, an associate professor of psychology at Franklin and Marshall College, was one of the most articulate critics of the myth of the information age.

In The Necessity of Experience he wrote of , "There is something wrong with society that spends so much money, as well as countless hours of human effort - to make the least dregs of processed information available to everyone everywhere and yet does little or nothing to help us explore the world for ourselves."

None of our major institutions or our popular culture pay much notice to what Reed called "primary experience" - that which we can see, feel, taste, hear, or smell for ourselves.

According to Reed, we are beginning "to lose the ability to experience our world directly..."


Last Child in the Woods - Richar Louv
A Life of the Senses: Nature vs. the Know-It-All State of Mind
Chap 5
Page 65
http://richardlouv.com/

Saturday, 16 October 2010

What happens when creative children can no longer choose a Green Space in which to be Creative?

I often talk on my workshops about how Nature is our greatest teacher. I am at present reading a book called 'The Last Child in the Woods' by Richard Louv and in conjunction with other readings and from my my own past experiences I would like to share my thoughts with you on Nature and our creative child within...

The Last Child in the Woods it does not bear thinking about, the thought that our children would never experience the things we did as children, sure they have their computer games but is that really a substitute for being in nature? The term 'loose parts' was first described by Nicholson he was referring to toys and how children use these tools to be creative.

When we are in nature as children and perhaps even as adults we become creative our imaginations Run Wild we invent all kinds of games to play even when we are at home we can be creative. I remember as a child I would often play in my bedroom using a ruler stuck into the clip of a pen, this then would become a plane, a submarine or a spacecraft if fact anything I wanted it to be.

In nature children are very creative from using the den they have built as a castle or anything they want it to be, to exploring the woods as if they are on some great adventure, while the computer can be seen as a vast tool which can be applied in infinite 'loose parts' Lauv (2008) points out that these loose parts are made up of 0 & 1's in other words a binary code.

Lets compare this to nature's code.

We learn from nature by connecting with it, using all our senses. It is believed that our DNA contains memory and each cell in our body also contains memory from which we learn, it is not just our brain that teaches us, nature as Louv states is our "richest source of loose parts."

I personally believe nature is our greatest teacher, it allows us to be creative, for example I once watched a group of young boys who I had taken out tracking, spend time with a track, these were kids who apparently had short attention spans, yet they spent in all, around twenty minutes looking at this one track, disguising amongst themselves what they thought could have happened, the questions they were asking and acting out were 'what happened here', 'what is it telling us', and 'what can we learn from this?

When I go swimming I try to move through the water creating as few concentric rings as possible when I do this I am transported to a completely different world, its almost as if you are are becoming the same as the water, while I totally enjoy the Internet it still does not give me this sense of wonder and awe, such as seeing a young roe deer staring back at me, watching from a short distance away and in them few minutes there is a connection a sense of trying to discover each other. The children who sat on the track in the classroom without walls find it hard to concentrate in a classroom with walls and often became disruptive and yet here they were completely immersed in what nature was presenting them with.

Why?

Is it because we have an innate relationship with nature?

I believe this is exactly the case, the boys not only tracked the footprint on the ground but they also tracked each other exploring their relationship with each other, they were tracking their surroundings by going off to look at other areas where the trail could have gone and when they did not find anything they came back to their last definite sign and started over again.

They were tracking each others questions and actively seeking out the answers, they showed no signs of frustration at not finding the answer to their questions. They were tracking on so many levels and yet in school they struggled to do this.

I was once asked at university to explain spirituality in relation to academic part of the course I was on. How do you do this it is such a personal experience, anyway this is what I came up with on the hoof as I had been given no warning.

To me the brain is an important part of us but it is not the whole of us, for example I need my brain to get me through the day when problem solving and so on. The computer is like the brain, when I step up to the key board, i can write a book, draw a picture, crate music and much, much more. In fact the computer has come a long way there are programmes that monitor what you do the computer and then the next time you step up to it, the programme will preempt you behaviour, this is known as automaticity *.

It is like learning to drive a car for the first time, you are constantly thinking about every action you need to take from mirror to gear changing. However, after a while you find you can drive from point A to point B and not even remember doing this, that's because the short-term memory as stored these actions into long-term memory, therefore freeing up the short term to deal with more immediate problems.

So back to creating a book etc on the computer, it's a wonderful thing to be able to do all these amazing things with the computer/our brain. However, once I step away from the computer that's all it is a computer, it needs me my creativity, my soul, my heart. without this the machine will just be there.

So what has this got to do with children's creativity?

Well I remember once a colleague came into work after the Christmas break, I asked him way the long face, he said he had bought is grandson the biggest and best Tonka toy you can imagine, he then went on to say that his grandson played with the toy for about twenty minutes but then moved onto the box which he played with for the rest of the holiday. Of course he would I replied that's because THE BOX can be a racing car, a ship, a castle or even an aeroplane, it can be anything you want it to be.

As a child I can remember playing with a pen with a small ruler pushed into the clip, that pen was a plane in that moment, then I would take the ruler out and it became a submarine and so it went on for example I would take an old shoe box with my friends and we would draw square son the lid and draw in rivers, hills an woods. Then we would get our Airfix soldiers and a dice, make up some rules and we would play for hours, if you got a six you beat the person you were up against Now, I like to think that this game we all played as kids was the fore runner of Risk today, who knows.

The point is while computer programmes and games are truly amazing and excellent tools for learning etc there is no real replacement for being out in nature. As children we would think up all sorts of adventures to get up to, from building a den to cowboys and Indians (hands up who always wanted to be an Indian).

More to come later...

*Automaticity is the ability to do things in long-term memory without occupying the short-term memory with the low-level details which would require a large amount of attention, thus allowing it to become an automatic response pattern.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Earth Tree and the Invisables...

When standing with your feet buried into the earth and as you tune into the Invisibles of the Tree you become aware of yourself and you begin to explore your relationship with yourself through the Earth Tree and the Invisibles.

It is like excavating the inner part of Parent/Child Ego and were your Adult Ego becomes the archaeologist.
Picture: Earth Woman

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Warrior of the Light

"I always believe everything anyone tells me and I'm always disappointed," his companion says.

A Warrior of the Light is not afraid of disappointments because he knows the power of his sword and the strength of his love.

It is important to trust people.

However, he imposes certain limits: It is one thing to accept God's signs and to know that the angels use the mouths of other people to give us advice. It is quite another to be incapable of making decisions and to be always looking for ways of letting others tell us what we should do.

A Warrior trusts other people because, first and fore-most,
he trusts himself.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Letter from Holland...

Hi Everyone.

I thought you might find this letter useful to read. This is why I do what I do... to have the honour and privilege to be a part of someone’s journey, to share in that and to learn from them.

I hope you enjoy it.

Geoffrey.

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Hey Geoff,

How are you? I really loved speaking with you last time… I promised you that I should write some of my experiences, I’ve had during the natural awareness games, down.

I am not much of a writer, when paper and pencils come in mostly I am out, he he he. But okay I have to learn, and I really do not know why it is that I don’t like to put my feelings or emotions on paper. I hope my experience could be helpful to you.

**********************************************************

My name is Yolanda and I am a 39 year old recovering addict from Holland. I am in the lucky position that I have joined the game of "find you’re tree" (Meet a Tree), that all happened almost 1.5 year earlier. I really did not know at that point what I could expect from it.


I just did what was asked me to do. Under the guidance of my partner I was brought to my tree. Blindfolded I felt my tree and connected with her. After a couple of minutes my partner brought me back to the beginning. Geoff asked me if I was ok. I was okay. I was now ready to go find my tree. For me then a miracle happened.


In one straight way I walked to my tree and without any hesitation I said “this is her; this is my tree” My partner with very big eyes at that point said ........”Yes it is” Off course I was happy that I found my tree. I felt proud, happy, peaceful and special.


At that point I had really no idea what so ever that this game was a life changing experience for me. That would work down in every level of my life, and most important for me, in my recovery.


During the week after the came, I felt at peace and experienced a feeling of being useful. The feeling of being useful I haven’t experienced for more then 24 years at that point. So that was a major feeling to have for me. It gave me hope and faith that there was deep down, inside of me a good person. Through the year after that, I have to admit, that I never thought about finding my tree that day very often anymore.


Although I talked to Geoff a couple of times there were other thing we discussed. A couple of weeks ago two friends of mine were going to visit Geoff in the UK. They asked me if I would join them. They made my day asking me to join them.


A strange feeling came over me just a couple of days before we were leaving Holland. I told another friend about it. I told him that I had a feeling deep inside of me that something important for me was going to happen there. I could not tell him what off course. It was just a feeling that I noticed.


The first days in the UK were good. I felt good, was happy to be with my dear friends and enjoyed the surroundings. I had a really good time. The third day Geoff asked us if we would like to assist with the game that day. Off course we would. I, to be honest was a little excited inside.


When we arrived in the woods, Geoff started to explain the game to the non addict group, the group of addicts and my friends. All the people were listening, but I felt a little restlessness in the group of addicts. They reminded me of the time I did the game for the very first time. Although I did not play the game this time, I guided a person, I was excited again. There was a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my stomach.


I guided the lady around for the first game, (tunnel vision). I watched how she connected with her tree. And noticed that the restlessness slowly disappeared. After several minutes I guided the woman back to the beginning. Geoff asked her if she was okay. She was okay. So now she could go and find her tree.


I think I was more excited then her at the moment. I hoped so much for her to find her tree and experience the benefits of it all in the future. I was in a distance from her and not paying to much attention to her anymore. I really enjoyed the surroundings, the other people looking for there tree, the sounds of birds, the smell of the woods.


I was having a great time and was feeling so happy. My eyes started to get wet at some point I guess it were tears of joy. The lady was still looking for her tree, and in one split second she turned around and pointed in a direction and walked over and found her tree.


I looked at her and said yes that is you’re tree. And immediately started to cry, (as I am doing now). I gave her a hug and apologised for being so emotional. I noticed that the woman, (just like me when I did the game my first time) was not realising how important this experience could become for her in her future live. The thoughts of that made me feel so happy inside.


I watched all the other people and my eyes stayed wet for the rest of the day. I realised that through guiding another person, the power of the game I played 1.5 year ago kicked in my inner soul again. I realised that I could with some exercise, tune in to that inner soul whenever I want to. What a lucky person I am that I had the chance to experience such a powerful tool.


After years of denying my feelings, did’t want to feel them. Hiding my emotions behind a poker face, and realising that because of that I did not even know anymore what I was feeling or in what kind of emotion I was.


Today I learn to recognise my feelings and emotions. I do not have to hide from them anymore. The find you’re tree game was for me a very important event in my road of recovery. Because of the game I learned how to tune into my deepest inner soul. I learned that my thinking is not always telling me the truth; I learned that I can trust my HP (Higher Power) if I choose to connect with him.


And I also learned that this is an ongoing process. Once I had played the game the healing power of it is doing its work day in day out, if I keep tuning into the feelings instead of my thoughts every now and then, if I take moments of silence and connect with that feeling, I am convinced that I will grow as a person and the healing process keeps going on.


Yolanda

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Natural Thinking 1st edition Report for the RSPB Dr William Bird

I have posted the introduction to this report as I believe it has far reaching implications for the future of Nature Therapy within the UK, you can read the full report on my articles page…


The Value of the Natural Environment

This report, commissioned by the RSPB, looks at the evidence linking wildlife-rich areas and green space with mental health. Past generations have intuitively understood this relationship, perhaps better than we do, yet the evidence needed to quantify the health value of the natural environment is still evolving.


It is a paradox that as a society we find it unacceptable to take wild animals to be kept in captivity, yet older people in residential care homes can stay indoors for years with no access to the stimulation of the outside world. We spend millions to create ideal conditions for our garden plants balancing the right soil with the correct amount of shade and the right moisture, yet we allow our children to grow up in a hostile urban wilderness with concrete walkways, heavy traffic and no contact with nature.


Logic would suggest that after 10,000 generations having to survive in a natural environment, human evolution would have programmed our genes to perform best in a favoured natural environment of water, shelter, food and safety. By the same logic, it would be surprising if the rapid disconnection of humans from nature in just a few generations did not cause some difficulty to adapt to this new environment. EO Wilson, who proposes the Biophilia hypothesis, says that ‘beauty is in the eye of the gene’; a deep genetic sequence may be hard to erase despite our efforts to be technically independent from nature and the natural environment.


Humans are a species with as much need for the natural environment as any other. However, we are also a social species that thrives in towns and cities and has prospered with the use of technology. But neither technology nor cities can replace our need for the natural environment. We have to keep a balance. By disconnecting from our natural environment, we have become strangers to the natural world: our own world. This has challenged our sense of identity and in some more subtle ways has had a significant affect on our mental health.


This report is one step to bring together the evidence in this area of mental health. It is a start, but much more rigorous data is required if we are to quantify the strength of this effect and measure which aspects of mental health are benefited. It suggests that contact with the natural environment may offer considerable mental health benefits and have a positive effect on communities. In essence, this means that the natural environment has a quantifiable health value.


With a dearth of solutions for major problems such as obesity, inactivity, stress and antisocial behaviour, which governments are struggling to solve, the value of the natural environment needs to be understood, quantified and then acted upon. To ignore these findings may result in further loss of natural green space that will never be recovered and so deprive future generations of a “natural health service”.


Dr William Bird, June 2007

To access this report follow this link Wilderness Therapy Articles

Monday, 20 September 2010

Science News - Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?

ScienceDaily (May 25, 2010) — Exposure to specific bacteria in the environment, already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning behavior, according to research presented at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego.


"Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breath in when they spend time in nature," says Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, who conducted the research with her colleague Susan Jenks.

Previous research studies on M. vaccae showed that heat-killed bacteria injected into mice stimulated growth of some neurons in the brain that resulted in increased levels of serotonin and decreased anxiety.

"Since serotonin plays a role in learning we wondered if live M. vaccae could improve learning in mice," says Matthews.

Matthews and Jenks fed live bacteria to mice and assessed their ability to navigate a maze compared to control mice that were not fed the bacteria.

"We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice," says Matthews.

In a second experiment the bacteria were removed from the diet of the experimental mice and they were retested. While the mice ran the maze slower than they did when they were ingesting the bacteria, on average they were still faster than the controls.

A final test was given to the mice after three weeks' rest. While the experimental mice continued to navigate the maze faster than the controls, the results were no longer statistically significant, suggesting the effect is temporary.

"This research suggests that M. vaccae may play a role in anxiety and learning in mammals," says Matthews. "It is interesting to speculate that creating learning environments in schools that include time in the outdoors where M. vaccae is present may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks."

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Japan Times - 'Forest therapy' taking root

Friday, May 2, 2008

Researchers find that a simple stroll among trees has real benefits

By AKEMI NAKAMURA

For stressed-out workers, this may someday be a doctor's prescription: Walk around in the woods. Scientists in Japan have been learning a lot in recent years about the relaxing effects of forests and trees on mental and physical health. Based on their findings, some local governments are promoting "forest therapy."

Experience shows that the scents of trees, the sounds of brooks and the feel of sunshine through forest leaves can have a calming effect, and the conventional wisdom is right, said Yoshifumi Miyazaki, director of the Center for Environment Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University.

Japan's leading scholar on forest medicine has been conducting physiological experiments to examine whether forests can make people feel at ease.

One study he conducted on 260 people at 24 sites in 2005 and 2006 found that the average concentration of salivary cortisol, a stress hormone, in people who gazed on forest scenery for 20 minutes was 13.4 percent lower than that of people in urban settings, Miyazaki said.

This means that forests can lower stress and make people feel at ease, he said, noting that findings in other physiological experiments, including fluctuations in heart beats and blood pressure, support this conclusion.

"Humans had lived in nature for 5 million years. We were made to fit a natural environment. So we feel stress in an urban area," Miyazaki said. "When we are exposed to nature, our bodies go back to how they should be."

Taking a walk in a forest, or "forest bathing" as it is sometimes called, can strengthen the immune system, according to Li Qing, a senior assistant professor of forest medicine at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo.

Li conducted experiments to see whether spending time in a forest increases the activity of people's natural killer (NK) cells, a component of the immune system that fights cancer.

In one, 12 men took a two-night trip to a forest in Nagano Prefecture in 2006, during which they went on three leisurely strolls and stayed in a hotel in the woods. Thirteen female nurses made a similar trip to another forest in the prefecture in 2007.

NK activity was boosted in the subjects in both groups, and the increase was observed as long as 30 days later, Li said.

"When NK activity increases, immune strength is enhanced, which boosts resistance against stress," Li said, adding that forest therapy for immune-compromised patients may be developed within a few years.

Li said the increase in NK activity can be attributed partly to inhaling air containing phytoncide, or essential wood oils given off by plants.

Miyazaki of Chiba University said forests gratify the five senses by providing the sounds of birds, cool air, green leaves, the touch of trees, wild plants and grasses.

"The atmosphere of forests makes people calm," he said.

Based on studies on the effects of forests, the public and private sectors are now promoting forest therapy.

The Forest Therapy Executive Committee, a group of researchers, other intellectuals and the government-affiliated National Land Afforestation Promotion Organization, started officially recognizing certain forests by granting the designations of Forest Therapy Base and Forest Therapy Road in 2006. The titles are given to forests that have been found by researchers through scientific evidence to have relaxing effects.

Officials from the Forest Agency and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry participate in the group as observers.

A forest therapy base comprises a forest and walking paths typically managed by local governments.

So far, 31 bases and four roads nationwide have gained such recognition.

Visitors to some of the therapy bases and roads have the option of taking part in various health programs, including medical checkups, breathing and aromatherapy classes, and guided walks with experts on forests and health care.

At the Akazawa Natural Recreation Forest in Agematsu, Nagano Prefecture, which was recognized as a forest therapy base in 2006, visitors can get free medical checkups among Japanese cypress trees on Thursdays. The forest is known as the Japanese birthplace of the concept of forest bathing in 1982.

Some companies have come to use forest therapy for their employees' health care.

The Shinano Municipal Government in Nagano Prefecture, which manages the Iyashi no Mori (Healing Forests) forest therapy base, has contracts with four companies, a town official said.

Visitors to the forest therapy base can take part in various programs, including dietary management, hydrotherapy and aromatherapy.

The formal designations have drawn more people to such towns.

The Oguni Municipal Government in Yamagata Prefecture said 1,280 people visited the Nukumidaira beech forest there in fiscal 2007, including some 100 people who took part in forest walking tours with "matagi" traditional hunters.

"Before we got the recognition (in 2006), there were not so many visitors to the woods. Now we can see some people in the forest even on weekdays," said Juro Watanabe, a town official in charge of forest therapy.

Recognition as a forest therapy base can be a big help, said Shigetaka Harashima, manager of the forest therapy project for the Okutama Municipal Government in Tokyo.

The town received official recognition in April 2008 and is now cooperating with experts to draw up therapy programs that will be available next year.

Chiba University's Miyazaki said he hopes the number of forest therapy bases and roads will reach 100 nationwide over the next decade so people will have plenty of choices when they look for different types of forests.

"Some people like broadleaf forests and others prefer forests of conifer trees like hinoki cypress that give off a strong aroma," Miyazaki said. "I hope people try to find a forest that suits their tastes and visit them from time to time."

For more information about Forest Therapy Bases and Roads, visit forest-therapy.jp/

How a Walk in the Woods Can Save Your Life...

According the Health Sciences Institute stress is a killer.

That's generally acknowledged. But I wonder if people who cope daily with high stress levels are actually aware that stress really can TAKE your LIFE.

Research shows that one of the ways your body reacts to stress involves the release of chemicals linked to chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Stress-related habits like overeating, sleep deprivation, and lack of exercise just add to that downward spiral.

Are you terrified yet?

If this stress spiral resembles your day-to-day life, then you may be an ideal candidate for a Japanese custom called shinrin-yoku, which translates as "forest bathing."

If you just pictured a bathtub in a forest — no, that's not forest bathing. Think of it like sun bathing. With shinrin- yoku, you immerse yourself in a forest or a park with plenty of trees for an hour or two, or however long you can. Take a walk. Enjoy the aromas, the sounds, the forest air.

But this is more than just a pleasant getaway. Research shows that forest bathing actually prompts physiological changes in your body that do more than help you relax — they actually empower your immune system and undo the harmful effects of stress.

Getting a whiff

Some researchers believe that exposure to phytoncides produces at least part of the beneficial effect of forest bathing.

Phytoncides are antimicrobial essential oils that protect plants from insects and other predators. In a forest setting with plenty of foliage, phytoncides become airborne — easily picked up by any forest bathers who might pass through.

Four years ago, a team from Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, studied the effect of phytoncides on the activity of natural killer (NK) cells. These cells seek out and destroy viruses, bacteria, and toxins. As you might guess, they're a vital line of your immune system's natural defence.

In this laboratory study, phytoncides significantly enhanced human NK activity.

One year later, the same Nippon Med team was back with another study that took them out of the lab and into the forest.

This time they recruited a dozen healthy middle-aged men who worked for large Tokyo corporations. Blood samples were taken before and after several forest trips over three days. In 11 of the 12 subjects, NK activity increased by about 50 per cent, and anti-cancer proteins were also generated. Later blood samples showed that these positive changes lasted more than seven days.

One year later, a study of the same design — but this time with women — produced nearly identical results. Again, the boosted NK levels lasted more than a week.

Apparently, "stop and smell the roses" may actually be life- saving advice.

It's nice to have tings you already know confirmed to you by research.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Audio, Visual or Kinesthetic which one are you?

I was talking with an ex-teacher yesterday and it was quite refreshing to hear what she had to say about our education system, it gave me hope that there might be more teachers like her out there.

She was saying that the state system not only fails our children but in particular it fails our young men, the curriculum is in favour of girls, one reason is, it requires our children to sit still for long periods of time which boys generally are unable to do.

She also pointed out that we all have different learning styles, some are visual, some are kinesthetic, however only a few are audio and yet the main method of teaching in our schools is audio, which in essence means no one is comfortable not the teacher in this lady's case she is visual and not the children particularly boys who just want to go out and explore.

So, is it any wonder that Forest schools and other teaching methods that involve nature in the curriculum are becoming more popular, as they are producing results like the girls school that involved bushcraft in their curriculum, their grades went up dramatically.

But, then again why should we be surprised at this. I believe we have an innate relationship with nature, the modern world has only been around for a very short time on the evolutionary scale and we are still trying to adjust to it, and as we are finding out not all the modern ways work for the better. That does not make them wrong, we often have to learn from our mistakes in order to find out if something works or not, it is just that the system will not always hold it's hands up to that and chalk it up to experience.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Saving Our Childern from Nature-deficit Disorder cont'd

The term 'loose parts' was first described by Nicholson he was referring to toys and how children use these tools to be creative, as previously stated with the Tonka Toy vs the Cardboard Box.

In nature children are very creative from using the den they have built as a castle or anything they want it to be, to exploring the woods as if they are on some great adventure, while the computer can be seen as a vast tool which can be applied in infinite 'loose parts' Lauv (2008) points out that these loose parts are made up of 0 & 1's in other words a binary code.

Lets compare this to nature's code.

We learn from nature by connecting with it, using all our senses. It is believed that our DNA contains memory and each cell in our body also contains memory from which we learn, it is not just our brain that teaches us, nature as Louv states is our "richest source of loose parts."

I personally believe nature is our greatest teacher, it allows us to be creative, for example I once watched a group of young boys who I had taken out tracking, spend time with a track, these were kids who apparently had short attention spans, yet they spent in all, around twenty minutes looking at this one track, disguising amongst themselves what they thought could have happened, the questions they were asking and acting out were 'what happened here', 'what is it telling us', and 'what can we learn from this?

When I go swimming I try to move through the water creating as few concentric rings as possible when I do this I am transported to a completely different world, its almost as if you are are becoming the same as the water, while I totally enjoy the Internet it still does not give me this sense of wonder and awe, such as seeing a young roe deer staring back at me, watching from a short distance away and in them few minutes there is a connection a sense of trying to discover each other. The children who sat on the track in the classroom without walls find it hard to concentrate in a classroom with walls and often became disruptive and yet here they were completely immersed in what nature was presenting them with.

Why?

Is it because we have an innate relationship with nature?

I believe this is exactly the case, the boys not only tracked the footprint on the ground but they also tracked each other exploring their relationship with each other, they were tracking their surroundings by going off to look at other areas where the trail could have gone and when they did not find anything they came back to their last definite sign and started over again.

They were tracking each others questions and actively seeking out the answers, they showed no signs of frustration at not finding the answer to their questions. They were tracking on so many levels and yet in school they struggled to do this.

More to come, check back later...

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Letter from Amercia... Concentric Rings

"Do you have more on this?

I went to a nature awareness school for a survival skills class in the Blue Ridge Mountains several years ago and the leader told us to have a "sit" in the woods and use soft vision instead of tunnel vision and I had some interesting things happen like a dove came to sit with me for quite a long time. It flew down to get a drink of water. I thought it would immediately fly away when it was finished drinking but it stayed for a long time.

At one point I saw some magenta lights and another moment I felt like something or someone was about to walk into my field of vision and it scared me so I ended the soft vision abruptly. If I remember correctly all of that happened the first time I tried that assignment.

Also, more than once, in various locations during my week long stay there, I saw concentric circles in the woods when I used this soft vision. It's hard to describe what I really saw but it's like I saw a pattern of clear concentric circles blended in with the trees? The leader never really said what this exercise was all about and I've been curious about what all happened. If you have anything you feel moved to share with me that is related, I'd be open and interested to check it out.

By the way, I met you last year in Boulder, CO at the pre-conference for the Wilderness Therapy Symposium. I hope things are going well for you over there in the UK. Do I have your permission to share your insight on my profile? I will give you credit...

There were lots of interesting things to read about and reflect on concerning the concentric rings. I will be checking out your blog more often."

Julia Z

Friday, 27 August 2010

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Childern from Nature-deficit Disorder

I have been dipping in and out of Richard Louv's book, which I am finding really interesting and as I read it, I am reminded of my childhood and other life experiences which I would like to share with you over the coming weeks...

Chapter 7. The Genius of childhood: How Nature Nurtures Creativity.

I was once asked at university to explain spirituality in relation to academic part of the course I was on. How do you do this it is such a personal experience, anyway this is what I came up with on the hoof as I had been given no warning.

To me the brain is an important part of us but it is not the whole of us, for example I need my brain to get me through the day when problem solving and so on. The computer is like the brain, when I step up to the key board, i can write a book, draw a picture, crate music and much, much more. In fact the computer has come a long way there are programmes that monitor what you do the computer and then the next time you step up to it, the programme will preempt you behaviour, this is known as automaticity *.

It is like learning to drive a car for the first time, you are constantly thinking about every action you need to take from mirror to gear changing. However, after a while you find you can drive from point A to point B and not even remember doing this, that's because the short-term memory as stored these actions into long-term memory, therefore freeing up the short term to deal with more immediate problems.

So back to creating a book etc on the computer, it's a wonderful thing to be able to do all these amazing things with the computer/our brain. However, once I step away from the computer that's all it is a computer, it needs me my creativity, my soul, my heart. without this the machine will just be there.

So what has this got to do with children's creativity?

Well I remember once a colleague came into work after the Christmas break, I asked him way the long face, he said he had bought is grandson the biggest and best Tonka toy you can imagine, he then went on to say that his grandson played with the toy for about twenty minutes but then moved onto the box which he played with for the rest of the holiday. Of course he would I replied that's because THE BOX can be a racing car, a ship, a castle or even an aeroplane, it can be anything you want it to be.

As a child I can remember playing with a pen with a small ruler pushed into the clip, that pen was a plane in that moment, then I would take the ruler out and it became a submarine and so it went on for example I would take an old shoe box with my friends and we would draw square son the lid and draw in rivers, hills an woods. Then we would get our Airfix soldiers and a dice, make up some rules and we would play for hours, if you got a six you beat the person you were up against Now, I like to think that this game we all played as kids was the fore runner of Risk today, who knows.

The point is while computer programmes and games are truly amazing and excellent tools for learning etc there is no real replacement for being out in nature. As children we would think up all sorts of adventures to get up to, from building a den to cowboys and Indians (hands up who always wanted to be an Indian).

More to come later...

*Automaticity is the ability to do things in long-term memory without occupying the short-term memory with the low-level details which would require a large amount of attention, thus allowing it to become an automatic response pattern.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Bushcraft and drama boost GCSE success at top state secondary | News:

I came cross this on Twitter this morning it was posted by Tim Daw and I thought you might be interested in it...


"Pupils at London's best state school achieved near-perfect GCSE results — by taking breaks from the pressures of revision to master bushcraft.

A remarkable 92 per cent of exams taken by girls at the Henrietta Barnett School in Hampstead Garden Suburb scored A* or A grades this year.

But headteacher Oliver Blond insists that the intensely competitive nature of modern exams can hold pupils back.

His staff lay on a wide range of activities such as sport, drama, school trips and music to make sure that girls are not excessively hot-housed for their exams. Among the activities this year was a bushcraft survival trip."