A while back the American Cancer Society designated Hacienda Chichen as a good place for recuperating from cancer. It's peaceful, pretty, set apart from the "the real world," and there's plenty to think about here other than one's health problems. This got me thinking about the matter of "Nature Study Therapy."

The term "therapy" refers to a course of action meant to heal, so what's the illness being addressed by Nature Study Therapy?

Here's a thumbnail answer: The human mind is like a cup filled with water that often is unclear and troubled. Pour in pure, clear water, and the other dribbles out. Keep up the process long enough and you have a cup of pure water. In other words, occupy the mind with birdsong, flower colors and fragrances, the turn of the seasons and the life-confirming influences of understanding ecology, and in the end you feel better. Good thoughts drive out bad ones.

That description serves its purpose and is accurate but of course the human mind isn't a cup of water. Here's a different way of expressing how we can grow alienated from Nature, suffer from it, and be healed by Nature study:

Nature is organized into sets and subsets, and subsets of subsets, on and on. An arbitrarily defined outline of sets and subsets, beginning with the subset of the world of computer key tops, and leading upward, can be written out as shown below:

computer key top --> computer --> office --> human business --> human behavior --> human species --> Life on Earth --> Earth --> Solar System --> the Milky Way Galaxy --> the Universe --> the thing of which about 96% is black matter and black energy, and the human-detectable Universe is the other 4% --> dimensions unknown & unimagined

In the above breakdown, we humans identify most with being "human species" participating in "Life on Earth." At that level we feel most "at home" and we are the most happy there.

When we narrow our daily activities and thoughts to a subset lower down the chain -- as in the cubicle -- or focus too much on realms beyond our everyday lives, we are denying ourselves inputs from nurturing and orienting influences we have evolved to need at the "human species on Earth" level.

In the cubicle as well as among abstractions of the mind, we're no longer subject to seasonal cycles, no longer able to welcome blackberry season and the pleasures of going to pick them. In the cubicle, we miss colors, fragrances, birdsong, glisten of insect wing and interactions with other life forms, all which texture a person's life, help us define our identities, and help us think of ourselves as having a place where we are.

Nature study systematically undertaken over a long period of time obliges us to occupy ourselves with flower design, color and fragrance, cloud patterns, bird diversity, geometry of crystal faces among sandgrains, the changing sky throughout the day and night, interrelationships among Nature's mindbogglingly diverse things... And as these influences are taken into us, negativity and other hurtful, damaging influences dribble away, and we are healed.

Our BackyardNature.Net website was designed to help anyone study Nature, beginning in his or her backyard, and the service is free. Anyone interested in Nature Study Therapy at Hacienda Chichen adjacent to Chichén Itzá ruins in the central Yucatan, is welcome to come, and while you're at the Hacienda I'll gladly open doors to you, to ever greater intimacy with Nature, also for free.