Guest article by Simon Paul Harrison
In a world of cell phones, computers and technology, our children have become increasingly separated from nature. With every step away from the earth a real sense of identity has been lost. Peace, joy, creativity, and a true sense of connection to all life have been eroded. In the place of these have risen fear, greed and violence. Away from nature, children have forgotten who they really are.
If we are to support our children in regaining what we know deep in our hearts is their birthright, to walk as one with life, we must start by re-connecting them with nature.
There are numerous studies showing that time in nature is good for our physical health, but that is not the full extent of the benefit. Arguably far more powerful is the connection with the flow of life that is nourished. With positive experiences close to nature, children no longer see themselves as separate individuals, all fighting against one another for their survival. They realize they are as connected to the trees as they are to their legs, as much a part of the oceans as their hair is to them. This is undoubtedly life changing, and it’s so wonderfully simple!
Nature is such a miraculous teacher for our children because she expects nothing from them. The river doesn’t expect them to think certain thoughts. The plants don’t expect them to say certain words. The mountains don’t expect them to act a certain way. And so nature reminds our children that they have always been free.
This is easy to forget because children become so rapidly heavy and burdened by all the expectations they take on from modern society. We force them to carry hundreds of beliefs, perceptions and judgments around with them that they forget their true, peaceful, connected nature. In particular we educate children to live the illusions that they must chase happiness, run after success, and compete against everything and everyone.
But when we support our children in stepping gently on the earth they find they can let go of all those illusions and plug themselves back in to the flow of life. Without all those expectations a shadow is lifted and they remember who they really are. There’s nothing to chase, nothing to run after, nothing to outcompete. They are perfect. Here, and now. Nature expects nothing from children, and so she gives everything.
We tend to think that the solutions to the challenges we have created for our children are terribly complicated. That it must require special technology, new drugs, different research, or more information. But time and again we see what simply being allowed to play in nature does for children. Through my work I’ve had the privilege of supporting thousands of children on the path to re-connecting with nature and I’ve seen the same things happen over and over again. Children know deep down who they are. They know they are peaceful, joyful, creative and deeply connected. That seed of re-connection is nourished perfectly by nature, and when it is, the blossoming of children is one of the most beautiful experiences to witness.
As adults we can all support this re-connection right now. Children don’t need the names of plants or facts about animals. They just need to be allowed to play, without the pressure of society wondering if their activity will help them get ahead, be successful, or help them pass exams. Their unburdened play in nature is already bringing them the ultimate success: The experience of walking as one with life. Peace, joy and creativity are with them every step of the way.
Simon Paul Harrison is the author of The Truly Alive Child and the founder of Wild Earth’s Children. For more information, free resources and to order your copy of the book, go to www.simonpaulharrison.com
Simon Paul Harrison is the author of The Truly Alive Child, a visionary and life-changing book, and the founder and director of Wild Earth's Children, a non-profit dedicated to re-connecting people to nature.
Simon began working with children as an elementary school teacher in his native England. Here the seeds were planted to seek a way to connect children with the flow of life and return children to experiences of deep peace and joy.
After a number of years he came to America to learn from world renowned nature teacher Tom Brown Jr. Simon fell in love with the natural world and never looked back. He has taught people how to re-connect with nature and a deeper sense of peace, joy and creativity all over North America, including Alaska, New England, and the Cree Nation in Quebec.
Simon felt the calling of his vision urging him westwards where he founded Wild Earth’s Children and wrote The Truly Alive Child. He lives in Colorado with his wife Katherine