Every time we have the opportunity to visit the peaceful and healing space known as the Christopher Farm & Gardens has been a wonderful experience! But I will be honest... I was concerned that this month’s visits (Sunday, June 7th and Wednesday, June 17th), may be hampered by restrictions due to COVID-19 and not have the same energy as previous visits. Among other things, I was disappointed we would not be able to gather together for our traditional group photo.
And yet despite the restrictions (and possibly because of them) there seemed to be something extra special about these most recent visits!
Even though we were not able to gather for a group photo, the sign-in sheet pictured both documents and illustrates our togetherness!
During these most recent visits I found myself reflecting on a couple of articles I had read related to the Danish practices of “uitwaaien” and “niksen”!
“Uitwaaien” (and don’t ask me how to pronounce it), for which there is no single-word English equivalent can be translated as “to walk with the wind.” It is really just about being outside.
Research has found many benefits related to simply spending time in nature including reduced levels of depression, perceived stress and negative emotions. Science is not quite sure why spending time in nature is so good for us, but one theory is that benefits may be related to phytoncides, antibacterial and antimicrobial substances that trees and other plants release into the air. Several studies have shown these substances can boost immune function, increase anti-cancer protein production, improve mood, and help people relax and when people breathe in these substances while spending time outdoors their health can improve.
Of course, uitwaaien is an important aspect of every visit to the Christopher Farm & Gardens! 😊
“Niksen,” another Danish practice, can be described as intentionally doing nothing and doing it without intention. Olga Mecking, a Netherlands-based journalist who writes for the New York Times describes it as “taking the time to sit there and not do anything on purpose.” Something that few of us do (or even know how to do) in our hectic world.
This “doing nothing” is not the same as the “doing nothing” as you sit and watch TV, scroll through social media/feeds or play a game on your phone. And unlike mindfulness and meditation which are intended to increase attention and awareness, niksen has NO purpose or intention. It is doing nothing for no reason!
Apparently doing nothing (really doing nothing) can be really good for us as it temporarily deactivates parts of the brain that, on the one hand, make us the brilliant humans we are but, on the other hand, can cause constant low-grade stress that can adversely affect our health and well-being and may increase our risks for cardiovascular disease and inflammation-related issues.
It seems the Danes (who, according to the World Happiness Report, are about the happiest people on earth) are advising that we take the time to simply go outside and do nothing!
Even with the activities that we had planned during our visits (the Survivorship Through the Lens People’s Choice Photo Contest, Gentle Yoga for Cancer Survivors and Steps to Survivorship Walk/Run – all meaningful activities and all of which I participated in at some point) these most recent visits offered (and even forced) me to also spend some time just doing absolutely NOTHING.
See original article/photos in the attached PDF.