Some of you know that I am spending this month of June in Costa Rica with my family. It has been a wonderful experience so far. One of the most valuable parts is that we are constantly in nature. Our house is open to the outdoors, we walk around barefoot most of the time, we are surrounded by the jungle and ocean. There are no paved roads, concrete sidewalks, tall buildings, drive-throughs, convenience food, or shopping centers. We have to get our food from the market just about every day. It consists of fresh fruits and veggies, all ripe and recently picked. Fish just caught from the ocean, and chickens that were just running around the fields a day ago. It’s a simple way of life. People walk or bicycle most everywhere because not many have cars.
We are in Playa Garza, which is an area on the Nicoyan peninsula on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is known as one of the Blue Zones. An area of the world where people live the longest. Some of the reasons are because they are in touch with nature all the time.
Lessons From Nicoya
- Have a plan de vida. Similar to Okinawans ikigai, Nicoyans always nurture their plan de vida, or reason to live, which encourages them to contribute to their community.
- Drink hard water. High amounts of calcium and magnesium, essential for bone and muscle strength, abound in Nicoya’s water. By drinking and cooking with this water, people here get their daily intake of calcium throughout their entire lives!
- Focus on your family and friends. Having a good relationship with their family and maintaining a strong social network contributes greatly to centenarian’s sense of purpose and well-being.
- Work hard. Nicoyan centenarians maintain a strong work ethic, which keeps them active and healthy while contributing to their sense of purpose.
- Plan your meals. Nicoyans eat their biggest meal in the morning and their smallest meal at night.
- Get some sun. Nicoyans enjoy healthy doses of daily sun, enriching their bodies with Vitamin D. Getting at least 15 minutes every day can decrease the risk for osteoporosis and heart disease.
I already know one of the challenges after our month here will be to figure out how do we maintain aspects of this lifestyle and the connection with nature once we get back home. I’ve started a list of some simple things that we can all do. I’ll share them with you here, so you can be spending time in nature:
– Take walks in the woods or park. We have some great parks close by our home, rather than going for a walk around the neighborhood on the concrete sidewalk, take a short trip to the nearby park and head for a hike on the trail. Get off-road whenever possible.
– walk barefoot. We so seldom actually touch the earth. It is important as it helps our body’s to discharge the ions we build up through living in this modern world. Take off your shoes and walk in the grass. It is best to do it first thing in the morning when the grass is still damp with dew.
– Eat locally! This is something we have always tried to do as much as possible. Grow veggies when you can, shop at your local farmers markets, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Eating locally will always provide you with fresher, more nutritious foods.
– Take note of the nature all around you. The trees, flowers, insects, animals, clouds, wind, rain, and all other elements that make up the amazing beautiful natural world we live in.
It is almost too easy to ignore our natural world because of the un-natural environment most of us spend our time: our homes, cars, offices, buildings, stores, etc. Get outside and recognize that this natural world is the world we live in and what provides us with health, eases our stress, nourishes our bodies, and give us life. We are all part of nature.
– Dr. Smith