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Unearthing the Primitive Brain: How Rewilding Alters Our Neurology for the Better

In a world dominated by screens and cityscapes, rewilding has emerged as a beacon of hope, offering more than just ecological benefits. It provides a unique opportunity to tap into the deep recesses of our primitive brain, the source of instinct, intuition, and an innate connection to the wild. This connection, often overlooked in the fast-paced modern world, has profound implications for our neurological well-being. In this blog post, we'll delve into the neuroscience of rewilding and explore how it rewires our brains for the better.

  1. Triggering the Brain's "Natural High"

Rewilding can induce a state of "natural high." When we immerse ourselves in untamed landscapes, our brains release endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are responsible for feelings of pleasure, relaxation, and happiness. This natural high not only elevates mood but also reduces stress and anxiety, promoting overall mental well-being.

  1. Priming the Primitive Brain

The primitive brain, often referred to as the reptilian brain, is responsible for basic survival instincts. Rewilding engages this part of our brain by immersing us in environments where we must navigate challenges and make decisions, much like our distant ancestors. This primal connection strengthens our problem-solving abilities, enhances our resourcefulness, and fosters resilience.

  1. Cultivating Mindfulness and Presence

The act of rewilding encourages mindfulness and presence, which have profound effects on brain function. By focusing on the sights, sounds, and sensations of the natural world, we engage the prefrontal cortex—the brain region responsible for executive functions, including decision-making, problem-solving, and self-control. This heightened focus promotes clearer thinking, improved decision-making, and better impulse control.

  1. Reconnecting with the Limbic System

Rewilding offers a chance to reconnect with the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. This region regulates our emotions, and when immersed in nature, we often experience a range of emotions, from awe to tranquility. This emotional connection can help individuals better understand their own feelings and those of others, leading to improved emotional intelligence.

  1. Memory Enhancement

The act of rewilding can significantly impact memory. Engaging with the natural world stimulates the hippocampus, a key region associated with memory formation and recall. The rich sensory experiences in wild environments can enhance cognitive functions, including learning and memory retention.

  1. Alleviating Mental Fatigue

Modern life is often characterized by cognitive overload and mental fatigue. Rewilding provides a respite from these demands, allowing the brain to rest and recuperate. This cognitive downtime is essential for maintaining optimal brain function and reducing stress, thereby improving overall well-being.

In the journey of rewilding, we unearth the profound impact it has on our neurological well-being. By triggering a "natural high," priming our primitive brain, cultivating mindfulness and presence, reconnecting with the limbic system, enhancing memory, and alleviating mental fatigue, rewilding offers a unique neurological reset. It's an opportunity to reconnect with the ancient instincts and sensory experiences that have shaped our species, fostering a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us. In a world that often pulls us away from our primitive nature, rewilding brings us back to our neurological roots, offering benefits that are truly mind-altering for the better.

Alexis Dennehy is a Naturopath, Yoga Therapist and Public Health Freelancer who writes on the benefits and politics of Embodiment. Book a private consultation with Alexis in person or by Zoom


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