Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies

Department

Holistic Health

First Advisor

Carol Geisler

Second Advisor

Stasia Johnson Steinhagen

Third Advisor

Janet Dahlem

Department/School

Holistic Health Studies

Abstract

Research demonstrates that spending time in nature restores, heals, and fosters connection in people. However, little is known regarding nature’s impact on the human spirit. The purpose of this phenomenological, mixed-method study is to describe nature’s impact on the human spirit. Twenty-six adults spent a minimum of fifteen minutes-a-day over a ten-day time period immersing themselves in nature and reflecting on a dimension of their spirit. Participants used photography and journaling to share reflections regarding how nature impacted their spirit. Six main spiritual themes emerged from thematic analysis: connection, vibrancy, awe/presence, joy, gratitude, and compassion. Of these six themes, the findings reveal that immersion in nature impacts the human spirit most significantly by providing a sense of connection, vibrancy, and awe. Furthermore, regardless of the type of nature activity, the location, or the time of day, immersion in nature offered a sense of connection for every participant, which in turn promoted spiritual well-being. Spending time in nature offers a cost-free and accessible way to foster spiritual well-being.

Available for download on Friday, May 19, 2017

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