'Naturalist intelligence' was first coined by researcher and psychologist Howard Gardner in his 2006 book, Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Therapy and Practice. Gardner explores in his writing the notion that the human being does not just possess intellectual intelligence, but rather has 8 different identified intelligences; visual/spacial, linguistic/verbal, interpersonal, interpersonal, logical/mathematical, musical, bodily/kinaesthetic, and naturalistic.
Naturalist intelligence can be best described as, "the ability to use the human brain to engage in sensory awareness, and observe patterns in living systems". Individuals with developed naturalistic intelligence tend to have a deeper bond with their environment, and be more in tune with subtle changes to the environment. Such individuals engage with the environment with curiosity, empathy, and respect. They wish to understand and nurture the earth, and all living things.
As human beings (species: homo sapiens, order: primates, class: mammalia), we are innately connected to the nature. Long before the term 'Naturalistic Intelligence' was coined, we as a species understood our role in the ecosystem of life, and our part to play in the protection of it. However as our world has become increasingly reliant on technology, and we spend our days within the confides of our workplace, cars, and homes, this understanding or 'intelligence' is dwindling. Fortunately, like most aspects of human intelligence, exposure, repetition, and patience are key to development.
Unless you are fortunate to live close to a large open green space or quiet beach, the current social distancing and travel restrictions have placed limitations on many of us from accessing and engaging with our natural environment to the extent we may be used to.
However as we are forced to slow down and spend longer hours in our homes there are still small things that we can do everyday to maintain our bond and improve our naturalistic intelligence.
Some of our favourite are listed below:
- Take yourself outside to a safe space and watch the sun rise and set with reverence. Stay in tune with these cycles, taking note of their subtle changes as we transition through the days, months and seasons. Appreciate the stillness that occurs during these times, and take a moment to be mindful of how you are feeling.
- Spend time in your garden or with your house plants. Get your hands into soil, pull out weeds or plant some seeds. Take joy from watching new growth, or be humbled by the resilience of nature.
- Cook with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and carve the time out in your day to spend some time preparing a meal. Be mindful when you are eating. Notice the texture, aroma, and taste of your food, as well as how it makes your body feel.
- Enhance your awareness and experience all of your senses. Take time feel the breeze, smell the grass, and notice the warmth of the sun on your skin. With our tendency to favour sight, we are so often observers, rather than participants in our world. Improving our sensory awareness helps us engage deeper with nature and our environment.
Photography: HYŌSHI FILM