Nature and Biophilia as a Source of Self-Leadership, Motivation and Inspiration in Covid Times

Self-Leadership should be uppermost in our minds during the COVID-19 crisis, but it should always be important: however there are several urgent reasons. Self-leadership returns a sense of control over your own life. It gives you an integrative approach to mind and body. It aligns you with the best knowledge currently available about “total human awareness” the whole package of you living at your best immunity and doing your best at work and for others under challenging circumstances.

Chris Walker

Innerwealth Technology is a business consulting and strategic personal coaching firm committed to improving the human environment through high performance personal development, teaching, training, coaching, corporate interventions and speaking engagements.

Our mission is to demonstrate the essential benefits of nature based environments, biophilic thinking and connection to nature to business, sport, family, performance and individual health. We support our work through research, writing and ongoing population of social media with appropriate data.

Ours is a six step process to bring the total package of self-leadership to executives. We use this process we call “Total Human Awareness” to elevate conversations and help clients break new ground in thinking creatively about human development opportunities. Since 1986, we have networked with like minded leaders, specialists and executives who recognise the declining health of urbanisation and therefore the need to invest in human development that emphasises environmental connectivity within their organisational strategy and personal wellbeing policies.

REAL SPIRIT – The Technology of Nature’s Universal Laws

“This work is more than digging deep, it’s about taking control & driving the bus. It’s about clever use of time & resources to be absolutely present in each of the different pieces of the puzzle. It’s about clearing a rolling fog that if allowed, will persist throughout the day/week/month/year. What I achieved in the Back on Track 30 Days is an effective day, combining the elements of healthy food, exercise and focus on the current task and making time for the big picture, all threaded together in a way that hits these pieces at full throttle. This approach brings the relief and release that comes with knowing you can have a solid, effective crack at something without the fog of distraction, without competing alternatives for any given minute or hour.”

Self Leadership and Culture – Why Nature

Chris Walker

In order to elevate conversations and help clients break new ground in thinking creatively about individual self-leadership and environmental opportunities we have embarked on a campaign since 1986, to network with like minded leaders, specialists and executives who recognise the declining health of urbanisation and therefore the need to invest in environmental connectivity within their organisational strategy and wellbeing policies.

We have worked to shape the outcome of large-scale culture change projects around the world: the Canadian Government is one such innovator in environmental technologies for human development. We have completed works with private companies, public institutions, indigenous communities and government agencies on a variety of project types.

Biophilic Thought Leadership – Why Nature is the Key

Chris Walker

More than 50% of people now live in urban areas. By 2050 this proportion will be 70%. Urbanisation is associated with increased levels of mental illness, but it’s not yet clear why. Through controlled experiments it has been shown, that a nature experience would influence self-doubt (repetitive thought focused on negative aspects of the self), a known risk factor for mental illness. Plus, improved stress recovery rates, lower blood pressure, improved cognitive functions, enhanced mental stamina and focus, decreased violence and criminal activity, elevated moods, and increased learning rates.

Participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of self-doubt and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment.

These results suggest that accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanising world.

We Need to Introduce Real Thinking into Our Lives

Chris Walker

Urbanisation has many benefits, but it also is associated with increased levels of mental illness, including depression. It has been suggested that decreased nature experience may help to explain the link between urbanisation and mental illness.

This suggestion is supported by a growing body of correlational and experimental evidence, which raises a further question: what mechanism(s) link decreased nature experience to the development of mental illness?

One such mechanism might be the impact of nature exposure on self-doubt, a maladaptive pattern of self-referential thought that is associated with heightened risk for depression and other mental illnesses.

It has been shown that in healthy participants a brief nature experience, a 90-min walk in a natural setting, decreases both self-reported doubt and neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex (sgPFC), whereas a 90-min walk in an urban setting has no such effects on self-reported doubt or neural activity.

In other studies, the sgPFC has been associated with a self-focused behavioral withdrawal linked to lost confidence, doubt and emotional trauma in both depressed and healthy individuals.

The current studies conclude that there is a pathway by which nature experience (Real Spirit) may improve mental well-being and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health in our rapidly urbanising world. However, as urbanisation grows, this will become more challenging. The solution is to find what is transpiring in nature and bring it home.

Bring Nature Home: To the Bedroom and The Boardroom

Chris Walker

Biophilia, the innate human attraction to nature, is a concept that has been recognised for several decades by the scientific and design communities, and intuitively for hundreds of years by the population at large. Biophilic design has often been regarded as a luxury for property owners who want the best possible workplace for their employees, or who want to showcase their efforts to be more environmentally responsible.

In reality, improving community well-being through biophilia can impact productivity costs and the bottom line.Chris Walker

Today productivity costs are 112 times greater than energy costs in the workplace. At Innerwealth Technologies we believe that incorporating nature into the mental health and productivity environment is not just a luxury, but a sound economic investment in health and productivity, based on well- researched neurological and physiological evidence.

Here are several examples of small investments involving very low or no up-front cost, such as providing employees access to nature mind, day walks, outdoor meetings, plants, natural views, daylight, and other biophilic design elements that have returned measurable economic reward in productivity and lowered health, absentee and retention costs.

Innerwealth Technologies Seven Step Process for Biophilic Human Performance Development – “Total Human Awareness”

Chris Walker
    • Small physical gains like integrating quality daylighting schemes into an office space can save over $2,000 per employee per year in office costs. Additionally, we examine office design, workspace design and more. The environment changes aligned with biophilic research create immediate results in productivity and wellbeing at both individual and organisational levels.
    • The birth of the wellbeing industry has created a magnificent awareness at an individual level of the cost of stagnation in workspace design and self-leadership. However, it has throw the light on exercise and diet and therefore completely distracted organisations and individuals from the real source of wellness. Life Balance. We speak about the “total package” of wellbeing, which includes a loving home environment, adequate sunlight and many other aspects that have been deemed “unrelated to health and productivity.” Time out, time alone and time in the zone.
    • Nothing affects the child more than the “un-lived” life of the parent. But nothing affects the parent more than what they can’t let go of. What we judge we breed, attract or become. So, the judgement we can’t let go of, creates the disasters of lost productivity today. The more we hold on, the more we struggle with the pace of life. Then we can’t arrive in this moment because we’re not refreshed, rejuvenated recovered from yesterday. I’m not talking about overnight, that’s the T model Ford of rejuvenation. I’m certainly not talking about weekend recovery or busting for an annual break. No, I’m speaking of one minute to one hour of recuperation from the worst. That’s the real power of letting go.
    • Biophilia is not just limited to environment. People are different in nature because they think differently. We bring that thinking back to the boardroom, bedroom, headroom. So we don’t need to fly to the himalayas or Tasmania’s to get inspired, we think it. The big shift here is aligning personal values (what we’re good at and love doing) with what we do. So we know what is valuable to focus our self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem toward. Values are nature’s authentic planning tool.
    • Biophilia and human behaviour demonstrate that all nature seeks direction. We grow in a direction and that for nature is the SUN. For us human’s it’s a purpose, vision, dream, goal set and as important as it is for nature, it is for us. We are in this aspect, nature. We are the environment and without purpose, direction, we fail. Nature destroys anything that does not fulfill its purpose. Including us. Health, productivity and wellbeing depend on this. You must, in self-leadership, maintain a strong respect for your vision and purpose. VIP.
    • Based on scientific research, the adjustment of self-talk serves to demonstrate the real power of comitment to a developmental attitude. Left to circumstance we will speak a negative self talk, nobody beats us up more than we do to ourselves. Hence, the financial potential for a large-scale deployment of biophilic principles would fall to waste if this self-talk aspect of human change consciousness, and performance for executives were not included. Whether it is for the purpose of boosting productivity, improving test scores, creating retail outlets with higher sales, or simply to lower health costs in organisations, self-talk at an individual level makes the business case for incorporating biophilia and Innerwealth Technologies Real Spirit process into the places where we live and work.

Specific And Targeted Personal and Professional Improvement

Chris Walker

Recent advancement in our understanding of natural systems, coupled with a growing understanding of the subtle neurological and physiological functions associated with contact with nature, have allowed us to identify the elements of executive performance improvement. With this we have strategies to increase economic gains, improve productivity, and strengthen the social fabric of communities without leaving town. Although the cognitive benefits of biophilia are still well studied by the scientific community, the economic benefits of biophilic thinking are usually accrued anecdotally or through trial and error. With Innerwealth Technologies in place, this improvement is changing rapidly.

In our research over the last twenty years, studies examining the human attraction to nature have yielded convincing evidence that the next real leap in human development is a reconnection to natural systems. However, we have also observed that real change must take place at an individual rather than a collective level. The Universal laws and culture change is driven from new norms but the implementation is best achieved through one on one coaching.

We simply link interactions with nature with positive gains in productivity, increased healing rates, and even enhanced learning comprehension, in a wide range of sectors.

These investments in health and productivity may affect more sectors than initially anticipated. The monetary gains from providing people access to biophilic design elements as well as biophilic thought modelling, produced results ranging from unforeseen productivity improvements, astounding results in lowered health costs, remarkable sales boosts in retail stores, to taxpayer savings stemming from improved student test scores, to safer urban communities.


In order to understand the case for utilising biophilic design as well as biophilic thought modelling, it is crucial to discuss how productivity, health, and well-being can be measured—ranging from reduced absenteeism to greater worker satisfaction—and translated into dollar savings. And for the individual in feelings of satisfaction, love and wellbeing.

Our interventions into “human capital management” will provide the foundation to understand why society can no longer afford to ignore the value of nature. Highlighting specific case studies will then provide insight into how best management practices in biophilic design as well as biophilic thought modelling can render productivity gains through smart yet simple natural management and design strategies.

It’s truly time for a change – success need not cost families

Chris Walker

Humans have evolved in the larger context of the natural environment, and we have developed to respond to these natural surroundings. In fact, our ancestors remained hunter-gatherers whose dwellings were seamlessly integrated into their natural surroundings until fairly recently in human development. As a result, our development has been entrained by sensory interactions with nature and familiarity with the spatial properties. 

Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. But in the age of the Industrial Revolution, and now the “Digital Revolution” a transformative shift towards urbanisation, fabrication, and isolation from nature has ushered in a departure from traditional nature based  practices and the active interaction with the natural world that accompanied them.

More and more, workers have become more familiar with the conveyor belt and the computer screen in a cubicle than with the characteristics of the natural world.

In 1976, a group of Ecologists, realised the implications of this departure from nature and consequently pioneered a new school of thought focused on the need to bring humans back in contact with nature. “Biophilia,” Edward O. Wilson an American biologist, described biophilia as “the innately emotional af liation of human beings to other living organisms.” He added, “life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything else humanity is ever likely to encounter” (Wilson, 1984).

The concept of biophilia implies that humans hold a biological need for connection with nature on physical, mental, and social levels, and that this connection affects our personal well-being, productivity, and societal relationships. Whether one is engaging with nature by walking through a park, by interacting with animals, or simply by having a view of greenery from one’s home or place of work, biophilia has many applications that help transform mundane settings into stimulating environments.

Although the concept of biophilia is relatively straightforward to grasp, the neurological and physiological underpinnings and their impacts on the environment are critical for one to truly appreciate its value. The millions of neural channels in our brain link to the human body’s autonomic nervous system. This system consists of two elements: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic system stimulates the human body when cognitive function is needed. The parasympathetic system serves to relax the body, and is used for internal processes such as digestion.

When the body’s natural balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic is achieved, the body is in the ideal state of homeostasis. In chaotic and unsettling environments, the body’s sympathetic system is highly engaged in a “ fight-or- flight” mindset. Concurrently, the parasympathetic system is suppressed, disrupting our natural balance and resulting in energy drain and mental fatigue.

This combination induces stress, frustration, irritability, and distraction. In contrast, human interaction with nature provides an increase in parasympathetic activity resulting in better bodily function and reduced sympathetic activity. The result is decreased stress and irritability, and the increased ability to concentrate.

Biophilic thought modelling the Neuroscience of Nature Mind and Health

Chris Walker

Neuroscientists have found that views of complex, dynamic natural scenes trigger many more interactions of the mu (opioid) receptors in the large rear portion of the visual cortex. Viewing nature is literally a pleasurable experience. Views with less visual richness, such as a blank wall or a tree-less street, are processed in the small forward portion of the visual cortex and trigger far fewer of the mu receptors, triggering less pleasurable mental reactions (Biederman & Vessel, 2006). In contrast, movement in a natural setting, such as waves, leaves in a breeze, fish swimming in an aquarium, or a flickering fire, capture and hold our attention.

Other physiological effects of exposure to nature are well documented. For example, the effects of walking through forest atmospheres versus urban areas have been documented by comparing the salivary cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate of subjects. On average, salivary cortisol (a stress hormone) was 13.4-15.8% lower, pulse rate was reduced by 3.9-6.0%, and systolic blood pressure was lower in individuals who walked through the forest, compared with those who walked through urban areas. Most impressive, overall parasympathetic activity— which occurs when we feel relaxed— increased by 56.1%, whereas sympathetic activity—which occurs when we feel stressed—decreased by 19.4% in subjects who walked through the forest (Park, 2010). These studies support Kaplan and Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory (ART): that nature serves as a positive restorative environment for humans and is an effective platform for stress management, health promotion, psychotherapy, and disease deterrence.

Biophilic thought modelling – Reduces Stress

Chris Walker

Stress is a known cause of both mental health disorders and cardiovascular diseases. According to the World Health Organization, mental health disorders and cardiovascular diseases are expected to be the two prime contributing factors to illnesses worldwide by 2020 (WHO, 2008). (NOT INCLUDING THE COVID19 Virus)

Treatment for cardiovascular disorders accounted for $1 of every $6 spent on healthcare in America (cDc, 2011). If workers are faced with nowhere to relieve stress in the office, the premature onset of psychiatric, stress-induced, and anxiety-related illnesses can surface (cDc, 2011). Studies show that our ability to directly access nature can alleviate feelings of stress, thus bolstering the case for biophilia in the workplace (Grahn & Stigsdotter, 2010).

Heartbeat has been measured in natural and urban environments in relation to spatially selective attention. After test subjects viewed videos of the two aforementioned environments, their heart beat interval results suggested that videos depicting natural environments had an involuntary relaxing effect on autonomic functions, inducing positive cardiac deceleration as well as beneficial physiological arousal (laumann et al., 2003).

Forest Bathing – Shinrin-yoku

An emerging field of research surrounding human interactions with nature, known as Shinrin-yoku in Japan, continues to provide solid evidence of the benefits of natural environments on human health.

Shinrin-yoku is the ancient Japanese practice of restorative walks through natural settings, most often forests. In English, Shinrin-yoku directly translates to “forest bathing”.

Forest bathing experiments were conducted among 87 non-insulin-dependent diabetics over the course of six years to test Shinrin-yoku’s ability to effectively decrease blood glucose levels in patients. After walking 3-6 kilometers in the forest, blood glucose levels dropped on average from 179 milligrams to 109 milligrams. To ensure that this was attributable to the forest environment, rather than simply the aerobic activity of walking, patients were also monitored while exercising on indoor treadmills and in indoor pools. compared with these forms of exercise, which effectively reduced blood glucose levels by 21.2%, forest bathing decreased blood glucose by an impressive 39.7% (Ohtsuka, 1998). Within forests, human hormonal secretion and autonomic nervous functions are stabilized as we breathe in organic compounds called phytoncides excreted by the forest.

New Shinrin-yoku studies show that inhaling these pungent compounds has tremendous health bene ts that are dif cult to reap in the urban and built environments that con ne so many individuals today.

Light and Nature 

Our body’s response to daylight is another important clue as to how we can harness the power of biophilia. Daylight affects both our eye functions and our inherent circadian rhythms. light therapy works by exposing the retina to speci c wavelengths of light to treat imbalances of circadian rhythm—the daily cycle of hormonal activity observed in many living organisms. That balance is partially tied to the changing color of daylight over the course of a day. Morning light is yellow, becoming bluer in mid-day and shifting to red in the late afternoon. Exposure to natural light serves to balance our hormonal levels of serotonin (linked to our mood) and inhibit the production of melatonin (used to regulate sleep). When there is an imbalance of serotonin and melatonin in our bodies, our sleep-wake pattern is disturbed, which in turn inhibits our neurological and immune system functions. To enable our bodies to reach an optimal hormonal balance, natural daylighting provides the greatest amount of lux, or unit of luminance, and the speci c wavelengths of light needed by the human body to establish and maintain the serotonin-melatonin balance. Sunlight on a clear day is 500 to 1,000 times greater than arti cial lighting (Boyce, 2010). This is an important consideration while designing indoor environments to incorporate more natural light.

Environment Biophilia and Wellbeing at Work Greater Productivity – Less Costs – More Wellbeing –

Chris Walker

These explanations of nervous system activity in mankind provide some of the fundamental physiological value of biophilia. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the neurological effects of nature deprivation as we interact less and less with nature on a daily basis due to the rise of a lifestyle led mainly indoors.

Researchers have investigated and widely documented various physiological and psychological effects of exposure to nature. The results of these studies—spanning recovery rates of hospital patients through retail sales trends affected by daylighting—often express increases in emotional value. However, the economic bene ts of reconnecting people to nature are often overlooked because of the difficulty of quantifying the variables associated with the positive outcomes. By assigning value to a variety of indicators influenced by biophilic design, the business case for biophilia proves that disregarding humans’ inclination towards nature is simultaneously denying potential for positive financial growth.

Over the last quarter century, case studies have documented the advantages of biophilic experiences, including improved stress recovery rates, lower blood pressure, improved cognitive functions, enhanced mental stamina and focus, decreased violence and criminal activity, elevated moods, and increased learning rates.

How do we take the evidence for these benefits and translate them to economics? In the past, research groups have reported various metrics of productivity including revenue, billable hours, net income, and market share gained. Current research uses both direct and indirect approaches.

Direct measures of productivity encompass quantifiable reported values, for example, the number of customers served or calls taken during a given time period. These metrics can be assigned monetary values in their respective settings and directly converted to cost savings for a company or institution. Indirect measures, although seemingly intangible and unquantifiable, are shown to have merit when examined in detail. Indirect measures of productivity include absenteeism, tardiness, hours worked, safety rule violations and other measures that add up quickly in a corporate budget (Miller, 2009). For this paper, indicators of productivity will include the following and will be translated into dollars where most applicable:

• Illness and absenteeism

• Staff retention

• Job performance (mental stress/fatigue) • Healing rates

• classroom learning rates

• Retail sales

  • Violence statistics

When linked to the effects of a renewed connection with nature, these metrics show remarkable gains, upon which companies and institutions can capitalise. Innerwealth Technologies aim to showcase the economic value in paying attention to biophilic design, not just as a luxury, but as a way to improve profits. In the pursuit of maximising efficiency while minimising costs, emphasis on worker productivity is extremely undervalued.

In the last decade, American psychologists have aggregated the five strongest requirements for basic functioning that, if neglected, can trigger worker comprehension problems and dissatisfaction in the office space (Kellert, 2008). These are:

• Need for change (varying temperature, air, light, etc.)

• Ability to act on the environment and see the effects

• Meaningful stimuli (stagnant atmospheres cause an onset of chronic stress)

• One’s own territory to provide safety, an identity, and protection

• View to the outside world

 Cost Reduction can be achieved with biophilia

More than 90% of a company’s operating costs are linked to human resources, and financial losses due to absenteeism and presenteeism account for 4%. Commercial spaces that give occupants access to nature serve as a release to outside stresses, and tend to cause less environmental stress themselves. It makes financial sense for companies to try to eliminate environmental stress that cost them thousands of dollars per year in employee costs.

Biophilic thought modelling – Reducing Presenteeism – (Not Turning Up)

The results of poor indoor environments and egocentric thinking also have financial implications in the form of “presenteeism.” Presenteeism describes the phenomenon in which workers clock in for work, but are mentally removed from the workplace, causing labor-related financial losses for the company.

Presenteeism can result from sleepiness, headaches, colds, and asthmatic drain, if air supply is poor. But it is mostly due to emotional and mental distraction caused by:

• Domestic challenges

• Tiredness

• Mental strain

• Loss of motivation

• Disillusionment with management

• Health issues

Presenteeism costs employers in the private sector $938 and employers in the public sector $1,250, per employee per year (USA) and estimated double this figure in Australia and Canada. For a company with 100 employees, this equates to over US $100,000 lost per year in unproductive time at work. Providing access to Biophilic thought modelling, natural daylighting, outdoor views, and natural ventilation can reduce eyestrain, relieve mental fatigue and return workers’ attention to their work but it is a minor shift compared to the focus and mental results achieved in Biophilic Mind.

The Impact of Biophilic thought modelling … Conclusions

Chris Walker

Recent research from neuroscience and endocrinology show the crucial role that experiencing nature has for our physiological well-being. Implementing biophilic design into our workplaces, healthcare system, educational environments and communities is not just a nice amenity. It has profound economic benefits.

People are Different in Nature

Over the past 35 years Chris has taken nearly 60 groups of visionary individuals to the base of the most magnificent Himalayas. The true gift is that people are different in nature. More generous, more kind, more inspired and compassionate. It’s not just the Buddhist monasteries and Nepali people, it’s also nature at it’s best. And the perfect place to study the “UNIVERSAL LAWS.”

  • Chris Walker innerwealth at Namche Bazaar Nepal