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Silence is Golden
A few weeks ago, we sat on the deck of a lodge in Magaliesburg looking across a view of grasslands and hills. Everything was still;  only the sound of a Grey Lourie broke the silence. We seemed enveloped by total peace; a feeling that lasted long after our weekend break was over.

It is this transition from the chaos of city life to the calm of the country that promotes natural healing. Silence is part of the process. That inner silence that comes from deep reflection creates a feeling of uncluttered awareness and understanding. Silence can heal our minds and give a new clarity of perception.   It is the essence of wisdom, as sages down the centuries have known;  it takes us from the mundane to the meaningful.

So when next you need to restore your equilibrium and clarity of mind, take time out in the country. Albert Einstein believed that by communing with nature you get to understand everything better. So, too, did John Burroughs, the great naturalist, who said “I go to nature to be soothed and healed and have my senses put in order”.
Reboot your Brain - 25 January 2009
It’s long been known that cities are engines for intellectual creativity; where strangers connect with each other in interesting and unpredictable ways, innovation results.   That’s seen as one of urban life’s unique benefits.  

 But cities can also be bad for your brain.  Undiluted city life is not only exhausting, it also dulls our thinking and contributes to what psychologists call ‘cognitive deficits’. Marc Berman, a psychologist at University of Michigan, measured the negative effects of a short walk down a busy street, where we have to deal with busy pavements and malls, traffic, flashing lights, conversations on cell phones, advertisements and many distractions – all inputs that consume much of the mind’s processing power.  Berman got students to take a walk, either through city streets or stroll through an arboretum and then do psychological tests.  Students who walked through the city streets were in a worse mood and got significantly lower scores on a test of attention and working memory.   Just being in an urban environment can impair our basic mental processes. 

Other negative influences of urban life on the brain relate to self-control. We are constantly assaulted with temptations on the high streets of cities.   Resisting these temptations requires us to flex the part of the brain that is also responsible for directed attention, already hard-worked by other city distractions.   The result is that we are less able to exert self-control, which means we’re more likely to spend on things we don’t really need, with all its attendant misgivings. 

Conversely, natural settings which are full of things that capture our attention – birds, trees, colours, movement – don’t require so much cognitive effort and do so without negative emotional responses.   This is known as attention restoration theory – or ART, which was first developed by Stephen Kaplan of the University of Michigan.
Studies have found that children with attention deficit disorder have fewer symptoms in natural settings where they able to focus and are less likely to have behavioural problems.

They key, then, is to balance the buzz of the city with the calm of the country and enjoy a beneficial dose of nature that will boost your ability to cope with the stresses of city life.

Take a look at the wonderful selection  of places you will find on this website - country lodges and houses,  game lodges, resorts, self-catering establishments and camping and caravanning- you will find your perfect place to reboot your brain.