I just had a flashback to a time while I was watching What About Bob? and the concept of Death Therapy was created. Other than that flashback, however, this post has naught to do with Death Therapy.
In our society, we often abhor dirt. I once took an anthropology class in which we covered an entire section on the human concept of dirt, how humans all over the planet have a distaste for dirt, dirt being anything that is out of place. I was most interested by the idea that though the concept of dirt and dirty exist in all cultures, what is perceived as dirt and dirty is different.
For example, in Siena, Italy before the horserace called the Palio the racehorses are taken into churches and blessed. If the horse happens to defecate inside the church, that is a good sign that that horse might win the race.
For most of us, both bringing a horse into a church and any sign of excrement is just plain dirty. Interesting, no?
Let’s move on to Dirt Therapy.
This summer has involved a lot of gardening. I love to garden! I have found that whenever my feet and hands are properly muddy or dirty, maybe spruced up with blades of grass, I feel an incredible amount of clarity and peace.
Of course the action of moving around instead of sitting still helps peace grow. So does a nice soaking in sunshine. But despite the human universal of avoiding dirt, I think there is something to be said about physical and mental health and hanging out in dirt for a while. Maybe it relates to the inner Paleolithic Man I wrote about a few months ago. After all, we haven’t always been surrounded by Clorox and antibiotics and walls and floors and soaps and brooms. Many happy, healthy people still aren’t.
That isn’t to say that after a good bout of gardening I stay in my sweat and dirt accumulation all day. A nice shower is always welcome after digging.
I don’t really know for sure what the psychological and anthropological explanations are for what I have called Dirt Therapy. All I can say is, spending a bit of time in the dirt is good for the mind, body, and spirit.