There is a growing recognition that humanities increasing isolation from the natural world is a significant and important contributor to the prevalence and intensity of distress, emptiness and the feeling of ‘not belonging’ that is being witnessed throughout the developed and now developing world. Spending time in doors, living in built up areas and failing to be present with nature when in nature, have lead to what I call nature malnourishment. Contact and connection with nature provides our body, mind and soul with a deep level of nourishment, which in turn promotes vitality, emotional health and in deed spiritual growth and maturation. What’s more by feeling close to nature, we will be moved to naturally live our lives in a more sustainable and respectful way, one that honours and supports nature. Restoring that bond and connection is essential, not only for our sake, but also our planet. Helping my patients reconnect to their own nature, through nature, is something I have a deep passion for and I invite you to explore it further. I encourage you to start reading about nature connection and to spend regular quality time in nature. Why not consider growing an indoor plant and taking care of it? Why not consider exercising in nature? This could involve going for a walk or run, or even participating in a conservation project. ‘Green exercise’ as this is referred to, or simply being exposed to nature, has been found to lift mood, accelerate healing and help bring life challenges into perspective. When you are in nature, I invite you to really pay attention to nature by listening to her with your entire body. Be open and receptive to nature’s positive and healing influence on you. Other suggestions are wilderness trips and nature outings, such as Outward Bound and Vision Quests. The latter involves preparing to enter an area of wilderness with the intention of seeking wisdom or a vision. It is particularly well-suited to those who are going through and honouring a rite of passage. Wilderness camps are an increasingly popular way to assist emotionally disturbed children and adults with mental health challenges. One study found that participants who work through their fears and anxieties during this time in the wilderness experience greater self-esteem, a willingness to trust and deeper self-acceptance.
- Nature & The Human Soul by Bill Plotkin: www.natureandthehumansoul.com
- Ecotherapy by Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist
- Vision Quests: www.animus.org / www.ritesofpassagevisionquest.org / www.schooloflostborders.org
Author: Mark Atkinson