Most of us have experienced a feeling of relaxation or revitalization after spending time in nature. But how can nature help us heal? What are we referring to when we talk about healing through nature?
We can feel nature’s healing effects from subtle to profound ways, on a physical level or on an emotional or even spiritual level. Here are three ways nature can help us heal:
1. Healing the Body
We know that herbal remedies and plant-based diets can accelerate healing and keep our bodies strong. Most pharmaceuticals are based on healing compounds originally found in plants. Nature clearly provides us with a wide array of medicines to heal our bodies, but simply immersing ourselves in nature can also be healing.
Scientists have found that evergreen trees secrete natural chemicals known collectively as phytoncide, which help boost our immune system. The air in forests and near rivers has a high concentration of negative ions that increase serotonin levels and reduce depression, fatigue and stress. Multiple studies have shown that levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline decrease when people spend time in nature, and blood pressure drops too. Learn more.
Forest bathing or forest therapy is a wonderful way to experience the forest with all five senses, and reap the health benefits that the forest has to offer. At Ewassa we also host Art in the Forest sessions, which offer the same benefits as forest therapy but are fun for all ages to participate in. Explore upcoming forest therapy events at Ewassa here.
Laying on the ground, leaning against a tree, or taking off your shoes when out walking in nature can accelerate the process of balancing through grounding. I recommend spending at least 10 minutes every morning and afternoon/evening outside, with your body directly touching the earth in some way. Just this simple practice can significantly increase your overall feeling of well-being.
2. Providing Life Perspective
As we slow down to watch a bird soar gracefully and weightlessly across the sky, listen to squirrels chatter in the trees, or observe the ants busily working together, we glimpse the continuous flow of life that extends beyond our selves.
The trees, the flowers, the birds, the insects and the animals share the same vitality and life force that flows through us. We’re all bound by the same cycles of birth, fragile infancy, growth, strength, survival, procreation, maturation, decline, and eventually death. We all prepare the world in some way for the life that will follow us. Realizing this can create a deep sense of connection to the rest of the world that is both anchoring and uplifting.
Spending time in nature can help us release the rigidity of “should’s” and “must’s” and fixed notions of how things should be, to soften to embrace a world of beautiful imperfection. Relaxing our perspective on life can help reduce stress and perceive new paths or options.
One of my favorite lines from a movie comes from The Power of One, when Morgan Freeman’s character says “The answer to every question you have can be found in nature.” This struck a deep chord when I heard it many years ago, and over time I’ve found it to be true. When I spend time in nature meditating on a question about my life, I almost always find some sort of clarity or an insightful shift in perspective. I simply need to open my eyes and mind so that I can perceive the metaphors in the cycles of nature, and there I find my answer.
3. Emotional and Psychological Healing
Nature can also offer opportunities for emotional or psychological healing. The reminder of our own eventual death as a tiny piece of the majestic and continuous ebb and flow of life can help us push past our pain or trauma and strive to make the most of the short time we have here.
As we delve deeper into the cycles of nature, the four elements and how they are mirrored in our own lives and psychological landscape, we find powerful tools for positive transformation. For example if your inner fire and creativity is weak, we can perform a fire ritual to re-ignite the spark of inspiration that propels and keeps you moving forward. If you’re having issues with finances or finding work we can examine your situation and work with the energies of the element earth to regain balance. If the waters of your emotions are stagnant or stuck, we can create a ceremony or ritual using pure river water or sea water to help release them.
When we engage elements of nature as part of a ritual of release or rebalancing, it amplifies our intentions and brings potent results.
Nature healing offers something for everyone, wherever you are at in your life. You can seek out nature for relaxation and rebalancing, to help gain insight and perspective on your life, or to create powerful rituals that work on a deeper emotional or psychological level.
If you’d like to experience the healing power of nature, please visit our events page and sign up for any event that calls to you.