Winter Invitation: Nature as a Healing Path
Did you know that spending time in nature with a transformative intent can change your life for the better?
I didn’t, at least not consciously.
I grew up in Los Angeles amidst more concrete underfoot than bare earth. I thought nature was boring.
And yet, on my walks to elementary school I spoke regularly with two trees, which I viewed as a mother and child. Everyday I fed them with a small stick that functioned like a straw.
Only now do I see that this daily ritual was my way of addressing my hunger for mothering and reflected an innate knowing of the healing power of nature.
This power remains under our cultural radar and continues to be discounted as “woo-woo.”
Even so, recent research, including my own, reveals what many of us already know: Nature heals!
Health benefits include the reduction in cortisol (a stress hormone), pulse rate and blood pressure, and the strengthening of the immune system.1
Psychological benefits include an increase in self-esteem, a clearing of the mind, and a greater sense of connectedness, wholeness, and meaning.2
As hopeful as this information is, I wish to push the cultural envelope beyond the idea of spending time IN nature to spending time WITH nature.
My research, which focused on the obstacles women face in engaging their calling, included direct conversations with the earth.
The participants asked questions of nature such as: What is my calling? and, What is the obstacle to my calling?
They spent time outdoors allowing themselves to be drawn to different aspects of nature as a means of receiving guidance.
As a result, these women experienced an INCREASE in:
Motivation to take actions toward their dreams
A sense of belonging and support
Awareness of the need for self-care
In addition there was a DECREASE in:
Feelings of being stuck or blocked
So why do we shy away from such a rich source of support?
Many of us are stopped by the CRITIC.
The cultural critic might tell you. “Don’t even think of speaking to a tree. What are you, nuts?”
A personal critic might say, “What’s the point, nothing will come of it. Anyway, you don’t have the time for this.”
Does this sound familiar?
For the critic anything new is deemed dangerous. It’s job is to keep everything the same.
Just as the critic cannot hold back the seasons, it cannot hold you back if you don’t let it. This winter I invite you to walk right past the critic and into nature.
Ritual for Change:
Exploring the Healing Power of Nature
Here are a few tips to open and deepen your conversations with nature. I hope that they help you respond to the introspective call of winter.
• Bring offerings (e.g. corn, chocolate, tobacco, a song, or anything that you feel nature wants to receive from you.)
• Set your intention to converse with nature about a specific theme or question in our life. Allow yourself to be drawn to a particular place, or nature being.
• When you feel you have arrived, introduce yourself (get ready for the critic to speak up at this point, if it has not already!) and give some offerings.
• Have your conversation. It may arise in silence, through speech, or both.
• Everyone has natural capacities for subtle communication. Pay attention to your inner ear, inner eye, inner knower, bodily sensations and impulses, even subtle taste and smell!
• As always accept what occurs. There is no right or wrong way to do this, and there is no failure.
• When you feel complete, give thanks.
• As always, if you received any guidance, take action on it.
Support for working with the healing power of Nature:
Working with a mentor or within a group helps deepen and clarify this practice.
As such, I would like to offer a free 45 minute phone consultation to the first three people who request it.
You can contact me at email@example.com. I look forward to connecting.
May we come to know ourselves as the living earth and allow the deep imagination that is ignited in these sacred conversations to guide our actions and fill the world with soul.
1. Environmental Health Preventative Magazine, 2010 Jan; 15(1): 18-26 and Journal of Biological Regulation Homeostasis Agents, 2008 Jan0Mar, 22 (1): 45-55.
2. Psychological Benefits of Nature Experiences: John Davis Ph.D. July 2004, University of Noropa and School of Lost Borders.
3. Aninha Esperanza Livingstone, The Feminine Face of Destiny: an Ecological Perspective, Meridian University, 2011.