Being in Nature helps us to connect to ourselves and to our emotions. Doing so is vitally important if we are to truly address what ails our soul. By allowing Nature to embrace us, and by that I mean quite literally to touch our skin, to impact our sense of smell, hearing, sight, … our feelings of sadness, anger, impotence, and frustration can surface and can find safe expression. It's as if our body and psyche allow themselves to open up to the energy and beauty of natural surroundings when we purposefully decide to lose ourselves in Nature.
I am reminded of Jane Goodall’s words in an interview she gave in 2013 about the healing effect of plants:
“It’s been proven by quite a few studies that plants are good for our psychological development. If you green an area, the rate of crime goes down. Torture victims begin to recover when they spend time outside in a garden with flowers. So we need them, in some deep psychological sense, which I don’t suppose anybody really understands yet.”
There is a growing movement called Ecotherapy. An increasing number of therapists and doctors are becoming aware of the health benefits of spending time outside and are 'prescribing' time in Nature. I have no doubt that spending time in the outdoors, among living plants, acts as a healing force on us. It’s not only the fact that we are among breathing organisms but also that we are being active by moving our bodies and in so doing, breaking the blocked energy inside of us. By being actively engaged with plants and soil -- pulling, digging, lifting, tilling, and planting -- we allow Nature to enter our bodies and in turn help us heal deep wounds. It is a transformative experience, what some even call a form of 'awakening.'
This physical activity in a natural surrounding helps to release the wrought-up tension within us that often, following trauma, has solidified into one solid, agonizing block. Physical exertion in a natural setting helps break the static, emotional energy that has atrophied within us. And the repetitive action of farming or gardening work is often zen-like in its effect. It is a form of oxygenated meditation. No need for a mat when you are working beneath the canopy of a tree and its root system spreads beneath your feet deep into the Earth. When you've spent five hours picking fruit over several days, your brain truly senses a release from stress and a slowing down of 'mind-chatter.' And as that happens, all our senses open up to the healing properties of Nature and amplify the body's natural desire to heal itself.
To that end, I have been honoured to welcome visitors seeking to transform their brokenness into a journey of healing. I gently show them how to reconnect physically with leaves, bark, flowers, indeed any plant that finds its way into that day's activity, and in so doing they open themselves up to the healing properties of Nature. For privacy reasons, I don't write about those who have come to stay with us at La Bonita. Yet, today, I have chosen to post this piece, and with the permission of two loss mothers -- one who flew from the US to be with us last month, and another who travelled down from Madrid earlier in the year -- to publish this blog post accompanied by two photos.
As I have written before, I really do believe that it’s vitally important that the bereaved and those suffering from a traumatic experiences find a safe way to externalize their feelings whilst as the same time feeling connected to others and their surroundings. I would suggest that physical activity in Nature is ideal as a means to bring these emotions to the surface. In being close to Nature we allow ourselves to walk step by step through the trauma to a place of acceptance. Nature's energy is cathartic and truly can transform our suffering into healing.
For more information about our Healing Retreats, click here.