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Eco-therapy – Healing Power of Nature and ‘The Elements

Photo: Irena Grgona

Neil Armstrong commented:

“It is a brilliant surface in that sunlight. It’s an interesting place to be. I recommend it. “

Many astronauts once leaving earth’s gravity and feeling into their experience with ‘the elements’, shared similar feelings: humility, appreciation, awe at the incredible beauty and mystery of life.

Photo: Irena on Waterloo Bridge, London ‘Namaskara and Ardachakraasana’ at sunset

“When you contemplate the big, full sunrise, the more mindful and concentrated you are, the more the beauty of the sunrise is revealed to you. The present moment contains the whole of life.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell commented:

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag them a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a £&@%.”

Photo: Irena, Hampstead, London

We do not have to leave earth to experience awe! It’s available by connecting with the Elements which are always present.

Eco-therapy is ‘the ability of interaction with nature to enhance healing and growth’ (Summers, 2018)

BEING: connecting to Ourselves, Nature and ‘The Elements’

In recovery and therapeutic healing, we often believe that healing is something ‘to work on’. We tell ourselves: I need to journal, read this or that book, take a course, investigate my deepest darkest secrets..and the list goes. However, whilst all of these actions are helpful on our journey and have their rightful place, we often forget to just ‘BE’.

BEING mindfully connected to ourselves, nature & the elements (earth, sky, stars, wind, air, water) is healing and free. We are all connected. We live because we have a sun, air we breathe, water to drink, fire to warm ourselves, ground to grow our food. We forget that we are part of a whole. What eco or environmental psychologists are showing is that often we are disconnected because we forget to be in nature, to look at sunsets, to walk bare-feet on the grass or ground, to swim or sit by water and connect with animals.

Even if you live in urban environments there are parks, woodlands and secret gardens which can help you reconnect. The trick is to remember that nature is who we are.

Photo: Irena, Hampstead Ponds, London

Pioneering work by Environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich’s and especially his 1984 study showed that patients who looked at nature through windows recovered significantly better than patients who stared at brick walls. There is abundant and rigorous research clearly demonstrating that engaging with nature positively affects wellbeing and health throughout life.

If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life. It’s so clear. Mindfulness is the energy and practice that helps you go back to the here and now so that you encounter life.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

6 Suggestions to Start Eco-therapy

Below are tips to start you on your nature therapy. Much will depend on your own preferences and likes. The below might help you decide for yourself:

  1. Do you prefer to be alone or in groups?
  2. What type of environment is attractive to you: parks, woods, near water, mountains?
  3. Do you like being physically active?
  4. Would you consider incorporating another activity like your favourite sport (mine are yoga, dancing or cycling), drawing, writing or gardening?
  5. Adding more ‘green interactions’: do you have a garden, a balcony, access to allotments, or can you help a friend or neighbour with theirs? Have you thought of planting
  6. Do you like animals? There are many ways to get close to animals even in urban cities! Keep your eyes peeled! Can you pet sit? Can you join local volunteer organisations?
  7. Have you tried sitting besides trees alone, bare feet, being mindful of sounds, smells?

“When you sit alone, quietly, it’s something beautiful, even if nobody sees it”.

Thich Nhat Han