How does nature help us heal from trauma?
Nature is a container and support for healing. When we are with nature it allows us to feel more at ease, to feel relaxed, to feel a sense of safety, well-being and connection. All of these experiences are antidotes to the support of healing trauma.
It has been shown that spending just 5 minutes in nature allows our heart rate to slow, facial muscles to relax and the prefrontal cortex to quiet. Also, when we hear water and birdsong and are surrounded by natural landscapes this can improve our mood and alertness. After spending 15 minutes in nature we experience a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol and after an hour and a half we can reduce our mental preoccupation with problems and feel more connected to others and the world.
Nature benefits the exact areas and systems of the mind and body that are affected by trauma. Nature is an essential part of humanity’s survival and well-being. Disconnection from nature can leave us feeling uprooted and displaced, and since trauma often creates a feeling of displacement, returning to nature can help us to re-experience ourselves, feel more embodied and develop a sense of health and wholeness
What are mindfulness in nature practices?
Nature invites us to be mindful. Think of a time recently when you were touched by an experience of nature, maybe you noticed the colors of a budding flower, or were captured by a moment of birdsong, or you paused to notice the movement of wind in the trees. This is mindfulness in nature.
Mindfulness with nature is learning to practice presence to the breath, the body, the mind, and the heart in a natural setting to give us greater access to our inner experiences with the support of nature. We are more likely to feel naturally present and curious when supported by a natural landscape. Nature herself provides the container for a mindfulness practice that reduces the need to “do” and instead helps us to sense and receive what is arising and to be present within us and around us.
Nature supports our intention to be present and allures us to be present with the moment as it is. As we learn to be present to what we are experiencing now with kindness, receptivity, openness and curiosity we can develop skillful ways to experience life. In the book we explore various ways to practice mindfulness of the breath, the senses, the body, and the elements with the support of nature. This helps to establish greater awareness to our inner terrain to help evolve into somatic nature healing practices, awakening our aliveness with nature and helping to in turn heal nature.
What is somatic healing?
Somatic healing is based in somatic experiencing- a trauma informed therapy that teaches how to be increasingly present to sensations, thoughts and emotions related to trauma and learning through various practices how to allow the trauma to transform, release and leave the body. Somatic therapy approaches trauma from the perspective that trauma is stuck in the body- as the body never had a chance to heal and find regulation and restoration from the difficult event. With unhealed, or stuck trauma in the body, the nervous systems experiences dysregulation causing challenges in life with physical, mental and emotional well-being, which ultimately can cause strain in our relationships and engagement in unhealthy behaviors.
With somatic healing you learn to develop a sense of being “embodied” present to and at home in your body, feeling all mental and emotional and physical sensations safely. This sense of embodiment helps to allow us to make healthy and skillful choices. As somatic healing grows, you are able to move towards the stored trauma in your body, able to explore the barriers related to the stored trauma, and find new impulses of healing awakening and healing the body to experience more health and wholeness.
In the book we draw on the support of nature to aid in safety, care, and guidance with somatic practices to help us lovingly and kindly meet the trauma within. Establishing connection to the natural embodied presence of nature herself, we can begin to awaken to this nature within ourselves
How do nature, mindfulness and somatic healing support resolving trauma?
Our inner ecosystems have often become disrupted, dys-regulated and are out of balance after we experience trauma. When we begin to have practices that support us to heal these inner ecosystems, we can find health and wholeness in our lives again.
Nature, mindfulness and somatic healing themselves respective ecosystems for us to learn to connect to allowing us to resolve and transform trauma. Mindfulness in nature is the doorway to becoming aware, reducing our reactivity and learning to feel compassion, kindness and acceptance of our experiencing. Somatic healing in nature helps us to reinhabit the body in a way that feels safe and restores balance to our brain, body, psyche and relationships. And nature is the container for this support in healing.
It can be hard to find a sense of ease, relaxation or calm when meditating or learning somatic practices to heal trauma. Being in relationship with nature to support our ability to practice mindfulness and somatic healing threads the potential to resolve trauma with more ease and restoring the health of our inner-ecosystems.
Nature’s impulse is to thrive, to adapt to be resilient and heal. We are made of nature. We have this capacity to. By weaving together these ecosystems of healing into our inner ecosystems we can establish the same capacity to heal, adapt, become more resilient and resolve our experiences of trauma.
What are the benefits that evolve through these healing practices?
Benefits that evolve through theses healing practices are first to establish clear and kind awareness within and with natural world; second, to cultivate the capacity to explore the difficult terrain of trauma within with the support of nature; third to experience more deeply ones wholeness and unique expression of life; and finally, to ultimately learn to aid in healing the trauma of the Earth from one’s individual trauma healing with nature.
As practices are developed over the course of the book one might experience a sense of restoration, calm, or relaxation in one’s nervous system. There is the ability to sense more deeply the connection to nature and the reciprocity available in healing. As trauma is healing through the practices in the book a release and transformation of trauma can occur where one can learn to see the beauty, intelligence and unique gifts that arise from trauma. Benefits of feeling more alive, embodied, in balance, open, curious, compassionate, caring, fierce gratitude and loving towards oneself, others and the planet are all possibilities to arise from these healing practices.
How does Healing with Nature help heal others and the Earth?
My hope is that as we heal our inner experiences of trauma with the reciprocity and wisdom of nature, that we are inspired and drawn to act to give back to heal the trauma’s the Earth is currently experiencing.
Each person is on their own unique path to healing. I hope that as each person awakens to their healing with nature- they see the unique offering that nature is offering in her healing of their trauma and that there is a spark, a light, and a direction to choose to help heal her.
There is a theory in the understanding of trauma, that unhealed trauma begets more trauma. My hope is that by healing our own trauma with nature, we beget more healing of the trauma of the Earth. My wish is that the wisdom in these healing practices heals trauma for each individual it touches, for the collective its connected to and to the Earth herself.