Of all the neurotic, tamed and desensitized species of the world, we human beings are probably the worst.
Our increasing alienation from nature and all of her wonder, power, wisdom and beauty has led us to not only abuse and corrupt her without a second-thought but also to denigrate and sabotage ourselves in the process.
Conforming to the cookie-cutter image of what our lives should look like in our cult-ures has led us to become profoundly unhappy people. We hoard money and possessions in hopes of becoming rich, respectable and famous, we go on binges and perverse diets, we flood our brains with violence and hatred every night after dinner, we intoxicate and numb our senses to help us escape from our insecurities and empty existential holes, we lock up our animals and partners as an expression of “love,” we control, punish and sully our children, and we unthinkingly contribute to the destruction, exploitation and torture of millions of humans, animals and habitats in the world.
Our lives are often expressions of quiet desperation and smothered insanity painted with a shiny, happy veneer. It seems that despair – in one form or another – is always one step away from us.
But what if I was to tell you that we can heal ourselves of our perversions? What if I was to tell you that starting the path of healing is just as simple as taking a step outside?
There are many forms of therapy out there in the world, and all mostly involve sitting in a clean, sterile, carefully temperature-controlled room. Of course, there is nothing particularly wrong with this other than the fact that it is only one of many forms of healing yourself.
If you would like to explore the potential healing benefits of ecotherapy – also known as “green therapy” and “earth-centred therapy” – keep reading.
14 Simple and Inexpensive Ways Ecotherapy Can Restore Your Spirit
Ever since I was little I’ve had an immense love and fascination for nature. From creating my own “fairy garden,” following the silver trails of snails and slugs, and hiding in trees as a child, to cultivating my own herb gardens, growing my own vegetables, and being the weirdest shameless “tree-hugger” in existence as an adult, nature has always felt like home to me.
One of the main reasons why I practice ecotherapy as often as I can is because it is such an effortless way of reconnecting with the truth of existence, namely that:
- We are all animated by the same force that animates all of life. Therefore, we are all interconnected – not separate.
- Our problems and issues are very small and insignificant in the scheme of things.
- Life is an interplay of give and take – the more we give the more we receive, the more we take the more we must work to restore balance.
Not only that, but ecotherapy helps to clear the mind, rejuvenate the senses, invigorate the body and heal the heart. It has been proven that immersing yourself in nature has a host of positive health benefits such as reducing anxiety and depression, lowering blood pressure, boosting self-esteem, increasing physical vitality, fighting disease, and nurturing an interpersonal sense of belonging.
So keeping in mind all of these profound positives of ecotherapy, how can we go about introducing the practice in our lives?
1. Go for a walk.
Whether in your backyard, down the street, or in the closest park.
2. Sit outside and breathe in the scents of nature.
What smells can you pick up wafting gently in the air? Eucalyptus? Basil? Rose? Lavender? Nature is the best aromatherapist.
3. Walk on grass with your bare feet.
Be careful of dog poo and other nasties! Find a clean patch of grass, whether in your backyard or the local playground, and let your feet feel the ground. This is known as a form of “earthing” because it helps you to dispel stagnant energies from your body and absorb fresh, vibrant energies of the earth.
4. Sit under a tree (or hug it if you are brave).
Yes, I’m aware how hippy la-la this sounds, but bear with me for a few seconds. Trees hugging – although much maligned – has been scientifically proven to make you feel better. But you don’t need to cuddle a trunk to reap the benefits. Simply sitting with your back against a tree is a potent way to get back in touch with the innate joy of being.
5. Go bird-spotting.
How many birds can you name or newly discover?
6. Go feather/seashell collecting.
If you are fortunate enough to live near the ocean or near a woodland of some kind you might like to get creative and go on the lookout for beautiful natural trinkets. You might like to collect them for an art project, or you might like to just simply keep a private collection for your own pleasure.
7. Look up at the sky or look out at the ocean.
The sky and the ocean are some of the most soothing and symbolic aspects of nature. Whenever I have the time I love looking up and watching the night sky with the moon and stars reminding me of how tiny I truly am. The sky and ocean are vast, endless things, and therefore help to expand the mind and foster a feeling of expansiveness inside.
8. Plant a small garden.
Whether you like to garden privately or in a public gathering, nurturing and tending to life is immensely soothing and enjoyable. You could choose to plant flowers, herbs, vegetables, fruits or exotic species of plant – the options are endless.
9. Take a camera with you.
Kill two birds with one stone (excuse the ironic expression) and use your time in nature as an opportunity to unleash your inner artist. You might like to take a picture of cobwebs after rain has fallen, a beautiful lake, a rainbow, or numerous other scenes of natural beauty.
10. Collect flowers.
Collect and press flowers by flattening them out in a heavy book. Use them for hand-made cards or scrap-booking projects. Remember to give your thanks to nature for such a gift (and don’t get too greedy with the plucking!).
11. Make a bird nest and place it in a tree.
Whether you want to use sticks, pine needles, paper bags, or wood, this is an absorbing way to “give back” to nature.
Go hunting for wild, locally grown edibles – but remember to do your research (or you could … well … die).
13. Walk in the rain.
If the day isn’t too cold or miserable, walk in the light rain. Either take an umbrella, or allow your body to be exposed without any barrier. We are conditioned to hate the rain, but like cold shower hydrotherapy, the rain is not only immensely energizing (rain from the sky has a strange electrifying energy), but it is soothing as well to get back in touch with the elements. Make sure you change your wet clothes afterwards though!
14. Sit in silence, doing nothing.
You don’t necessarily have to “do” anything to reap the benefits of ecotherapy. Often doing nothing and simply “being” is the best way to get back in touch with yourself, others and the world at large.
Now more than ever, ecotherapy is an invaluable way of curing our neurotic human condition. Spending 10 minutes every day consciously reconnecting with nature could be all you need to revolutionize the way you live your life.
How do you plan to immerse yourself more in nature? Can you add anything to this list below in the comments? If so, I’d love to read your thoughts.