Mary Canane, LMHC

Healing With Nature Blog

Healing With Nature Blog | Mary Canane, LMHC

How Deep Is Your Love For Nature?


“ How deep is your love, how deep is your love? I really need to learn, cause we’re living in a world of fools, breaking us down, when they all should let us be.” Bee Gees

Can nature be the medicine for what ails you? Do you sometime feel overwhelmed, confused or angry with the state of the world? The appeal with Nature is that it is always available, free and giving. What might a good dose of being in a natural setting do for your health or well being? There is scientific evidence, now, that shows spending time in nature can improve depression and anxiety.

I have always been drawn to being outdoors. It is where I am happiest. When I think about my childhood, my fondest memories have to do with being outdoors. I was fortunate to grow up in Massachusetts where there were woods, farms and lakes. This was my playground. My friends and I created forts in the woods, ice skated across the lake and visited horses and ponies in nearby pastures. We explored many areas on our bikes, got lost in the woods and play acted on old farm equipment and boats. It was a rich life full of adventure and play.

So when I think about being in nature today, it’s something that I still wish to share with others. By creating retreats in nature, I’ve had many new playmates who have joined me in many adventures: kayaking, biking, white water rafting and swimming with wild manatees. Finding awesome places to stay in the mountains, woods or by rivers has given us full, rich experiences of hiking, campfires and sharing healthy meals.

This year I discovered a field in psychotherapy called Ecotherapy. In July, I attended a retreat and training in Virginia with the Earthbody Institute led by Ariana Candell. We had 15 nature lovers and about half of us are psychotherapists. This experience helped me deepen my relationship with nature, which is something I have been seeking on my own but had not figured out how to share it with others. What I have been seeking is a deeper connection with nature that reveals more about my own nature. It has felt very vague and unformed, so I kept these experiences to myself, not knowing how to present it to others or whether anyone would be interested. The training exposed me to ideas about sharing activities in a group or with individuals. I also got to practice holding reiki sessions outdoors with the help of nature around us. Beyond learning some new ideas, the chance to hang out with others who appreciate this connection was priceless.

Now I feel ready to venture out into nature with others to deepen our connection with the land, the elements, trees, rocks or enjoy the symbolism associated with wild life. It is also an opportunity to reflect and deepen our inner awareness and have more appreciation for ourselves, our struggles and our blessings. By sharing these experiences we all learn from each other and increase our appreciation of the natural world around us. Many people are troubled by the changes in environment, climate and development. We can share how we feel about these changes and unite in our love and appreciation of our world.

Exercise

Spend a few moments in nature experiencing it with all your senses. choose a place where you can move around freely.

Connect with the earth beneath you. Feel the energy in your body and notice the connection of your feet on the ground. Imagine the earth receiving your energy and you receiving energy from the earth. It doesn’t matter if you actually feel something, you can imagine it. Feel a deep appreciation for Mother Earth and her gifts.

Close your eyes and tune into the sounds around you. Notice the immediate sounds close by, man made or natural. Then pick up on sounds further away. If there are birds or insects, notice the different types. Pick up on sounds of the wind and notice the fluctuations. If you hear traffic or other man made sounds try to be aware of them without judgment.

Open your eyes and really see the colors around you. What pleases you? Displeases you? Experience the colors without thinking about it. Notice any movement or anything unusual or surprising.

Close your eyes again and become aware of scents and odors. see if you can identify different smells. Breathe in deeply and exhale slowly. Take your time.
Open your eyes and see what draws your attention. Walk around, mindfully, and discover something with touch. Really notice how it feels, try touching several things in a slow deliberate manner.
Find a place to sit or stand where you can intuitively connect with something from nature. It can be a tree or plant, clouds or the wind, an animal, bird or insect. Allow your intuition to guide you and let yourself be surprised or amazed. Ask for a message or guidance.

I truly hope you can find hidden blessings in experiencing this deeper connection. Mother Earth has much to give and deserves our love and gratitude!

When do you Retreat?

I looked up the definition of the word retreat and discovered that the origin of the word means “to draw back from”, it is “the act of withdrawing to a place of safety or seclusion.” As a noun, it is a “place of refuge or privacy.”

Our lives can get pretty busy and stressful. As a counselor, every day I see the effects of stress on people. Stress tends to have huge ripple effects into people’s health, relationships, job performance and can fuel addictions. We all know the studies that prove what effect stress has on us. Masking the stressors by working harder, denying health issues, drinking or overmedicating compound the accumulative effects of stress. This creates symptoms that become more difficult to change, creating more stress! Illness, divorce, money problems and addictions can, most of the time, be prevented!

So, what can be done to mange or reduce the effects of stress? Looking to retreat and draw back from all the stressors in life can also have a ripple effect. So HOW DO YOU retreat? What choices do you have each day to take a break, get out in nature, meditate, or play with a child or pet? Consider what ripple effect that would have on your health, emotions and how you treat others. How can you retreat on your day off? Can you spend some quiet time alone to reflect on the choices and possibilities that effect how you handle stressors in your life? Prayer, walks in nature, mindfulness in the present moment are all choices that can be placed into your routine to reduce the effects of stress.

Going to a place to retreat for a purposeful opportunity to unplug from daily responsibilities, from technology and from busyness can bring much needed recuperation and rejuvenation. But, much more, it can be a time to be alone and connect with your soul and listen for what you truly need to feel happy and fulfilled. Curiously, what I have discovered about myself, by retreating, has been courage. Promoting and marketing retreats takes me way out of my comfort zone but the inner desire to create these experiences with others pushes me on. I’m not really that adventurous, yet I have taken people to swim with wild manatees, a horseback riding camping trip, and white water rafting. I’ve fallen off horses ( and gotten back on ), braved the rapids twice, got lost on a biking trip and many more exciting adventures, so I have learned a lot about courage while letting passion be the driving force.

I also looked up the word treat. It means “ to attempt to heal or cure”, or can mean “ anything that affords a particular pleasure or enjoyment.” So what about Re - treating what you need? To treat what needs to heal means to become aware of your needs and continue treating until healed or cured. What about Re - treating yourself to fun, relaxation, new experiences and pleasures? What do these choices do for your soul?

It’s up to you to choose what ripples you wish to send out into the world. Can we really change the world with our everyday choices?
I think so!