“We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” – Andy Goldsworthy
In 2009, my good friend, Debora, asked me if I would be up for going camping in the woods with her. I turned her down. I wasn’t at that time the kind who would want to be outdoors. It seemed in my mind that it would be too messy and uncomfortable. A part of me was conditioned at an early age to be indoors. My mother was rather strict and I missed out on many camping invitations. Debora planted a seed in me then about nature. She had a way of planting seeds in my life that made me pause and reflect, that would bloom later in unexpected ways.
A few years later, I started to make my way and wanted to find out for myself about what nature could gift me. Before you know it, I had gone to Costa Rica to stay in a treehouse which then led to my fascination with treehouses. I had also signed up for an ecotherapy program to get my certification to start leading groups out in nature. As I dug deeper, I realized through my own experience and from research that nature is good medicine. The highlights of what I found from my research from the Greater Good Science Center and Yale Environment 360:
1)In order to feel healthy and have a strong sense of well being, you need only 2 hours per week of being outdoors in nature.
2)People who live in green spaces reported declines in cortisol levels and less stress.
3)Nature has positive effects on people’s heath – physically, mentally and emotionally. Lowers blood pressure, reduces nervous system arousal, enhances immune system function, reduces anxiety and improves mood.
Given what I knew and discovered, I felt drawn to infuse nature in my coaching work. I’ll share a short story here to help illustrate how nature can be quite the teacher and healer.
Several years ago, one of my clients had a moment of indecision and restlessness. She had been challenged with feeling stuck in a toxic relationship with her business partner. It had been a decade of working together and was feeling quite torn about whether to let go of this partner. As strong and brilliant as she was, she wasn’t able to move forward with it emotionally and felt very drained. One day, I invited her to come out with me for a walk. Reluctantly, she said yes. She was a busy woman and would have preferred to meet in her office where it was going to be more convenient. After an hour of going on this walk and as we sat down to reflect on her intentions and what she observed, she had an epiphany. Something from nature shifted something in her. The following week, she finally had the courage and insights necessary to let her business partner go.
Today, I’m thrilled and grateful to be in this work of supporting individuals and groups with their challenges using nature as one of my resources. Topics have included self discovery, connection, and purpose. Some takeaways from these experiences have been: “I need to do this more often.” “I forget that nature is here all around us.” “ It’s good to be able to slow down.”
Here’s a testimonial I had hosted for a traveler through an Airbnb experience:
“A most amazing and unique experience, not only walking in the redwood forest, but totally being aware of all your senses whilst walking into the forest, connecting and communicating with nature, the trees, the smells, the foliage. Beautifully guided by Joy through her deep knowledge, understanding and compassion for nature, life, and creation. not to be missed, a true individual perspective on how you feel and see nature. heightening your senses and being inspired to give permission to your inner creative expression. heart and soul opening. highly recommended and the best choice ever after a long haul flight from London. I felt like dancing with the trees and nature.”
Personally, I have made some big and hard decisions through my nature walks. Through noticing what comes to me, journaling about the experience and allowing myself to deeply listen, I often will have a sense of knowing. Often, it is hard for the rational mind to comprehend why. And time after time, it’s been the most aligned decision that I knew I had to make even though it would be a difficult one.
I continue to learn and grow in this journey of connecting with nature for guidance. Still very curious. It’s been a passionate love affair and I intend to commit to this until my last breath.
Deep bows to you, Mother Earth, for being the pathway to human health and happiness.
“There I feel that nothing can befall me in life—no disgrace, no calamity (leaving me my eyes), which nature cannot repair.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson