Ubiquitously we are surrounded by risks in life; we are constantly being pressured, challenged and pushed. Being under these constant pretenses causes a universal feeling of stress. The prescription that has followed to mitigate these stresses are usually in the forms of medicine, types of a condensed elements that help numb the tension and strain that we knowingly apply onto our mental and physical bodies. In this week’s readings, I agree that we are in need of some Vitamin N in our lives if we are expected to heal both physically and mentally. A quote that started my progression into putting myself with and in nature is,
“Humans living in landscapes that lack trees or other natural features undergo patterns of social, psychological, and physical breakdown that strikingly similar to those observed in animals that have been deprived of their natural habitat.”
Remembering that I am nothing more than another animal is humbling to my sense of being. We as a species may be highly “developed” in sense of social structures, scientific knowledge, having the use of five appendages, learning and retaining “intelligence” but simple reminders that I am just another animal here to “eat, sleep, procreate” are very comforting. I often find myself becoming so absorbed in the tasks for the day: drop this at so and so’s desk, fill in time-sheet, write reflection, meet with Kate to help her do that drama thing, pay phone bill, don’t forget to eat, make list for the list of things to do, that I forget that I am just another animal. And yes, I understand that with our complexities in society there are certain things expected of me to complete and withhold but sometimes it is nice to just stand back and realize that in all the essence of craziness, we are just animals.
In exploring nature, I think it is important to bring ourselves down from a hierarchical state and let ourselves be seen in within nature, never above it only then can we benefit from holistic healing. In Patricia Hasbach’s ecotherapy she testing what she calls “mapping the internal landscape”. When I first read this, I began thinking, what would the landscape of my mind look like if I was to walk through it now? Trying to envision what this may look like, I try to walk through my mind. What I see is a black room full of a stack of lists upon lists of things to accomplish. Near at my feet are things I must accomplish soon and at the back there are my future goals. In the middle stand the people that are important to me, I see them kicking their feet, some with flashing signs saying you missed their birthdays, and another is saying you should call me soon. I know this image all so well. In fact, I am in my internal map a fair bit.
Walking to school, I walk on a gravel road, where I pass a small hidden park, sometimes my neighbors have a fire going, I can smell the strong smoke that touches my body, I see the recently fallen leaves, but above all I see these things through calculated eyes. I see the tangible and the explainable. I read my surroundings not with my spirit and soul only my mind. In fact, I usually can see and notice changes in my environment, such as I have noticed that every week the Mündel’s part of the alley is drenched in a substance, which I have explained to myself as some sort of watering system. I can make these types of analyses all while consulting my task list in my head. I think this week’s readings eludes the stark issue in that in healing from your environment, from nature, is that you have to truly immerse yourself in it. I comprehend that the readings are a factual representation of trials and studies that concur that nature can heal a person but more importantly, at least for myself, I want to learn not that it works but how to do so in a way that both nature and I are mutually benefited. Outdoor exercise or green exercises for example, in my opinion, are petty examples of how to heal through nature. First of all, when I think of “exercise” or working out at all, in any manner, I automatically am reminded of pain or a time where I am forcing myself through something I thought I had to do because my body needed. In this sense, it just becomes another one of my daunting tasks. Therefore, why must we call it exercise? Why can we not just say, “oh… I’m going to go experience nature” or “oh, I’m going to go look for my peak experience in nature” or “oh… I’m going to have my Pocahontas moment with nature”. Using the word, ‘exercise’ to me diminishes the full meaning of what can be gathered in and through nature. To me it is similar to the concept of ‘putting the headphones on and in’ while being in nature. The semantics of connecting with nature then should mimic the peak experience that you can derive from it. So please help me, other than my poor explanation of engaging with your inner Pocahontas, tell me what you call connecting with nature? What do you call the action of healing with and from nature?
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