The Essence of Ecotherapy

Awaiting the arrival of my community, I create what will shelter us from the storm yet invite in contact with the elements.

Awaiting the arrival of my community, I create what will shelter us from the storm yet invite in contact with the elements.

“It’s important to redirect our attention to what Mother Nature has to offer,” she says. “It helps foster communication. If we see a hawk flying overhead, one of my adolescents might talk about his interest in birds, and then about his general interests. Or a woman might observe the beauty of the fall foliage, and that might spark a conversation that can relate back to her personally.”

“Bad weather is a metaphor for life,” she says. “Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to, but it’s important to get outside.”

-Quote from the Boston Globe Article: New Course of Treatment

The other day I was doing a talk on the model of Oaks Counsel.  This offering came to me as I thought about what I do and felt into the teachings as something that is not to be held closely to the chest but rather shared with a community in all ways possible. Forgetting about money, time, effort and leaning fulling into the greater value of this.  Even more so, I thought of how I have lived these teaching in my life and how every fiber of my being is screaming out, "SHARE THIS WITH THE WORLD! It is what you are meant to do!"  I wondered about the barriers that stood in the way of spreading the word to the community and how I could best eliminate those barriers in the small town of Nevada City and Grass Valley and beyond into the larger surrounding communities, Sacramento and Reno, as well as across this country and globally.

Then, as I stood in the excitement of this calling and the anticipation of this free talk offering, in what can be considered one of the driest areas of California, it rained! And well, I wondered how much the rain would be a barrier for people to come out into nature to talk.  But out I went with tarp and rope in hand, ready to construct our shelter from the storm and huddled under awaiting the arrival of my community.  And the joy that arouse in the puddle stomping, singing in the rain, hair frizzing, hand freezing, curl in, run about on the earth moments made me come alive, nourished by it all just as the land was.

Yes, weather, and everything in nature is a metaphor for life: the good, the bad, the ugly, the pleasant, the discomfort, the struggles and nourishments that informs us in ways we may only become conscious of in time as the seasons in and outside of ourselves continue to change.

I felt the cold air as I stepped in puddles and my bare wet hands wrestled with various unhelpful lengths of rope, tying knots in a peaceful way. And as I spoke of the model with joy and excitement to my audience, the rain came and went.  The tarp would rise up high in gusts of strong winds, letting light into the shelter, the brightness would always surprise me.  Then the tarp would drop down and hit us on the head.  When I would speak of the parts of our self that are dark and call us to ask us who we are, we sat under the shadow of the tarp; when I spoke of the creativity and wild and wise parts of self the tarp lifted in full force.  When speaking of orienting to our sense and experiencing the world through the body; the birds chirped, the rocks beneath us were felt, and the deep noticing of the intricate and delicate parts of plants revealed themselves.  In the conversation of acknowledging our gifts to the world, the rain stopped and there was no need for the tarp any longer, it was time to be revealed to the world. 

There are so many times when I have taken clients out on walks and trees, animals, winds have spoken loud and clearly about deeply intricate personal stories and feelings.  This is the most beautiful part of doing this work outside, it connects us with a knowing that we are greater than the idea we have of ourselves, we belong to something greater, we are connected to the world around us, and just as it gifts to us, we gift to it!

Nature mirrors us, and we mirror it.  It is important to bring our attention to mother nature and to allow ourselves to experience the deeply personal experience of all that nature communicates with us.    This is the essence of eco-therapy.