The full web page version can be found at: http://www.journeyofhearts.org/jofh/resources/nature2.
Nature Awareness as a
Coping Strategies using Nature
Sigurd OlsonListening to and Learning from Nature
Visit the wilderness, sit quietly and just listen. The sounds, sights and scents of nature surround the visitor in peace and beauty. Answers to troubling questions may be found on the wind, in the trees, in the song of the birds, in the sound of a rushing stream, and in the stillness of a redwood forest. If one listens to the voices of nature he/she may learn from her infinite, immeasurable wisdom.
Morihei UeshibaVisualization of Nature
Nature imagery and visualization can be used for reducing stress, relaxing and coping with life’s pressures. This technique can also be practiced during those times when a person may want to escape outside, but cannot physically get out of doors.
Joseph CornellAttraction to Special Nature Places
Those drawn to nature know there are certain places that entice them to visit, holding a special attraction. Whether a mountain top, a sunny field, an ocean beach, a forest stream, an alpine lake, a coastal hike, or a fern-filled canyon these different sanctuaries can be soothing, relaxing, and instill a sense of peace. Many nature locations can also be conducive to meditation and inspire creativity.
To maximize the benefits of nature awareness, it is important to discover the special places, to pay attention to the sites that have had special or emotional pulls, to determine what it is that has drawn us to the place—whether water, mountain, vegetation, season of year, overall environment or just the sense of tranquillity. Whether visiting again in person, or just visualizing the area in the mind’s eye, these special places can be used in the future for their therapeutic benefits to help quiet the mind, relieve stress or instill a sense of hope.
My heart is tuned to the quietness
Hazrat Inayat KhanNaturalist Sigurd Olson would take quotes, poetry or philosophy copied on scraps of paper along on his canoe trips. Once in the wilderness, he would pull out the paper, read it, and think about what the words meant to him. One can imagine getting lost in the moment or reflection, and completely falling into the rhythm of the place.
Anne Morrow LindberghPracticing stillness meditation is very simple. Arrange for some time to be alone. Find a quiet place. Once there think of a favorite quote, or a saying. Concentrate on the meaning, or just sit and listen to the silence.
Mother TeresaWalking Meditation
Thich Nhat HanhMeditation can be enhanced while walking along a meaningful route, by reflecting upon or reciting a favorite quotation or just focusing on the surroundings. Walking can be a beneficial adjunct to the meditation process and as previously mentioned healing from grief.
Linus MundyA variation on walking meditation is grief walking, as a means of using a physical activity to counter balance the strong emotions exhibited during grief. Walking can be used as a way of healing the grief following a loss—step by step. It can be a way of "being" with the essence of a person lost to death by remembering him/her while walking with them in a spiritual sense.
The grief walking process involves four basic segments:
1. Breathing: Being consciously aware of the air moving in and out of the chest. Focusing on breathing helps center a person, make them more mindful, attentive and feel connected.Grief Walk/Prayer Walk/Walking Meditation
In the labyrinth the set path
takes you to the center;
Reverend Dr. Lauren ArtressLabyrinths have seen a resurgence of interest of late. These archetypes are being used as a spiritual tool, or a healing modality in a variety of settings from churches and schools to hospitals and prisons. By blending visual symbolism with the process of walking, labyrinths create a walking meditation that can be used to enhance awareness, reduce stress, quiet the mind and open the heart. While following the ancient pattern, the walker’s attention is focused on the process of stepping, placing one foot in front of the other and breathing in controlled, regulated manner.
Four different paths for using the labyrinth have been described. Each path revolves around a different focus of meditation:
Sharon KiddBy hiking in nature and taking the time to notice and reflect on the surroundings—trees, plants, animals, wildflowers—one can find many therapeutic benefits. In therapeutic hiking the hiker is encouraged to focus on nature and how nature survives, to look at the little things surrounding them or even under foot—things that are often missed when walking lost in thoughts.
While therapeutically hiking, one becomes more aware of the life cycle. By being in a forest, the beach, a lake—one can see the decay and death, and also restoration and renewal. Birth and death are a part of the life cycle. Looking at how nature copes with adversity, one can find countless examples of inner strength and the ability not only to survive disasters, destruction, hardship, and loss, but to continue to grow and thrive:
Henry E. WoodruffTherapeutic Hiking can be particularly beneficial when the examples of survival and healing noticed along the trail. Wounded trees are powerful examples of life continuing despite disaster or tragedy and the recuperative abilities of nature. In nature death is a natural occurrence and accepted. Plants and animals die, decay and new life grows from their dying. Becoming more attuned to and appreciating the survival cycle of nature, may provided the bereaved with profound insights into coping with life’s problems, challenges and struggles.
Ways of Getting in Touch with
Anaïs NinMany of the following suggestions can be utilized as effective coping strategies for dealing with stress or grief. These experiences are the essence of nature awareness.
Smells to Savor
These are divided up by seasons, but many of these sensations can be experienced at any time.
Never a day passes but that I
do myself the honor
George Washington CarverThe healing experiences of the outdoors and the wilderness should be included in the therapeutic armament of physicians as a powerful natural ally in treating a variety of disease. In particular, utilizing nature awareness has been beneficial in treating those who are depressed or dealing with the grief response following a loss. With the increasing acceptance of and desire for complementary and integrative medicine, it is likely that in the not so distant future doctors will prescribe a therapeutic hike, a grief walk, stillness meditation or other variations of nature awareness as an adjunctive therapy for patients suffering from a variety of ailments.
Nature can serve as a very valuable therapist to help the grieving and the ailing in discovering their inner forces by using visual examples of nature overcoming adversity ever-present in the wilderness. She can also be a constant source of solace, a trusted companion and a close friend who is always ready listen to help the bereaved in finding their inner forces, refocus, deal with the grief process and discover a sense of peace following a loss.
Sigurd OlsonWhatever the method used, be it walking, running, strolling, sitting or wheeling, there are many therapeutic benefits to be gained by get in touch with nature and experiencing the wisdom what she has to offer. There are many insights and adventures waiting to be discovered.
The charm of a woodland road
lies not only it its beauty but in anticipation.
Dale Rex Coman
This article on Nature Awareness started as Part 1: The Healing Qualities of Nature.
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