Nature teaches us a lot about what it takes to not only survive but to thrive in the world. It teaches us about resilience and our innate capacity to heal. Connecting to nature can remind us of our connection to the world and that we are not alone. It can physically help us center ourselves and be mindful of the scenery around us.
How does connecting with nature help us heal from trauma?
Here are three ways that connecting to nature helps us recreate our whole and healthier selves, and ultimately helps us heal from the wounds of trauma.
1. Nature can help us to ground – to feel rooted in our bodies and connected to our surroundings with present moment awareness.
When we develop the skills to ground, we can transform powerful, and traumatic, emotions with mindfulness, allowing them to become productive and unstuck. When we’re grounded we are able to touch into painful emotions and sensations without being overwhelmed. Trauma emotions stick in our body, and becoming unstuck from these emotions in a safe way requires us to be grounded.
2. Nature can help us find our power.
Trauma is a thief of our personal power, and it is incredibly liberating to regain that power. Nature provides us with opportunities and challenges that help us reconnect to our inner strength. Whether it’s finding the strength to complete a difficult challenge, discovering the patience and care to plant a garden, or feeling the safety in being in a natural place, nature has opportunities for powerful change.
3. Nature is an amazing teacher, full of metaphors and life lessons.
It is a vast and ever-changing tapestry of plants and animals, water and fire, earth and sky. Observing the how, what, when, where, and why of these changes often serves as a mirror to our own experiences in life, providing us with powerful insights on how we can grow and heal. In nature, we’re reminded that painful experiences do not have to define the rest of our lives.
When you’re out in nature here’s an activity you can do using all five of your senses; sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. Bring your awareness to your surroundings.
1. What do you see?
Pay attention to the different colors of the plants, trees and maybe animals.
2. Can you smell anything?
Pay attention to the smells of pine, fresh air, soil or water.
3. What can you hear?
Pay attention to the sounds, it could be the wind, birds chirping, moving cars, or the sound of you walking.
4. What are the sensations around your body?
Pay attention to what your body feels, feel the wind, stop and hug a tree, the rocks or dirt on your feet, pick up a rock and hold in your hand.
5. Can you taste anything?
Pay attention to the flavors inside your mouth maybe it’s the food you ate earlier.
Used with permission from: UNLV Care Center
Title: Student's Guide to Radical Healing zine
First edition: April 2020
Second edition: May 2021
The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University have ample opportunities for victim’s and survivor’s of trauma to get out in nature and enjoy the healing and calming aspects of being in the natural world. There are multiple healing benefits of being out in nature, whether gardening, hiking, or playing. Get out and hike and enjoy the outdoors on either campus.
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