Rooted Ecotherapy Newsletter
February 2023 Edition
Try this Exercise to Connect with Nature
Engaging in a mindfulness exercise can be a great way to connect with your surroundings and build your relationship with nature. Next time you are in a natural setting, try the following exercise:
Start off by finding a comfortable position, perhaps sitting on a bench or standing with both of your feet grounded. Take a couple deep breaths to connect with the present moment. Notice any tension that may be in your body or any strong emotions that are coming up.
As you settle into this position, begin to notice your surroundings. Perhaps there are trees, plants, clouds, a body of water, or a view. Pick something in your surrounding that stands out to you. Try to notice as many details about this piece of nature as you can. If you are noticing a tree, perhaps pay attention to texture of the bark or the variety of colors that you see. Think of this exercise as “zooming in” to notice the details that didn’t initially stand out to you. If you can touch this piece of nature, notice what it feels like. Is it rough, jagged, smooth? Does it have any patterns that you can notice? See if you can notice the smallest details of this piece of nature. What do you see? Are you noticing any surprises? Perhaps an insect you didn’t see at first, or an interesting characteristic of this piece of nature?
When you are ready, begin to “zoom out,” paying attention to the larger details and the context surrounding this item you are focused on. Do you notice anything new? Does this piece of nature feel a little more familiar? Before leaving this spot, take a few breaths and check in with your body. Any new emotions arising after this exercise?
Ecotherapy Around the World
The idea of spending time in nature to support wellbeing and mental health is not a new idea. For thousands of years communities around the world have emphasized connection with nature. Each month, I’ll be sharing about how folks around the globe, presently and in the past, have connected with nature.
The Māori are an indigenous Polynesian community of mainland New Zealand, whose beliefs, practices, and values are deeply connected with the natural environment. The Māori believe that humans are not above nature, but rather a part of nature. Thus, many of their practices are centered on living in harmony with the natural world, such as being considerate of how land is utilized and what resources are being taken from nature. Māori believe that the relationship between humans and the natural world is reciprocal. If we harm nature, we harm ourselves. Conversely, if we nourish and care for nature, it will heal us. To learn more about the how Māori relate to and live in harmony with nature, please check out the link below to a short video.