Rooted Ecotherapy Newsletter
April 2023 Edition
Spring has arrived!
The flowers are starting to bloom, the leaves are bursting on the tress, birds are returning from their winter journeys south, and much of the foliage is that bright Spring green. Spring has sprung! Spring is an excellent time to re-engage with nature as temperatures climb and the natural world awakens from a Winter slumber. Mindfulness is one way to connect with nature during this time. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. We can practice it in many ways, but one common method is to focus on one of our senses. For example, next time you are in a natural space, try slowing down and noticing all of the things you can see. Try to notice as many details as possible. Perhaps there is a tree in your environment. Are there leaves growing on the tree yet? What does the bark look like? Do you notice any insects, birds, or other animals in the tree? Can you see any patterns in the way the branches grow?
By slowing down and taking moments like this to connect with nature, you are able to see all of the wonderful ways nature is reinvigorated with life in the Spring. It also allows you to get to know a place in nature and develop a small connection to this place.
Ecotherapy Around the World
As many of us start our gardens this Spring, we have the opportunity to engage in horticultural therapy, a practice thousands of years old. Horticulture therapy is the practice of gardening and tending to plants with the intention of having a positive impact on mental health. It is a type of ecotherapy that has a long and rich history across the globe. There is evidence of folks engaging in gardening to calm the senses in ancient Mesopotamia (2000 BC) and Persia (500 BC). Horticulture therapy has also been practiced in Ancient Egypt and throughout the Middle Ages in Europe. More recently, it has been implemented in in-patient mental health facilities as well as in outpatient mental health care. While traditional horticulture therapy is conducted under the guidance of a mental health professional, anyone can utilize the underlying principles of intentionally connecting with plants in a garden while tending to them. If you have a garden, large or small, or maybe even just a house plant, try bringing a sense of mindfulness to your practice of watering, pruning, or harvesting. Perhaps even express gratitude to your plant(s) for the joy and nourishment they bring you!