Is Nature-Based Therapy Right for You?
Are you feeling stressed or overwhelmed?
Do you have a hard time setting your to-do list aside and relaxing?
Do you have trouble falling asleep at night?
Are you often distracted and struggle to focus on the task at hand?
Do you have trouble remembering things?
Do you get caught in negative or worrisome thought loops?
Do you have a strong inner critic?
Do you get swept up easily in your emotions (anger, frustration, anxiety, negativity)?
Are you sometimes reactive around other people?
Do you want to understand yourself and you reactions better?
If you answered yes to some or all of the above, then practicing mindfulness may help you.
What is Nature-Based Therapy / Wilderness Therapy?
There are many different definitions of mindfulness, depending on who you ask. To me, it is as simple as bringing a compassionate awareness to the present moment. What do I mean by a compassionate awareness? Try bringing your attention to whatever is happening right now - notice your sensations, thoughts, emotions as you read this. Perhaps you notice you're interested, or maybe you feel irritated or skeptical. By noticing what you are experiencing in this very moment you have just increased your awareness. Now, if you are judgmental about what you discover and use that information to chastise yourself, then you will likely end up feeling worse off than when you started. BUT...if you approach your newfound awareness with compassion and an attitude of non-judgment, then you can use that information to make conscious choices to improve your life.
Benefits of Nature-Based Therapy / Wilderness Therapy
In recent decades research supporting the benefits of mindfulness has exploded and there are countless studies singing its praise. Here is a list of some ways mindfulness can benefit you:
Decreased stress, anxiety & depressive symptoms
Reduced rumination (perseverating on negative thoughts)
Improved memory, attention & focus
Increased academic success
Decreased turnover & burnout rates at work
Increased productivity & job performance
Less emotional reactivity & increased self-control
Increased relationship satisfaction
More cognitive flexibility (ability to adapt better to negative or stressful situations)
Lowered blood pressure & heart rate
Increased immune function & better general health
How I Incorporate Nature Into Psychotherapy & Coaching
I take a gradual and simple approach to teaching mindfulness, especially with people who have never practiced it before. It is my belief that anyone can learn to practice mindfulness. Yes, even you, with the overactive mind that runs a million miles an hour, just like mine. There are no prerequisites for learning mindfulness and you don't need to be a monk who sits atop a mountain to do it. I teach mindfulness both in groups/workshops as well as on an individual basis. I meet each person where they are at in their journey and start by finding small ways to incorporate mindfulness into everyday life, rather than expecting big changes or time commitments upfront. I offer a mix of guided mindfulness exercises, nature-based mindfulness exercises, and I also teach meditation.
Now, I know you may still have some concerns or questions about mindfulness…
I don't have time to be mindful, You say
I hear you. I imagine your schedule is already chock full of things to do, and in your free time you don't want to feel like you have to take on a new homework assignment to "be mindful". That's okay. I promise that there are small ways we can start incorporating mindfulness into your everyday life without adding extra hours to your day. It could be as simple as paying attention to the sensations you feel as you brush your teeth each day. Or taking a moment while you're in the car for a few slow, deep breaths to center and ground yourself. Perhaps starting to slow down and notice your natural surroundings when you walk your dog in the morning, or feel the sun on your face as you walk between your car and the office.
Does this mean I have to learn to meditate?
No, not necessarily. Again, I hear you on this. When I first tried to meditate, at the behest of someone who told me I should try it because I was too stressed out, it felt like an insurmountable task. The second I cleared any space in my head ALL the thoughts started rushing in and I gave up thinking I had failed. If that has been your experience in the past, fear not, that's totally normal. The nature of the mind is to think, and you might be relieved to know that learning to meditate does NOT mean you have to stop thinking. I assure you, even the Dali Lama has thoughts while meditating. The benefits of meditation come from gently noticing our thoughts and experience without letting ourselves get swept away by it. If you stick it out, you will start to notice benefits faster than you may think.
But I'm not even buddhist...
Not everyone who meditates or practices mindfulness identifies as a Buddhist. In fact, many people do not. The type of mindfulness I teach is non-denominational, it does not come from any particular spiritual tradition, and you do not need to be a Buddhist to practice it. Many different kinds of people practice mindfulness: people who identify as Christian, Jewish, Spiritual, Atheist, Agnostic, and many more.
Find out how reconnecting with Nature can help you today!
I have helped many clients reconnect with Nature (and consequently, themselves), which has helped reduce their stress levels, boost their mood, and bring balance back to their lives. To find out how nature-based therapy or coaching can help you, schedule a free consult call to discuss the best next steps for you.