What is Therapeutic About Nature?

I was recently asked, “What is therapeutic about nature?” My response was, “What is not therapeutic about nature?” Every encounter with the natural world informs our existence. As a denizen of the web of life, our connection to everything in the natural world is inherently our connection to Self. Today’s “evolved” human, mistakenly feels separate from the natural world, above it in the sense that humans feel we can manipulate it to suit our needs. To some extent we have been able to do that, but only at a cost to our higher spiritual needs, and at a cost to the entire web of life.

Having just returned from a month in the tropics, I can feel the therapeutic, healing power of nature in every cell. Close and damp, filled with invigorating negative ions and teeming with life, the jungle pulses with the life-death-decay-rebirth cycle. One can feel the accelerated cycle; hear it in the hum of insects, call of the birds, the scratching of lizards, crabs and snakes in the dead leaves and the chatter of monkeys as they leap through the canopy. Sitting still amidst this pulsing life force, I felt my cells expand like tiny sponges plunged into water, each one sucking in a thriving connection to the life force all around me. On a cellular level I absorbed the pulsing web of life. I breathed differently, in tune to the jungle music. I sweated profusely, releasing toxins, each salty drop no doubt feeding some lichen or fungal denizen thirsty for what my body couldn’t use. Waterfalls splashed over me – rain the night before that had already traveled on myriad strands of the web before gravity caught it and sent it plummeting down limestone channels in the dense, fecund jungle. Scarlet macaws snapped almond pods, extracting the nut and sending the moist covering to the forest floor where ants hauled it away, some becoming dinner for a foraging skink, which in turn fed the hunting orange belly racer.

I was both witness and participant in this magnificent web and feeling this on a cellular level brought me to my essential human state – one of connectedness to all of life. This cellular wisdom is in itself healing, as it reconnects me to the wisdom of Mitakuyasin – All My Relations – an indigenous knowing that everything is connected.

I also just lost a beloved pet, a magnificent Great Dane named Moose, whose giant body was barely able to contain a heart so big that he literally touched thousands of people in his life. Our connection to pets is often one of the deepest relationships to nature we have. It serves as a reminder that some of our most profound emotions are due to connections we have to other beings in the web.

When humans understand that we are not separate, that what we do and how we behave impact the entire web of life, we will be healed. This relationship is a law of nature, I believe, and cannot be denied. This is a symbiotic healing relationship. We heal nature by healing ourselves; we heal ourselves by reconnecting to nature. In my experience and belief, this is fundamental wisdom that leads to deeper knowing and understanding of our human existence.

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