Nature as Healer & Teacher

Nature as Healer and Teacher
Adapted from: Reconnecting with Nature
Dr. Michael C. Cohen

Even as a small girl, I have always been inspired and comforted by being in nature. Yet it wasn’t until 2003 at the 5th HSP Gathering Retreat in Litchfield, Connecticut that I was introduced to Ecopsychology and Dr. Michael Cohen’s work by a beautiful and inspiring HSP, Marlow Shami from Goshen, CT.   I had a profound experience  on a beautiful, warm day sitting under an apply tree. When I asked the question:  “Am I welcome here?” the answer was immediate.  A bird began to sing, a red apply dropped off the tree, and a soft breeze drifted softly by.  I will never forget this experience, nor many others like it.

We are giants...we see everything.... Photo by Kim Tyler Photography, Essex, CT

We are giants…we see everything…. Photo by Kim Tyler Photography, Essex, CT

So, I invite you to find time this Spring to retreat into Nature, even if only an hour at a time.  Here are the instructions for receiving wisdom and solace from your own Nature as Healer & Teacher expereince.

1. Find a safe place outdoors.  Walk around slowly, and as you begin to acclimate to your surroundings, take several deep breaths, exhaling slowly.   Feel your feet solid on the ground, as you feel yourself relax with each step and breath.  Begin to allow yourself to focus on an area of your life that wants your attention; an area of your life you are confused about; or a question you would like guidance on.

2.  Look all around you.   What do you see?  Smell?  Sense?  Hear?  Feel?  What can you touch?   Now think of yourself as a child happily playing as you begin the process of “following your attractions.” Begin to move toward any natural attraction.   This could be a tree, a ray of sunshine, a bush, rock, animal, insect, flower, bird, or stream.   It really doesn’t matter as long as it is in nature and not made by humans.

3. Stay for a minute or two … tune into your intuition as you ask: “Am I welcome here?”   Pay attention to what you see, hear, feel, sense.   Are these messages from nature comforting and welcoming ?  This might be a  bird’s song, or perhaps a nice ray of warm sunshine just waiting for you?  Usually a sign is hard to miss.  Take a look at the picture of

Can you see the message I received as I asked: "Am I welcome here?"

Can you see the message I received as I asked: “Am I welcome here?”

this tree — can you decipher it’s message to me as I asked: “Am I welcome here?”
Maybe suddenly, there is a cool wind which makes you feel chilled?  Or a loud unpleasant noise? If you do not feel welcome for any reason, honor this message from nature and simple follow another positive attraction and ask the same question.   You may find yourself moving around to several places before it feels “just right.

4.   When the place you have found feels “just right” ~(you will know) ~~ get yourself comfortable and relax. Then allow your heart’s inquiry to come forward as you ask: “What is there for me to learn here?

My delightful surprise during my time in nature.

5.   Quiet your mind and just be present. Let go of expectations.  Become aware of whatever you notice ~ sights, smells, sounds, colors, animals, wind, or sun on your back.   Notice whatever is going on within you: feelings, thoughts, memories, images, colors, a certain person, place or situation.

6.   Allow your mind to wander pleasantly within all the  images surrounding you.   After ten to twenty minutes, take out your journal and begin a 20 minute “free write” session.  A “free write” is just that — free association about whatever flows out from your pen.  If nothing comes, you might use a writing prompt at the top of your page such as:   “What I felt … saw… heard…. sensed…. ”   Notice how your experiences might address or enlighten the situation or question you brought with you into this Nature as Healer exercise.

7.   When you have finished your journal write, take a moment and just close your eyes.  Take a moment to be aware of all the beautiful things in nature that are just waiting to offer us comfort, beauty, and wisdom.  Take a moment to be grateful for this time you have given to yourself.  Take a moment to thank this place in nature for all it has given to you.

Let me know how it goes for you ..
with love,


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