Love in Time of Turmoil
compassionately in relationship to Earth rising everywhere among my networks. I read of all sorts of ways people are greening the Earth with urban agriculture, finding ways to integrate nature connection into jobs once not considered "green." My vision to bring Healing Outdoors to address stress on family caregivers in hospitals is one of those efforts. Many of us are envisioning something we have not seen before in exact form.
My attempts to work with existing support groups inside hospitals have not yet met success. Support groups are closed environments built upon trust, and for institutional liability led by someone with a proven track record or credential. I am working toward an ecopsychology degree, but in the meantime seeking any opportunities to volunteer with groups of people leading simple nature connection activities. I love being outdoors (obviously) and remain open to the possibility I may do this on a volunteer basis outside hospitals in completely different venues for a while. Maybe someone who works inside a hospital might take it on and carry the torch in a way I cannot foresee.
I have no ego invested in the idea of ownership, only want to serve people in hospital environments because Healing Outdoors was a form of support that would have been powerful for me while going through the turmoil of being an intensive family caregiver.
On the horizon in August, I have an exciting opportunity with my daughter to lead two 45-minute groups during this event for people of all ages. I am also working on a set of flash cards for nature connection activities anyone can do to reduce stress, bring their senses in balance and ease painful emotions with feedback from the natural world. For now I can print out a few copies to share with groups, but as soon as I can find a way to afford to publish them for distribution, I hope they will become available to anyone in hospitals.
Flash Card Samples
- Go to a spot attractive to you in nature.
- Silently ask consent from this spot to help you with this activity.
- Mark or visualize a boundary of 2 x 2 square feet using sticks, stones, leaves, anything natural. Your hunt area will include all the soil below you and everything above you to the thin blue line of space.
- Find and check off as many things on the Scavenger List as possible in 5 minutes, including one item representing a current challenge in your life, and one item representing a current joy.
- If in a group, share with the group what you would like, including how doing the activity made you feel. Did it validate your sense of self?
- Go to an area you find attractive and safe in nature.
- Silently ask permission from this spot to help you with this activity. Get comfortable.
- For 3 minutes close your eyes and listen to every sound you can hear, inside or outside of you.
- After 3 minutes, write down as many items as you can.
- Now take crayons/coloring tools, even a stick in sand, and draw an image of the sounds you experienced.
- If in a group, share your drawing or list, including how blocking out your visual sense made you feel.
Despite all the sadness, I feel the best way to heal our pain is to stop spending 95% of our lives indoors if possible and reconnect in whatever way we can to our innate wisdom. It exists right there, inside our old sensory brain, and our language processing brain validates it for us. There are as many forms of nature connection as there are people, and no one way is "right." You do not need to go on a wilderness vision quest or even enjoy camping to be able to connect, though certainly you can go deep. If you let Nature teach anywhere you are, you will learn what you need.
My lifelong deep conversation with the natural world despite living a "modern" life and working at a computer the past 20 years has led me to want to find a way to live in the woods, be a hermit, fantasize about living in a different age. But I have also felt validated and transformed the more time I make for nature's feedback in my day to day life, and that is the key I want to share so people can unlock their own natural wealth, get on board the listening wagon, and reconnect their wisdom to nature's wisdom.
The interview below with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, author of "Spiritual Ecology" based on his latest book "Darkening of the Light," provides a broad context for my tendency toward despair and feeling something must be wrong with me and my sensitivity. I share it in case you are someone who struggles with these questions too. We are definitely not alone.