Ecotherapy

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
-Wendell Berry

We are not living in harmony with the natural world. We can no longer deny that our way of life is doing irreparable damage to the earth. Even if we rallied the collective will and determination, it may be too late to stop the climate crisis, mass extinction, and destruction of the planet’s ecosystems. As a species, we are living in avoidance and denial of these painful truths.

It’s imperative that we change our ways and do what we can to heal the planet. But nature is not simply a victim that needs to be rescued. The earth is full of wonders that can inspire our curiosity and awe, open up our hearts and minds, remind us of what’s really important, and bring us back home to our own true nature. Living a busy, urban life in the Bay Area, however, means that our direct contact with nature is limited. Committing to spend time in nature on a regular basis is a powerful act of self-care that may have benefits for our physical and emotional health, our energy and creativity, and our relationships with other people.

Ecotherapy begins with the assumption that our disconnection from nature–and our abuse of the environment–contribute to the chronic stress and emotional challenges of modern life. Reconnecting with nature, therefore, may help us to regulate the nervous system, heal from trauma, strengthen relationships, activate our creative potential, and find greater balance in our lives.

While there are benefits to simply spending time in nature, there’s an art to truly appreciating and tuning into our connection with the natural world. Ecotherapy helps to develop this kind of transformative awareness. These sessions are often highly experiential, which means that we try to unhook from the part of the mind that’s always figuring things out and solving our problems. That way, we can appreciate and be nourished by what’s happening right here and now in the forest.

I offer outdoor ecotherapy sessions on Fridays at Redwood Regional Park in the Oakland Hills. Before meeting outdoors, we meet in one of my East Bay office locations for a few sessions to get to know each other, clarify how ecotherapy could be helpful for you, and make a safe transition outside. Please contact me to discuss services or to schedule a free 15-minute consultation.