Nature as Medicine
The past five days I have been retreating at our family cabin on Gabriola Island. I set it up as a wellness week to nourish and to rest. Before I left, I gathered some of my favourite and most nourishing things to join me on my trip: silk road tea, denman island chocolate, incense, candles, my malas, lavender epson salts, my journal, and a couple of go-to books to read. What I have found most nourishing about this trip so far, is the ability to align back with the rhythms of nature with great ease.
I have always been a nature lover and an island girl at heart. And the truth is, over the years that really hasn’t changed much. Some of my best childhood memories are of being in nature. Of climbing trees and feeling free. Of swimming in the water and losing track of time. Of building forts, campfires, and wishing on stars. Of skipping rocks and listening to the waves come in and out of shore. Of receiving the healing and theraputic benefits of nature and not asking for more. When I think back to these days, I think, this is it, this is the recipe for happiness and the way for returning back to a state of peace.
As I sit and write from my desk at Seaside Cabin, I am reminded again of how much joy and deep nourishment I find “being” in nature. From falling asleep to the sound of the waves and feeling the cool ocean breeze, to walking along the beach and swimming in the sea. To listening to the birds and watching people walk by, to sitting on the deck and watching the sun set in the sky. It is the simplest, most purest way to finding our way back to happiness and for me, also to a state of feeling free.
Perhaps this is why I am so passionate about creating real, raw experiences for children, allowing them to get back to the basics so to speak. To allow the opportunity for children to be children and for their childhood experiences to be as rich, meaningful, and authentic as possible. To jump in puddles, and feel the rain dance upon their skin. To get dirty while making mud pies, to ask questions and to wonder why. To plant seeds and watch a garden grow, to live freely without any worries or woes. To have real life experiences both informed and inspired by nature. For it is nature that I believe takes us back to our true nature of being divinely happy, playful, and free.
If you have ever been to Storyoga Preschool, you will notice that our playground is made up of many raw elements and recycled materials: rocks, sand, dirt, water, sticks, driftwood, tree rounds, pallets, tires, flowers, and a willow tree (there is also a shed, and a little playhouse, along with daily materials that we set out). The space is simple and the materials are real. Some days I think it looks a little barren but then I find myself asking, what more do they need? These raw and real materials inspire a sense of belonging and a connection to the earth. They are grounding, calming, and I believe, good for the soul.
Aside from the inherent knowing of, I know this is true (based on my own childhood and adulthood experiences), research and recent studies have not only documented the benefits of being in nature but are also calling us to take a closer look at making nature a priority in our day to day lives. “The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need. We have a human right to a meaningful connection to nature, and we have the responsibilities that come with that right. Few today would question the notion that every person, especially every young person, has a right to access the Internet. We should also have access to the natural world, because that connection is part of our humanity.”
“Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).” ~ Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
May we all strive to restore ourselves back to a state of peace and to provide the opportunities for our children to grow up in a time and age where nature is not forgotten.