What is the REAL power of spending time in nature? #youalreadyknow

Nature therapy is increasingly promoting itself using scientifically driven data. So how did we reach the point where we need to be convinced that our natural world can benefit us? And can we ever embrace its true benefits if we cannot also embrace the real Mystery of it all?

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We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because it is unfathomable.
— Thoreau

Meet Heidi, a Forrest Therapy Coach from Finland. After falling in love with her over Instagram I reached out to ask for an interview, hoping that her story might help me to connect the dots around my own connection to nature and concurrent re-wilding of myself. The results of our encounter were unexpected. With a background in business, Heidi’s Instagram account combines her daily experiences with research-based facts, and yet the story of her own relationship with the natural world sounds like a fairytale. And so, if you will indulge me a while, that’s exactly how I’m going to tell it:

There was once a beautiful, kind-hearted woman who had a great longing to become a mother. After trying for a long time she finally became pregnant and was overjoyed but after three months she miscarried and a great sadness came over her. Still, the couple persevered, wishing and hoping every month, but to no avail.

One evening the woman looked out into her garden. As she sat there it seemed as if the largest tree in the garden was calling her to go outside. She went to it and sat under its huge branches, her back pressed against its trunk, offering it some of her wine and food. The tree took the offerings and was very grateful that such a beautiful woman would press herself against him. Then the woman started to sing: “Please sweet tree, give me a baby. I promise that if I have a child he or she or he will grow up to be a relentless nature lover and will do everything in their power to embrace you and make you feel better." She didn’t know why she sang to the tree, other than that the night was so beautiful and her heart was so heavy and she wanted a baby so badly.

Just a few weeks later the woman became pregnant. As soon as she found out she ran to show the plastic test to the tree and to thank him from the bottom of her heart. Several months later she bore a baby girl who she named Lumi, which means Snow.

Lumi grew up to keep her mother’s promise and at the age of seven she is indeed a relentless nature-lover. Like all children before too much schooling ruins them, Lumi understands that trees are more than trunks, branches and leaves, that they are actually beings with a deep desire to help humans when they are out of balance, which is most of the time. So each day, when her mother takes her to the forest, Lumi places her hands on the trees or the rocks and connects her energy to theirs. If she is feeling off kilter that day then the forest know how to rebalance her. Lumi loves her trees and they love her, and she walks the path her mother foretold as a guardian of the forest. Without even knowing it, Lumi is a dedicated warrior of The Rainbow Tribe.

  Lumi and Kukka with THAT tree

Lumi and Kukka with THAT tree

So goes the story of Lumi.

But is this just a story? Is this seven-year-old playing childish games or is she connecting to an energy that our left-brained society refuses to acknowledge? And in so doing, could she be tapping into the real reason why our connection to nature is so powerful? Heidi is certainly aware that the tale of how she came to be a mother seems far-fetched and is pragmatic about how she sells Forest Therapy to potential clients:

There are many people who need this and they don’t get the spiritual stuff so we have to approach them with the science instead. If we say: “Go to that tree and talk to it,” they will run away, so we offer them the facts and they can take their own journeys deeper of they choose to.

And yet, despite Heidi’s very practical approach, it doesn’t take much digging to see that she feels the magic too:

Trees accept you,” she smiles. “You can tell them anything and there is no judgment, only love. When I receive that acceptance from them I can accept myself more easily too. No matter what your problems, trees can help. If you feel lonely or purposeless, they offer friendship and comfort. And the relationship is reciprocal. When we start to love and respect trees it affects them; they grow quicker and stronger than they would otherwise.

Heidi is obviously not the only forest therapist to weave in and out of The Mystery as she walks the fine line between remaining accessible to a larger audience and staying true to the work. Ultimately everybody has to decide where that line is for them and in any arena there are those who are more mainstream and others who stay on the fringes. Increasingly hanging out on the fringe, my woo-woo perspective on pretty much everything is certain to make some (many) people run. And yet, though I fully acknowledge that most are still unwilling to entertain the idea of subtle energies or the possibility of trees as conscious co-creators, I seem to be pretty much unable to speak anything other than that which feels authentic to my soul (aka crazy-talk). So, with full knowledge that many readers will be scattering to the four winds as I speak, let me tell you what trees have taught me:

Stop trying to figure us out, you understand us through your heart not your head, so slow down and simply spend time with us. If you touch us, pressing yourself to us as you would to any being from which you seek comfort, your body will begin to understand. Talk to us as if we could hear you. Because we can. We don’t hear you with ears but we hear you. Treat us like friends and we will become a part of your community - we want to work alongside you. We are, in fact, very similar to you humans because we also take energy from the sky and from the earth and balance it. When you practice yoga, qi gong or other energy modalities that’s what you’re trying to achieve, whether you know it or not, and we can help you with that. So touch us. Be with us. You don’t need to take pieces of us to study in laboratories. You don’t even need to know what “kinds” of trees we are, or our “names”. You simply need to

Be.

With.

Us.

And you will begin to transform at the level of your DNA.

Then as you take the being you are becoming out into the world, the things you thought you needed to have or to become will seem less relevant. The voices that judge and demand and clamour will be quieter. You will have a greater sense of connection to others and a clearer sense of yourself. You will know your Self as body and spirit – earth and sky – and so you will begin to bring these energies into balance within and without.  As you do this you will be part of the new world, standing with the rest of the Rainbow Tribe that is restoring life to this dying Earth.

That’s what my body knows.

I think Lumi might know it too.

What do you know?

  Lumi grounding with stones

Lumi grounding with stones

A heartfelt thank you to Heidi for baring her beautiful soul to me. You can find her on Instagram @foresttherapytoday For her website click here.

Laura Paskell-Brown in a Doula For Your Soul, helping women (and some men!) to get in touch with their inner wisdom. She offers one-on-one retreats as well as 2-3 hour sessions, either in person or on Skype. Click here to learn more. (Instagram - @doulaforyoursoul)