This article is written by community creator Maia Kiley, a licensed psychotherapist and certified ecotherapist
Why is aligning with nature so important?
Aligning with nature is essential to your own healing. Nature is patient, present, and perseveres. Nature’s pace is slow. Embodying these qualities is key to bringing healing and harmony to your body. To having a clear mind and a clear life.
Just being in the presence of trees can give you a sense of relief and calm. That’s because you’re stepping into the network of roots and mycelium that is cohesive. Being part of these networks and feeling their being-ness connects you back to expansive Nature.
Often, we search for answers from other people. From buying a product. Or reading more self-help books. But the answers to your questions can be accessed easily and powerfully in nature.
Having the skill and ability to go to nature and to listen deeply, is liberating. Nature becomes your source. The place you return to in order to regulate and remember who you are.
How do I align with nature?
By slowing down. Allowing your mind to down-shift and thoughts to melt. So that you can come into presence in your physical body. Notice the quality of your breathing. Your feelings. And expand from there to connect down into the soil. Up into the sky. To move out of your own sphere to connect with the larger extension of nature around you.
Can you feel the presence of the trees? The mountains? Can you sense into the waves crashing on a beach far away? Aligning with nature allows you to feel your place in the world.
As humans in a complex society, our focus can be myopic. We might have a lot of worries. It’s important to take the time to zoom in to feel our inner experience as well as zoom out to take in the larger webs and relationships of nature. I support people in aligning with nature through ecotherapy techniques.
What is ecotherapy?
Ecotherapy is a nature-based approach to mental health. It’s the practice of nurturing a deep connection to yourself and your nature community. Ecotherapy is an umbrella term that includes various types of therapy in nature such as wilderness therapy, equine therapy with horses, and forest bathing.
Being in nature with presence and intention for healing and growth is transformative. In my therapy practice, I use applied, nature-connection exercises to draw on nature as a source for healing. So that your support network is not just other humans but includes nature relationship. The healing elements of nature are invited in to support you.
For example, for those who are sensitive to others and get overwhelmed easily, it’s very helpful to imagine being a rock. Envision yourself as a solid rock in the middle of a moving river. The energy of others or chaos of externals in your life are like the water. Imagine the water (energy of others or chaos) flowing around you. Effortlessly flowing around you. While you remain solid, calm and steady.
What are the benefits of nature alignment?
Often people come away from intentional time in nature with inner calm. A sense of interconnection in themselves and to the earth. Many develop a strong sense of belonging to a place. Most often, I notice people shift into a place of open clarity. A slowing down and deepening into their inner presence. More trust in what they know, what they feel, and need. What needs to shift in their life. Many feel playful and inspired.
Is it possible to dialogue with nature?
Yes it is possible! My favorite exercise to guide is nature dialogue. Here’s how you can do it. Reflect on a question you have. Something you wonder about it in your life. That you’d like to know about yourself or maybe a decision you need to make.
Hold this question in your heart, and walk out into nature. Find somewhere you’re drawn to. It could be a particular tree or flower or plant. And sit by this nature being.
Ask permission to dialogue with them. Sense if, for example, the tree is open to you. If so, go ahead and ask your question. Then sit quietly and listen. Ask your question gently three times. Pausing after each time to practice listening from your heart. Allow your mind to relax. Notice the response.
Perhaps you hear or see or smell something in response. Maybe you suddenly know or understand or have a flash of insight. Be open to however nature communicates with you. This may be through your senses, an animal or insect that visits, a metaphor, or symbol. Just listen.
How can I experience nature alignment in community?
I offer a number of workshops and groups during the year for ecotherapy, personal healing, and embodiment. Upcoming workshops include Earth Speak.
- Tuesday Dec 12| Brooklyn
About the author
Maia Kiley is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. Certified in ecotherapy from Pacifica Graduate Institute, she leads ecotherapy groups and workshops. And as a member of the Climate Psychology Alliance, Maia provides climate-aware therapy for those struggling with climate distress. She also has experience as an environmental activist and is certified in permaculture design from Quail Springs. Learn more at www.maiakiley.com or @the_ecotherapist.