January 10, 2013 Features & Images » Feature Story

The power of nature 

Ecotherapy challenges us to explore the inner landscape of our minds through the rekindling of our connection with the earth

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Several times during our trek we pause as Juric reads us a nature poem.

I ask Juric, why poetry?

His response was forthcoming: "I use poetry on retreats because of poetry's ability to do what Roger Housden says, 'call forth our own inarticulate knowings, and offer a mirror into the truth.' These truths may be uncomfortable, but facing them is the first step towards waking up to who we really are and what it is we have been doing with our lives."

And his advice when struggling with understanding a poem is apt. "Listen to poetry — soften your analytical mind, don't torture or beat it to submission, let it wash over you. Let it soak in slowly."

As for the hiking aspect of the retreats, walking helps people notice the deep symmetry between our outer and inner worlds, explains Juric.

"Mary Ann Brussat captures this nicely:  'Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal, and transformation in our lives.'"  

Being out on the trail has a catalytic effect and helps us to process our emotions, he added.

"In walking out into it, we literally walk through and process experiences we are trying to understand.  This is powerfully evident if you look at the personal journeys of the key figures from the world's main wisdom traditions."

The results of this theory on nature-based healing are tangible, as is evident in the feedback from my fellow participants in this retreat weekend in the wilderness.

One participant writes, "The voices of poets reflecting on life transitions, the evocative wilderness, the space to reflect, and Adrian's gentle and respectful guidance all contribute to an experience that touches your soul and stays with you once you return to your busy home routines."

Angela Scouten agrees, wholeheartedly.

She speaks with me by phone from West Vancouver a handful of days after the retreat and candidly shares her personal journey of healing. For her, this year has been a particularly painful time, triggered by splitting up with her husband.

Then, as her marriage was unravelling, her son, who was diagnosed with depression at a young age, experienced a mental breakdown and was admitted to the psych ward at the hospital. This all coincided with her healthy and active 83-year-old mother suffering a massive stroke and dying.

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