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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Scouten describes this traumatic time period as a "horrendous rollercoaster" and went on to say that the weekend retreat ended up being a huge blessing in her life.

Firstly, she confesses that she hasn't allowed herself time to grieve for her mother with all the other drama taking place in her life, yet when she walked through the mossy vale, it transported her back to her childhood, to being playful and curious. And having this special place, which she can visualize, will be instrumental in her grieving process, she says.

Secondly, she became aware that because her husband's life was so chaotic, her own life was chaotic due to association.

This, she knows now, can be resolved by being like a tree.

"It really was transformative for me in that I have come back and seeing the swirl that has gone on and seeing that I really thought I was the cause of it," she said. "I didn't get that until I was in the forest. The tree is standing there, the storms are happening around it, the leaves are swirling, the puddles are filling up ... and I can just stand still and just let it all swirl and happen around me, I don't have to be engaged."

This became very evident upon her return to the city, she revealed, noting that a sticking point with her husband on their separation agreement gave her the opportunity to step back and not get caught up in anger and instead search for a mutually pleasing solution.

Scouten says a final revelation from the retreat was that she felt she was able to accept herself and like herself again.

"Just like these trees have gnarls on them, they've lost their leaves so they're bare and exposed and not beautiful, all their glitter and gold has dropped off," she explained. "Mine has too but anything that is taken away is given back in another form, and I know that when my glitter and gold, my new leaves come back, it will be in a better form, I will be better."

Laura (who requested not to use her last name) was another member of our group, and eager to share her perspective on the experience. On the brink of her 50th birthday, she decided to devote five weeks to healing herself at the Sea to Sky Retreat Centre, which encompassed the weekend with us as well.

"Being at SSRC for five weeks cultivated that stillness that I needed," she wrote in an email. "I had a cosy, beautiful space to sit and meditate. I set my own schedule, allowing plenty of time for those activities, as well as resting, something that helped me recharge my physical, mental, and spiritual batteries. I also deepened my meditation practice and realized the importance of a daily spiritual practice, as well as walks in nature.

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