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Connect to living, breathing spirt of the land where you live through mindfulness-based ecotherapy, rhythmic breathwork and nature connection practices.

While most therapy focuses on talking, language and works mostly above the neck, Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy involves re-building an embodied connection to the world around you.

A simple Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy practice to get started with is grounding.

One of the reasons for the high levels of stress and anxiety in the highly-developed countries is that people aren’t grounded to the Earth.

When was the last time you were barefoot and the soles of your feet touched the ground? For many people today, they go months without touching their feet to the ground.

Grounding is a simple practice with huge benefits such as reducing inflammation, boosting the immune response, wound healing, and the prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases [1].

Other benefits include better sleep, lower anxiety and reduced pain, and all you have to do is walk barefoot outside or practice sitting, working, or sleep indoors in a environment connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth’s electronics from the ground into the body [2].

While much of modern psychology and therapy works from the neck upwards, Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy is focused on going beyond the labelling, judgements and identifications of the mind and feeling your experience deeper in the felt presence of the body.

Next time you have a chance, try a grounding exercise for yourself. Take off your shoes somewhere you can comfortably like the beach, a forest trail or a grassy field and explore how sensitive the bottom of your feet are to the touch of the Earth.

Spend 10-15 minutes mindful walking barefoot and just observe as your feet press against the Earth with each step.

I’m sure you’ll be surprised afterwards to experience how much lighter and more relaxed you feel after just a short session of grounding.

When The Culture Is Sick, We Need To Go Back To Our Roots

As climate change advances and the growth-obsessed societies of the Western world continue their decline there will be a growing longing to reconnect to something that is timeless in a meaningless, disposable consumerist world.

At the root of our ecological crisis and our spiritual discontent is our alienation from nature. 

In Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy, you can incorporate the philosophy of animism where you experience everything is alive and possessed with a living spirit, which can help you deeper tune into felt presence through increasing embodied presence and expanding your feeling sense.

Animism is about a direct and personal experience with the more-than-human world. As children, we naturally heard the living voice of nature speaking to us through our senses and how the living world makes us feel alive.

In many ways, an animistic view of life is the antithesis of the Western training of the mind in its left-hemisphere analytical dominance and hyper-rationality.

Separated from nature and the living, feeling presence of the body that we are taught to distrust, we are told there is little to do but pursue pleasure and security through the 3 base emotions that drive the modern world through the 1000s of advertisements we are exposed to each day: greed, lust and envy.

This industrial economic engine of advertising, consumption and materialism serves to satisfy the spiritual hunger that is left by our abstract, mechanistic and empty form of empiricism.

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy is involves going beyond conceptualized thinking to a direct experience of the “felt presence” of a living, breathing world.

Rather than analyzing and arguing with ourselves, we can gain much by relaxing and tuning into our senses and let go of our pre-conceptions and constant chattering of the thinking mind.

Less thinking makes us more aware and more connected, and helps us ground ourselves in our emotional felt experience, which when shared with others in our community can be incredibly healing.

So, to summarize, Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy is about cultivating a reverence and felt sense of awe for the miracle of life and build a sense of belonging as an integral part of the Earth community.

5 Foundational Ecotherapy Practices For Improving Health And Well-Being

Here are some of the best ecotherapy practices for improvingmental health:

1. Animal-Assisted Ecotherapy

Animal-assisted ecotherapy involves human-animal interactions and building a relationship bond with animals.

Adopting a dog or cat, for example, has been found to significantly decrease stress levels, anxiety and depression [3].

2. Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural therapy involves practices that use plants and garden to improve mental and physical health.

This form of gardening ecotherapy has been found effective in increasing mental well-increased, a deeper sense of meaning and an improved sense of resilience and emotional intelligence [4].

3. VR Nature Therapy:

Even virtual reality simulations of the natural world have been shown to improve mental health.

A series of studies have found that designing convincing and realistic settings that provide the user with a feeling of actually being present in the virtual environment can help improve mental well-being [5].

4. ADHD Ecotherapy:

Nature connected therapy practices have been shown to be especially effective for both children and adults with ADHD.

There has been significant research done on attention restoration therapy studying the effect on walking in the forests on improving attention and decreasing stress [6].

5. Forest Ecotherapy

There has been significant research done in Japan and South Korea studying how prescribed weekly forests walking improve both physical and mental health.

Shinrin-Yoku (the Japanese art of Forest Bathing) has become a popular way to reconnect with the natural world and induce states of relaxation and connectedness [7].

Try Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy out for yourself, you might find that prescription nature is the remedy you need. I always laugh every time I watch this video on prescription nature.

Kyle Pearce

Kyle is a learning experience designer and experienced naturalist who leads educational retreats and group storytelling adventures around the world through Awecology.

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