Armijo: It’s time for some ecotherapy |

Armijo: It’s time for some ecotherapy

It is time to (carefully) celebrate some of our restrictions being lifted due to our care and attention with social distancing. Over the last few days, there have been many more people out enjoying the wonderful spring weather. As we slowly emerge from our forced isolation we can re-engage with nature and utilize its energy to heal ourselves physically and mentally, as well as using ecotherapy.

Ecotherapy is a technique that has been used throughout the world to help with certain ailments. Due to our wonky health care system, only recently, has it been gaining traction in the medical community here in the United States. In Europe, doctors often prescribe time away from work or a stressful event and send their patients on a holiday in a remote location such as a resort or ranch surrounded by nature. This time away is typically covered by their universal health care.

Medical research has found ecotherapy patients show immediate benefits such as reduced physiological stress and improvements in anxiety, depression, mood, and self-esteem. These immediate changes to the mental and physical aspects of patients allow them to recover quicker from physical ailments such as surgeries, as well as mental ailments. Ecotherapy is not something that needs a prescription and it is beneficial to all who partake in it.

What are the best ways to utilize ecotherapy? Ecotherapy is as simple as sitting under a tree. In fact, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), was engaging in ecotherapy when he attained enlightenment. Ecotherapy for some in our area may be riding a bike, fishing, rafting, hiking, or any other outdoor activity. The important part of ecotherapy is remembering it is about relaxation and rejuvenation, so participating in an outdoor race or event really isn’t the same thing.

Ecotherapy is about connecting with nature by just “being” in our own way. For centuries artists have been inspired by nature, and Mother Nature has been a muse for some of their best work. The beauty of ecotherapy is that each of us can connect with nature in our own personal way. Ecotherapy is about understanding that we are connected to every living thing in this universe.

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Quantum physics has proven that everything in our universe is comprised of energy, and how we perceive that energy is based upon the rate of vibration of it. An example is that something solid such as a wooden table vibrates at a slower speed than something lighter such as a feather. This means that we are truly connecting with the energies of nature when we practice ecotherapy and can literally “recharge” our batteries while surrounded by nature.

The effect the natural world has over us is incredible and often taken for granted, though I’m sure many people currently stuck indoors are finding more appreciation for it. The simple act of breathing, especially pure, clean air, has a wonderful ability to calm the mind while lowering stress and anxiety. It may sound a little esoteric, but the energy that flows in nature is available to all of us and should be tapped when needed.

If everything in our universe is based on energy, then we are made of the same material as the trees, rivers, rocks, earth, and air. We can strengthen our connection to nature by first acknowledging and appreciating its existence and by allowing your mind to “stop.” This can be accomplished through a simple exercise but it will take practice to master.

Here’s an easy exercise to connect with nature:

  • Find a safe and favorite spot in nature where you will not be disturbed.
  • Allow yourself to find a comfortable position either sitting or lying down.
  • Use a breathing exercise to help focus your thoughts.
  • Inhale a deep breath from the top of your lungs to the bottom of your belly.
  • Breathe in for a count of four seconds.
  • Hold the breath in for a count of four seconds.
  • Exhale the breath for a count of four seconds and then allow your breath to exhale to a count of six to rid your lungs of any “old” air that may be lingering about.
  • Do this about 10 times and then bring the breath back to normal.
  • As you are practicing this, keep your mind focused on the sound of your breath, the inhale and exhale which will detract from all the other thoughts that may be on your mind.
  • Be aware this exercise may initially cause some light-headedness, dizziness, or tingling sensations throughout the body which is all normal and with time will no longer seem so awkward or uncomfortable.

Nature, like food, is medicine. Our ancestors understood the healing effects of nature but we have been conditioned to follow only one way of thinking when it comes to health. Now is the time to reconnect with the natural resources that don’t require removal from the Earth to be used effectively. So get outside, hug a tree, kiss a stone, and be grateful that we get to experience nature so closely, unlike the concrete jungle those in a city are surrounded by.

“A walk in the woods walks the soul back home” — Mary Davis

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