Nature-Based Healing - The Foundations
When Nature is Your Partner in Healing, You Heal the World as You Heal Yourself
Here’s what I know from my own healing journey, and from walking with others on their healing paths as a Naturopathic Doctor: healing takes courage. It also takes time, money, and energy. Healing is a little easier when a) we have a clear idea of what needs to be done and b) we can clearly see how investing in our own healing benefits ourselves and the people we care about.
If we’re doing healing well, what makes us healthy makes everyone healthier around us: our families, our friends, our community, the world. I’m not talking about infusing synthetic vitamins into our bloodstream or taking designer drugs or eating whatever diet is currently most effectively marketed for weight loss, or hormone balancing, or being our best selves (all code for weight loss, by the way).
I’m talking about age-old wisdom and healing: Nature-based healing. The kind of healing that makes us stronger from the roots. Healing based on actions that ripple out into our families and communities and beyond.
Actions of Nature-Based Healing
Remember: It's all Medicine.
Eating a varied, plant-based, locally sourced diet. Being involved in our food production. Getting our hands dirty. Offering thanks to the earth, our farmers, our markets, and the people in our life who prepare our meals- especially if that person is you. Paying attention to what’s in season. Reading labels. Eating real food. Making herbs and spices a part of our daily lives. Watching as they add vibrancy to our meals, our skin, our life and knowing that they are a beautiful source of vitamins, minerals, and healing phytochemicals. Listening to what our bodies want to eat. Finding out what we’re truly hungry for. Drinking clean water and knowing it is worth fighting for.
Spending time in nature. Connecting to her rhythms and seasons. Seeing ourselves in her beauty and seeing her beauty staring back at us from the reflection in our own mirrors. Looking to nature for wisdom and support. Learning her lessons and taking them to heart. Understanding that we can’t thrive while nature suffers and finding ways to serve, honour, and protect her. Filling our hearts with beauty and awe. Living by the sun and loving by the moon. Stargazing. Skinny-dipping. Dew-walking. Daydreaming. Gardening. Foraging. Adventuring.
Connecting with your friends, family, and community. Navigating the complicated terrain of human relationships with dignity for all parties. Apologizing and making amends when necessary. Giving and receiving grace. Creating and maintaining healthy boundaries. Laughing. Playing. Helping and accepting help. Sharing. Celebrating. Grieving. Loving. Building and rebuilding. Listening and learning. Teaching and being teachable. Finding your people and loving them hard. Being a small part of the larger whole. Holding space and being vulnerable. Standing up to injustice. Standing up for equality. Standing up for love. Experiencing the magical synergy of teamwork. Belonging.
Leaning into your life’s purpose. Discovering it. Watching it change and evolve. Changing and evolving with it. Trusting that our missteps, failures, and misfortunes are as much a part of it as our triumphs. Knowing that sometimes our life’s purpose is just surviving; sometimes it’s resting and healing; sometimes it’s caring for our families. Realizing that the world needs each of us even if our ability to produce has been compromised; knowing that financial measures of worth are human and flawed and that we are here for a divine purpose that far outweighs the money we make and the things we produce. Knowing that if we don’t spend the time caring for ourselves, we won’t have the strength to truly live our purpose and that the world will be a little darker for it.
Learning about our history and culture. Connecting with our ancestors. Unearthing the places where our own indigenous bloodlines came from in times before the earth was colonized and our mystics, storytellers and healers were hunted. Honouring the indigenous knowledge and knowledge-keepers of the land where we now live. Standing with them. Connecting to the culture of our time. Nourishing our souls with beauty, music, drama, dance, poetry, literature and art. Knowing who we are and where we come from. Identity. Inspiration.
Solitude. Connecting inward. Finding (or stealing) time and space for hearing our own thoughts, feeling our own feelings, and listening to our own guidance. Unstructured time. Prioritizing time and space to be without the touch of others, especially if we’re the parents of joyously snuggly little humans. Feeling our own undiluted, unscattered energy. Connecting to our power, our spirit, our divinity. Knowing ourselves. Meditating. Reflecting. Creating. Journaling. Praying. Resting. Dreaming. Planning. Yearning. Honing a skill. Perfecting a craft. Testing our mettle. Writing our stories. Cultivating compassion (for self and others). Getting enough sleep.
Loving our bodies. The act of loving, not the feeling. Our world is so fraught with negativity around bodies that feeling love for our bodies is sometimes too much to ask, especially if your body is a source of pain. However, we can all act lovingly toward our bodies. Moving in fun and enjoyable ways. Nourishing rather than punishing. Accepting and honouring our sexual natures as they ebb and flow and change throughout our lives. Recognizing and fulfilling the human need for platonic touch. Indulging our senses. Knowing what feels good and what doesn’t. Breathing deeply. Honouring our need to rest. Enjoying the soreness of muscles well and thoroughly worked. Having fun. Respecting limits. Paying attention to symptoms and seeking help when we need it. Listening in to the body’s wisdom.
Some parts of this list are mundane and others are magical. Some parts are accepted and others are radical. However, these are the things that I believe that healing is truly made of. And when people walk this path I see everyone around them live a little more fully and a little more vibrantly. I see them care more passionately for our home on earth and participate more fully in life.
Disclaimer: the things on this list aren’t a substitute for things like insulin, Cipralex or a well-placed acupuncture needle. Counselling, medicine, healthcare providers and healers all have roles to play in a life well-lived. Please don’t mistake this information for advice; always consult your own healthcare provider before making any changes.
Attribution: this list is heavily influenced by Naturopathic Medicine Theory, Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory, Neuroscience Research, Blue Zones Research, my years of practice as a Naturopathic Doctor and my experience as a human with my own health challenges.