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Nature, Mindfulness, and Healing

Personal Perspective: The wonder of nature. The power of healing.

Key points

  • Nature pulls our minds into a sense of wonder when we open up to it.
  • Shakespeare and Wordsworth passed in the midst of spring—both were deeply in touch with its wonder.
  • We can meditate and shift focus to bring healing to our hearts and minds.
  • Healing often does not require many words—sometimes images may do more good.
Mark Banschick, MD
Nest Found While Walking
Source: Mark Banschick, MD

Healing comes from the mind. It also comes from the body and the soul interacting with nature.

Recently there's been an increasing interest in outdoor therapy, having sessions outside with patients. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, this is something I've been doing for decades. A scent in the breeze, the whiteness of snow, the trek up a hill all create shared moments, both physical and psychological. Moments to bond and reflect.

Research on the healing power of nature is not foreign to us today. Forty minutes in a ceder forest, for instance, is associated with lower stress hormones.

So, to take a small risk, I'd like to share a nature-based healing experience that entered my life by way of sky, trees, fresh air. and meditation. Like everyone, I too have my anxieties, worries, and preoccupations. Nature provided and can provide a way to regulate—to become grounded.

May this healing moment transcend the personal. May it be healing for you as well.

Early Spring

The dogwoods are ready to bloom; endless tiny white celebrations. Cherry blossoms, too. I found an intact nest of speckled eggs a few days ago while hiking. A warbler, perhaps? In our neck of the woods, spring is moist. Fertile earth.

The radical green of new grass.

Nature providing rain and breeze. The sun dipping in and out of clouds.

On my weekend walks, I pass a few buildings. Apartments, three or four stories. Strawberry Hill Avenue, a high school on one side and an elementary school on another. The dogwoods once again.

A friend and I stop and observe the tulips. The Dutch economy rose and fell on the value of these beautiful specimens in the 17th century. We imagine that we’re in Utrecht, Holland at some great tulip festival. Expanding on the small garden in front of us.

Black moist earth. Brilliant colors.

They say that Shakespeare passed on this time of year. Woodsworth as well. Not surprised. We're touching the same source.

Stopping while returning home I’m caught by the sight of one particular tree with its fresh blossoms. Blue sky framing just perfectly. Crisp air.

Some giggling in the distance, a family enjoying themselves.

Something calls. Head tilted up, I inspect the tree finding an angle to the blue sky—and the far beyond. Thin, budding branches as foreground. The whole world grows quiet behind me: the street, the schools, folks going to and fro.

A meditation arrives, inviting my mother and father, now deceased, to come through that space into my heart. Words fall short. Warmth. Focus. I sense their presence. And more; something behind them. A larger presence.

There’s a place in this world for your mother, your father, and for your family. For you. Just as you are.

How many families need to hear that. How many people?

A place in the world just for us—as we are.

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