Viewing entries tagged
natural world

Nature is a Gift

Nature is a Gift

It can be hard to get through a television show without seeing an ad from a pharmacology company showcasing the latest drug. American culture likes a quick fix and our default mentality can make up run for the medication cabinet for all of our ailments, no matter how small. Bombarded with these messages, we forget that nature is also good medicine. Ecotherapy is the idea of connecting to nature to aid our human well being. Research tells us and we intuitively know of the healing properties of nature and these concepts are catching on….for example, “forest bathing” is now a thing.

Personally, I have recently been reminded of nature’s promise in promoting peace of mind. Facing a move and other major life changes, making a habit to ride my bike along Venice and Santa Monica beach fronts, walking at sunset along Ocean’s shore, and soaking in the sun on the sand has brought me out of my head and into a felt sense that the present turbulence is a moment in time. Nature reminds us, the world is larger than our present troubles.

Nature is a gift, like therapy, it can help process the upheaval that comes with change and give us renewed vitality.

At times I have groaned at the extra efforts of separating the recycling materials and disposing them in the two separate trash cans. But I do it out of love, how can I not? I was struck with the idea that I should let nature love me back, especially in this time of life transitions and stressful changes. Life transitions can make nature more important and if we can carve out a space in nature, it can have a grounding effect and be a source of stability. Living in California, there are opportunities abound to do this.

With destruction also comes creation, finding a few quiet, introspective moments in nature can invite spontaneous insight into how creation of new will manifest in your life. I found myself naturally connecting to my will to live my best life and envision the possibilities that lay ahead. This also came with mining the gold in learning from past mistakes, giving me an energy to help bear life's storms with grace and gratitude. What story do I want to tell? Who am I now and what are my values? I found myself having more self compassion and more of a capacity to tolerate staring at the sun of my fears. Injecting some calm only nature can bring help us filter the distractions and minutiae of life. Nature is a gift, like therapy, it can help process the upheaval that comes with change and give us renewed vitality.

Mary Starks, MA, is an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor #5828, working under the professional supervision of Michelle Harwell, PsyD, LMFT #50732. Mary specializes in child and family counseling and has extensive training in the field of infant mental health.

The Delights of Nature

The Delights of Nature


How delightful are these ornamental corn cobs? If you could pick one up and hold it in your hands, you’d get to feel the texture of the bumpy kernels, smooth and knobbly, you’d notice how glossy and bright each kernel appears, and if you looked closer, you’d see the amazing depth of color trapped beneath the surface of each membrane, the hues of red, purple, and blue. Each kernel is like a rare gem - a cob like a chest of rubies and sapphires!

As an adult I don’t take the time to soak in the details of nature like this very often. My delight in these corn cobs (and the imaginative lens to see them as gems) is a remnant from my childhood. When I was about 9 to 12, I used to become completely absorbed in studying the five or so ornamental corn cobs my mom would set out as part of the fall decor every year. I remember feeling a sense of wonder studying these corn cobs, amazed at how beautiful a vegetable could be! (Ha!)

Maria Montessori, whose philosophy of education is popular today, was a careful observer of children and how they learn, especially in nature. She noticed that when children are given time to freely explore the natural world, they often become instinctive students, natural scientists, absorbed in the details of grass, bugs, rocks and so on. And beyond showing impressive attention and observational skills, she noticed the emotional effect that this kind of time out in nature tended to have on them as well - the way they seemed to grow more fulfilled, happy, and serene.  

I think it’s fair to say it can have a similar effect on us as adults, too! This fall, whether its with your kids or your own inner kid - I hope you’ll make it outside to enjoy the sights, smells, and textures of nature.

Allison (Allie) Ramsey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Therapist. Allie works with individuals on a broad range of issues, including anxiety, depression, relational challenges, faith integration, divorce, and aging.