Recently I attended the book fair at my children’s school and picked up a book I can’t wait to dig into. It’s called Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young. This is Brian Young’s powerful debut novel that was recently awarded the American Indian Youth Literature Award Winner: Best Middle Grade Book. It’s a story of a young Navajo boy who visits his grandmother on the Navajo reservation where there is no electricity or cell service. During his summer there he befriends a water monster and an exciting adventure unfolds (more to come in future blogs by me…).
What attracted me to this title is our simple and powerful healing relationship with nature, the best resource readily available to us. A colleague recently shared with me that she takes a “nature bath” when feeling emotionally stressed or overwhelmed. This gave me pause and has helped me to reframe my walks as I walk my dog hurriedly in the morning before school or again, hurriedly in the afternoon between school, sports, and dinner. As we move hurriedly along in the daily to-dos that seem–and often are–never ending, it is important to remember that our greatest, most powerful healing resource is all around us.
When you step outside, pause for a few moments and acknowledge what your five senses take in around you. What do you see, feel, hear, touch, and taste? If you focus mindfully, you will notice that even the air has a taste. Do a body scan from head to toe and note which senses respond the most to nature. Fully envelope and immerse yourself in your natural surroundings as you would a bubble bath filled with warm soothing water, scents, oils, and perhaps a glass of wine. While outside, tilt your head back facing the sky and take a deep breath in–3 seconds inhaling and 4 seconds exhaling. This simple yet strategic motion allows the muscles in your shoulders, neck, and face to release—who know that the simple act of positioning your breathing could provide relief in just 7 seconds? This type of breathing is wonderful for those who sit at a computer all day and the simple act of lifting your face to the sky and heavens while breathing naturally positions us to feel profound gratitude. This simple action guides us in perspective taking and helps us to see there is an expansive world out there, so much to see, do, hear, taste, and feel. We are a small piece of a very large puzzle—will our current stressor cause an emotional reaction 5 five minutes, 5 days, and/or 5 years from now? Only time will tell…
While immersed in your nature bath, take a moment to share space with the indigenous people who lived on your land prior to your existence. This is a simple practice one can do to further connect with nature. Land Acknowledgement represents a commitment to a culture of inclusion that begins with recognizing the Indigenous peoples of our region and can be done simply by entering land acknowledgement and your town into the google browser. Using google for Land acknowledgement is an interweave of technology and the roots of nature. You will be able to learn and read more about the history of the land and share in the gratitude for the ones who lived before you. In complicated times such as the ones we are currently facing, taking ourselves back to the simple things in life with postured breathing, nature baths, land acknowledgements, senses grounding, perspective taking, and profound gratitude can support our healing from troubling distressed times.
Lori Harkin Huse provides individual, couple, and family therapy in our Sterling, VA office and virtually to those located in Virginia. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary consultation with Lori!