Updated: Sep 27
Nature has been known to be a source of healing and rejuvenation for centuries. From ancient cultures that worshiped the natural world to modern-day ecotherapists, the healing power of nature has been recognised and harnessed in various ways. Ecotherapy, also known as nature therapy or green therapy, is an approach to psychotherapy that focuses on the healing benefits of being in nature. In this blog, we'll explore what ecotherapy Melbourne based practitioners offer and some of the key practices involved in it.
Ecotherapy is a form of therapy that uses the healing power of nature to improve mental and physical health. It involves engaging with the natural world in various ways, such as spending time outdoors, interacting with plants and animals, and using nature as a tool for personal growth and transformation. Find out more about Ecotherapy in our group coaching programs.
Key Practices we use in Ecotherapy Melbourne
Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a practice that originated in Japan and involves spending time in a forest to improve mental and physical health. The practice is based on the idea that spending time in nature, breathing in the forest air, and engaging with the sights, sounds, and smells of the forest can have a positive impact on our wellbeing. Studies have shown that forest bathing can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost the immune system.
Nature-based mindfulness is a practice that merges evidence based mindfulness with nature connection. We can explore the four foundations of mindfulness through being aware of our relationship with nature as an inner and outer experience. Through nature based mindfulness we can cultivate more presense, connection and groundedness in nature.
Sit spots are a key practice in ecotherapy that involve finding a place in nature and sitting there for an extended period of time. The practice is based on the idea that spending time in nature and observing the natural world can help us to connect with the natural world and improve our mental and physical health. Sit spots can be anywhere in nature, from a quiet corner of a park to a secluded spot in the woods.
Symbology is the study of symbols and their meanings. In ecotherapy, symbology is used to explore the deeper meanings and connections between humans, non-human and the natural world. By examining the symbols that appear in nature, such as animals, plants, and natural phenomena, we can gain a deeper understanding of our own psyche and the world around us.
Ritual is a practice that involves performing symbolic actions or gestures to mark a significant event or to connect with something greater than oneself. In ecotherapy, ritual can be used to mark the passage of time, to honor the sacred natural world, or to connect with the rhythms and cycles of nature. Examples of ecotherapy rituals include creating a nature altar, performing a solstice ceremony, full moon ceremony, building a spirit house or participating in a group drumming circle.
Meditation is a practice that involves focusing the mind on a specific object, thought, or activity to achieve a state of mental clarity and calm. In ecotherapy, meditation can be used to connect with the natural world, to quiet the mind, enliven the senses and to cultivate a sense of peace and wellbeing. Examples of ecotherapy meditations include walking meditation,nature visualisation, and breathwork.
Mindful Nature Walking
Mindful walking in nature is a practice that involves intentionally and attentively experiencing the act of walking while immersing oneself in the natural surroundings. It combines the principles of mindfulness and the healing power of nature to enhance one's overall well-being. During mindful walking, individuals focus their attention on the physical sensations of walking—the movement of their body, the sensation of their feet touching the ground, and the rhythm of their breath. They also open their senses to the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural environment, allowing themselves to be fully present in the moment. This practice cultivates a deep connection with nature, promoting a sense of calm, grounding, and gratitude.
Eco art therapy involves using artistic expression and engagement with nature. In eco art therapy, individuals are encouraged to connect with the natural world through various creative processes, such as painting, sculpting, or creating installations using natural materials. This form of therapy recognizes the inherent healing qualities of nature and the power of artistic expression to facilitate self-discovery and emotional release. Through the integration of art and nature, eco art therapy provides a unique and transformative space for individuals to deepen their connection with the environment, explore their inner world, and navigate personal challenges or traumas.
Indigenous knowledge refers to the knowledge and wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation within indigenous communities. In ecotherapy, indigenous knowledge can be used to deepen our connection with the natural world and to learn from the wisdom of those who have lived in harmony with the land for centuries. Examples of ecotherapy practices that draw on indigenous knowledge include plant medicine ceremonies, sweat lodges, and vision quests. We also explore tapping into our own ancestry (humans and lands) and rekindling our own indigenous knowledge that lies dormant within the cells and unconscious mind of modern humans.
Depth psychology is another important component of ecotherapy, as it helps us to explore our inner lives and emotions through the lens of nature. This can involve using techniques like dreamwork, storytelling, active imagination and art therapy to gain insight into our own experiences and deepen our connection with the natural world.
Grief work is also an important part of ecotherapy, as it allows us to process our emotions and experiences related to loss and climate change. By engaging with nature in the midst of grief, we can find solace and healing in the natural world and develop a deeper sense of resilience and hope.
Ecotherapy recognises that human wellbeing is intimately connected with the health and well-being of the natural world, and that environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity can have negative impacts on human health and wellbeing. As such, ecotherapists often work to promote environmental awareness and engage in environmental activism as a way of promoting healing and wellbeing for both individuals and the planet as a whole. This might involve activities such as participating in local environmental campaigns, volunteering for conservation organisations, or simply spending time in nature and developing a deeper appreciation for the natural world. By promoting environmental awareness and engaging in environmental activism, ecotherapists seek to create a more sustainable and harmonious relationship between humans and the earth, promoting health and well-being for both individuals and the planet.
Overall, ecotherapy is a powerful and transformative form of therapy that can help us develop a deeper connection with the natural world and find greater peace, meaning, and wellbeing in our lives. Whether we are engaging in forest bathing, practicing meditation, on an ecoretreat or working with an ecotherapist individually, the practices and traditions of ecotherapy can help us to find healing and renewal in the natural world.