The Power of Meditative Foraging and Forest Therapy

Over the past years, I’ve been eagerly exploring ways to reconnect humans back to nature on every level.

Through creating forest gardens, I understood the power of creating ecosystems of which we are an integral part. A place in nature where humans could function with a sense of wholesome purpose and belonging.

Permaculture practices help to restore our faith in ourselves as humanity – that we can indeed play a profound, beneficial role on the planet. We can renounce the role of disease and instead become the medicine. 

We do belong here and we do deserve to exist on this earth with dignity, freedom, and an inherent sense of self-worth.

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To extend this recognition of goodness and belonging, I was called to develop therapeutic techniques to help others discover their rightful place as part of nature too. 

One day, the phrase “Meditative Foraging” popped into my mind, and it wouldn’t leave me alone.

When I meditated on this phrase, a torrent of information flooded my system about ways to incorporate everything I’d learned into dynamic methods that could indeed help others to discover the joys of reconnecting to nature that had been so enriching to my life.

This kind of experience of feeling “guided” is nothing unusual once we find the courage to reintegrate with nature. 

meditative-foraging-Bilberry-gathering
Mindful foraging connects us with nature on so many levels – the plants that we ingest even literally become one with our own bodies.

Look, for example, at a young swallow, building a nest for the first time in its life.

Despite having never witnessed another nest getting built, she knows exactly which proportions of mud, hairs, and vegetative material are necessary to build a marvel of architecture that might shelter future generations of her young for 10-15 years to come. 

How does the little bird know how to do this?  

Luckily, she never asks.

She doesn’t doubt for a moment her innate intelligence that guides her every move – the same force that sends her halfway across the world and back every year in a remarkable feat we know as “migration”. 

meditative-foraging-basket-flowers-leaves
Foraging in a forest garden can be an especially vibrant experience, the sheer abundance sparking joy in the heart.

Meditative Foraging and Forest Therapy is all about re-learning that immaculate state of connection with nature – where we can feel supported, guided, and nurtured to live as part of a larger ecosystem, a greater intelligence, a source of joy, and a force for good. 

It requires us to lose ourselves and simultaneously find ourselves as part of something much greater.

In my meditative foraging sessions, I ask participants to come to nature with an empty basket.

To leave behind the stories and false narratives that keep them stuck on linear tracks, and instead to interpret the natural world directly through their six senses in the present moment

Through sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste, we explore the essence of nature by getting intimate with the plant world. 

Nature-therapy-forest-bathing-river
The relief of letting go into nature is palpable.

We use our sixth sense of feeling, or intuition, to interpret everything we are sensing in “outer nature” with our “inner nature”. We build a firm bridge that unites the two seamlessly. 

We discover, as if for the first time, which plants call to us, and in which way we, in turn, feel called to use them. 

The process that follows in the kitchen can be equally enriching.

Preparing food in a mindful way and resurrecting the rituals surrounding food preparation restore awareness of the sacredness of food. We really are, in a physical sense, what we eat.

Later in my journey, I learned about Shinrin Yoku or “Forest Bathing” – a Japanese form of nature therapy developed for many of the same reasons that I had cultivated the meditative foraging method

Highly intrigued, I took a short course with an elder in the world of nature therapy – Steffan Batorijs of natureandtherapy.co.uk.

Learning as a group, we took each other through various exercises similarly aimed at getting us back in touch with our natural surroundings. 

From being led blindfolded by a partner through the woodland glades, to lying on our backs under pine trees, we learned to trust and surrender into the primal healing embrace of nature. 

mandala-nature
Leaving a mandala is a wonderful way to share our gratitude and express our belonging as a creative force in nature.

I was very moved by the weekend and went on to practice these techniques as part of my daily schedule.

When we know how to surrender to nature, true miracles of healing and transfiguration can move through us. 

We release control and allow a much greater force to come to aid us with the things that we’ve so longed to see change in our lives. 

It is the solace of hearing a hill stream, trickling over rocks.

It is the joy of a blackbird’s song at dawn.

The radiance of a Celandine flower sparkling in the springtime sun.

The scent of a wild rose, reviving our sensuality.

beautiful-fern
Getting in touch with the forms of nature is an integral part of hearing her voice, and what she might love to share with us…

Though many of us may go out into the wild to witness such spectacles and even offer significant appreciation for the grace, dignity, and basic goodness of nature, few of us seem to take the next inevitable step in realizing that this nature is fundamentally what we are.

Restoring this knowledge, we let the goodness of nature permeate every cell of our body. 

We let it wash clean and heal every wound. 

We allow it to soothe our every sorrow. 

We put our trust in a guardian that will never let us down. 

We feel unconditional love rinse through us and herald relief to our stressed inner systems.

We let it rekindle the flames of inner delight, and watch it dance wildly with us as our lust for life is lastingly restored. 

Energized, revitalized, nourished, and healed, we can return to our busy lives –  safe in the knowledge that this loving presence is always with us, is our very essence.

Though human society may continue in its sleepwalk towards seeming oblivion, we can feel safe in the knowledge that nothing real will be lost. 

The nature we are, and always will be, will remain – and remain for good. 

forest-bathing-nature-therapy-bliss
To let go into the embrace of nature is like becoming little children again. Spontaneously we reawaken childhood memories and retrieve lost perceptions.

Knowing this in the face of the calamity that awaits the modern world may be at once heartbreaking and tremendously reassuring. 

A complete kind of emotion – robust, whole, and inspiring us to act in accordance with the goodness we know we are.

Having established a reunion with nature, we become a wellspring of innocence in a parched land – a firefly dancing in a dark night of our collective calendar – and an island of refuge for those feeling alone and afraid in an artificial ocean, created purely by a belief in separation.

Nature Therapy is an invaluable lifeline in these troubled times. 

I urge you to try it, for the sake of our contemporary world and the times to come.

Remember your belonging in nature and you will be doing an invaluable service to others in helping them remember theirs. 

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