How Myself and Others Find Nature a Comfort by Emma Pritchard

During my own grief and difficult life transitions, I have submerged myself within nature as a source of comfort, healing, relaxation and hope. These moments in nature have reminded me of the light, love and life that surround me when my grief has felt dark and heavy, by simply noticing the small wonders; the purple heather carpet over heath land, blackberries in the hedgerow, the brilliant red breast of a robin, the sunshine yellow of spring flowers and the green tones of the trees that stand tall and strong above me.

It is normal to feel alone in our place of grief, but if we allow ourselves to listen to the sounds of the bird song, how can we ever be alone? I started to name these moments in nature "sparkles" and some of my favourite sparkles over the years have been the most amazing sunsets, skies with candy floss clouds and kisses, and glistening sparkly seas.

In Tibetan Buddhism there is a term "ZiJi", which translates to radiance, glitter, confidence and sparkle. I believe these sparkles can help us to balance out and care for our overwhelming grief feelings, as well as help us to re identify and re find our "ZiJi" after a bereavement or tough life transition. Even though our bodies and minds don't forget our grief, we are always surprised by its presence again and again. The deep pain of saying goodbye and missing our loved ones is our grief. Grief is the people we loved which also becomes a reminder of who you are; your smiles, your love, your sparkles, and in the words of Coldplay, your "Everglow".

I began a programme of therapeutic walks in Thorncombe Woods called "Self-Care Stomps" in March 2018, supported locally by Stepping into Nature. My stomps are available to anyone who enjoys being in nature including those who have been affected by a bereavement or loss, individuals looking to rediscover or re identify with themselves, those who are carers either as their job or within their families or anyone with a busy life and limited 'me time'. 

As well as one off stomps, and one to one therapy in the woodland cabin, I run a yearly therapeutic process which follows the seasonal transitions of the woodland involving therapeutic, creative, mindful and relaxing interventions. The aim of my Self-Care Stomps is to encourage and support mental health and well-being by increasing self-awareness, self-confidence, self-esteem, self- reflection, self-responsibility and resilience. In addition the stomps seek to support you in re-energising, re-balancing and re-connecting with yourself in a safe and natural environment.

Self-Care Stompers use the woodland space to walk slowly and mindfully, to balance out today's fast paced world and to also to attach to their senses of sight, smell and sound. This mirrors forest bathing, a practice developed in Japan during the 1980's called Shinrin Yoku. Forest bathing is the cornerstone of Japanese preventative healthcare offering mental, physical and spiritual benefits and a belief that we are all part of nature with a deep need to feel this connection. 

Continued research shows that the real and long-term benefits of being amongst nature include reduced stress and anxiety, improved immunity, lower heart rate and blood pressure, accelerated recovery from illness or trauma, improved feelings of happiness and an increase in creativity. Being amongst or being active in natural environments is also associated with positive outcomes for attention, anger, tiredness and sadness. 

If you would like to know more about my work or would like to sign up for a Self-Care Stomp, please contact me via my website www.dorchestercounsellingandwellbeing.co.uk or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/selfcaresparkle . My next Self-Care Stomp taster session is Wednesday 28th August, which will be my first early evening stomp commencing at 5.30pm. It is always great to welcome along new Stompers!

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Sunday, 22 September 2019

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