Letting Nature & Art Heal The SoulBodyMind
Have you become accustomed to living in a state of chronic stress and activation? A healthy nervous system is one that is able to "dance" within a range of activation and settling, in response to perceived cues from the environment. When we experience a traumatic event that remains unprocessed, our systems can remain overactivated or underactivated, losing the ability to self-regulate into a relaxed state of calm.
The most recent trauma research focuses on embodied approaches -- that is, involving the body, mind, and soul together in the healing process -- and retraining the nervous system to self-regulate the body's state of activation. Full sensory engagement in nature, which has been practiced for thousands of years in Japan as a healing method, now has accumulated scientific evidence to show what happens to our bodies' physiology when we walk slowly under the trees, taking in all the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of being there. Our healthy immune response is boosted, our stress hormone cortisol levels go down, our heart rates and breathing rates slow down. These are all indicators of our body shifting from stress activation toward relaxed engagement.
So, what is trauma?
One definition is any perceived threat to life that we could not protect or defend ourselves against, or any event that has overwhelmed us physiologically or emotionally in the moment. It's important to remember that the personal meaning attached to the event is a contributor to trauma. "One person's trauma is another person's thrill." Unprocessed trauma remains in the body, and can contribute to feelings of being stuck in a constant state of either "high alert" or "shut down", and little familiarity with calm awareness.
I'm sharing all of this with you because I've recently become aware of the intersections among trauma, nature, creative arts, and healing. While it may seem obvious, there is so much ancient obviousness that is being edited out of our modern experience. As I have begun coaching actively again this year, I am noticing in my clients how being in nature, combined with conscious awareness and movement of the body, are essential partners in coaching. Our innate wisdom is revealed to us in the "normal range" of the chart above. Many of us, in one or more areas of our lives, have adapted to a state that prevents us from accessing our most basic knowing and feeling state.
Our next art and nature mini-retreat, on Friday, May 4, will be "trauma-informed". That means, we will become conscious of how our nervous systems have adapted to survive the particular circumstances of our lives, and explore how being in nature and creating with art materials can help us self-regulate into a state of awake, relaxed engagement. I am joined once again by Amy Sullivan, LMFT, and Jovani, who will collaborate in support of our time together.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions about whether this event is a good fit for you. All details and registration link here.