Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley. —Theodore Roethke
For many of us, overwhelming stress sends us straight into the arms of Mother Nature. We feel an intuitive urge to flee to the healing energies of old-growth trees and golden sunsets—to seek ancient wisdom in the peace and quiet. Very rarely does a person in the middle of a break down or a break up drive straight to the big city to heal.
Research has shown time and again that people who have regular access to nature have fewer mental and physical health problems. We now know that being in the great outdoors improves the immune system, reduces depression and anxiety and helps heal a myriad of other conditions. There is almost no problem that nature doesn’t help soothe in some way.
This innate healing power is also a balm for hurting relationships. In fact, if your relationship has been causing you stress, anxiety or depression—and you and your partner are ready to work things out—there is no better place to get a fresh start than in nature.
This can be anything from a simple walk in your local park to a week-long camping trip. The trick is to become completely immersed in your surroundings, to see the greater picture and to let nature’s wisdom soften your heart naturally.
After all, when you are standing in the middle of something so much bigger than yourselves, it is a lot more difficult to focus on your personal problems. And when you allow your senses to completely indulge in nature itself— the smell of pine, the dragonfly buzzing over the lake or the fierce beauty of a thunderstorm—you tend to lose interest in being right or in nursing hurt feelings. You begin to realize that many of our problems are created in our own minds. This is the true power of mindfulness.
So if you’re ready to do some healing work, grab your partner and head outdoors.
Try immersing yourselves in the beauty of all four elements—water, earth, air and fire. Each element has a specific form of wisdom to share with us. We only need to listen.
For example, this may include opening up to your intuition and emotions as you sit near the ocean or a river; focusing on your relationship’s growth and stability while hiking the earth through a mountain or forest trail; engaging in greater communication while feeling the wind and watching it move the clouds; and meditating on passion in the presence of a sunset or campfire.
If hurt feelings need to come out then let them out—but not in an argumentative or accusatory way. See yourselves as deeply connected to each other energetically—when you say mean and nasty things, it hurts you as well. See yourselves as connected to nature and all living things.
In the end, relationships take work. Even the smoothest of them can become weary, boring or dysfunctional if there is no daily upkeep. When you come home together after engaging in a refreshing walk or a vacation in the great outdoors, bring the positive energy and wisdom back home with you. Make it a daily practice to interact with nature together, even if this means sitting in your backyard for a few minutes. Nature is a healer. You simply have to be open to receiving her gifts.