“Well Being in the Woods” at the Chattahoochee Nature Center
Her heart was pounding and there was pain when she woke up, but after spending time quietly in the woods, this participant shared that it was gone. You could see the relaxation on her face and as you looked around, you could see it on every other face in the circle. This is the healing power of nature. A few times a year, “Well Being in the Woods” is offered at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in for the members of the Cancer Support Community through support from Northside Hospital. It uses the practices from Forest Bathing and Mindful Presence to offer a quiet, deeply peaceful experience in nature.
Research has found what we intuitively knew – that time in nature is linked to good health. Following a comprehensive review of the pertinent literature, University of Illinois researcher Ming Kuo found:
The range of specific health outcomes tied to nature is startling, including depression and anxiety disorder, diabetes mellitus, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), various infectious diseases, cancer, healing from surgery, obesity, birth outcomes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal complaints, migraines, respiratory disease, and others. (1)
Kuo goes on to identify that the link between nature and good health is the immune system. So how to you get an immune system boost? Quiet contemplation in nature seems to be the answer. Although there are benefits from other types of activity, for example running in the woods, when you slow down and attune all your senses to nature, your physical and mental health naturally improve.
In the Chattahoochee Nature Center program, “Well Being in the Woods,” participants walk and sit silently attuning to the sounds, sights, smells and textures of nature. Many metaphors emerge after spending time with trees. In a recent session, participants recognized the flexibility of trees growing towards sunlight and how they live on and become even more beautiful with their scars. One participant shared how she was moved by the way trees are nourished by the earth and air and then how we are nourished by the trees as they give off oxygen. Being cared for, surviving, connection in community, and resilience are all lessons from the trees .
To complete the experience, participants were invited to share one word that captures what they will take away. They shared the words “Tranquility,” “Gratitude,” “Selflessness,” “Relaxation,” “Reset,” “Presence,” and “Peace.” And so nature heals us body, mind and spirit.
- Kuo M (2015) How might contact with nature promote human health? Promising mechanisms and a possible central pathway. Front. Psychol. 6:1093
Facilitator/Guide: Marjorie Pomper, Ph.D.
Marjorie has been a meditation practitioner for over 40 years and led many different types of meditation groups, including groups focused on mindfulness and stress reduction. She is a docent at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, a Georgia Master Naturalist, and a Certified Interpretive Guide. As a certified Heart-centered Hypnotherapist and trained as a coach by the Wellness Institute, she is especially interested in practices for helping individuals realize well-being, peace and joy in their lives. Her formal education at the University of Wisconsin – Madison included a BS in Dance Education, Master’s work in Counseling, and a Ph.D. in Education.
The next Well Being in the Woods event is July 8 at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. For tickets and information, click here.
The Mission of the Chattahoochee Nature Center is to connect people with nature. Learn more at www.chattnaturecenter.org.