Moving outdoors is one of the ways I make meaning of my life. It’s a full-body process of mind and body connection where I rehearse my decisions, process my worries, reflect on my present or my past, imagine the possibilities ahead, all to the tune of physical movement that keeps me edging forward. I can’t overstate the importance of movement both for a whole sense of wellbeing and for good mental health and healing. When I do my therapeutic work outdoors I am inviting clients to experience what it is to embody the movement they want in their inner worlds, and to feel the possibility available to them in the energetic exchange between themselves, nature and me. It’s very common for people to say to me ‘I always knew the outdoors was good for me, but I never quite knew why’. I help them see what’s happening in their minds and bodies as they begin to develop a new relationship with the outdoors in this way, and to reconnect to more intuitive parts of themselves and their wilder nature. This for me is a type of emotional re-wilding, and it involves a degree of stripping back to a more essential and vitalised places within ourselves. It involves feeling the earth beneath our feet, the soil between our fingers or the salt water on our tongues.
An exciting aspect of my work is exploring the various meanings and healing effects of different environments and places. Whilst we all bring our own stories, symbols and personal mythologies to different ‘genres’ of environment, it is fascinating to consider the therapeutic benefits of, for example, the ocean compared to a mountain-scape, or a fast-flowing river compared to a dark, damp woodland. People are often drawn to the ocean for its calming effect, for its reassuring expansiveness, for the ease of finding a clearly discernible horizon, or for the energetic and literal washing away of their troubles. This can be quite different to the type of perspective achieved by being at altitude. When I work with people outdoors I want to know ‘to what are you drawn?’; I want to understand what the outdoors means to them in the here and now, and how they are already using it as a way of regulating emotion or making-meaning of their day to day lives. From there we have a way in, and a starting point to reconnect with nature from.