“For the Anishinaabe, we have the teaching of the Medicine Circle, which is about balance. In that teaching, the human being is made up of four parts. There’s spiritual, mental, physical, emotional. … And wellness, or wellbeing is defined as balance. So instead of the absence of disease, it’s instead the presence of balance and the presence of wellbeing” – Melanie Goodchild, member of Biigtigong Nishaabeg First Nation, Canada.
In Australia, this is called Connection to Country and it is from this approach and what Ms Goodchild describes as “balance” that our bush therapy service is underpinned by. One of our client’s summed this up perfectly, “We haven’t ever experienced anything like what you’ve worked to intentionally create for the therapeutic space. It is just that actually …. space ….. safe space …. our body hasn’t ever experienced being in a space where it’s so supported to be calm and connected to deep energies and then to share this with you ….another person. ……. There has never been a safe space in relationship for us to explore who we might be …. you hold space in such a large way including the earth and elements and nature and the animal beings help because they haven’t ever been so disconnected from it all”.
One large contributor to poor mental is disconnection from country. Fletcher and Hinkle found that bush adventure therapy programs “were positively associated with personal growth, accountability, support, trust, and a sense of personal energy”. Bush Therapy is the Australian term, but you may have heard it called Forest Bathing or shinrin-yoku in other countries.
Kirsten Dirken from The Forest Bathing Institute interviewed Dr Qing Li and the quote below is taken from Dr Quing Li’s book; Shinrin-yoku: The Art and Science of Forest-Bathing”.
“The good news is that even a small amount of time in nature can have an impact on our health. A two-hour forest bathe will help you to unplug from technology and slow down. It will bring you into the present moment to de-stress and relax you. When you connect to nature through all five of your senses, you begin to draw on the vast array of benefits the natural world provides. There is now a wealth of data that proves that Shinrin-yoku can:
As mentioned above, our service is culturally safe and extends beyond the benefits of Shinrin-yoku. Our focus is supporting people in their healing journeys through Barna Mabarn and Connection to country, recognition and honouring the Indigenous ancestors of the area where we are delivering our service and utilising a trauma-informed therapeutic approach. It is the combined approach of our glorious wild places and culturally safe, non-traditional talk therapy that assists people to move through their experiences into connected regulation and balance.