There are many ways to get grounded in recovery. Being outside and connecting with nature has exceptional restorative abilities. It does not take countless hours of being in the wilderness. An individual recovering from substance abuse or co-dependency can simply spend even just a few minutes in nature at a park, on a walking trail, or even spend time in a garden to reap the benefits of the great outdoors. Even a view of green space can work wonders for your mind, and aid you on the path of recovery.
In my recovery from codependency, the time I spend outside in nature has been one of the most physically and emotionally restorative practices. The fresh air and the view of the natural scenery are beneficial, but that is not all. Research has shown that nature has a significant positive effect on a recovering individual’s mental ability, their relationships with others, and their physical health.
The healing qualities of being outdoors and being in touch with nature can also be an excellent relapse prevention tool. Known to us as a ‘sacred pause’, spending even 10 minutes in nature has helped us reduce stress and leave us feeling refreshed and balanced.
We have a relationship with nature that we don’t often spend the time to consider. This relationship is more powerful and healing than any other relationship in my life. Don’t get me wrong – we all need our tribe – our family, fellowship, community, sponsors, friends, and mentors that stand by us on this path of recovery. The support that mother-nature gives us is without language. It is wisdom without words. We can feel immense support by even spending a minute feeling our feet on the ground.
Want to feel connected? Practice the green breath.
Introduced to me by Seraphina Capranos, a Herbalist, Homeopath and Educator on Saltspring Island (visit her website here! http://www.seraphinacapranos.com) The Green Breath is an exceptional way to connect with nature on a SPIRITUAL level. This practice will turn your walk in the forest, garden or park into a truly magical experience.
Consider this – Human beings need oxygen to survive. Trees and plants provide us with this life-force. In exchange, trees need carbon dioxide to survive, which is what us human beings exhale. The green breath practice is simply acknowledging the life sustaining relationship we have with mother nature. Take a moment to breathe with a tree and thank it! Recognize the beauty in a flower, and feel the gratitude for its existence. It is something that truly needs to be experienced to understand!
Want to feel supported? Try a grounding exercise.
Close your eyes. Feel your feet on the earth. Get grounded. Visualize yourself being rooted in the ground. Feel the support from the ground going through your feet to the top of your head. Notice the sensations in your feet as you feel the earth under you. Imagine that you are being held up, supported, and grounded by the green mother earth. Notice what thoughts and feelings arise, and then let them go. Visualize these thoughts as passing leaves in a bubbling brook (or a raging river!) This exercise is an example of the ‘sacred pause’ in action!
What to reduce stress? Practice this breathing exercise.
Preferably find space outside where you can feel the wind on your skin. With your eyes open or closed, take a deep belly breath through your nose and hold it for a few seconds. As you breathe visualize the power of the air opening your lungs and nourishing your body. Exhale out your mouth and repeat for 1-3 minutes, or as long as needed. This is a quick tool to utilize if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed. For PTSD specifically, conscious breathing such as this seems to act as a nervous system interrupter. “Of all the various functions of our autonomic nervous systems, from heart beat, perspiration, hormonal release, gastrointestinal operation, neurotransmitter secretion, etc., the breath stands alone as the only subsystem the conscious mind can put into ‘manual override’ and so it is through manipulation of the breath that we can re-calibrate the entire system.” (source http://www.wakingtimes.com/2013/05/20/the-vegus-nerve-and-the-healing-promise-of-the-sudarshan-kriya/ )
Remember – Nature is here to support you on your path of recovery. We can get grounded. Mother Earth is sacred, and so are you.