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Remedy of the Woods

There is an unparalleled tonic in the vastness of the wild. A return to a natural state of being that frees us from the contained sorrows of our material world. 

The medicine of nature lies both in its vastness and with its wild nature. Its roots go deep into the Earth. Well before any of our troubles began and will continue to spread through the forest of the future. 

Cheryl Strayed Wild was not the first but might be the most infamous woman to work out her problems on the trail. While Cheryl viewed it as a type of penance this ancient tonic of using walks in nature as medicine is not only free but a potent tool in mental and physical wellness.

Nature is such a visual representation - a therapy you can walk around it. You are in a physical representation of the natural state of seasonality. You can see that they are lying dormant, rebirth, decay feeding others, symbiotic relationships, and toxic takeovers. All of these are powerful visuals that can help us identify those symmetries in our own lives.

Getting to walk around in the ideas and concepts that are the most complex and dare I say natural components of our humanity. 

Seeing the grass break through the snow bank of winter. The idea is that it is possible to have something come and smother you. To completely envelop you in a dark and cold place. But you are able to break free and come through on the other side.Literally burst through as if Puccini was crafting la Primavera about your plight. 

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; or Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. 
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

There is something about going into the wild unpaved parts of the world and successfully forging your way through. It’s a prescription you can write yourself that is actually backed by scientists. A mere 15 minutes in the forest yields lower heart rate, slower and more relaxed breathing, and most powerfully lower cortisol levels. This 15 minutes increases our cognitive abilities. It actually does allow us to solve problems more easily. to see solutions that we couldn’t have before.

In the past few years I started prescribing myself walks in the woods as a tonic for grief. I suffered a great loss and my heart was so heavy with grief and sorrow. Before when I had a heavy heart I followed the perspiration laid out to me by one too many RomComs. I drank wine and cried. I distracted myself with technology to numb my own thoughts. But I found that nothing has a more soothing and therapeutic release than a long walk among the trees or sea. 

I would see the powerful visuals of the natural world. I would see a loss. A dying mother redwood feeding life into her offspring creating one of nature’s most magical egmia’s a fairy circle. The mother tree’s children stand around her in a perfect circle of reverence and gratitude for all of their days. It would remind me that my grief was just my love with no place to go. It allowed me to scream into the leaves about the injustices of my sorrow. To release those primal shouts of anguish and loss. I am sure when Cheryl Strayed threw her boot over that snow cliff into the abyss below and howled after it as it tumbled into the rocky depths below she threw a little bit of her pain away with it. 

Write yourself a prescription to go wild. Go into a park, a yard, or a forest and witness how you change after becoming part of that landscape. It is our most ancient and natural remedy for a great many things including grief, sorrow, and confusion. It literally clears your head when you can’t see the forest through the trees. 

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