Animist Ecotherapy: Exploring Living Presence Through Your Senses

Connect to living, breathing spirt of the land where you live through mindful breathing and nature connection practices.

Animist Ecotherapy Involves Exploring Your Senses And Developing A Felt Connection To The More Than Human World

While most therapy focuses on talking, language and works mostly above the neck, Animist Ecotherapy involves re-building an embodied connection to the world around you.

A simple ecotherapy practice to start with is grounding.

One of the reasons for the high levels of stress and anxiety in the highly-developed countries is that people aren't grounded to the Earth.

When was the last time you were barefoot and the soles of your feet touched the ground? For many people today, they go months without touching their feet to the ground.

Grounding is a simple practice with huge benefits such as reducing inflammation, boosting the immune response, wound healing, and the prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases [1].

Other benefits include better sleep, lower anxiety and reduced pain, and all you have to do is walk barefoot outside or practice sitting, working, or sleep indoors in a environment connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth's electronics from the ground into the body [2].

While much of modern psychology and therapy works from the neck upwards, Animist ecotherapy is focused on going beyond the labelling, judgements and identifications of the mind and feeling your experience deeper in the felt presence of the body.

Try this ground exercising for yourself and I'm sure you'll be surprised by how much better you feel after just grounding for a few times.

When The Culture Is Sick, We Must Go Back To The Roots of Knowledge And Experience

As climate change advances and the growth-obsessed societies of the Western world continue their decline there is a longing to reconnect to something that is timeless in a meaningless, disposable consumerist world.

At the root of our ecological crisis and our spiritual discontent is our alienation from nature. 

In Animistic ecotherapy, everything is alive and possessed with a living spirit, which we can tune into through embodied presence and the feeling sense.

Animism is about a direct and personal experience with the more-than-human world. As children, we naturally heard the living voice of nature speaking to us through our senses and how the living world makes us feel alive.

In many ways, an animistic view of life is the antithesis of the Western training of the mind in its left-hemisphere analytical dominance and hyper-rationality.

Separated from nature and the living, feeling presence of the body that we are taught to distrust, we are told there is little to do but pursue pleasure and security through the 3 base emotions that drive the modern world through the 1000s of advertisements we are exposed to each day: greed, lust and envy.

This industrial economic engine of advertising, consumption and materialism serves to satisfy the spiritual hunger that is left by our abstract, mechanistic and empty form of empiricism.

Animist Ecotherapy is involves going beyond conceptualized thinking to a direct experience of the "felt presence" of a living, breathing world.

Rather than analyzing and arguing with ourselves, we can gain much by relaxing and tuning into our senses and let go of our pre-conceptions and constant chattering of the thinking mind.

Less thinking makes us more aware and more connected, and helps us ground ourselves in our emotional felt experience, which when shared with others in our community can be incredibly healing.

So, to summarize, Animist Ecotherapy is about cultivating a reverence and felt sense of awe for the miracle of life and build a sense of belonging as an integral part of the Earth community.

5 Foundational Ecotherapy Practices For Improving Health And Well-Being

Here are some of the best ecotherapy practices for improvingmental health:

1. Animal-Assisted Ecotherapy

Animal-assisted ecotherapy involves human-animal interactions and building a relationship bond with animals.

Adopting a dog or cat, for example, has been found to significantly decrease stress levels, anxiety and depression [3].

2. Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural therapy involves practices that use plants and garden to improve mental and physical health.

This form of gardening ecotherapy has been found effective in increasing mental well-increased, a deeper sense of meaning and an improved sense of resilience and emotional intelligence [4].

3. VR Nature Therapy:

Even virtual reality simulations of the natural world have been shown to improve mental health.

A series of studies have found that designing convincing and realistic settings that provide the user with a feeling of actually being present in the virtual environment can help improve mental well-being [5].

4. ADHD Ecotherapy:

Nature connected therapy practices have been shown to be especially effective for both children and adults with ADHD.

There has been significant research done on attention restoration therapy studying the effect on walking in the forests on improving attention and decreasing stress [6].

5. Forest Ecotherapy

There has been significant research done in Japan and South Korea studying how prescribed weekly forests walking improve both physical and mental health.

Shinrin-Yoku (the Japanese art of Forest Bathing) has become a popular way to reconnect with the natural world and induce states of relaxation and connectedness [7].

Learn More About Eco-Mindfulness Training

Download our guide to nature connection therapy and get a link to join our Facebook Group for discussing ecotherapy, forest medicine and mindfulness in nature.

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