As the first rays of bright sunlight start to break the Winters gloom, a feeling of excitement begins to build inside. A throbbing in our very being, signalling the time of new life and fresh starts. The time of Imbolc and Bride or St Brigid, depending on how you’ve been introduced to her brings new hope and possibilities to the world we live in. Flowers begin to poke their heads from the warmth of the earth, emerging into the cold bravely as the Spring struggles to make her presence felt. Creatures stir from survival mode into nest building and prepare for a new generation waiting to be born.
It’s a recurring theme how we mirror nature without even realising it, how we feel that need to get active and spring clean our homes and our lives, tossing away the stale things we no longer need. I’ve been an alternative practitioner for three decades, and each year I feel this pull to start afresh as the snowdrops wave their heads in the cold air. There was always a
something that drew me to nature, a connection that is literally part of us, a something I could never put into words until I found a branch of healing practice called Ecotherapy. Like so many others, I have always known the healing power of nature, how walking in a forest can lighten a bad mood and ease a fractured spirit but there never was one thing that could encompass the hundreds of ways we personally use to find it. Until Ecotherapy called.
Ecotherapy is something anybody can practice, anywhere at any time. It’s literally a take it with you practice that requires no equipment, only you. And at this time of Imbolc, it’s a simple and effective way of connecting with nature to find healing, peace and calm.
Right, enough of the textbook explanations, I’m a pretty straight-talking person so I’ll continue that way. There is far too much pressure on everyone these days. Even small children are getting counselling, which tells me there is something drastically wrong with the world and we need to find ways to heal before it gets any worse. I reckon this was why I was drawn to Ecotherapy, it was a way to integrate many of the practices I used myself without the need to be an expert in all of them, a way that anybody could learn and begin to benefit from immediately. It can be as simple or as complicated as you need, just depends on where you are on your spiritual journey. And what better time to start healing than at Imbolc, when the goddess Bride/Brigid/Bridget steps forth to free the land from the grip of winter.
It’s really great that we have a bank holiday dedicated to Bride, it gives us an opportunity to connect more closely with the cycles of the year and that also gives us an opportunity to draw healing from the places we walk on a daily basis.
Are you aware that every step you take as you go about your day effects a billion other beings? NO? That’s OK, it’s not something we really go out of the way to think about, but when we do a whole new world of possibility and connection erupts. I recently went walking with someone who does the usual needing to get in a certain number of steps, burn so many calories, you know what I mean! Anyway, I stopped to video the river and take pictures of the new seedlings coming up in the grass, chat to a robin on the path the kind of things that turn my walk into a two hour commune with nature. Initially he thought I was a bit of a looney. But I let him alone, watching what he was doing as I filmed. Within a few minutes he was hopped up on top of a wall filming the river as it crashed over the weir, immersed in the sound of the water, which he had complained about as ‘too loud’ a few minutes earlier. A short while later he was stopping and watching the birds, the water, listening to the sounds around him and looking a whole lot more relaxed than he had when we started. The point of this? Well, he was practicing ecotherapy without even knowing. And this is what we do in those moments when we stop and watch the birds from the kitchen window, ramble through the woods completely absorbed in the moment of just being. Every instance making us feel lighter, happier and wondering where the time went. I hope you’re beginning to see where I’m going with this, Ecotherapy is the name for being at one with nature, the seasons and ourselves.
Did you ever consider when you watch a bird from your kitchen window that the bird is watching you right back? Did you ever think about all the creatures that hide away in the bushes, in crevices in trees, as you wander about? What do they think of you? Do you consider your role in the place you live? Questions, questions, questions, the type we never think to ask ourselves, the type that begin opening us up to healing in every step. I use this technique to teach school children, to get them to think differently about the environment that surrounds them. To create a different way of seeing and interacting with the world, which as adults we forget to do. This is also how I practice Ecotherapy, by releasing the rigid patterns we’ve become used to and to begin exploring the endless possibilities we blinker ourselves from. So, over this forthcoming holiday weekend, take a few minutes to stop, you don’t have to go to a forest or place that needs an expedition, use what’s around you, your garden, local park etc. but just stop and ask yourself do you even consider what other beings share your world? Listen to the sounds, feel the wind, watch the birds and start to see how many other beings there really are. Put yourself in the shoes of a bird and imagine it’s life, that’s a great thing to do with the kids, and see where the questions lead you. And never forget to remember how important each of us truly are, have a blessed Imbolc.