NATURE IMMERSIONS

“We are not separate from this Earth; we are a part of it, whether we fully feel it in our bodies yet or not.”
Sharon Blackie

So what is a Nature Immersion ?

A Nature Immersion as offered here, is essentially a journey with nature, both our inner and outer natures.  It is the practise of slowing down, whilst engaging all the senses.  We do this through a series of simple yet profound invitations. The journey begins as a mindfulness practise in nature, both our inner and outer natures.

Going to nature, the wild, for healing is not new. Our ancestors kept rituals and regular practises that ensured a sustained partnership with nature.

We seem to have lost that.

Nature Immersions are a way to regain our connection with Nature, our home. It is also a way to sustain, restore and deepen our connection with ourselves.

 At the heart of this offer are the principles of compassion, the imaginal and reciprocity.

This work is more than a pathway to wellness, it is rooted in the belief that;

“We protect what we love,’ an expression coined by the French conservationist -Jacques Cousteau.

Spending slow, deliberate time in Nature often allows for a deepening of our relationship, with the more than human world. We may see that everything is in relationship, that there is a dance of life happening all the time. We are part of this. This is what we mean by the term ‘Interbeing”. Every being matters, we are all of this earth.

Being in communion with Nature is very healthful. When we commune, when we gift our attention to the trees, the fauna, the birds … we open up to a rich relationship; based on give and take.

Globally as we have closed off from the more than human world, we are experiencing worrying exponentially high levels of stress related illnesses amidst our working populations. We are also experiencing unprecedented climate destress.

Reconnecting with Nature, both our inner and outer nature is key for all our healing.

Nature Immersions are one way to regain our connection with Nature- our home.

This practise is drawn and developed  by Clare Donegan’s love and deep respect for all of life. She has been a student of Buddhist philosophy and practise for a few decades now and she has lived, mothered and loved in several cultures across the globe. These nature immersions are inspired by Donegal’s  training and study of Forest Therapy and Forest Bathing.

This practise is an accumulation of Donegan’s practice and work to date. Donegan fundamentally  a creative practitioner (aren’t we all at heart ?) and has woven this practise drawing also on her expertise as a mindfulness teacher. Finally and perhaps most importantly this practise has birthed from her own personal time spent healing amidst trees from a chronic illness.

Donegan’s other key influences are John O Donohue, Carl Jung, David Abrams, Sharon Salzberg and the Dalai Lama.

 

Enter Nature Immersions!

The benefits of spending time in this way are plentiful, they include:

  • provides a gateway to deep relaxation
  • provides a boost to the immune system: natural killer cells of (NK) cell responsible for keeping the body tumour free are enhanced after a forest bath
  • people report greater mental clarity and research shows a reduction in low level anxiety and depression
  • recent data indicates that forest bathing decreases cardiovascular illness

See below for research papers and further reading.

So what happens on a typical immersion?

We will walk slowly, covering only a short trail. This is not a hike!

Clare Donegan will offer a series of invitations that form part of a sequence.

We will have the opportunity to explore the woodland, forest or wherever you are in a way that you may not have done since childhood.

We often find when we slow down and drop out of our chattering minds, we find a way of being that can feel more alive, peaceful and authentic.

Due to the current pandemic we are also offering Remote Nature Immersions.

 

Virtual nature immersions? …how does that work?

We know, it seems a little counterintuitive. Isn’t the whole practice of forest bathing rooted in a technology detox? How could a Zoom nature immersive experience possibly work?  

The practise will follow the same sequence as a live in person walk, with a few tweaks to accommodate you if you are inside.

  • Awaken and engage with your senses whilst connecting to your surrounding environment
  • Reduce stress and anxiety while getting to know the land where you live in a new way
  • These experiences offer a unique experience of human and nature connection, as you join with others from around the world who are exploring their surrounding environment alongside you.

 

References

Effect of forest bathing trips on immune system (Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine, 2010)

Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers (Frontiers in Psychology, 2014)

Exploring the mental health benefits of natural environments (Frontiers in Psychology, 2014) 

A Review of the Benefits of Nature Experiences: More Than Meets the Eye (Int. Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2017)

Effect of phytoncide from trees on human natural killer cell function (Int. Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, 2007)

Further Reading

International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine:  List of Articles and Books

Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs:  Articles and Research Archives

 

 

Nature is not somewhere we visit … it is our home- John P Milton

ClareDonegan © 2020