The idea behind ecotherapy is simple and it follows one basic observation – generally speaking, people feel better when we feel connected to nature. We don’t have to be in a beautiful place, although that helps. And we don’t even have to be in contact with trees or mountains, rivers or wildlife; although we generally react well to these kinds of environment, where human life takes second place and built environments also have less impact. This is probably why so many people take such solace from gardening or having a pot plant in their office space. And therein lies the key – nature makes us feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves, bigger than mere humanity, something beautiful that doesn’t need to be justified, explained, reasoned with or rationalized away.
It simply is. The colour, the movement, the animals and their ways, the plants and their relentless growth and nourishing shades of verdant green, the imposing mountains and winding rivers, the mighty ocean and life-filling fresh air … we share an innate love of life in the natural world, which was built into our psyches over countless generations of people living in close contact with it and giving thanks for the way it gives rise to and supports life. Biologist Edward O Wilson called this Biophilia. And it’s why the first exercise for anyone wanting to get back in touch with the healing powers of nature should be giving thanks, showing our gratitude for everything it has given us. Even from within an urban apartment, expressing this can make us feel better about our place in the world. Ecotherapy places us in the healing hands of nature, which develops in us a sense of being humble, as well as feeling more at home on our planet. But it’s not only about giving us more connection with the elements; it’s also about showing us the things we can do with less of.