Imagine a place with free smells, tastes, textures, sights, and sounds. No need to wait in line. No need to buy a ticket. Any seat in the house is yours for the taking. This place is closer than you think, in fact, it might be just outside your front door!
Spending time outside can give us a mental boost and expands our relationship with Goddess. Attuning to our own needs allows us to minimize triggers as we search for Her in nature. Finally, even if we have difficulty directly accessing natural settings, we can bring the outdoors inside and cultivate a lush mental landscape.
Benefits of Goddess-Spirituality in Nature for Trauma Survivors
I am not aware of a lot of data directly measuring the correlation between spending time outside as a Goddess-spiritual practice and recovery from trauma, but those who serve trauma survivors have investigated the improvements in well-being that occur with “nature-assisted therapy.” For most people, spending time outside would indirectly boost their amount of exercise as it requires walking and other physical activity. People who develop PTSD tend to decrease how much they exercise, but there are positive outcomes specifically associated with exercise that occurs in an outdoor setting. Ultimately, it is up to you to discover the ways in which taking your experience of Goddess outside, perhaps with a daily walk included, impacts you.
Spiritual Connections to Goddess in Nature
I’m currently reading Earth’s Path by Starhawk. In her book, she lays out an incredible array of techniques by which we can connect spiritually with nature. One practice her book mentions several times is keeping an eye out for the borders that occur in nature. For example, where the river meets the riverbed or grass meets a wooded area. She notes that a lot of energy and action can be found at these transition points. I’ve observed that many animals tend to hang around these points, like the chipmunks and the skunk who love the area between my house and the bushes! Changes and transitions are so much a part of what it means to be a woman embodied in this world, and I think we honor that when we honor the transformation moments and spaces in nature.
Another resource I turn to time and again is Molly Remer’s blog entitled Brigid’s Grove. She recently described a practice adapted from The Art of Doing Nothing that involves watching a sunset with awareness. This is awareness of the fact that we are actually the ones who are moving relative to the sun. This leads me to think about my relationship with nature as it represents Goddess. How many times do I react to rainy weather with grumbling, instead of marveling that the sun still shines above the clouds? Awareness of Goddess in nature lets me see more of the panoramic view that surrounds me every day.
I’m not shy about talking to Goddess in nature. I bring my dog with me most places I go outside, so I “tell” him the various things we are experiencing and observing. One benefit of growing a little older is that I care less about what people think of me, and they can call me a “tree-hugger” all day long if it means I get to witness the power flowing through a stately oak’s boughs and branches. My main communication is that of gratitude. With my experience of nature being no longer a pretty thing to look at, but instead a direct incarnation of Her Being, Beauty and Grace, I cannot help but feel humbled and astonished by all that surrounds me. Traumatic experiences can leave us feeling robbed of so much life and hope. I feel restored and enriched by Her creative expression of Herself.
Staying Grounded While Exploring Nature
Individuals who have faced trauma deal with their share of triggers, which are stimuli that can cause negative emotional reactions and even flashbacks. Personally, I do not enjoy being outside in hot weather, especially when there is humidity. I find this experience to be aggravating and capable of producing “insta-rage” in me. I also know that I tend to get overwhelmed when there are a lot of people or too much noise. A sidewalk with one lonely tree in the middle of a crowded city street in 90-degree weather is still full of Goddess energy, but I am unlikely to be able to access it. Knowing myself allows me to be selective in the times and places where I seek to really dig in and open up my heart. Shade, space and lots of green are much more grounding and calming to me.
A tip I have found to ground myself outside in general, especially when I am being triggered by people, is to look for what is growing, flying or scurrying around me. Seeing the parts of nature that aren’t human-centered helps me to expand my viewpoint beyond the one measly being whom I find upsetting. The sky can be a conduit for this as well; realizing the vastness of space above me, surrounded by and filled with Goddess, allows me to feel more secure.
Accessibility for Those With Special Needs
For some individuals, physical or mental differences may place activities like hiking out of reach at times. If you find yourself in this situation, there are still plenty of ways to affordably connect with nature. If you are located in a place with nature scenes outside, make it part of your daily habit to sit somewhere that offers an outdoor view. Adding just a few flowers, seashells or pine cones to your home décor may give you a reminder of Goddess as she presents Herself in nature.
Mental imagery is also an excellent tool in this situation. Choose a particular natural setting that appeals to you the most. Then, spend 5-10 minutes visualizing what you would see if you were there right now. What tastes or smells would be there? Are there particular textures, changes in temperature, or air movements that you can sense? What sounds would you hear if you were there right now? If you feel comfortable, listen to what Goddess wants to share with you in this moment.
Goddess in Nature, Goddess as Nature
By now, you’ve hopefully planned out a few spots in nature you can visit over the next week or two, even if it is just a mental journey. Rather than stuffing in as much as possible in one sitting, spend several minutes in the same area and note all of the sensory experiences it provides. Marvel at how rich your experience is, even though it costs little to nothing. Feel free to share your observations!