Nature Therapy and Forest Bathing in Suffolk and Essex – How the Great Outdoors Can Boost Your Mental Health

Home Nature Therapy and Forest Bathing in Suffolk and Essex – How the Great Outdoors Can Boost Your Mental Health

Nature therapy, often called ecotherapy or forest bathing, is growing in popularity and it’s easy to see why; being out in nature is good for your physical and mental wellbeing. Scientific studies are now proving what indigenous people have known for millennia…

Time immersed in nature – be that in woodland, the fields, hills or mountains, or strolling along a beach – does wonders for the mind, body and soul.

On this page I’ll talk about how nature therapy works and the improvements you can expect from one-to-one sessions with me in the great outdoors…

nature therapy and forest bathing in Suffolk and Essex
Image: Janne Ranta

How does nature heal?

Having spent all my life in the Suffolk countryside, it’s no surprise that I would eventually add nature therapy to my repertoire of healing methods.

But what is it about being out in nature that so lifts our mood?

Is it the fresh air and sunshine? Perhaps the sound of birdsong on a spring morning? Maybe it’s the spectacular scenery of a mountain range or a mesmeric cloud formation? Or the gentle lapping of waves on the shoreline?

Perhaps it’s as simple as taking time out for a walk in greenery where we can drop the everyday concerns and be alone with nature for a while?

Whatever it is, spending time outside and connecting to the natural world seems to do something to our mind-body systems. It re-boots us by connecting us to something beyond ourselves and, paradoxically, to the very core of who we are.

“How happy I am to be able to walk among the shrubs, the trees, the woods, the grass, and the rocks…”

Ludwig van Beethoven, summer 1808

If we can shift our habitual self-absorption away from ourselves we stop feeding the negative mind-loops that fuel feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger.

Not only that, but immersed in nature, we connect up to something beyond ourselves and begin to see things from a much wider perspective.

Let the words of Hermann Hesse explain better what I mean…

What is nature therapy?

So, if being out in nature can do this all by itself, where does the ‘therapy’ come into it?

Well, this is where trance plays a big part and why hypnotherapy and nature therapy work so well together.

You see, it’s not easy to leave behind the inward-attention trances that you’ve been living for years and suddenly shift your focus out toward nature.

Gaining volition over your attention mechanism takes practice. Getting out of your mind and all of its thought-chatter doesn’t come easy. Learning how to be fully present is an art form.

The thing is, most people you see taking a walk are not only taking a walk…

They are lost in their phones or their music. Or they are caught up in fantasy or silent dialogue. Or hypnotised by emotions about something that might have happened years ago: personal mind games and dramas.

Nature can serve as a distraction from the inner turmoil – If you know how to switch off your mind and immerse yourself in life all around you – out there.

This is one of the things you’ll get to master in nature therapy and this is where the therapy comes into it: gaining control over where your attention goes is tremendously therapeutic. You’re no longer governed by the reactions of the emotional brain.

RELATED CONTENT: Learn how to calm your emotions and think like the Buddha

But it’s not just a matter of mastering your attention mechanism…

Nature and the therapeutic relationship

When I do hypnotherapy sessions in-person or online it is much like traditional counselling in that there are just the two of us: me in the role of the therapist and you as the client.

But conducting therapy sessions in the great outdoors introduces a third element – nature herself. It becomes a ‘triadic’ relationship.

Whereas we can maintain a sense of control of the environment in the therapy room, outside in the woods and fields or when walking along a beach, something much bigger than ourselves can influence the direction the session can take…

  • Nature can speak to us in metaphor and symbolism, showing us clues to possible solutions that we might otherwise be unaware of
  • The weather can change dramatically within the session – something we certainly cannot control (however much we’d like to!)
  • There might be chance encounters with people we know or strangers as we ‘walk and talk’
  • And, with an open mind, nature can show us all manner of serendipitous things that can point us in new directions or provide us with an ‘aha’ moment, a sudden ‘awakening’ that creates an inner shift or change of attitude that you can take home with you

And that’s the thing…

Rather than seeing nature therapy as just a walk in the woods, its aim – like all good therapy – is to create a ‘shift’ within you. Something changes and you start to feel better.

If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence, we could rise up rooted, like trees

Rainer Maria Rilke

how does nature therapy work?
Image: Pix Poetry

2 types of nature therapy sessions

I offer two different types of nature therapy and both include working therapeutically with nature and our own trances, attention mechanisms, emotions, thoughts, fantasies and personal stories…

1. ‘Walk and Talk Therapy’

This involves taking the therapy session outside into nature…

But instead of sitting opposite each other, like we do in a room, we walk together and continue the therapeutic discussion whilst on the go. Some people find this much more comfortable as we are not required to make eye-contact.

There will be times – if conditions are right – when we take a seat and do more formal trance work or visualisation, much like we would in the office or online, to help you process what we’ve talked about and rehearse things going better.

See Walk and Talk Therapy as similar to what goes on in a therapist’s office but done outside, aided by nature herself; the fresh air, natural sounds, and the benefits of physical movement.

The therapeutic relationship still plays a significant part in helping you make the changes you’re looking for.

2. Deep Immersion in Nature

In these sessions you learn to direct your attention away from your mind and connect up to nature herself. It’s about learning to be fully present with your immediate experience as it unfolds moment by moment.

This is where you learn to gain mastery over your attention mechanism, develop your Observing Self, and then even move beyond that by connecting up to a bigger reality.

Who was it that once said something along the lines of, “You’ve got to lose yourself in order to find yourself’? Nature therapy can help you do that. This is where nature herself plays a part in your healing and personal development.

Sometimes, when you become absorbed in nature you experience glimpses of ‘pure consciousness’ or oneness. It such moments you merge with a larger reality; everything – including yourself – is felt as ONE.

I’ll often combine ‘Walk and Talk Therapy’ with ‘Deep Immersion’ as we pause, reflect or simply be present in the moment.

carved Buddha sitting in an old oak tree  at Thornham Walks, Suffolk. Location for nature therapy
One of the locations I use for Nature Therapy sessions

Locations I use for nature therapy in Suffolk and Essex

I use a variety of locations for Walk and Talk Therapy and Deep Immersions in Nature.

Click on the links below to find out more about each location…

Bradfield Woods (near Bury St. Edmunds)

Highwoods Country Park (in Colchester – for my Essex-based clients)

Knettishall Heath Nature Reserve (on the Suffolk/Norfolk border close to Thetford Forest)

Needham Lake (near Stowmarket)

Nowton Park (in Bury St. Edmunds)

Orwell Country Park (just off the A14 at Ipswich)

Redgrave and Lopham Fen (on the Suffolk/Norfolk border just off the A143)

Thornham Walks (2 miles off the A140 near Mendlesham)

West Stow (5 miles north of Bury St. Edmunds)

Most of the above locations have toilets and some also have cafes.

How to book a nature therapy session

Call me on 07921331707 to book a nature therapy session or get in touch via email.

Remember, I offer all new clients a Free Discovery Session if you’d like to find out more.

Can’t wait to get started? Check out the Harmony With Nature hypnosis download and let the power of nature begin your journey to healing and wholeness…

harmony with nature hypnosis download
Image: Jasper Boar

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