"Nature connection for me is relationship. It is as simple and as complicated as that. To be connected to nature is to be in relationship. It starts first with contact, and it deepens through engagement."
How would you describe the work that you do?
I would say that I try and help people come back to themselves. Whilst it would be easier to give a label such as ‘outdoor therapist’, ‘counsellor’, ‘coach’, ‘writer’ – in essence, at the heart of it, it is all about supporting people make sense and meaning of the lives they are living, and/or the experiences they have had that have left them in pain, disconnected, isolated, suffering. I do this work outdoors and indoors, but wherever I am people’s nature connectedness is an important part of the work.
Why were you drawn to the work of Rooted?
Rooted is an inspiring grass-roots project that meets young people where they are in life, facilitated through a welcoming outdoor space in a way that is calming, restful and safe but also playful and energising. There is no prescription, but a willingness to enter into a journey with each individual. This is exactly how I choose to work in my own practice. With Rooted the outdoor place is essential and yet we are not ‘using’ it in a heavy-handed, utilitarian way that would deplete the natural space and pressurise young people to move in a pe-designed direction. Instead, Beth and Jenny are gently collaborating with nature as a backdrop to their work, and this leaves space for creative outcomes to unfold – it allows nature connection to happen organically at a pace set and managed by each participant, starting with contact.
How can we develop a regular practice of nature connection?
No worthwhile relationship can begin, grow or thrive without meaningful attention given to it. This might not be easy for people to hear, but it requires some degree of commitment and effort. In our modern lives it’s easy to duck out of a connection with nature because we’re busier and more indoors than ever. We can choose not to go out today. Not to see green spaces. Not to walk in fresh air. But in the long-run this isn’t healthy for us. So it begins with making time. From there it is about making nature connection meaningful: noticing beauty, feeling wonder and awe, engaging the senses…there is a lot that you can do and it all begins with a desire for that relationship. It is not always easy of course to get out into ‘wild places’ but nature connection can also be developed anywhere that the rest of nature is present. Perhaps you have a garden? A local park? A balcony full of plants? Spend time there.
Tell us about one of your favourite wild places.
Oh goodness, I can’t pick just one! For me, wildness is present everywhere and I try and seek that wildness whether it’s in the city or in the mountains. I am always looking out for signs of wild rebellion. But if you were to push me further, then on top of a Scottish mountain in the Cairngorms during winter is my go-to place for meeting the wild. More recently, I find myself swimming and I am amazed at the wildness I can sense from the middle of a cold tarn, or turning around whilst in the sea to look to the horizon rather than the shore. Wildness is never far away. It lives in our imagination as a touchstone to what once was. I am always interested in getting there.
"So it begins with making time. From there it is about making nature connection meaningful: noticing beauty, feeling wonder and awe, engaging the senses…there is a lot that you can do and it all begins with a desire for that relationship."
100% of the girls felt that Rooted had helped them value and look after themselves more.
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