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Finding connection through nature

"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found , was really going in."

John Muir

A few years ago while studying to be an Art Therapist I worked as a youth worker with teenage boys in care, the toughest gig of my life, and there have been a few!

A couple of times a year, in school holidays they were taken away to the beach, or camping for a weekend. When it came to my turn to take them it was to a farmstay weekend, out in the bush, staying in a cottage, milking cows and riding horses.

We set off, three youth workers and four boys with varying behavioural issues, what could go wrong? We expected that many things could go wrong, there were no locked doors in the cottage, something we were used to in the residence we worked in. The boys all smoked and were always looking for dumpers (cigarette butts) there were none to be found out there. Their leisure time was usually spent hanging round the shops, on their phones, smoking and playing video games. When tempers flared, things would often get broken, and we were in someone else's house.

It turned out to be an amazing weekend, the boys all had a go at milking cows, they learned to make billy tea and crack a whip. They spent hours playing in the creek, they were Bear Grylls, exploring and adventuring. They were well behaved at a shared dinner table, after which we sat round a campfire, toasting marshmallows and yarning. One young man discovered he had a great talent for storytelling, making up a fascinating and hilarious tale about each one of us.

The final day was time for horse riding, and it was this experience with them that determined my path to become an Equine Assisted Therapist. One young man in particular, was big and loud and usually angry, but when the horses appeared he changed. He chose the horse he wanted to ride and made an instant connection, he melted and softened, became quiet and still. He rode him, without saying a word, and this peacefulness stayed with him until our return to the city.

Without doubt time in nature for these boys, was a deeply healing and soothing experience.

"Direct sensuous reality, in all its more-than-human mystery, remains the sole solid touchstone for an experiential world now inundated with electronically-generated vistas and engineered pleasures; only in regular contact with the tangible ground and sky can we learn how to orient and to navigate in the multiple dimensions that now claim us."

David Abram - The Spell of the Sensuous

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