Some background information about me:
My name is Alex Koster and I am the founder and director of Roots and Wings. We are Training Providers for several Mindful Nature Connection Training Courses and we are passionate about bringing the vital Nature Element to professional health and education settings.
I grew up right beside the forest in Germany in an area full of natural beauty. Foraging wild foods and growing our vegetables in the garden was not extraordinary in this region, but a normal way of life. Ever since I was a child I have talked to plants and animals as if they were friends, it only occurred to me much later that not everyone did this 😉 (I might have lost a few readers right here! ;-)). My mum was a natural health practitioner so herbalism, Reiki, organic foods, crystals, yoga and the general importance of Nature Connection and living with the natural seasons and cycles were just a normal part of my life.
I had a very sheltered childhood (in comparison to the omnipresence of fearful headlines nowadays), there was no constant worry about the global situation but at the same time we were raised with an awareness of the importance of our actions on the environment. Our primary school would not allow single wrapped food items, there was a strict recycling policy (I am talking over 40 years ago), my parents put emphasis on sustainability even in those days, we learned about the detrimental effects of greenhouse gases and sour rain in school… These early experiences and education defined me and my outlook on the bigger picture.
Fast forward a couple of decades when I became a teacher myself, Nature Connection was always a priority in my studies and professional approach. But rather than “teaching” children about the facts and theories, I would take them outside to experience Nature. Not because I read about it somewhere, but because for me it was the obvious thing to do. My first investment before taking on my first class was wet gear and wellies so we could be outside in any weather.
Throughout the years I have personally suffered from many mental and physical health issues and I was often left frustrated by the limited approach of allopathic medicine, even though I am very grateful for some excellent critical care I received. I also have first hand experience of Eco Anxiety and there were many days full of frustration, anxiety, helplessness and fear. Feelings to such extreme that I did not want to have children as I believed that it would be selfish and unfair to expose new life to the desperate state of our planet. At the same time though there was my deep love and connection to Nature and the desire to make a difference and protect the beauty all around us as well as the realisation, that we all need Nature for our health and wellbeing as WE ARE NATURE.
I have always felt there is a missing link and a couple of decades ago I started to study and learn more about approaches such as mindfulness, embodied methodologies, integrative medicine, shamanism, transpersonal psychology, eco psychology…. initially for my own health and wellbeing, but slowly but surely my professional interest grew too. It soon became clear that the answers to many of my personal and professional questions boiled down to Nature Connection, or a lack therof (I know this might sound very simplistic) and I became even more passionate about bringing it all together in a Training Course so it could benefit others too. I have always needed a balance between scientific research and ancient wisdom/anecdotal knowledge, which is evident throughout the Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy (MRE) Training which combines elements of both:
What is Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy?
Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy is a flexible and powerful modality combining elements of mindfulness, ecotherapy and a variety of related topics (including Eco Art Therapy, Transpersonal Psychology, Spirituality, Working with Children, Neurobiology, Food-Nature Connection, Trauma Informed approaches etc.) MRE lends itself to support health and education professionals to integrate Nature Connection/Ecotherapy into their practice. Many Nature Connection Approaches rely on participants being able to go outside to experience Nature. This is of course the most desirable option but unfortunately this excludes many clients and patients who for various reasons are unable to access the Outdoors. Nature Connection is often the missing puzzle piece in the healing journey and especially for people who face restrictions it is even more important to have opportunities that think outside the box.
External circumstances should not stand in the way of integrating Nature Connection and there are many opportunities and possibilities to facilitate indoor ecotherapy in settings such as private practices, residential homes, hospitals, schools and pre-schools or the homes of patients and clients for example. Simple examples for integrating Nature into indoor environments are pot plants, nature sounds (background music) or pictures of Nature scenes for example.
Many people might think that Indoor Therapy might be an Oxymoron but when we break it down it soon becomes obvious that there are so many interventions that can bring Nature to clients indoors:
- Mindful awareness of Nature elements that always surround us (examples are the oxygen we breathe, food we eat, cotton in our clothes, wood in the chair, leather of shoes etc.)
- Mindfulness exercises.
- Nature soundtracks to set the scene for various activities.
- Essential oils and other natural sources to give olfactory input. (forest soil, foods, herbs, pine needles, honey, clay, wood shavings, fungi, seawater…)
- Use of natural objects for tactile, visual, olfactory input and creative and imaginative use: tree bark, pine cones, pebbles, crystals, feathers, flowers, leaves, seashells…
- Creative expression through art, movement, writing, poetry etc.
- Full immersion activities. Example: Multi-sensory beach experience: Box with sand for clients to place their feet into, jar with seawater and seaweed for olfactory input, seashells and pebbles for tactile sensation, ocean soundtrack, beach visualisation.
- Preparing food or drinks with foraged, homegrown or other natural ingredients and celebrating it mindfully.
- Enabling contact with animals, always keeping both the wellbeing of the client and animal in mind. (and always checking that we are covered by insurance)
- Activities to address eco-anxiety and acknowledge our common humanity. “The Work that Reconnects” approach to move through the spiral of gratitude, honouring our pain, seeing with new eyes and going forth is a wonderful framework to use and there is a wealth of exercises available.
- Resulting from the above, activities and exercises for reframing the mindset of feeling helpless and fearful, to feeling empowered and proactive.
Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy is an approach that is both suitable for Indoor and Outdoor Settings, it places a focus on varied, multi-sensory approaches and prioritises the individuality of both clients and practitioners. It’s a fantastic addition for Health and Education Settings such as Psychotherapy Practices, Hospitals, Residential Homes, Schools, Childcare Settings, Holistic Health Practices etc. The Training is fully approved and accredited through the IICT, IMMA and CPD.
Download Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy Brochure for more information.
You can register for the upcoming Training (05.09.2022) here: