What is Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy?

image indoor ecotherapy

Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy is a holistic, multi-sensory, nature-connecting approach, integrating elements of mindfulness and ecotherapy. It is suitable to support the work of healthcare professionals, mindfulness teachers, educators and holistic health professionals. The primary principles behind Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy are:

  • Nature-Connection as one of the most important puzzle pieces needed for physical and mental health. 
  • Accessibility for all: Some situations prevent clients to get physically out into Nature. There are still so many possibilities to connect to the natural world with a creative approach that thinks outside the box.
  • Honouring Individuality: Every person is different and for some clients certain parts of this modality might resonate more than others. In addition, all clients have their personal needs, sensitivities, aversions (possible trauma) and preferences. It is of utmost importance to honour these differences in this approach. Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy lends itself to tailor sessions indoors and outdoors for the individual client. Elements are freely combinable in addition to the practitioners’ expertise and offerings.
  • Multi-sensory approach: We are multi-sensory beings and need the information of our senses to experience and connect to our environment. Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy incorporates a multi-sensory approach to achieve maximum integration for the benefit of health and well-being. Sessions can be adapted for both indoor and outdoor settings.
  • We can’t have healthy humans on a sick planet: Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy honours the health of humans as well as the health of all living beings and our planet as a whole. We are all part of one system and if our Earth is unbalanced, so are all the living organisms. We encourage practitioners to support this attitude in their work with clients and beyond.

“Our challenge is to create a new language, even a new sense of what it is to be human. It is to transcend not only national limitations, but even our species isolation, to enter into the larger community of living species. This brings about a completely new sense of reality and value.”               

Thomas Berry
image nature connection
Where it all started:

The concept for Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy was born from a passion for Health and Nature, but also from a realisation that there is a clear need to supplement mental health, wellness and education modalities with a Nature focused element, that can be flexibly integrated. For me, with my background in education, mindfulness, ecotherapy and holistic health, it was always clear, that these modalities should work as one, rather than in separation. 

In recent times the focus in traditional and alternative health approaches has often been symptom orientated, dissecting specific conditions from the person rather than looking at the bigger picture. Thankfully more and more science-based studies are supporting the need for reciprocal Nature Connection as an essential part of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, as well as the health of our Mother Earth. Approaches like mindfulness, forest bathing, nature-based psychotherapy, The Work That Reconnects, and ‘mainstream Nature prescriptions’ are gathering momentum and are more and more becoming a firm part of treatment modalities.

The field of ecopsychology is coming to the conclusion, that merely information about the benefits of Nature, and even about the precarious situation of our planet, is not enough and doesn’t seem to initiate changes in beliefs, behaviours and personal well-being. This calls for innovative and creative ways such as Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy, to facilitate and integrate reconnecting, hopeful approaches which are accessible for all. 

Hope and optimism, in the context of the Climate Crisis, is an active choice which can be cultivated with guidance and regular practice. MRE puts great emphasis on implementing an approach that honours our eco emotions, teaches skills to regulate the nervous system, helps to mindfully reconnect to Nature and enables us to become proactive and empowered.

Meeting people where they are:

Another realisation that has occurred to me over the years, is the need for a nature-connecting approach that will meet individuals where they are, both literally and personally. Not everyone is able, for whatever reason, to regularly spend time outdoors in a natural environment but would greatly benefit from adapted nature-based approaches.

Hospitals, residential homes, practices, schools and other institutions are lacking that Nature element, not just in treatment/education content, but from architectural design, décor and integration of natural elements as resources for healing and wellbeing. Little things like a framed poster of a Nature scene, a pot plant or wall mural in a hospital room for example don’t cost a lot, but can make all the difference for a patient who can’t get up for extended periods of time. There is mounting scientific evidence about the importance of Nature Connection and our ability to heal on all levels. Nature-based approaches don’t have to necessarily be applied in outdoor settings, as contradictory as this may sound:

“Nature Connection is an Inside Job – We could stand in the middle of the wilderness, yet be somewhere completely different in our minds, at the same time we can connect to Nature anywhere and anytime by just directing our attention…”  

Alex Koster

Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy equips practitioners to integrate practices and programs into a wide variety of indoor and outdoor settings including therapeutic practices, classrooms, residential settings, holistic therapies, group and individual sessions for both children and adults.

Nature Connection Indoors
Module Overview:
  • Module 1: Mindfulness – An Introduction
  • Module 2: Mindfulness – Digging a little deeper – The Neurobiology of Mindfulness
  • Module 3: How Mindfulness informs our Everyday Life
  • Module 4: Nature Connection – The Missing Puzzle Piece
  • Module 5: Ecotherapy – The Symbiotic Relationship between Human and Planetary Health
  • Module 6: Modern-Day Challenges – Eco Anxiety and how we can heal from environmental trauma
  • Module 7: Modern-Day Challenges – The Importance of Taking Care of Ourselves
  • Module 8: The Importance of Our Senses
  • Module 9: Mindful Nature Connection and Spirituality
  • Module 10: Experiential Assignment
  • Module 11: Nature Connection through Food and Nutrition
  • Module 12: Working with Children
Sample Breakdown of a course module:

Module 5: Ecotherapy – The Symbiotic Relationship between Human and Planetary Health

  • What is Ecopsychology?
  • What is Ecotherapy?
  • Animal Assisted Interventions.
  • Creativity, the opportunities and benefits of the arts.
  • Eco Art Therapy
  • Indoor Ecotherapy
  • The Power of Storytelling
  • Reading assignment: Variety of articles on interconnection of human and planetary health
  • Video links: Ecopsychology, Ecotherapy, Interconnection of human and planetary health

All reading and video assignments are a flexible offering for students to choose what resonnates most with their field of work and interests.

Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy is a modality that supports professionals to either integrate the all-important Nature element into their already existing practice or take their career into a new direction as an MRE practitioner. This method is highly flexible and adaptable, yet incredibly powerful, opening up possibilities for clients and students who have been missing this vital puzzle piece necessary for healing and wellbeing. 

Especially in relation to the Climate Crisis and emerging mental health challenges, Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy offers empowering methodologies to respond skilfully to these challenges and support individuals towards more hope for the future.

This is particularly important for our young generation, who are really struggling with a positive outlook on their future life on this planet.

Our mental health is a vital puzzle piece towards positive Climate Action and as over 80% of the global population is affected by eco emotions, specific interventions such as MRE are a necessary addition to the skillset of health and education professions.

If Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy resonnates with you and you are interested to learn more: our next training cohort is starting on the 9th of September. For more information and Early Bird Registration follow this link. We are offering 2 x 50% scholarships for students experiencing financial hardship and a three month payment plan. To apply email alex@rootsandwings.ie.

I also did a Q&A session on Instagram, if you’d like to pop over to the recording, here is the link.

Looking forward to meeting some of you in September! ;-)

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