Tuesday 6 July 2010

Healing Landscapes

Throughout my life, going for solitary walks on the beach or
in the woods has been the best therapy for whatever ailed
me. Walking helps me process my emotions and clear my
thoughts. Whether there is a challenging problem I need to
think through, or a knee jerk reaction that I need to walk
off, or a deeper emotional issue I need to resolve, walking
prevents my thoughts and feelings from becoming stuck. It
allows their energies to flow throughout my body, while
maintaining a connection between my mind and heart.

More than just the walking, where I walk is also very
powerful. I have come to realize that the landscapes of my
youth have become imbedded in my psychic memory. They too
are a part of my physical and emotional history. I have
learned that walking in environments, similar to those that
gave me joy in my childhood, helps restore my overall
feeling of well being. I call these places my healing

As a young child I remember running to the woods when I was
upset. I would scramble onto a rock in the middle of the
river behind our house, or sometimes I would climb up into a
tree and perch myself in the arms of its comfortable
branches. I would sit for hours, just watching and
listening, only to return home when I felt all better. To
this day I am still moved and comforted by trees and

Both my parents are buried in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where
our family had spent most of our summer vacations and where
they eventually retired. Surrounding each of their funerals,
I spent many hours walking the familiar beaches, allowing the
wind and the waves to swallow my grief. At one point I shared
with a friend how walking those beaches felt like home,
almost like returning to the womb. Months later after
clearing out my parent's house and sorting through all their
photographs, I found a picture of my mother sitting on that
very beach, pregnant with me. The woods may be my healing
landscape for day to day worries, but for the bigger issues
in life, the beach is where I need to be.

Where are your healing landscapes? Think back to your
childhood home, your summer vacations, or the most contented
moments of your life. Was there a tree in your front yard, or
a summer cabin on a lake, a mountain you climbed with a
friend, or do you prefer a city landscape, with tall
buildings and people going every which way?

Ask yourself, if you could be anywhere, where would you like
to be? If nothing comes to mind, take a piece of paper and
some crayons and draw a picture of a beautiful landscape.
Let your drawing be childlike in its simplicity. Don't plan
or design it. Just let your drawing unfold. Does your
drawing remind you of somewhere? What element of the drawing
is the focal point?

Take some time to identify your healing landscapes. Perhaps
visit a fewthis summer, by spending time alone in their
surroundings. Once you have found the geographical elements
that match your spirit, seek out similar locations near to
where you live. Make it a habit to go walking there whenever
you need to work through something. Know that these places
are dear friends you can visit time and time again. Learn to
turn to your healing landscapes for comfort and clarity.

About the Author:

Karin Marcus, Professional Certified Life Coach / Retreat
"Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do" Rumi
[email protected] 610-667-5247

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karin, nice post! I'm the founder and director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, an organization that is all about what you're talking about - the restorative value of nature. I hope you'll stop by the Therapeutic Landscapes Network's website (http://www.healinglandscapes.org/) and blog, and perhaps join us on Facebook as well (http://www.healinglandscapes.org/). Best, Naomi