What kind of relationship do you have with Nature?

There are three types of relationships with Nature:

  • Transactional
  • Therapeutic
  • Transformational 

From the first Earth Day in 1970 I recognized the transactional focus of our society – we take and take from Nature and never look back. Fossil fuels, natural resources extraction, even outdoor recreation – take what you want and leave a mess behind. 

Treating Nature as therapy also has a long history, but seems to be more evident now as climate change highlights the ongoing damage we’re doing to the Earth. Since the 19th century wealthy city folk would travel to resorts in the country, coast or mountains to treat a variety of ills. 

Today that’s called medical tourism. Nature therapies like forest bathing have emerged to immerse people in Nature and engage all their senses to treat stress, depression and other ailments. 

When does a transformational relationship start?

The word “transformational” was not on my radar until recently. I’ve certainly experienced moments of transformation – in 2005 on my first trip to North Carolina when I stood on the Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and lost my heart to the mountains. A flatlander from Detroit, I had never experienced such exquisite endless beauty, even though I’ve been to the Rockies and the Alps. It took me six years to relocate. 

I lose myself again and again on every drive or hike in Pisgah National Forest. Now I can do that by walking out my door into my own forest.  

But is that living in a transformed relationship with Nature? After buying my house in the mountains I certainly thought I had that – living “way out here” changes your relationship with everything and everyone, from doctor visits to grocery shopping to visiting friends. 

But that’s still the superficial, transactional part.

The trees can take you there

A transformational relationship with Nature, I’m learning, is like falling in love. Your attitude, energy and outlook shift. Your gaze opens and softens so you can take in as much as possible. 

Your time together becomes sacred.

You listen more deeply and you look for ways to do everything together. You have a partner you can talk with, who listens and responds. You have a new identity. 

If that sounds a bit romantic, it is. The Romantic writers, philosophers and poets understood this transformational relationship with Nature, as I wrote previously. I’m learning a more contemporary definition from the Earth-Based Institute in Colorado, where I’m in an online nature-connected coaching program. (Hi, Michael!)

Why not a transformational relationship for everyone?

It should be obvious that moving from a transactional and therapeutic relationship with Nature to a transformational one should be a goal if we care about sustaining the planet we live on and striking a healthy personal and global balance with an increasingly tech-focused world. 

But it isn’t obvious to everyone. 

Many people are entrenched and invested in the first two stages. The battle to wean the world off fossil fuels seems endless. Nature is deeply healing, but many natural therapy advocates stop there. 

My goal with The Unplugged Club is to help people realize that if they look up from their screens long enough to get outside their front door for a short time every day – wherever they live – they can re-establish a relationship with Nature that will transform them. They can fall in love all over again. 

You don’t need to wait for a getaway vacation or move to the mountains to start. I’m going to have a free email course ready in a couple weeks that will show you how. 

3 Resources for You

I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest you check out the Earth-Based Institute. Every week I’m amazed at how much I don’t know – and I haven’t gotten through the complete program yet. 

Coyote’s Guide to Reconecting with Nature by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown Required reading for nature-connected guides. “Coyote mentoring” is an ancient experiential type of learning. Can’t wait to get into this one. 

Forest Bathing Finder Curious about forest bathing but don’t know where to go? This directory website may help. You can also try Googling [forest bathing near me].

2 Questions for You

Reflections, questions and ideas to break the digital spell.

1st Q: What type of relationship do you have with Nature? Transactional, therapeutic or transformational? (No judgment.)

2nd Q: Have you had transformational experiences with Nature?

Hit reply and let me know what you discovered this week. I’ll use some of your feedback in next week’s newsletter (first name only.)

Reflection Feedback

From Rosemary: (on how tech overload feels):

What lessons can we learn from our daily doses of technology frustration? 

Technology is a form of bureaucracy imposed upon innocent users in the name of spurious productivity. (Just count up the hours you waste fixing your techno problems and you will see how it drives down your productivity. Couple that with all the privacy rules and regulations and it is a small miracle you can ever get into your own computer to do anything.)

 Never expect technology to just allow you to do something.  

Do not rely on geeks to explain anything to you. They may as well be speaking ancient Greek or some language only known to aliens.

1 Action for You

One small step to start the change.

Identify one step that could start deepening your relationship with Nature.

Thank you to everyone who took my short survey! Five questions, one optional. 3-5 minutes. Anonymous. Take it here: Digital Survey

Hit reply, let me know how it goes and I’ll include feedback in next week’s newsletter.

Nature View

“Nature is the source of all true knowledge.” – Leonardo Da Vinci