The Healing Power of Nature
with Cindy Rodriguez
A lot of us, especially our ancestors, consider nature as a healer, not only for our physical health but for our overall wellbeing - body, mind and spirit. We’ve dedicated the month of April to honor Earth Day which is being celebrated every April 22nd. I had the privilege of talking about the powerful benefits of nature over on The Beyond Resilience Life Podcast with an amazing guest, Cindy Rodriguez. She is the founder of Reclama, a spiritual hiking and journaling community for women of color.
As shared by Cindy, nature is our safe space. We often forget to give ourselves that time to just be by ourselves, and nature is the perfect setting for that. It lets you step away from the everyday hustle and just be at peace with nature and yourself. Cindy gets so much clarity in nature and being out there when distress allows her to have moments with herself and reflect that it’s not her truth but is just the situation she’s in at the moment. Nature allows us to just leave our grievances and it has its own ways of taking care of them for us.
Our Personal Experiences and Healing with Nature
This episode of the podcast has made me reflect on my first camping experience in Upstate New York during the summer. I was a counselor then on a summer camp and it was a rustic type of camping. We didn't use a tent but a sleeping bag and the spot they chose to sleep at has a lot of roots, not to mention the bugs and mosquitoes around us. I remember how one of the campers who just came back from the military would wake up just to kill the bugs for us. Although I had fun with the other campers because we also had a fire and ate s’mores, which was a first for me at that time too, that bad and uncomfortable experience is what I always think of every time someone asks me to go camping.
I was definitely able to redeem myself and have had great experiences camping and hiking after that. I think now would also be a great time to go camping and experience nature with the kids especially after being sheltered in place for a long time.
Cindy also shared how growing up, she and her mom would always go on mini adventures like going to the beach or camping, or just spending a day out barbecuing by the river. This has been a normal thing for her but not on the neighborhood she grew up, which is very urban and very immigrant dominant. She live in New Jersey but is very close to the parks of New York but the people in the neighborhood have forgotten that the parks and the river are just there for them because they don’t use them enough. A lot of people are not really exposed to what’s within their current community yet they tend to talk a lot about the nature they grew up in from their hometown.
There was also a time when she hit rockbottom and nature is where she’d found her healing. For months, she’s without a job, just left a 10 year relationship, living with her mom, and trying to start her life over. The only place that felt right for her because it also didn’t cost money, is spending some time in nature. She’d always tell people that if you keep coming and add intention, and really bring forth the things in nature that you want to let go of, you're really going to start healing in ways that you probably didn't even think you could.
She knew she has to share her experiences to help others also find their peace and healing through nature. One of the main reason she keep going is to be able to expose others especially that most people would try to be with nature when on vacations but they don’t really do it at home. She wanted to show people how friendly nature can be and it’s not as scary as it comes off. You may need a few things but you don’t need to have everything as you get started.
Some of Nature’s Powerful Benefits
A lot of studies have already shown the many benefits our bodies can get by being in nature. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a hike or a camp but simply going to the park or by the river, taking a walk, putting the phone away, maybe journaling, and just enjoying your time connecting with nature. The more we get exposed to it, the more sound we’re going to be.
Aside from the physiological benefits, some of the powerful healing properties of nature are:
- It naturally helps people to be more peaceful and centered.
- It’s the best time and place to connect with Spirit.
- It becomes your peace. The more frequent you get to be with nature, the more you’ll be connected with it. As emphasized by Cindy, nature is not like a resource. You are nature. We're all a part of this and we're all connected, but you got to start out slow, just like with anything else.
- It gives a different and special kind of connection. As you get connected to nature, the more you’ll want to protect it and share it with family and friends. That park or mountain you’ve been going and hiking to now has a different and special meaning.
How You Can Connect with Nature
There would be times when we would feel that something’s missing. We may not realize it but it may be the sound, the smell, and the calmness and peace of nature. We often forget how we also need time to wander and connect with ourselves.
If you’d love to start your hiking and camping journey but is not sure where to start, Cindy gave some practical little steps to help:
- Go in the best weather and temperature possible. The best time to hike is spring and fall, and winter and summer are the two extreme weathers to go out.
- Choose an Easy Trail. This would depend on one’s perspective, and Cindy recommends to really do some research, read some blogs to get more information about the trail so you can also prepare for it. Just because a hike is not difficult and you are not like sweating and killing yourself to get to the top, that doesn't mean it's not a hike.
- Go with a friend or let someone know where you’re going. Hiking by yourself even if it’s an easy hike but you've never been there, is going to be a little scary.
- Do your research. Cindy recommends AllTrails as a great resource to get started as it is very thorough and includes trail maps, reviews and images. There are also state by state clubs and certain blogs that you can look and check which of them resonates with you the most to be able to get some insights, photos, how they go about hike, and what tips you can get.
She also shared some important tips that could help you really connect with nature.
- Sit still and unsubscribe from all the hustle. We live in a capitalist world or country and it's all about the hustle and getting it done faster, but being with nature is the complete opposite. It forces you to be present, to sit still and be at peace.
- Don’t use your phone. One of the rules that Cindy has when hiking is not using phones, she’d only tell people when to take it out for the photos. We’re so tied to our phones and the screen that it could feel really uncomfortable for the first few minutes. But this would really allow you to be more present and just have a good time with nature and the people around you.
- Journal. Midway through a hike, Cindy would ask people to pause and just take note of how they feel, to take inventory right then and then of what’s making them happy at the moment. It’s like writing to your highest self because you’re super fresh, you have the best ideas, and everything is just clear.
As Cindy always tell people, hiking may be your first step in the outdoor space but it’s not just a one time thing. The experience, the sense of accomplishment, the positive vibe and all its healing benefits are things you can bring with you in your lifetime, but you should also find your way back.
To find out more about Cindy Rodriguez and her initiatives, upcoming hikes and retreats, as well as some spiritual goodies, please check out her website https://recla.ma or via Instagram @recla.ma
I hope you’ll find this helpful as you start reconnecting with nature and that you start experiencing peace and healing with it. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out to via social media or send an email to [email protected].