The very essence of Naturopathic Medicine is based on the Latin concept Vis Medicatrix Naturae, or the Healing Power of Nature. From a naturopathic point of view, this means that it is Nature that has the ability to manifest symptoms and to cure those same symptoms. Naturopathic physicians believe that within the Nature Kingdom are found all of the elements and substances needed for healing.
There are those that expand the definition of the Nature Kingdom to include human nature, which honors our own abilities to heal ourselves.
This is a very special time of year for the natural kingdom. The gorgeous spring colors are just beginning to burst forth, plants everywhere are experiencing their rebirth, those of us who are avid gardeners can joyfully seed our flowers and vegetables, and there is, generally, a wonderful sweetness and freshness in the air. Now that many of us are starting to spend more time outdoors again, withdrawing from our winter cocoons, it’s a perfect opportunity to share with you some of the infinite ways in which we can use the blessings of Mother Nature to cultivate our own healing and serenity. She is continually available to nurture and heal us. We are reminded of the lovely Native American chant: “Oh my Mother Earth, teach me to be humble…as you are when the feet of men walk upon you.”
Here we offer some techniques which we have found very helpful to reconnect with Nature in order to heal, deepen our peace and understanding, and reunite ourselves with our Oneness. First there is the Earth element which represents magnetism, strength, purposefulness, rootedness. Some breathing practices which help to ground our energy, recharge our magnetism, and bring us strength and renewed commitment are the following. All are done, ideally, in a beautiful, preferably isolated, niche in Nature with one’s bare feet paced firmly on the ground, but they can be done anywhere, even in the tallest skyscraper.
- This is an adaptation of the the Tree Pose in yoga. Either stand with both feet firmly planted on the ground, about a foot apart, or lift one leg and place your heel against your opposite thigh. Be sure to hold your gaze and concentration on a particular object which does not move so you will not lose your balance. You may either let your arms hang down and let your outstretched palms face the earth, or you may hold your palms together at the center of your chest (heart center) as is traditional in yoga and symbolizes “Namaste”, or I bow to the Divine within you . Now imagine that you are a tree whose roots begin to branch downward from your pelvis and allow those roots to extend very deeply down into the earth. As you stand, become aware of the gravitational pull of the earth on the soles of your feet and experience your body being pulled downward by gravity. As you exhale through both nostrils, become aware of the pull of the earth’s magnetic field on your own and allow yourself to be emptied of any fear, insecurity, self doubt, or hesitation. As you inhale through the soles of the feet and, if your arms are hanging down, through the palms of your hands, draw in the qualities of strength, purpose, courage, and stability. Experience fully your own balance and your ability to be an instrument for infinite strength and power.
- Find a special tree, one with which you have a particular connection. First, stand next to the tree, touch or hug it, close your eyes, and see if you can pick up on anything that tree might like to communicate to you. Open your eyes and use all of your senses of perception to experience whatever other information you can from the tree. Much can be observed just from noticing its shape, size, companions, foliage, trunk, roots. Now that you have connected with the tree, sit comfortably beneath it and rest your back against its trunk. This is one of the most wonderful meditation benches you’ll ever find. As you meditate, allow yourself to be healed by the tree and by Nature and to be bathed in an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility. It is difficult to remain angry or fearful if you really let yourself merge with Nature.
- If you are lucky enough to find a hollowed-out tree, it is an ideal cave for meditation and contemplation. It is in such a tree, which we know and love, that we celebrated the Harmonic Convergence.
- This last exercise can be done anytime you are walking and we have found it to be very centering while hiking or backpacking. As you walk, again with the arms hanging and palms facing the earth, draw the earth’s energy up through your soles and palms. As you exhale, allow any fatigue or negativity to be released through the soles and palms. Take a moment to than Mother Earth for accepting any feelings you wish to release and use your own strength and breath to send nurturing energy back to Her. Incidentally, you may find it interesting that the ruling archangel for the planet Earth from l879 to 2230 is Michael. The next element is water, which represents fluidity, transparency, clarity, and a very great, though different, type of strength based on its ability to flow around any obstacle.
These are some wonderful water concentrations.
- Sit by any source of moving water. A stream or waterfall is ideal, but any source will do. Imagine that from that stream or waterfall flows the infinite variety of Divine Qualities, more than any of us can possibly imagine. These qualities are limitless but include, for example, Love, Joy, Insight, Compassion, Truth, etc. Take a moment to marvel in the richness and fullness of creation. Now take the opportunity to focus specifically on those special qualities which you personally manifest and visualize yourself bringing forth each one in your daily life. Now, finally, concentrate for a few moments on those other qualities which are available but you have yet to tap fully. Hold each of those qualities in your mind so that they make a strong impression on you and then visualize yourself manifesting these “new”, underdeveloped qualities in your life.
- Sit by a lake and allow yourself to be completely filled with its stillness and peacefulness. Spend as much time as you need to learn this quality of serenity from the lake.
- Use water, from any source, to gently and purposefully cleanse from you any impurities, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, which you would like to release. Place some water in your mouth, as they do in the Tibetan tradition, to purify your speech. Imagine the water cleansing you internally, washing away any impurities on the cell level. See your tissues bathed in renewal and vitality. The Maori people, for example, when feeling unwell in body or heart, will seek out a place with natural water to revivify them and return them to Waiora , health. A story is told of an elderly Maori woman who healed very quickly after surgery for breast cancer. All I want to do, she would say, is to go and live by our stream for a while. The water, you see…it heals me.
The next element is fire, which symbolizes illumination, transformation, and purification. St. John the Baptist said, I baptize you with water, but one comes after me who will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Spirit.
The following are practices you may do to enliven and heal yourself with the fire element.
- Stand outside on a sunny day. With your eyes closed, let the sunlight shine directly on each of your chakras, or energy centers. Start at the base of your spine, then move up to the second chakra around the genitals, the third at the solar plexus, fourth at the heart center, fifth at the throat, sixth at the third eye, and ending with your seventh, or crown chakra, at the top of your head. Now draw the fire energy emitted by the sun’s rays into your body, allowing every cell to be infused with light and heat.
- As you stand in the sunlight, allow the palms of your hands to absorb the sun’s energy. Now rub your palms together to magnify that energy and place you palms over any area(s) of your body which are in particular need of healing or over your solar plexus or heart center if it is your emotions or heart which need healing.
- A very powerful exercise with a campfire or fireplace is to write on a piece of paper any emotion, memory, or resentment which you would like to release once and for all. As you toss these pieces of paper, one by one, into the fire truly allow yourself to be freed and forgiven.
The fourth element which you can invoke for healing if the air element, which represents lightness and movement and is the most refined of the four elements. In some healing systems, such as the Chinese and Tibetan, air is referred to as “wind”.
You may connect more deeply with the air element as follows:
- One ideal time to work specifically with the element of air is when you are feeling heavy, weighed down by the burdens of life, overburdened. Go outside, preferably in the breeze, perhaps sitting on a hill or mountain top. As you breathe in gently through your mouth, allow the air to be drawn inside your body and feel its lightening influence lifting you upwards. As you exhale, allow any feelings of weightiness to be wafted away with the wind.
- Gaze at the clouds. See each one as a thought or circumstance, or even a lifetime, and observe their movement. As the clouds form and dissolve, come and go, experience the continual changing of every aspect of life. Allow your- self to release any need for your life to follow any particular, rigid pattern and open yourself fully to the eternal transformations of life as demonstrated by the cloud formations.
- Imagine yourself as a bird, a kite, a balloon-as any object
which is able to fly. Experience that sense of lightness and freedom. Let yourself soar to your ideal place where you feel totally free and healed on every level. As you continue to fly, visualize yourself manifesting your ideal self, free from limitations, expectations, gravity. Take the opportunity to let yourself soar to new heights you’ve never had the courage to explore.
There is a Sufi healing prayer which you may find of benefit: (Feel free to adapt “Lord” or “God” to whichever form of the Divine Source of Healing you most resonate.) Beloved Lord, Almighty God, Through the rays of the sun,
Through the waves of the air, Through the all-pervading Life in space, Purify
and revivify me, and I pray, Heal my body, heart, and soul.
Take the glorious opportunity, whenever you can, to heal yourself through
the power of Nature.
As Kahlil Gibran says, “To Nature, all are alive and all are Free…. Nature reaches out to us with welcoming arms, and bids us enjoy her beauty…”