While I visit and thoroughly vet all of the programs I recommend, I visited one recently that left me feeling very peaceful. This particular wilderness program was in a beautiful location, my reception there accentuated that beauty. I was met by a group of program participants who, in anticipation of my visit, had planned a mindful ritual where we would sit together on the ground in the woods where they’d set up a kind of mandala of leaves to represent the importance of the transformative work they were doing.
As we sat together in a circle with therapists and staff, we held hands, meditated, and set an intention for our time together. Each client shared where they came from, their age, their goals, and a fun fact about themselves. Then they opened up and shared honestly and openly about the struggles of their lives, why they were there, and what they have been able to accomplish. Some beamed with pride as they talked about obstacles they were able to overcome; others talked about what goals remain and what things they are still working through. To a person, each client expressed their heartfelt motivation to complete the program emphasizing their desires to increase self-esteem and build better relationships with their parents and families.
We all know that being in nature can be restorative. The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the fresh air bring us a sense of comfort, they help us relax and think more clearly. This power of nature amplifies the clinical component of the work these clients do and creates a palpable sense of peacefulness and clarity.
The circle, discussion, and mandala were all very impactful. I was deeply moved by the sincerity of the clients and how much they appreciated the opportunity to learn and grow in a quiet place removed from the stressors and distractions of their daily lives. I walked away with a big sense of calm.