Diane is a Certified Nature Therapy Guide (Advanced) in Western North Carolina. She has been a Registered Nurse for 41 years and a long-term advocate for nature access. She has a B.A. in Liberal Studies with concentrations in psychology and sociology from Thomas Edison University. She is a Reiki Level II Practitioner and a Bach Flower Remedy Practitioner. The following is an excerpt from her final project.

Participants were recruited through contact with the local greenway conservation group. Members of their board interviewed me to determine if the course content was appropriate to their philosophy and goals. This was followed up by an email invitation sent out to their members explaining the Nature Therapy Walk Final Project as I had presented it. Interestingly enough, although I relayed that I would appreciate a small group of no more than 5, they received many more responses to participate.

The Walk was held on July 19 at the Butterfly Garden area of the Greenway. The session was scheduled for approximately 45 minutes. Five participants were present. The theme was Experiencing Nature Through Expanded Senses, instructing and inviting the participants to use their five senses in a more focused and mindful way to increase their awareness of their surroundings. Each sense was addressed.

I gained a deeper apprecation of my own ability to sense ~ Participant Feedback

Participants were asked to:

  • Smell: Observe how the scent of the air amongst the flowering plants compared to the air close to the river.
  • Hear: Focus on the sound of the flow of the river and subtle sound of the bees hovering amongst the flowers.
  • Touch: Use their skin to appreciate the ambient temperature and moisture content of the air and using their feet to gage the surface they were walking on the pavement verse the wooden bridge.
  • See: Look through the foliage in an area with canopy trees and several layers of greenery for how the sunlight and shade influence the colors observed.
  • Taste: To assure safety, this was isolated to the tasting of two different honeys supplied by me. The participants were invited to examine each of the honeys one at a time, prior to tasting. After tasting, they were asked to imagine being the bee that collected the pollen to make that honey. What was the source of the pollen? (The source of each honey was then revealed, so that the participant could privately compare their intuition.)

The participants were also asked to engage their childhood sense of wonder during their exploration. As the session was wrapping up, a small group of children (with a couple of adults) pitched a small tent, and children’s awe and wonder about their surroundings was joyfully displayed.

The participants were engaged and thoughtful in their interactions with each other, the environment and myself. They were very helpful in providing written and verbal feedback about the session. All expressed enjoying the experience. Overall, the group seemed to appreciate all aspects of the session.

© Diane Wildermuth

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