the space where our neuroception takes us. The rupture from connection, from a sense of safety, could come from inside us or from signals coming from our environment or others. Survival mode is turned on and connection is turned off. This is where many of us spend most of our time – disconnected from our self, from others and from the beauty of life. If we are further triggered, we may collapse and find ourselves at the bottom of the ladder, unable to move or access our energy, down in the dumps at the dorsal vagal state.
It is easy now to see how Nature Forest Therapy is the application of engaging the rhythm of regulation. With opportunities for reflection, we discover not only the Nature around us, but also our social rhythm of respecting each voice. Our slow silence of witnessing welcomes us to our home base, to life connection. We can see these states in Nature: for example, the lizard that stops, frozen in time, and then after regulating itself, sensing no real danger or threat, meanders its way across a path. Even an insect almost impossible to see with the naked eye, but whose movements can cause a leaf to shake, will stop, immobilised with fear, when being noticed, and then, when no longer fearful for its life, will once again continue its movement.
For each of us, life’s journey is unique. Trauma, abandonment and cravings all impact on our rhythm of regulation. Safety lies at our very core and in many cases inhibits connection and prevents engagement with beauty. Dana uses the archetype of Goldilocks to illuminate the testing of ‘just right’. Our surveillance system automatically tunes itself out of connection, but with adjustments to conditioning it can find the ‘just right’ connection again.
Co-regulation is the inner realm of connection. The environment impacts on itself; we are all impacting on each other. When you smile at me, authentically pleased to see me, my surveillance system picks up the safety, and we have co-regulated. This happens automatically. In the satoyama (a Japanese term referring to the borderland where the urban world meets untamed Nature), our neurons pick up on the safety of life, and with the support of a Nature Forest Therapy Guide again and again inviting us to be at the top of our ladder, our inbuilt surveillance system offers us the opportunity to bathe in beauty and connectedness.
Michelle Brenner is a consultant in holistic conflict resolution and a certified Nature Forest Therapy Guide based in Australia.
Resurgence & Ecologist