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Mud masks, gravity blankets, nutritional algae, cold water, hot water, sound healing, touch therapy, minute-meditation. We all want to live long and vibrant lives with the help of natural therapies, and the current holistic options to wellness are endless.

Our mothers always said that nature is the best medicine. If you’re craving a tranquil retreat, try heading outdoors to recharge each sense the way nature intended. After all, most human-made therapies are inspired by the real deal.

Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park, Nass Valley | Mike Seehagel

Shinrin-yoku aka Forest Bathing

 

For those who haven’t heard about it, Shinrin-yoku, the Japanese practice of forest bathing, has nothing to do with water and everything to do with getting close to our ancient green friends. The more obvious benefits of bush-walking or hiking are infinite, but making an intention to take in the forest atmosphere can be highly beneficial at an unseeable level. Forest bathing is said to improve our health by exposing us to phytochemicals released by trees that boost our mood and build up our immune system. If nothing else, an afternoon spent getting exercise on the trail is hard to argue with.

 

Seaside at the village of Gingolx, BC | Mike Seehagel

Sound Therapy

Ocean sounds, binaural beats, solfeggio frequencies. We’ll try them all in an effort to de-stress, relax, regulate the mind and body, and to enhance creativity. Sound is something we’re constantly surrounded by and it can be amplified living in an urban centre. While it’s not something that we can completely remove ourselves from, we can give ourselves the opportunity to replace it with ones that mimic or come straight from nature for a more soothing effect. Sit or lay alongside a small stream, a roaring waterfall, beside a thriving anthill, or a crunchy snow pack to bring yourself and your senses back into the present.

Kleanza Creek Provincial Park, Terrace, BC | Mike Seehagel

Sit-Spot Meditation

Sit-spot meditation is a fancy term for finding a space to sit alone in nature free from agenda, conversation, and a spinny mind. The goal of the sit-spot is to simply notice and experience your surroundings without analyzing or making judgments.

A great way to sit-spot is to go walking until the mind becomes quiet or tired, and then plop down in the most comfortable spot within visual range. Knowing that there is no right way to choose or to be can help put you at ease. Lay yourself out on a comfortable mattress of moss or squat beside the shoreline and don’t get up until you’re ready. Too often we spend our days racing time with our mind as the frontrunner. This is an opportunity to pull it out of gear and let your body take over.

Being still can help your brain settle when paired with a mild sensory environment, but if being completely still is stress-inducing for you, it can be helpful to interact with your environment. Try squishing the ground in front of you, picking up handfuls of gravel or sand and letting it fall through your fingers. Kids love it, too. Getting to be alone in a spot of their choosing without an objective comes naturally to them. Checking out without a plan is a practice that benefits you and your company.

Mike Seehagel

Solar Therapy

Don’t underestimate the power of the sun. It powers our world and brings us life. As a species we may not be able to photosynthesize, but we still benefit deeply from spending time with the sun. We know that access to natural light helps our bodies produce and process vitamins important for our mental and physical health. While it’s tempting to spend colder months indoors with an artificial lamp set out to treat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), we’ll vouch that nothing beats soaking up the real thing, even when the weather is cool.

Aiyansh Hot Springs, Nass Valley, BC | Mike Seehagel

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy uses water at different temperatures to improve wellbeing. Though water therapies in nature look far more rustic than the ambient private disco of a fancy indoor float tank. Ocean floating, polar bear dips, and kicking up silt at the bottom of a natural hot spring are all examples of using the precious resource to restore health.

The best areas to soak are in mountainous regions where the water goes from glacial at high elevations, to nearly warm enough to steep your tea in geothermal valleys. Relaxing in a hot spring post-scramble is satisfying, not to mention the fact that natural springs are often loaded with organic matter and minerals that help relieve sore muscles and exfoliate the skin. The more sludge from the bottom, the better.

Wild berries | Mike Seehagel

Wild Foraging

Pick up a local field guide and go foraging. There is a reason that traditional medicines were first collected and made in abundance in the wild. Nature has much to offer in terms of maintaining our health and supplying us with remedies that can treat specific ailments. In addition to natural medicines, nature provides us with nourishment through wild food. If you’re looking to learn more about plant life in the area or just have a hankering for some tasty berries, wild foraging is both therapeutic and rewarding.

Just as you would at a human-made spa, practicing mindful etiquette in wild spaces will enhance the experience for yourself and others. Respecting nature’s generous resources prolongs access for all.

Before you sink into bliss, take a moment to free up natural areas like hot springs, trails, and parks of any litter left behind from previous groups. Always clean up after yourself and report any misuse to the appropriate association. Many natural retreats have limited budgets for upkeep and maintenance, so consider making a donation towards conservation whenever possible.

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Stewart-Cassiar Highway | Mike Seehagel
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