Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind (Part 2)

Yesterday, I provided information about the book, Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind, which has been edited by Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalist. Today, I'm going to share quotes from an essay that has already made a huge difference to me personally.

In Praise of Sweet Darkness was written by Shepherd Bliss, an educator and Vietnam War-era veteran who owns Kokopelli Farm in Sepastopol, California. In the early 1990s, Bliss was tired of the city and bought the farm as a weekend retreat. Later he moved there full time, and grows "labor-intensive, delicious and healthy, organic boysenberries."

Given that my depressions are seasonal, and I begin feeling depressed in October and it gets worse and worse as the days grow shorter and the sky darkens, I was particularly interested in this essay about darkness. Bliss writes:
"Sweet darkness is one of the many psychological lessons I have learned about in the past 15 years of farming. Darkness is a door. When opened, it can provide access to gifts, treasures, insight, and wisdom. The dark door may appear locked or formidable, but keys exist to open it. What waits on the other side of that door may be helpful. Although phrases such as 'in the dark,' are meant to be negative, actually being in the dark can be a creative, even illuminating place to be, offering alternative perspectives.
"...Darkness can be fruitful. The lively steamy compost fields on my farm are full of spent plants, chicken manure, kitchen scraps, and a wide variety of decaying organic matter. That compost nourishes my berries, apples and other plants, giving them life. Everything that lives perishes--individuals, relationships, nations, empires, species, even planets. Other living things grows from what remains of the departed. I see this natural cycle every day on the farm and have come to appreciate its healing growth-inducing powers."
Recently, I have learned that sometimes it's better for me to read something and live with it rather than analyze it. So, while the above passages have taught me to think about the seasonal changes in a different way, that's all I have to say about it for now.

Any thoughts on this?


Howard said...

When depressed, I find that the darkness I wake up to is much different than the darkness I might go to sleep to. In the morning--and of course, through the night--it clutches my throat and I am fearful. But after a day when perhaps I have escaped for a time and done something worthwhile, it can be a balm. You notice the stars at night, not during your sleep or when you wake. At night, these pinpricks of light provide me with comfort.

Emma said...

'Sweet darkness'. It is an example of how we think influencing how we feel and view our experiences. To have a flexibility of thought allows possibilities, hope, potential for change, also peace and acceptance. Such a beautiful passage, containing so many layers. I know that this something which I will be drawn back to read many times.
Thank you.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Howard,
When I'm depressed in November or December, I can barely go outside at night because the sky seems so dark and frightening to me that it's smothering.

And I rarely see stars in Los Angeles. But, perhaps if I think there are pinpricks of light in the sky--even if I can't see them--I'll feel better.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Emma,
I'm so glad that despite your car accident and the pain you're feeling that you're able to comment.

I've missed your insight, which for me--unlike the stars Howard mentions in his comment--is a pinprick of light.

But, then I'm not depressed--just so glad to hear from him and you!


Danielle said...

This passage strikes me in much the same way as a passage I read in my bible this morning while reading Genesis - the life application portion said that with so much out of our control there are three things that we can control - our attitude, our relationships, and our responsibilities. Therefore we look at the good that the darkness produces rather than the fear that it wraps around us. I could go on but it is time for Big Brother 11 :)

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Danielle,
It makes me want to read the Bible again. I don't know what Big Brother 11 is, but I appreciate your sharing the info you read!