Healing In Nature


As a woman who has grown up deeply immersed in the outdoors, I have always greatly appreciated the natural world around me. It was not until after I experienced sexual violence that I began to seek nature as a place of healing. As part of the requirements in completing my master’s degree, I have written an autoethnography that tells the story of my experiences hiking the Appalachian Trail and reflects on my healing from past sexual trauma. To tell my story of how I have found healing in nature is to offer space for other people’s stories to be heard as well. Vulnerability is equitable, my lived stories are interwoven with the people I became fortunate to meet, and whose voices deserve to be heard. I could not ask for transparency without being willing to give the same in return, providing a space to encounter each other with authenticity. Unapologetically, I will use my voice and those of who’s stories I am honored to share to make a difference. The story consists of my experiences from backpacking the Appalachian Trail and personal reflection from past sexual trauma. Poems I have written, and excerpts from my personal journal will be imbedded throughout in italics and accompanied by pictures from my journey on the AT. Throughout the text, I reference Rochelle Calvert and her book Healing with Nature: Mindfulness and Somatic Practices to Heal from Trauma which shows how to relate to and connect with nature through mindfulness and somatic practices. The material written may be triggering, specifically to survivors of sexual violence or trauma. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7, and the number is 1-800-656-4673. Another resource for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders is SAMHSA’s National Helpline and can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The Suicide & Crisis Hotline can be reached at 988.

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