Counselling, life coaching, Mindfulness, Mindfulness & Life Coaching, Wise Woman Within

Reconnect to Soul Nature Coaching

Learning how to use nature as a mirror to access your inner heart & soul wisdom

Favourite tree and resting place on Maria Island Tassie.

Since I can remember I have always loved being in nature….I have my Dad to thank for that (picnics, camping, walks off trail, navigating back home)! I remember late primary school going through a phase of LOVING climbing trees and the sense of wonder I felt when I put my ear to a tree and I could hear it living and breathing underneath me! I felt as though I could speak to the tree and the tree would answer. My favourite thing to do as a teenager would be to roam beaches, particularly in wild weather, and feel at one with the earth, to climb a hill and feel like I could gain perspective on all that life was throwing at me, all the anxiety that I was dealing with.

It felt like a miracle when I finished Uni in the big city of Perth and moved to live in Albany WA and then Townsville QLD and I rediscovered just how much I LOVED being in nature….and just how much I LOVED being with people in wild places….I began to notice that all of us would be calmer, more peaceful, more chill, more likable, more enjoyable company when in nature…

When I lived in Kununurra WA (1994-1996) I was lucky enough to join a group of meditators and discover the joy of meditating in ‘soulitude’ in nature and I began to see this as the main way I could recharge my batteries after big days/weeks at work. I’d receive insight into what I needed, what I would do next….it almost seemed as though the rocks could speak to me and share their ancient wisdom! I found I could do this more and more as I started to hang out with friends who loved going camping and bushwalking in the wild areas up in the Kimberleys and my eyes were opened up to adventure and wild nature!

I have always in my bones understood the power of imagination, visualisation and symbols to give us deeper wisdom and guidance but I have always kept it quiet, unsure if I should share it….Only in doing Rick Hanson’s Foundations of Well-being Course in 2019 and reading Bill Plotkin’s book on Soulcraft this year have I felt validated in sharing the power of imagination and visualisation for discovering our own inner heart and soul wisdom…

The Wanderer discovers her unique path by perceiving the world with imagination and feeling. She senses what is possible as well as actual. She sees into people and places and possibilities and she cultivates a relationship with the invisible realms as much as the visible. She is in conversation with the mysteries of the world, on the lookout for signs and omens. She attends to the edges, those places where one thing merges with another, where consciousness shifts and opens, where the world becomes something different from what it initially appeared to be.

Of the four windows of knowing (thinking, feeling, imagining and sensing) imagination is the Wanderer’s most potent tool, her way of seeing into the dark, of illuminating the shadows, of digging deeper into soul.

The Wanderer cultivates this ability to see into the dark. She learns to access and retrieve the images waiting for her in her soul, the images she was born to make manifest in the world, that identify her gift to the world.”

Soulcraft: crossing into the mysteries of nature and psyche by Bill Plotkin

Moving to Tasmania, late 1996, was another eye opener as I found a group of outdoorsy friends who were organising epic trips each weekend to kayak, climb, bushwalk or ride in the Mountains and by the coast in Tassie. I’d only been there two months and I had bought my first pair of thermals and was walking into the Walls of Jerusalem (where it snowed Boxing Day – my first snow at age 24!!) and then flying into the SW Coast of Tassie to walk and sea kayak with an awesome group of people (one of whom ended up being my husband, Phil – but that’s another story!!). I was the least outdoorsy of this new group of friends and I soon learnt that my plastic yellow raincoat, my fair-weather sleeping bag and my traveller’s back pack just weren’t going to cut it out in Tassie weather where we could have 4 seasons in one day! My biggest investment that year was a goretex raincoat, a new sleeping bag and new Macpac backpack (which sadly I have only just retired!!)

What I loved more than anything was that ‘going bush’ I could enjoy these new friend’s company, I could get to know this new country intimately….and I could always find some time for ‘soulitude’ to listen to what the land had to say! It was always in these moments that I received clarity, wisdom, insights into my heart and soul’s yearnings and into the next right step for me…. It was the best way I knew to connect with the Great Mystery, something much much larger than me, something I would much later call the Divine… I loved this experience so much I walked the Overland Track twice on my own as a walking ‘soulitude’ retreat and received so many healing and insights from this process.

Nature Mandala/Medicine Wheel

Having the time to adventure and find ‘soulitude’ got a little harder as we had kids, but I was so fortunate that in Hobart we lived in the foothills of Kunanyi (Mt Wellington) and in Alice Springs a short walk/ride away from the Telegraph Station and Todd River so that if I had just one hour free I could walk and immerse myself in nature, in ‘soulitude’, and deepen my connection with my heart and soul, listen to what is really important in that busy and stressful time.

On my walk to view the Mountain from my house in Hobart I would pass an incredibly large, twisted, bent over gum tree on the side of the hill and I would silently speak to this tree as I walked past, ask it questions, sometimes (e.g. when pregnant with twins) I could only walk as far as this tree and she would give me reassuring answers… she would let me know to focus on my roots for now, the growing of leaves and branches can come later, she would reflect back to me the wisdom that this season will pass soon and this season has it’s own blessings, she would speak to me of strength and wisdom, of the need to nurture myself if I am to provide for my babies… This process was deeply private and almost a form of prayer / meditation…and continued wherever we went camping and exploring with the kids – I would listen to trees, rocks, mountains, rivers for that reassurance, that wisdom, insight and strength. I did this almost subconsciously, developing a spiritual practice, not knowing that others did this too…

In the shamanic traditions, the apprentice learns his craft by using the refined powers of his imagination to become the various animals and qualities of nature, by merging with the earth archetypes and re-membering’ as he remembers he has always been nature. … By becoming earth, through her forms and forces, we regain our souls.’

Soulcraft: crossing into the mysteries of nature and psyche by Bill Plotkin

This spiritual process of dialoguing with nature and my heart and soul deepened immensely, when in 2013 and in 2015, I joined Uncle Frank Ansell, Nangkere (Medicine Man) and Sue Gregory on retreat in the East MacDonnell Ranges, east of Alice Springs…. I was in floods of tears on the first day at the first stop, when Uncle Frank introduced us to his Grandmother tree, the tree where his grandmother was born….and he showed us that if we placed a hand on that tree we could talk to it….we could give that tree anything negative that we didn’t need and the tree would transform that energy and return the positive… Hearing this was so healing and affirming… my practice of speaking with trees could be shared with others… On that first trip Uncle Frank introduced us to other grandfather trees and said we all need to find our own special tree wherever we are and communicate regularly with it! I still deeply appreciate Uncle Franks wisdom, acceptance and generousity in sharing what he knows…and in affirming a practice that I was only just now allowing to become conscious and shared with others…

As we open ourselves to that element of wildness, we discover a quality of our own soul that longs to be embodied in the world, sung to the world, danced, cried and celebrated.

Soulcraft: crossing into the mysteries of nature and psyche by Bill Plotkin

Through his wanderings, he cultivates a sensibility of wonder and surprise, rekindling the innocence that got buried in his adolescent rush to become somebody in particular. Now he seeks to become nobody for awhile, to disappear into the woods so that the person he really is might find him.

Wandering in nature is perhaps the most essential soulcraft practice for contemporary westerners who have wandered so far from nature. The earth speaks to us in a manner and a muscle with which nothing in town compares. What nature has to say is the necessary complement to what we hear all day long from news and social chatter. To save our souls we need nature’s news.

Soulcraft: crossing into the mysteries of nature and psyche by Bill Plotkin

Initially I would call this process meditation, or mindfulness / mindful walking. More recently the term ‘forest bathing’ has been used and there is lots of neuroscience research to show the benefits of being in a beautiful forest or by a beautiful body of water as we calm our body’s nervous system and as we find our surrounds ‘softly fascinating’….We cannot help but become more mindful, more present and in turn we return to our body’s safe rest and digest mode…. Often we find ourselves in a state of flow…returning to being aware of our heart and soul as our ego mind’s thoughts slow down and become more neutral, more realistic, more positive…

In reading Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin I am now aware that when we enter this state we become more receptive to using our imagination to dialogue with nature, to get in touch with our heart and soul, our subconscious or the collective conscious, to communicate with the Divine. I don’t think it matters what your spiritual beliefs are….if nature supports you to find your true soul purpose, or the next right step, then I say lets use this powerful tool wherever and whenever we can! It’s too easy to get caught up in our busy daily lives, our habitual old patterns and to ignore our heart and soul yearnings….Imagine what the world would be like if we all spoke with nature, if we all listened to Mother Earth’s wisdom and insights, if we all realised that we are in co-creation with nature….

So if this resonates with your heart and soul I am now offering Reconnect to Soul Nature Coaching….we will go into the bush, walk mindfully, and I will guide you to listen deeply to your heart and soul and to interpret the symbols and messages that resonate with you in nature…..

Please email me on saraphillipsnsw@gmail.com for more information. Some great quotes and links below for more information on Nature Coaching by Diana Tedoldi and SoulCraft Practices by Bill Plotkin:

Lets go forest bathing together, while you tune in to your heart and soul and find what it is your heart and soul are yearning for!!

Nature is the co-coach: The role of the coach, in this case, is precisely to facilitate the coachee’s dialogue with their inner Nature, through the connection with the natural elements around them. The Nature Coach’s skills are focused on facilitating self-listening, mindful presence, silent observation, awakening and what I call our “organic knowing,” the innate system that all living beings have to survive, adapt and evolve in response to the context around us

Diana Tedoldi: https://coachingfederation.org/blog/nature-coaching

We all have an ancestral ability to dialogue with Nature; retrieving it means recognizing our place in the broader context of all our relationships. This way, we heal—what ecopsychologist Andy Fisher and organizational strategist Peter Senge call—the divide between self and self, self and Nature, and self and society.

Diana Tedoldi: https://coachingfederation.org/blog/nature-coaching

More evidence-based researches in neuroscience, psychology, neurology and neurophysiology demonstrate that mindfully practising nature connection has a positive impact on a wide array of aspects of our well-being. To name a few:

By Diana Tedoldi: https://medium.com/thrive-global/the-scientific-power-of-nature-9aba7c8a44b7
  • Reduced heart rate and blood pressure
  • Improved mood: fewer symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety
  • Reduced cortisol (the so-called “stress hormone”)
  • Improved immune system (increase in immunoglobulin and natural killer cells)
  • Lower levels of inflammatory markers
  • Increase in creative thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Increase in pleasure perception
  • Increased brain cells growth and connections between them
  • Increased neurons survival and resistance to damage and stress
  • Larger brain volume
  • Reduced risk of dementia
  • Lowered risk of vascular disease that leads to lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia
  • Endorphins release (well-being hormones)
  • Improved mind-body connection
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Increased proprioception and body awareness
  • Memory, visual imagery and emotion activation
  • Better emotion regulation
  • Insights emergence
  • Improved intra- and inter-hemispheric communication highways.

Soulcraft practices spring from wilderness rites, depth psychology, ecopsychology, the poetic tradition, nature-based peoples, and from the wild Earth itself — and comprise a contemporary, Western, and nature-rooted path to the terra mysterium of soul initiation.

https://www.animas.org/about-us/our-organization/what-we-do/