Dr Jeannie Higgins is a clinical psychologist with over 37 years experience as a mental health professional who has established a close connection with the beautiful Sapphire Coast region in which we run our tours.
Jeannie met us when she and her husband joined us for a kayak tour with our sister business Kiah Wilderness Tours and we immediately connected over our love of nature – and its ability to nurture and heal when one is feeling traumatised or stressed. Jeannie released a beautiful new book earlier this year entitled ‘I am more than my trauma, pain and loss‘ containing stunning images of the local environment. I was honoured to see one of my pictures of the beautiful river on our property featured on the front cover.
Dr Higgins has kindly penned the following for this very special blog post:
Nature, embodied connection and opportunities for deep healing
Nature has always offered humans containment, embodied connection and soothing for even the deepest of psychic wounds. Trauma in its many manifestations can shatter connection to meaning and purpose in life and people can then alternate between shocking (although sometimes thinly masked) agitation and a deadening numbness. This kind of wounding does impact on all levels of functioning (body, thoughts, behaviour and relating) and in every domain (personal, social and vocational).
The famous writer Henry David Thoreau “saw wild places not only as essential to human well-being, but also as a source of primitive strength”. Research tells us that walking in nature is correlated with enhanced cardiovascular and autoimmune functioning, increases in positive emotion and ability to regulate emotions, and decreases in anxiety, depression and stress markers. Moving your body in nature, even as a part of a loosely formed group, can increase your sense of connection to other people and your focus and attention. Being in nature facilitates witnessing of yourself both internally and externally and it can give you perspective and greater choice about your behaviour and your responses to your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations.
The inherent beauty of nature offers profoundly positive sensory impact that can act as a “bridge” between our external an internal worlds and thereby invite wonder, delight and freedom.
A collaborative photographic book, including a number of Jenny’s beautiful photographs, is available to you as a FREE PDF download. It is called “I am more than my trauma, pain and loss”
The book contains some truly exquisite photographs of native and unique Australian fauna and flora and stunning land and marine environments that are combined with some gentle and uplifting words from me. The book is designed to raise personal, environmental and social awareness and to help create connection and hope for deeply hurting people. Such powerful sensory links can also be a springboard for protecting our beautiful wild places.
The contributors do not receive anything at all from the creation or the printing of this book and hope that if you download the PDF or arrange for a printed version, you will consider making a donation that you can afford to Bush Heritage Australia as your way of saying thank you. You may also wish to mention the book in “Your Details” in the “ Comments” section as you are making a donation online.
I strongly encourage you to consider the option of joining a Light to Light Camp and/or the Kiah Wilderness Tours that are run by Jenny and Arthur. They are knowledgeable, warm and skilled guides. You could do this on your upcoming visit to the Sapphire Coast where I also live and find gentle sanctuary
Note: Dr Higgins works as specialist clinical psychologist and a trained yoga and meditation teacher. She is also a community and organisational consultant with over thirty years of clinical, research, community and policy experience and the author of two books and many papers. Her specialty is complex trauma. Her vocational experience includes acute psychiatry, community health, developmental disabilities, university teaching, alternative and substitute care for abused and neglected adolescents; the provision of shop front and country outreach services for war veterans and their families, relationship education and counseling; and in the well-being of emergency service personnel such as medical practitioners, police, nurses, fire-fighters and ambulance officers. Dr Higgins provides professional staff training, mentorship, health facilitation and practical support to individuals, families, groups and local, national and international organisations that help facilitate the knowledge, wisdom and resources of vulnerable people.