Green Therapy: How Outdoor Activities Lead to Inner Peace 

For Africans in the diaspora, green therapy is more than a wellness trend; it’s a homecoming.
The Love Central - Green Therapy: How Outdoor Activities Lead to Inner Peace  The Love Central - Green Therapy: How Outdoor Activities Lead to Inner Peace 
Green Therapy: How Outdoor Activities Lead to Inner Peace 
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Have you ever felt the weight of the world on your shoulders, only to find solace in the gentle rustle of leaves? If so, you’ve experienced the magic of green therapy—a practice that’s been healing souls long before it had a name. In this article, we’ll explore how outdoor activities can lead you to inner peace

Green therapy, the practice of using nature to boost mental and physical well-being, is not just a modern trend; it’s a return to our African heritage. Long before Western psychology coined the term, our ancestors were harnessing the healing power of the natural world. 

The San people of the Kalahari, for instance, have used trance dance rituals in nature for over 20,000 years to heal psychological distress. Similarly, the Igbo people of Nigeria traditionally seek guidance from the Oracle at the Sacred Groove of Ala, believing that nature’s spirits offer wisdom and peace.

In the contemporary world, green therapy gained scientific backing in the 1980s. Dr. Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard biologist, proposed the “biophilia hypothesis,” suggesting that humans have an innate affinity for nature. In a 2011 study in Japan, researchers found that a mere 15-minute walk in the forest decreased cortisol levels by 16% compared to urban walks.

Let’s explore some tailored green therapy practices for the African diaspora community:

The Love Central - Green Therapy: How Outdoor Activities Lead to Inner Peace 
Traditional shinrin yoku involves immersing yourself in a forests atmosphere Image source Freepik

1. Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku) with an African Twist

Traditional shinrin-yoku involves immersing yourself in a forest’s atmosphere. For a more culturally resonant experience, seek out botanical gardens or parks featuring African trees. 

The United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., for example, has a section dedicated to African baobabs and acacias. Standing beneath these giants, you’re not just forest bathing; you’re soaking in the same natural energy that comforted your forebears.

2. Afrocentric Gardening

Gardening as green therapy gains deeper meaning when you cultivate plants from your heritage. In her 2009 book “Farming While Black,” Leah Penniman shares how tending to crops like okra, black-eyed peas, and callaloo helped her reconnect with her West African roots. 

Start small—a pot of bissap (hibiscus) on your New York fire escape can be a daily dose of green therapy, offering both visual beauty and a taste of home in every soothing tea.

3. Eco-Adventure Therapy: The African Marathon Way

Africans have long used nature for physical and mental endurance. The Kalenjin people of Kenya’s Rift Valley are renowned marathon runners, using high-altitude training in lush landscapes. 

Kenyan-born Bernard Lagat, a five-time Olympian, says, “Running through the valleys where my ancestors trained isn’t just exercise; it’s a spiritual reconnection that brings peace.” Try finding hilly terrain in your area—Pittsburgh’s Highland Park or San Francisco’s Twin Peaks—to mirror this experience.

4. Animal-Assisted Therapy: Beyond Dogs and Horses

While horses and dogs are common in animal therapy, consider animals that resonate culturally. In the U.K., the Vauxhall City Farm in London offers “Kundalini Goat Yoga,” combining meditation with goat interaction. 

This unique therapy echoes the pastoralist traditions of the Fulani people, who’ve long seen goats as symbols of resilience and calm. For water-based healing, look to programs like Baltimore’s National Aquarium, which offers therapy sessions with dolphins.

5. Nature Art Therapy: Sand, Clay, and Soul

Using natural materials for art is deeply rooted in African traditions. The Dogon people of Mali create intricate sand drawings as a form of spiritual expression. In the diaspora, you can adapt this practice. 

Chicago’s Loyola University offers a “Sand Therapy” program where participants use colored sand to create mandalas. Another option is pottery; the terracotta traditions of Nigeria’s Nok culture date back to 1500 BCE. Cities like Philadelphia’s Clay Studio offer workshops where you can connect with this ancient, earthy art form.

The Love Central - Green Therapy: How Outdoor Activities Lead to Inner Peace 
Another option is pottery Image source Freepik

Embracing Green Therapy in Urban Jungles

Location plays a crucial role in green therapy’s effectiveness. Seek out spaces that mirror African landscapes.

  • New York’s Alley Pond Park has wetlands reminiscent of the Niger Delta.
  • Atlanta’s Cascade Springs Nature Preserve features waterfalls similar to Guinea’s Kinkon Falls.
  • Los Angeles’ Exposition Park Rose Garden echoes Ethiopia’s rose-laden Bale Mountains.

Even in urban settings, you can create micro-environments for green therapy. For those unable to access outdoor spaces, technology offers a bridge. Apps like AfriScape provide immersive experiences, from virtual walks through Morocco’s Todra Gorge to the ambient sounds of Tanzania’s Serengeti. While not a replacement for physical nature, these tools can offer a green therapy lifeline. 

The magic of green therapy lies in its ability to transcend geographical boundaries. Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work with the Green Belt Movement, beautifully stated: “When we destroy nature, we destroy the sanctuary that houses our identity and peace. But when we nurture it, we restore not just the land but our very souls.”

Conclusion: How Outdoor Activities Lead to Inner Peace 

For Africans in the diaspora, green therapy is more than a wellness trend; it’s a homecoming. Whether you’re meditating under Brooklyn’s baobab trees, running through Pittsburgh’s hilly “savannas,” or simply nursing a moringa plant in your London flat, you’re not just engaging in therapy. You’re embarking on a sacred journey, using the universal language of nature to find your way back to inner peace—and back to yourself.

In a world where identity can feel fragmented, green therapy offers wholeness. It whispers in the tongues of our ancestors, reminding us that no matter where we roam, the earth beneath our feet is a constant, healing presence. 

So, diaspora families, let’s embrace this green revolution. Our path to inner peace isn’t just in the mind; it’s in the soil, the trees, and the very air we breathe. Welcome home.

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