A zillion therapies have I tried throughout the past thirty years. Many are out of fashion now but some truly helped: gestalt, psychosynthesis, primal scream. Eventually an inner prompting led me to become a therapist after completing a graduate program in Religious Studies (religion and personality), building an eclectic practice using hypnotherapy, therapeutic Tarot, and bodywork.

At one time I fervently believed in therapy as the work of the gods, the sacred container where healing happened between two people in a setting more intimate than love, more supportive than friendship. I don’t rule that out now. But I wonder if, without the body and spirit on board, persons feeling too physically wretched or cut off from Source can fully benefit from the unique relationship offered by even the best talk therapist.

These days, when I most need to attack a problem or heal a hurt, I journal faithfully—three pages a pop—at least once a day until things are worked out. I’ve found that exercising creativity is therapy par excellence. I recommend anyone use the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Even if you are tapering off intense medications, you can draw, paint, make music, write, sculpt…and you know you long to. We all crave this, and Cameron is a supportive coach for “repressed creatives” who need a boost to go for it.

Besides creativity, I’m convinced the other vital nutrient for the mind deals with learning. Doesn’t a new idea or skill learned feel downright good to the brain? Again, even if there is too much mind-fog to tackle a treatise on psychoneuroimmunology, why not learn how to plant some fruit trees or a berry patch? Look into natural cures for your pets’ eczema, or how to clean your house without toxic chemicals? Learn about what you’ve always wondered: how does municipal government work? What exactly would fix the climate crisis? Is knitting really that fun and how is it done?

I gravitate toward learning things that can also serve my journey to wellness. I’m passionate about finding an integrative approach to mental health, and get excited about theories and applications of workers in two particular fields. One is ecopsychology: the view that our mental health is deeply and negatively affected by being cut off from the natural world.

This line of thought spawned the tag, “Nature Deficit Disorder.” In my opinion, our toxic profiles and autoimmune epidemic are also issues for ecopsychology, because what we’ve done to defile the planet is rebounding on our minds. It will take more now than hugging a tree to feel “mentally” well. We literally have to detox from consumer culture and turn away from convenience.

That’s a tall order if approached as a mandate to Be Good, or as political correctness. But as part of our individual bid for wellness, it’s another learning experience. Self-love, thus practiced, truly leads to planet-love.

Another nutritious theoretical base for healing mind has to do with the incorporation of a person’s spirituality into the therapy process: transpersonal psychology. Too often professionals consider a religious bent delusional if not pathological, a weakness or “crutch”. At best, a private matter, not worthy of the therapist’s office.

Next time, in the last post on my nutrients specifically, I’ll discuss avenues to spirituality that can be universally adapted, and share some resources for those who wish to explore. Until then…learn! create! green your thoughts!

For the wild mind,

Sue Westwind