How Does Connecting With the Abundance of Nature in Hawaii Help Us Heal?

Addiction Recovery Publishing Nutrition January 25, 2024

How Does Connecting With the Abundance of Nature in Hawaii Help Us Heal?

Perhaps the most iconic physicist ever, Albert Einstein, once said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” This is the critical importance of nature to human existence; it ultimately helps us to understand our lives and our world deeper. Now, while this is certainly true everywhere (If willing and open, one can find beauty in the most unassuming of places), it feels especially true with the abundance of nature in Hawaii.

Connecting With Nature in Hawaii to Help Us Heal at the Cellular Level

The goal of recovery is not to simply get better in the moment. No, the goal is to heal at the cellular level so we can stay recovered in the long term. Connecting with nature in Hawaii can help us to do that.

The renowned English poet William Wordsworth wrote, “Come forth into the light of things; let nature be your teacher.” Yes, nature can teach us to heal ourselves. It does so via our experiences with it and how we can carry those experiences with us as we go through other aspects of our lives.

The nature in Hawaii gives us these once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Whether it comes from experiencing a magnificent waterfall or the awe-inspiring sight of a live volcano, one is sure to experience something that connects to their innermost sense of wonder. Of course, at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, healing at the cellular level does not come merely from being immersed in nature (though this is a huge bonus). No, it also comes from working with our professional team of therapists, dieticians, nutritionists, and licensed naturopathic doctor (ND), who put a relationship with nature into perspective and utilize it for one’s recovery.

Connecting With Nature in Hawaii to Get to the Root/Core Causes of Our Issues

Getting to the root/core causes of our issues is essential if we are going to heal at the most optimal levels. The reality is that many of the issues we seek treatment for are just the surface-level issues. 

For example, when an individual is struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD), the primary issues that they see are related to their addictive behaviors. Now, while, of course, these behavioral issues must be addressed, it is also crucial that the root/core causes of these issues be addressed as well. This is why many people say “drinking is but a symptom of deeper issues.” There are generally root/core causes that lead to addiction. 

Often, these root/core causes are related to underlying traumas. These are traumas that an individual is aware of but is suppressing, or perhaps a trauma lying dormant that they have no idea they are holding onto. Also, many people don’t realize just how much trauma there is out there.

 A 24-country study reported in the Epidemiology of Traumatic Event Exposure Worldwide: Results From the World Mental Health Survey Consortium found that “Over 70% of respondents reported a traumatic event; 30.5% were exposed to four or more. Five types – witnessing death or serious injury, the unexpected death of a loved one, being mugged, being in a life-threatening automobile accident, and experiencing a life-threatening illness or injury – accounted for over half of all exposures.” With statistics of trauma this high, it is not surprising that there are so many related instances of addiction and mental illness. The good news is that connecting to nature can help to heal from both underlying and surface issues.

How Does Connecting With the Abundance of Nature in Hawaii Help Us Heal?

William Shakespeare famously wrote, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” This is what connecting with the abundance of nature in Hawaii can do. It reminds us that we are a part of a greater whole. Hawaii’s Big Island reminds us that our lives have meaning.

In today’s modern techno-era, many of us now live in very synthetic environments. This is not a judgment; it is merely the reality that most people now live in some type of town or city hub. Now, this reality has distanced us from nature like no other time in history.

Also, at a minimum, this reality is making us more “stressed out.” According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “If we define the beginning of urbanization as the rise of the Industrial Revolution, less than 0.01% of our species’ history has been spent in modern surroundings. Humans have spent over 99.99% of their time living in the natural environment. The gap between the natural setting, for which our physiological functions are adapted, and the highly urbanized and artificial setting that we inhabit is a contributing cause of the ‘stress state‘ in modern people.” This “stress state” is also a compounding factor to many mental health and addiction issues. Nature immersion therapy can help to address this.

What Is Nature Immersion Therapy?

Nature immersion therapy is a way in which we not only connect to nature but do so in a very methodical and structured way. Many people might see nature immersion therapy as no different than merely spending time in nature. They would be wrong. Nature immersion therapy is a very recognized experiential therapy (therapy via experience) that has been shown to have very positive benefits.

These benefits range from emotional to physical to (for many) spiritual. According to the 2020 article, A Guide to Nature Immersion: Psychological and Physiological Benefits, “Besides physical health improvements, nature exposure can bring about a positive influence on psychological constructs such as boredom, friendliness, well-being, and liveliness.” Also, “Besides improvements to physical and psychological well-being, exposure to natural environments has been shown to bring about positive impacts on cognitive functioning… While cognitive restoration and physiological well-being are the prominent and renowned benefits of nature exposure, there is one important construct that is often overlooked in environmental psychology research studies – that is, the human-nature relationship; also known as connectedness to nature (CN).”

Now, this connectedness to nature (CN) is crucial, but it is not going to be beneficial in nature immersion therapy unless this CN is utilized in sessions with a professional nature immersion therapist. They will be able to help break down what this CN brought up and how it can potentially unlock any underlying emotional issues that may be the cause of behavioral discomfort. Nature immersion therapy also works exceptionally well alongside other treatment modalities, which is also why comprehensive recovery plans are so pivotal.

Utilizing Nature in Hawaii for Other Treatment Modalities

Nature immersion therapy is not the only way one can utilize nature to heal in Hawaii. On Hawaii’s Big Island, nature can touch almost every aspect of an individual’s recovery. This is why the setting is so crucial in recovery.

The reality is that we cannot blame our addiction or mental health issues solely on our surroundings. However, that being said, we can certainly see our environment as having contributing factors. That is why getting away from those factors during the recovery process can be so helpful. It allows us to focus solely on our recovery. Also, it allows our loved ones to focus on themselves while we are away.

The American author and environmentalist Edward Abbey wrote, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” This necessity of nature spills over into the other modalities of recovery on Hawaii’s Big Island in the most beneficial of ways. Now, this includes helping one to open up in “traditional” mental health therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), to become more creative and expressive in other types of experiential therapies like art therapy, and to become more connected during holistic practices like mindfulness meditation.

Nature in Hawaii: The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

The renowned Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fears, and our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.” This is emblematic of the concept of healing at the cellular level.

Mindfulness meditation has been going on for thousands of years. It is believed to have started as a spiritual and religious practice but is now practiced all over the world in many different capacities. This includes mediation to aid in the recovery from issues of addiction and mental illness. 

The benefits of mindfulness meditation are hard to quantify because it is hard to put concrete numbers on a sense of serenity or a feeling of inner peace. However, there have been many studies done that show the benefits of meditation.

According to the peer-reviewed article, Mindfulness Meditation in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders and Preventing Future Relapse: Neurocognitive Mechanisms and Clinical Implications, “As repeated mindfulness practice evokes the state of mindfulness, MBI [mindfulness-based interventions] participants exhibit increases in trait mindfulness over time. Trait mindfulness may be defined as the tendency to exhibit mindful qualities in daily life, including nonreactivity to distressing thoughts and emotions, as well as the tendency to observe and accept one’s momentary thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and sensations. So, beyond the context of acute mindful states, mindful traits may decrease cognitive, emotional, and behavioral tendencies that help sustain substance misuse.” There is also perhaps no better place to meditate than on Hawaii’s Big Island

Now, one very important aspect of meditation is that (depending on the practice, of course) it can be done anywhere. One merely needs to find a quiet place and begin their practice. However, that is not to say that one’s meditation will not benefit from practicing it on a lush cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a white sand beach, or on the edge of a mountainous forest as a waterfall splashes in the distance. The nature of Hawaii can be a perfect and beautiful backdrop for mindfulness meditation. Also the same is true for the practice of yoga.

Nature in Hawaii: The Benefits of Yoga

In his book Light on Life, the renowned yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar wrote, “The union of nature and soul removes the veil of ignorance that covers our intelligence.” Yoga helps us connect our mind and our body for whole-being healing. Nature can be the perfect complement to that process.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. As with mediation, it first started as a spiritual practice but has since moved all over the world and is practiced in many different capacities. One of these capacities is to aid in the recovery from addiction and mental illness.

The benefits brought about by yoga can be vast. According to the International Journal of Yoga, “Yoga and meditation practices exert a positive influence on addictive behaviors. Through the practice of yoga, addicts shift from self-inflicted harm and disrespect toward their bodies to more respectful, caring, and loving behaviors… One study found that female yoga practitioners attribute their positive feelings and sense of well-being to yoga practice and report less self-objectification, greater satisfaction with physical appearance, and fewer disordered eating attitudes compared to non-yoga practitioners.”

Whether it be in our state-of-the-art luxury recovery center or out on one of the Big Island’s overlooks or white sand beaches that overlook the ocean, yoga can be an essential part of the healing process. The same is true for therapies that utilize the ocean directly, like surf therapy.

Nature in Hawaii: The Benefits of Surf Therapy

One would be doing a disservice to discuss the benefits of nature in Hawaii without discussing the benefits of interacting with the Pacific Ocean. Now, one of the ways we do this at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab is by utilizing surf therapy and one of the best surf breaks around called Honoli’i, which is a mere 15 minutes down the road from our 30-acre luxury recovery center.

Surf therapy has been shown to offer many benefits. According to the 2022 article, Surf Therapy – Qualitative Analysis: Organization and Structure of Surf Programs and Requirements, Demands and Expectations of Personal Staff, “Carefully planned water activities tailored to the needs of the individual can contribute to correct psychosocial and cognitive development. The International Surf Therapy Organization summarizes the benefits of adequately indicated surf therapy as follows: improved physical health and mobility; improved mental health, including reduction of specific symptoms, such as posttraumatic stress and depression; improved well-being (strengthening of trust and confidence, encouragement of independence, resilience and protective coping strategies) and improved social skills.”

Catching some of the most amazing waves in the world is just one of the ways that one can experience the abundance of nature in the Pacific Ocean. There are also opportunities to swim with the green sea turtle, which is prevalent and unique to the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. Also, there are opportunities to swim with the majestic manta rays at night. Many people have described themselves as having a spiritual experience, as the water is lit up with bioluminescence, and the rays swim and swirl around them. This is what nature in Hawaii is all about: having experiences unavailable anywhere else.

Healing at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Whether it be practicing yoga on Spencer Beach, meditating under the rainbow falls, surfing the Honoli’i break, or hiking up to the Kilauea Volcano at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, the abundance of nature in Hawaii is all around. Nature can truly help us get to the underlying root/core causes of our issues and help us heal at the cellular level.

At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we understand how important nature is to healing, which is why we are so grateful and proud to be able to utilize the vast nature available on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. The Italian poet Dante Alighieri wrote that “Nature is the art of God.” If this is true, then the Big Island of Hawaii is one of God’s greatest works. 

The Big Island has so much nature to offer that one can never get bored engaging with it during their entire stay at our 30-acre luxury recovery center on the Hamakua Coast. There are some of the most amazing waterfalls, beaches, ocean overlooks, and live volcanoes in the world. Many people have found that therapeutically engaging with them can be an essential part of their healing process. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of mental health, addiction, or comorbidities of both, we can help get you onto the road to long-term recovery. For more information on nature immersion therapy and its benefits, please reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.