The Healing Power of Being in Nature

Recent research suggests that being in nature benefits mind and body: from reducing stress and anxiety to increasing our sense of awe—that feeling of being a part of something larger than ourselves.

For veterans adjusting to civilian life, a four-day whitewater rafting trip provides another chance to find peace. In this video from the Sierra Club Military Outdoors, veterans and 9/11 first responders share their experiences through the Gates of Lodore in the Green River in Utah.

“When I came out of my second deployment, I was prescribed all of these medications that were supposed to do all these things—and weren’t,” says a veteran named Logan Demarcus. “I believe, as you look at how trauma is experienced, it’s all of kind a relative, subjective thing, so I think the treatment needs to be the same way. Just wanting to be happy is super underrated. I really want to pursue this idea that outdoors can be an approach to treatment.”

“Just wanting to be happy is super underrated. I really want to pursue this idea that outdoors can be an approach to treatment.”
—Logan Demarcus, Veteran

For more about how veterans are learning mindfulness to help heal themselves, read Mindful‘s feature, “Healing Waters.”

Resources for Veterans

Honoring the Path of the Warrior is one of several non-profit programs throughout the United States that taps the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness and/or exercise and outdoor activities. Here are a few other resources:

Sierra Club Military Outdoors
Military Outdoors organizes all-veterans trips, mixed trips with veterans and other service members, and trips that also include family members. Each trip is free of charge.

Warriors on Cataract
Boulder, Colorado
Founded in 2011, Warriors On Cataract is a relatively small group that sponsors free, four-day whitewater trips on the Colorado River for disabled veterans, caregivers, and families. They organize all-female raft trips as well.

Rivers of Recovery
Eagan, Minnesota
Founded in 2008, Rivers of Recovery uses a medically designed program, including breathing and awareness exercises, and outdoor activities to treat veterans suffering from PTSD, minor Traumatic Brain Injury, stress, anxiety and depression.

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