The Therapy of The Wild

March 14, 2017

There is a healing that’s just asking for our presence, a wellness that always awaits our focus. Our deepest and most foundational experiences lie just beyond this box that we inhabit, just past the pavement on which we lay our bundled feet. There’s a calm wildness within us that yearns to reconnect with its other half, to rejoin the collective mesh from whence it comes.

Famous through-hiker Cheryl Strayed writes about the power of hiking “for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets.” It’s a power we can’t quite explain in other terms, can’t quite find in any other way. As John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, said, “the clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” In the wild, we find something that is both bigger than us and within us already.

The Botanist, writer and storyteller Robin Wall Kimmerer writes that “nature isn’t just something ‘out there.’ It is within us as well—we are nature, nature is us. Within the concept of nature, we must include ourselves and recognize that our capacity to heal is grounded in the principles of balance that we find in nature.” The natural world is not just a ‘break’ from our lives, but a fundamental part of our own well being that we ignore at our own peril.

This is why Holiday River Expeditions has created a series of “Balance and Flow” river trips that are centered around healing practices and nature emersion (read more about the specific trips below). We want to expand upon the adventure and relaxation that is already a part of every river trip by honing in on spiritual and physical healing through nature. And this isn’t just woo woo stuff…

The Science Behind the Oldest Wisdom:

No matter how technologically advanced we become, no matter how far we roam from our nest as nomadic hunter-gatherers, it’s still encoded deeply within our DNA: the earth is our mother. We are utterly dependant on her for everything from our food and water, to our rare minerals and warmth. It’s such a simple and foundational truth that it feels strange to repeat. But repeat it we must, to ourselves, to each other. The earth is our mother. Repeat it we must because when we neglect our connection with nature, when we lose our connection with our mother, it’s not just her fragile soil and swaths of ocean that lose out. We lose out, too.

One recent study looked at 2080 families with newborn children and found that “the occurrence of a mother-child separation of a week or longer within the first two years of life was related to higher levels of child negativity (at age 3) and aggression (at ages 3 and 5).” One week of separation can lead to negativity and aggression. This is shockingly similar to what happens when we don’t spend time with our other mother, the earth. Behavioral scientists are finding out what hikers, mystics, environmentalists, naturalists, and many others have known for millennia: when we disconnect ourselves from nature we become angry, depressed, and anxious. Thankfully, the antidote is simply to get outside.  

Going for a short walk or jog in the morning has tremendous effects on our psychology for the rest of the day, but it’s prolonged emersion that really rejuvenates us. David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah, talks about the “three-day effect.” After just three days outside, we slow down and begin to think more clearly, we perform better on tests, it’s like a “cleaning of the mental windshield.” Anyone who has been on a prolonged camping, backpacking, or river rafting trip knows the feeling well; their vision sharpens, their step lightens, and all of the stress of the world seems to fade into the background of a stark and beautiful natural world.

Holiday Balance & Flow Trip Series

Holiday has teamed up with a powerful team of expert healers and health gurus to offer trips that will get you to the “three day” effect and beyond. These four trips are centered around healing, regeneration, wellness, and, of course, some adventure too.

Mindfulness Retreat and Recharge Trip with Sarah Potts

Feeling burned out, stressed, anxious? Sarah Potts will help guide you through mindfulness skills that will not only rejuvenate you on the river, but that you can also bring back into your home and workplace. On top of our normal rafting adventure and quality guiding, this trip will also offer: morning meditation and mindful yoga flow for all levels; teachings on the core concepts from Jon Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction series; lessons on loving, kindness and self-acceptance; group discussions for collective learning and sharing; healthy, healing food options; and plenty of personal time to absorb the surroundings and the lessons.

Get away from the blue tint of your computer and the incessent pinging of your phone and recharge your spirit with us!

Wild Yoga with Rebecca Wildbear

This is a river soul journey that combines yoga, dreamwork, conversations with the more-than-human world, deep imagination, and a week-long raft journey through Desolation Canyon. Wild Yoga is an alignment of Earth and soul, an immersion in sacred ceremony and deep listening. Through a variety of modalities, participants will open their sensory body, explore their dreams, and listen deeply. They will engage in ceremony, council, creative movement, conversations with the more-than-human world, and soul poetry.

There will be a daily playful, gentle, and invigorating morning asana practice in which all levels of physical ability are welcome. Each person’s practice becomes individualized, as they are encouraged to listen to their own body’s calling.

Join us and deepen into river consciousness and your unfolding soul story!

Energy Medicine Trip with Chrissy Bloome

Chrissy Bloome (RN, MS, BSN, CEEMP) will teach participants the foundations for a lifetime of healthy body energy management by teaching the principles of Energy Medicine. Chrissy is a Certified Energy Medicine Practitioner who will guide participants through movements and strategies to encourage their body’s ability to pattern internal energies in ways that promote a strong immune system, personal vitality and stress resilience. Energy Medicine helps to strengthen the immune system and navigate stress, and once someone has learned it, they can treat themselves for free for the rest of their lives.

Come get grounded on the desert slickrock while learning to ground your internal energies!

Adventure Fitness Trip with Kathleen Leopardi 

Adventure Fitness TripThe perfect trip for the adventurous soul wanting to dive into the world of rafting, kayaking, hiking and more.  Find your way to better fitness through playing in the natural world.  Your leader, Kathleen Leopardi has found that and more through her own personal wilderness adventures and practice of helping people reach their best selves.  She owns Personal Fitness Zone in Salt Lake City, UT. This trip takes place on the Colorado River through Westwater Canyon.  54 miles of laughter, discovery, challenge and triumph.

Vegan Wellness Trip w/ Tess Challis

Tess Challis, author, vegan chef, and wellness coach, will lead this trip that’s sure to be delicious for both body and soul. Tess will bring her fifteen years of experience as a professional chef to the backcountry kitchen; preparing amazing, healthy, vegan meals each day. In the evenings, Tess will share wisdom from her own personal journeys through chronic illness and disease, to veganism and healthy living. As a wellness coach, Tess is uniquely qualified to speak about overcoming obstacles and challenges to achieve a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Come explore the wildness of the river, the taste of gourmet backcountry cuisine, and the power of self-discovery!


 Easton Smith is a Local Wasatch Front resident and writer.   He spends his time community organizing, rock-climbing and playin’ some mean banjo.  For more writing from Easton, check out his personal blog or stay tuned for future loggings in River Currents.