At the risk of sounding like a travel brochure, I'm going to wax rhapsodic about one of my favorite places on Earth - the Columbia Gorge.
I've been to a lot of beautiful, stunning, natural places, so this isn't hometown girl talk with nothing to compare. And it's not even about comparing, really. It's about finding peace and calm and a re-connection to ourselves -- without words.
Therapy - which is largely about words - can help people get unstuck. It is healthy and healing to tell a long-held secret, or let go of grief, shame, pain, anger. Expressing emotions is good for us. A great book on this is Opening Up: The Healing Power of Emotions, in which psychologist James Pennebaker explains how research shows that personal self-disclosure actually changes us for the better both mentally and physically.
But there are other kinds of ways to heal without words. Talk to a dog lover about the way stroking or holding a dog calms and soothes anxiety. Listen or watch something howlingly funny and laugh until you gasp and you feel better. Hold someone's hand, look into a baby's eyes, wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket--your breathing alters, your body relaxes, your brain changes. All without words.
And then we come to the trees. Tons has been written on the healing power of nature, and I'm not going to go up against Thoreau or Rachel Carson or John Muir. Instead, I can just say that being in trees--away from cars and noise and crowds--shifts something deep inside of me. Walking on the ground is better for the feet and the psyche than walking on hard, unforgiving concrete. A day in the Columbia Gorge is as good as meditation, yoga, a self-improvement workshop or a good session of therapy. Even an hour hike to a waterfall or a ramble around Beacon Rock is enough to drop some worries, feel the stillness inside and outside and remember the Bigness of It All. Standing under 200-foot fir trees is a good way to remind yourself how small and how transitory we really are -- and how whatever it is that is troubling us, that, this too shall pass.
I just used a lot of words to prove a point about how words aren't always the answer.
So, instead I will just show you the Columbia Gorge.