Play is an important part of our growth, it can give us positive-experiences where today, play is all but ignored (i.e. lack of sports in schools), from play we learn about our boundaries and capabilities and according to Stuhlimiller (2003) “…learning from a positive encounter can thus become as permanently etched on the brain as learning from a negative experience”.
Natural Awareness is one such positive-experience that people wit an addiction, seem to enjoy and benefit from as one person put it.
“I learnt in a playful way that I can trust my instinct and other people”
In Natural Awareness participants are not just asked to take on the role of an animal (physical) but to actually become an animal whether it is as a wolf, bird or fox. By using different scenarios and playing these nature-based games, in silence and using positive/negative intentions, (energetic) and by connecting with their heart, the addict has an opportunity to observe their behaviour in others and to become aware of the power of their thoughts y observing them manifesting into the physical, without feeling judged.
In Natural Awareness there is no right and no wrong, there just is, by becoming aware of their inner-landscape through their experiences of the external-environment they may experience a power greater than themselves (spiritual).
Fredrickson (2004) informs us that research into animals has found that through play, young animals put in place behaviours needed to survive as adults i.e. ‘Predator Avoidance Strategies’, it may be that if we do not learn to play at an early age then our ‘Predator Avoidance Strategies’ may become flawed?
Play “…with its shared amusement, excitement and smiles, builds lasting social bonds and attachments” (p. 148). As the Natural Awareness games unfold and behaviours begin to manifest, appearing initially to be an external event, (however, the reverse is true) individuals learn to surrender to the process and to fully engage in play, their need to hide is potentially removed as they form a social identity based on their shared-experiences with their peers.
Natural Awareness provides an alternative way of looking at oneself. According to Fredrickson (2004) the resources accrued personally while experiencing positive emotions are long-lasting and increases “one’s personal resources…”, which can be drawn on later to “…improve coping and odds of survival” (p. 149), e.g. (Ward, 2007) an addiction counsellor believed Natural Awareness was integral to Jackie’s (her client) recovery. Jackie found something in Natural Awareness that, gave her joy and pleasure which enabled her to re-connect with herself through playing in nature, thus giving her the tools for the first time to work with her treatment-programme and hopefully to later draw on her experiences to help maintain her in active-recovery.
Her counsellor said that of all the therapeutic approaches she had used with Jackie none had helped her, it was only when she had experienced Natural Awareness that Jackie began to understand herself.