What makes an adventure therapeutic? It will be different for everyone, but for me the first idea of adventure going beyond fun to being therapeutic happened when my oldest daughter got married 10 years ago. I knew that marrying off my first daughter (I have five) would be traumatic. So my husband and I decided to make plans the day after the wedding to head to Disney. We didn’t stay behind to clean or organize the months of mess that accumulated from wedding planning. We didn’t collapse into a zombie like state for three weeks to mourn the beginning of our empty nest. Instead, we rented a cabin at Fort Wilderness and took the rest of our girls to the home of the famous mouse and magic castle. For us this place represented something familiar–yet fun. We liked this idea of because what was happening was so unfamiliar and the transition (although normal) was not fun. The celebration factor of parades and fireworks counteracted the loss we were facing, and reminded us of the exciting life that awaited not only this beautiful newlywed couple, but us as well. It wasn’t just going to take away the pain that comes with letting go, but what it did do was buffer, redirect, and reorient.
1. Buffering is therapeutic in that it is treating the blow instantly with the body’s own natural anesthetic properties. The chemicals released internally from engaging in adventure have a soothing effect on both the mind and body. Even if temporary in nature it is beneficial to get the healing restorative process flowing in the new season we are called to walk.
2. Redirecting our focus is therapeutic in that it helps give us the ability to take our focus off the heartache at hand and place them on something optimistic and adventuresome. This process in turn lifts the burden enough to open our heart to new opportunities, thoughts and directions.
3. Reorientation is therapeutic in that it provides a platform for the mental ascent that we will, indeed, survive transition. God often allows even the simplest of adventures to help us reorient. For Elijah God provided a large leafy plant to shade him in and remind him that He would be there with him in his difficulty. It is in these times that the faith becomes very real and powerful. Here we begin to not only enjoy our adventure but find our spiritual bearings. Therapy for the soul is met in spiritual connection. It is at this place we begin to see that the transition brings us to new pages ahead and that God will begin to fill with them with fresh presence new direction.
Adventure therapy can be anything from enjoying a run in the park: to taking a walk around the block; to listening birds and smelling flowers; to traveling to exotic destinations; to getting involved in a rewarding service project. For me finding unique benches to sit on and take in simple views has been an adventure. It’s the alone time with God and his creation that stirs my heart bringing about a buffering, redirection and reorientation. It is an adventure in stillness. Admiring the simple of life in God’s amazing scenery.