Hi, I’m Terry Hitzke and I’d like to share with you the story of how Find Yourself in Nature came into being and along the way answer many of the questions you might have.
I was sitting under a she-oak, perched high on Indian Head at Frazer Island in 2005 when I received the thought that changed my life and career.
Now owner/director of Find Yourself in Nature, I was then co-director of a large multi-disciplined natural therapy practice in Brisbane. As the breeze gently stirred the she-oak fronds to song and the sun glistened off the ocean, I was reflecting how energised, alive and healthy I felt after four days of solo retreat into my most favourite place. I was musing about bringing this energy back for my patients and team, and how effective and enjoyable I had always found my work after fully recharging the batteries, when out of the blue came the thought: “Why don’t you bring them up here? Imagine how effective you could be working with them like you’re feeling now!” And then smiling broadly I thought “Yeah, why not? I’d love that, and I reckon they’d be blown away by what it could do for them. Why shouldn’t they come up here and experience this? “
I also realised that if this idea was presented to me back in my normal ‘city work mode’, I would have very quickly and intellectually discounted it and cast it aside as, “I couldn’t do that because………..”. But up here on Frazer Island it made profound and perfect sense, not only to me but to those I served.
The next two days produced a business plan, program outlines and several foreseeable obstacles. I was absolutely convinced of the power and efficacy of coming into Nature to heal and gain clarity, I had done it myself for years, and remembered fondly the transformation of groups I had led into the bush as a youth worker some 25 years earlier, but this was somehow different. I wondered “Who would get it?” The people who really needed to come out into Nature would be too stressed, too busy or too numb to see the value in the concept, especially at the price I would need to charge to step away from my busy practice?
I had learned that people facing life’s transitions and serious choices are generally in a state of high stress and under a combination of mental, emotional or physical pressure. They are usually time poor, exhausted and constantly in their mind trying to solve their issues and ploughing through scenarios to find solutions that logically appeal and make sense…… hardly open to the suggestion of putting this aside and going into Nature. To make Find Yourself in Nature work, I had to develop an experience that would be not only valuable, but also attractive to people in their confused or depressed state.
From my clinical practice, I also knew that it would be quite a marketing challenge. Clients were reluctant to refer others to the business-life coaching and counselling facets of my work as it could infer that they were having problems themselves and needed help. This was especially true of the corporate environment, and meant that word-of-mouth recommendation, which provided up to 75% of my new natural therapy clients wasn’t going to be as effective here. I had found that clients only referred for my deeper work when they were way out the other side of their own dark tunnel and in a position to give sage advice.
The Nature programmes needed to provide resolution to the multifactorial imbalances that people were experiencing in their mind, body and spirit, and do this elegantly over the space of 3 to 5 days. They needed to be deeply honest, confidential, supportive, restorative of the body and spirit, while providing open frameworks of understanding in which to tease out issues and facilitate new perspectives of the unique challenges they were facing.
These requirements dictated an experience that would quickly shift people off their ‘mouse wheel’ and ground them back to a state where they could think clearly. I knew going into Nature could do this, and I already knew how to get people out of their mind and back to their senses. The programs just had to provide the right mixture of adventure, rest, stunning natural beauty, contemplation and spaces that held healing energy. In this environment, with experienced facilitation, people always come back to their true selves. They begin to see clearly what they couldn’t see before and make connections that feel so right. The simple process of slowing down, finding what’s missing in life and then letting go of what is no longer required, would provide viable solutions to many of the common problems that people face.
The metaphors reflected back from Nature often provide powerful messages of what’s going on in our life, and what we need to do next. I had seen people sitting quietly and suddenly “get it” (their answer or solution) just staring at a uniquely shaped tree trunk, or at the end of a healing process where I helped them to clear a fear that held them from the direction they knew they must head. They then feltmore safe to move forward.
I soon realised that we had to provide a range of completely individualised natural adventures that met people where they were at, but still took them where they needed to go. Some people would be a little scared of the bush and would feel more comfortable staying in accommodation near a national park where they could go out to do their work, yet others wanted to slip on the backpack and not see another person till they came back. I knew also that the food for these trips should be as natural and organic as possible. It was important that all senses, including taste and digestion be returned to natural sources and that ongoing coaching and support be provided after their adventure to integrate and habituate the changes they desired.
The answer came at the end of just my third day back at work. My last appointment of the day was a long term coaching and professional supervision client who, on noticing the sparkle in my eyes and the upgrade in my energy levels and enthusiasm, asked what I had been doing? I told him of my week at Fraser and how I had gone there to work on myself, rejuvenate, and do some planning with a clear head. It obviously struck a chord, as before the session had finished he asked if it was possible for me to take him up there, to do the same thing. A bit astonished at the timing and synchronicity of this request and with a recurring memory of “Build it and they will come!” I quickly prepared a proposal from my handwritten note pad that night and presented it to him the next day, and with a mixture of trepidation, fear and excitement he accepted.
The experience was amazing, both for my client and myself, and confirmed my belief that this work was not only unique but highly valuable in terms of the transformation that could be achieved in the human spirit, with just a few days in Nature. I remember clearly the peace, calm, serenity and profound clarity of direction attained by that first client and also the deep, honest, personal sharing that began in a special relationship that we hold dear to this day.
Personally, I loved it. The open agenda meant that a discussion or a process would start, and it could just finish completely and naturally in its own time, not restricted by appointment slots or external interruptions. It was great to see the more powerful effect of some of the processes that I used in the clinic when they too were allowed to just be natural. On the way home my client commented that “It was like having your own personal acupuncturist, massage therapist, nature guide and mentor all rolled into one!”
Since that day on Indian Head in 2005, Find Yourself in Nature has grown from a seminal idea to a thriving and much-needed service, meeting the needs of dozens of clients in search of direction, clarity and life’s purpose. A call for group and couples work began two years ago and this is now an expanding and exciting focus, incorporating much of the transformative power that has been learned from the individual programs. Co-facilitator’s have been attracted to this work bringing their unique but aligned expertise in personal poetry, art and digital storytelling, helping clients to re-author their future according to their own unique and natural design.
My dream for fully facilitated personal adventures in Nature was that it allowed people to unwind, de-stress, heal and re-discover a natural rhythm within themselves. To step away from the synthetic metronome of their modern life, have a “technology detox”, and just be in their own space, with few demands other than sorting out the issues that blocked their path or threatened imminent change, and to do that in stunningly beautiful and inspirational natural environments. To also allow people to understand that their own true nature and Nature itself are intimately related and thus part of the same much larger thing, and as they stepped into the ‘wild and natural’ outdoors, it was helping them find wild and natural places inside themselves, and thus feel more whole.Regaining a sense of this would allow the “bigger picture” to be seen and previously unseen solutions and possibilities to emerge.
The numbness and disconnection of chronic stress, anxiety, exhaustion or depression can cause our senses to be boarded up or protected from the unhealthy environment, circumstances or self dialogue with which we find ourselves enmeshed. Dismantling this pattern and feeling safe enough to reopen our senses can take some time, but that time is dramatically reduced when we find ourselves immersed in a supportive and healing natural environment. It is also worth remembering that the energy surrounding us in a building, office or home, with its artificial surroundings and electromagnetic interference is vastly different from the natural energies found in Nature, and although we have a tremendous capacity to adapt, it is these more natural energies that we are genetically programmed to metabolise. Each night that we sleep deep in Nature, we integrate both these natural energies and the learning’s from the facilitation of the previous day, waking up the next morning feeling more connected, more centred, more at peace with an increasing sense of returning to what’s real in life. Along with gentle facilitation and experienced Nature guiding, it is this ancient and natural process that provides the heart of the program’s success. Nature has always known how to heal us, this healing has been a part of our successful evolution to date.
The one-on-one, individually designed programs mean that you can choose where and how in Nature. The “where” can be almost anywhere in Australia and New Zealand that your spirit feels drawn to heal and do some deeper work, we then carefully discern and match your needs, desired outcomes and available energy, with landscapes, adventures and “special places” that provide healing and possibilities.
The “how” is where the fun starts. Previous clients have base camped, bush walked, backpacked, four-wheel-driven, sea kayaked, mountain climbed and cross country skied in diverse pristine wilderness ranging from the red deserts and ranges of central Australia to the snowy ramparts of the Australian Alps and numerous rainforests, rivers and national parks in between. They have slept in resorts, houses, units, huts, tents, hammocks and even a snow cave. It is limited only by your sense of freedom and what you have been longing to do.
Groups are generally invited to base camp or can stay more comfortable accommodation if needs be. The group work provides the enriching dynamic of sharing the diversity of others’ experiences, building a sense of community and often developing valuable and supportive relationships that can sustain the changes ahead and keep you on track.
Ironically, many have chosen to journey with me to the World Heritage listed Fraser Island, my spiritual home, and experience the freedom of mobile camping out of our fully decked out four wheel drive. (I have a special process that allows people to discern the landscape or perfect place they need to conduct their journey into Nature, and I always smile broadly when unsolicited, they request Fraser Island!)
More insights into what the experience can hold and the results that you could achieve are available on the reviews page.
Whilst I simply love taking people into Nature, watching them unfold from the dilemmas that bind them, remember who they really are, and then expand into a healed, natural and more powerful version of their true selves, there has always been a niggling reminder that Find Yourself in Nature should be a lot bigger than just me. I can only work with a limited number of people each year, and there are so many more people out there who could benefit from this work.
Furthering the vision of this work of this work will mean continuing to grow and deepen the possibilities of the relationship that can be developed with Nature, both within and without, while expanding the more affordable group work and introducing more co-facilitator’s who bring complementary talents. From here we will encourage communities to develop and support each other in returning to more natural ways of living and working. The dream is also to provide training for suitably skilled colleagues to conduct their own programs and thus spread the work.
I still see patients in my natural therapies practice, something that I love so much that I couldn’t walk away, but it’s a far cry from the busyness, long hours and staffing issues of my previous practice. I even named it Nature Therapies, (amazed that the name hadn’t already been taken!) and the “Healing Hut” as I call it, sits nestled in a quiet leafy area on the outskirts of Brisbane looking out to the nearby Daguilar National Park. I am very grateful that I listen to my intuition and had the courage to strike that week out of my appointment diary in 2005 and go bush to seek inspiration. The joy and sense of purpose that has come to me since I acted on that pivotal thought, and the beautiful experiences I have had, witnessing people unfold into their true and powerful selves, have been immeasurable.