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Nature & Elephant Innovated Ways of Dealing with PTSD - Stress and Trauma.

I began my journey in wild places a quarter of a century ago when the wild dogs I was researching showed me what I was missing out on in life and relationships because of the trauma I experienced as a child. How did they do that? It was the way they took care of each other and had such a sense of belonging.

They highlighted for me that after being in boarding school, alone, distanced from my family who were living in a different country, for a year, I lost a sense of belonging. Instead I became an outsider to myself, my family and when I engaged with any group I always did so tentatively on the edge, usure whether I would be accepted or rejected.

I began to discover the healing power of nature.

This Weekly Wilderness Webinar was for those who have experienced trauma in their lives and need to find a way of re-wiring brains stuck in fight, flight, freeze or fawn mode. Brains that are hypervigilant and bodies that react as if the trauma was still imminent.

Our wildlife inspirations come from elephants who have also experienced trauma when their mothers, brothers, aunts and uncles were killed as they watched, helpless to intervene, run away or save their dying relatives. These little ones were translocated to game reserves all over South Africa and grew up to be self-harming and other-harming adolescents. In fact they behaved so out of character that the young male elephants killed 100 rhinos and tried to mount them for sexual intimacy.

Gay Bradshaw, author of Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us About Humanity submitted the names and case studies of some of these elephants to psychiatrists who did not know they were diagnosing non-humans. The psychiatrists said with empathy that each name they assessed had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

How have these elephants coped with their trauma? How have they turned their life around? Please listen in to our discussions to gain nature and elephant-innovated ways of dealing with trauma, stress or symptoms of PTSD:

  • reliving – flashbacks, hallucinations, nightmares of the incident

  • Avoiding – avoiding people, places, things, or memories that remind you of the trauma

  • Excessive arousal – increased alertness, anger, fits of rage, irritability, or hatred, difficulty sleeping or concentrating

  • Intrusive negative distressing thoughts or feelings such as guilt

  • Flat affect and suicidal thoughts

In brief this is a summary of suggestions:


Nature helps us create different neural pathways to the highway of survival we are stuck on. When we are in wild places we are in our body and emotions more. We feel at ease and in a somatic state with all our senses stimulated. We climb out of our brains into our bodies because:

  • nature is a great leveller where we are unconditionally loved, we do not have to prove ourselves, we can just be. This allows our numbed brains feel, or our hyperactive brains be at ease. In this state we are less highjacked by sabotaging thoughts, and new neural pathways can begin to grow. Pathways full of hope because we feel less anxious and guarded.

  • nature is harmonious, balanced and nurturing. We can be at ease and our cortisol levels start to abate.

  • in nature we can let go and breath allowing physical and emotional oxygen to rebuild fragile, fractured nervous systems.



  • Coach Shirzad advocates an Emotional Intelligence that operates from a new neural pathway called the Sage perspective. This new orientation to life is possible through the same nature-initiated incentive to practise ways of being in one's body. Shirzad suggests that as our mental muscles grow through daily repetitions of specific physical techniques we can move from a state of stress and unhappiness to one of having empathy for oneself, curiosity for one's circumstances and an ability to be reframe everything that is, and has, happened to us, as a gift. 

  • James Nestor agrees with what we do well in nature - BREATH

  • Bessel van der Kolk spent decades helping those struggling with PTSD and like the nurturing insights of nature, agrees that The Body Keeps the Score, and also advocates we need to begin in our body in specific ways to change our traumatised minds.

  • I deeply value the hope Bruce H. Lipton's book, The Biology of Belief, brings when he says our cell membranes are the real brains of our bodies. They allow the 'environment' to cross into our cells and actually change their composition so that our dreams become our destiny. The 'environment' can be the places where we live and work, or they can be the thoughts we think.



  • Elephants have long memories, but they know how to forgive. I believe the letting go of forgiveness moves us from the survival brain that keeps us stuck in stress, into a sage perspective that offers the creativity of new opportunities.

  • Elephants do not lose their heritage of connection when they are traumatised, they remember they evolved in caring, family and community relationships, and instead of isolating themselves in their pain, they seek company. As humans struggling with stress, trauma and PTSD symptoms, they show us the way to do the same, and encourage us by modelling their survival strategies, to find like-minded groups, a therapist, or kind friends and families who are willing to stand with us as we recover.

On Wednesday 15th May 2024 at 6pm UK time, our next

Weekly Wilderness Webinar focuses on:


This is for parents and therapist dealing with young people who are self harming and suicidal because their emotions are overwhelming.

Our Wildlife Hosts with whom you will Safari Online are once again the traumatised Elephants and their majestic, maternal Matriarchs.

Email me on if you would like to be included on future Weekly Wilderness Webinars so that you do not miss out.

If you are loving the elephants and want to spend time with them in their natural homes, please join me on

THE WISDOM OF ELEPHANTS Wilderness Encounter

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