The wild and immense nature of the wilderness and the natural world at large is what we would call sublime. The idea of the “sublime” can perhaps be described as a higher octave of what is beautiful or aesthetically pleasing. Beautiful things can include visual art, writing, design, and even elements of humanity. The thing about beauty is that we can understand it. Even if we can’t imagine making a work of art that we consider beautiful or important, we can imagine how it was made. The same is true for much of the material world. If it was made by humans, it probably isn’t in the sublime category. This is where Immanuel Kant comes in. In his Critique of Pure reason, he asserted the following about the difference between the beautiful and the sublime: “Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt.” The sublime aspects of nature — a mountain range, the ocean, giant redwood trees, the vastness of desert, are not easily understandable by the human mind. Why is this healing or beneficial?
Particularly when we are feeling trapped in destructive or addictive cycles, it can seem like there’s no end in site. There can be a sense of extreme darkness or tunnel vision. The wilderness, in all of its wild, inexplicable, vast glory, reveals in its sublime nature, what it’s like to be awe-inspired. This feeling of being so struck by the divine power of nature can help us to broaden our scope and begin to heal from the tunnel vision of negative cycles of thought and behavior. Mountain ranges are imposing, the ocean is incomprehensibly beautiful in its depths, and the desert is majestic. We are forced to look up, to see the grandeur that the wilderness provides, so as to give us increased insight into our own sublime natures.
RedCliff Ascent is a therapeutic wilderness program, nestled between two mountain ranges in the high desert of Enterprise, UT. We focus on adolescents ages 13-17 who are struggling with various challenges from anxiety and depression, to school abandonment and the need to reconnect with their family. With over 25 years of experience, RedCliff uses a relational model and narrative therapy to drive an outcome and an evidence-based approach. RedCliff Recovery offers an experience like no other through a proven, 12-step, adventure-based wilderness program. For more information, call us today: 801-921-8488.