Have you ever noticed how much our minds need the wild?
As I walked home this evening, enjoying memories of Patagonian landscapes (It seems it isn’t a trip I will forget anytime soon!), it struck me again how much I miss them.
What I miss the most about them (aside from their breathtaking beauty!) is the powerful impact they had on my experience of my mind.
I love being immersed in vast natural landscapes. I am at my happiest, strongest, and freest in them. The authentic presence, connection and aliveness I feel there is what ignited my passion for inspiring a greater mindfulness of nature in others.
Haven’t we all experienced the power of our minds in beautiful, exhilarating, painful – sometimes terrifying – ways? The mind’s narratives can feel incredibly overwhelming at times – particularly in confined spaces, in rooms, in towns, in cities, in crowds.
In large-scale natural landscapes, the mind’s stories become silenced – almost inconsequential, whispered sounds dissolving into air.
In Patagonia, I experienced this more powerfully than ever before. No words can do Patagonian landscapes justice and during my travels last year, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by this awe-inspiring wilderness everyday for a month.
Amidst these landscapes, I felt as if the stories of my mind dissipated into the vast grandeur of the wild. And somehow, my mind seemed at home. It seemed to feel safe, contained there, like nowhere else before. It seemed to fit – back in its rightful place.
Wild landscapes give us perspective. They restore a natural balance. They reveal the mind’s judgements, regrets, plans, hopes and dreams – in the clear, pure light of reality – on the wild stage of our natural home. In this light, the mind’s narratives fade in our experience and lose their perceived power. We come effortlessly into the here and now.
On the way to Torres del Paine National park, I stopped by the side of a never-ending, straight road to take in the dry, vast, empty wilderness all around me. I allowed myself to be engulfed by some of the most unpredictable, strongest winds I have ever experienced as they relentlessly swept across the steppe plains – surrounded by an infinite landscape extending for miles and miles to the horizon and beyond (photo below).
After a challenging climb up against merciless winds that left me clinging to rocks on the side of the path to retain my balance, I stood and stared another 1500 metres up towards the sky at the God-like Mount Fitzroy. With its majestic head in the clouds, Fitzroy, the stunningly beautiful steeple to a natural cathedral sculpted in rock, snow and ice, towered over frozen lakes and lagoons (spot the people to gain an appreciate of the scale!) (photo below)
As I surrendered to the overwhelming scale of the awesome Perito Moreno glacier, I stood, closed my eyes and listened to the thundering sound of the ice breaking echoing across the valley in every direction. As I opened my eyes and stared skywards, a condor soared silently overhead. (photo below)
Amidst this stunningly beautiful wilderness, the natural order of things was restored; I was left with something intangibly essential – surrendering with peaceful respect to something much greater than myself. I felt confident to be myself – strong, alive and free – yet exhilarated by my insignificance.
I believe we can all experience this great sense of perspective in the wilderness.
I invite you all to “Rewild your mind” – escape into wilderness as often as you can. Walk in it, sit with it, listen, look, smell and touch it.
Immerse yourself in nature’s vast open landscapes – and allow them to work their natural magic.
How do you feel in wild landscapes? Does this resonate with you? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below.
I plan to return to Patagonia at the end of 2018 to run Mindfulness of Nature workshops and retreats there. But there are plenty of fantastic wild landscapes to be experienced on this side of the world too! Why not join me on one of these this year? Click here to find out more or get in touch with me directly.