I hope you’ve all been enjoying this summer sunshine. I have some news to share…
On the 31st August, I’ll be leaving my position as a projects manager at BirdLife International to dedicate myself fully to Mindfulness of Nature. My first step will be a seasonal migration South to the wilds of Patagonia (Chile and Argentina) in late October for the European winter (Patagonian spring and summer!).
Have I suddenly made millions? Not at all and nor do I aspire to. I simply feel it’s time to dedicate myself fully to exploring how I can best use Mindfulness of Nature to contribute to making the world a little happier, more peaceful and on a path towards sustainability.
And of course, I’m not going to lie; I also left little bit of my heart in the South American wilderness (again)…
I’ll begin by running 2 Mindfulness of Nature holiday retreats in Huerquehue National Park (4-14th Nov in Chile) and El Bolson (24th Nov – 4th Dec in Argentina) – in one of the most beautiful regions on Earth, which inspired my love of the natural world and my career in nature conservation 10 years ago.
I’ll then be volunteering in an organic garden at Earthship Patagonia (hosts of my Argentinian retreat) – in exchange for board. During my free time, I’ll spend more time in the wild, continue writing and lead workshops locally. I intend to return to this side of the globe in May 2019.
Why share this news? Well, firstly because you may like to join me… it is a long way but I promise you. It’s worth it…(Find out how here)
But also because I feel this personal adventure is very relevant to Mindfulness of Nature. A personal “rewilding” of sorts… time for me to properly ‘Brave the Wilderness’!?
Let me explain.
I recently read two inspiring books: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins (also very funny!) and Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown. Both explore the competing desires we all experience in our own ways between freedom and security (or perceived security!). This inner tug-of-war between freedom, spontaneity and the unexpected vs comfort, control and security is a constant challenge for us all! It’s written in our DNA.
Yet the more I explore ‘mindfulness of nature’ within myself and around me, the more I feel that the true beauty of life lies in its messiness, its uncertainty, its mysterious free-flow.
I’ve always been in search of ‘truth’ and authenticity and have always found that in nature. It turns out that there’s no controlling or taming life. Life is, by definition, wild.
Life is messy, ever-changing, unpredictable. It’s never one thing or the other. It’s always one thing and the other (and a million others!). It can be beautiful, funny, scary, sad and exciting all at the same time. Life is full of contradiction and that’s where the magic of it lies. There’s a renewed sense of true belonging to be gained from beginning to embrace all of it – as it unfolds moment by moment.
As I learn every day a little more to let go of the fearful, controlling dialogues of my mind and tune into my body, my senses, and nature around me, the more I’ve begun to feel a gentle ‘pull of the heart’ as opposed to the ‘voice of the mind’. And spending time in nature has greatly supported me in this.
Restoring a trust in our own nature (i.e. being ‘ourselves) and in nature around us is what I perceive as ‘rewilding’.
I’ve discovered that “rewilding” ourselves needs patience and vulnerability. It comes with fear, self-doubt, anxieties, loneliness. It’s what Brene Brown calls “Braving the Wilderness”…
It’s about learning to belong within ourselves and connect with others authentically and genuinely. It’s going beyond our loud, conditioned “shoulds & shouldn’ts” and trusting and accepting our own naturally compassionate nature. It’s certainly hard but the reward is priceless. As Brene Brown puts it, “The wilderness is stunningly vibrant. The walk out there is hard but the authenticity is life”.
I feel that “rewilding ourselves” is the key to a happier world – and the natural world can help us all along the way. Howard Thurman says “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”. Experiencing the natural world can help us identify what makes us “come alive” – if we’re willing to listen.
No, I’m not ‘sorted’. I haven’t suddenly ‘discovered my one and only calling in life’ (nor do I expect to). I’m just another human being starting a new chapter – scared and inspired by the unknown and by walking the path with myself. I have days full of doubt and some full of excitement. There are days where I’m overwhelmed by the prospect of this adventure and others where I feel happy, creative and free.
I’ve no idea where this leap will take me nor where I will be in 6 months’ time. But I do know one thing: there’s something gently tugging at my heart – silently pulling me to continue Mindfulness of Nature and return to South America for a few months… and perhaps for the first time ever, I’ve begun to trust it a little – along with whatever it brings. There is a great sense of belonging and aliveness in that.
To me, that’s what “Braving the Wilderness” is all about. Embracing this unpredictable, mysterious life authentically – and remembering to have fun and play with it wherever possible – even (especially?) when it gets tough.
And of course, the natural world is invaluable in supporting us along the way…
I heard this quote the other day and will leave you with that.
“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
See you there…?
Are you seeking more aliveness? Would you like to explore a better relationship with yourself, with others and with life? Spending time in the wilderness can help us all connect with what really matters to us. Nature is a fantastic guide in “rewilding ourselves” – why not join me on one of my upcoming courses and retreats?
From November 2018 onwards, I will not be running workshops and courses in the UK/Europe. And before going to to Patagonia, I’ll be leading a 4 day retreat in Cyprus. But I intend to be back in UK/Europe in spring 2019 and I’ll continue to write (blogs and…perhaps more…) during my time in South America.