Many of us believe we don’t have time for self-care, yet we’ve all experienced the inner clarity, empowerment and connectedness that arise when we gift ourself the freedom of unbridling the self and losing it in nature. Being in nature is the antidote to our over-manufactured and disconnected life. Nature is the conduit to our life-force.
Being in nature is really a mind pretzel: how can we be in what we are? This mental knot is what ecopsychology helps us unravel. Our point of entry is an intimate understanding of our place, like a magnetic compass, in the vast cosmos, and why our sense of place is necessary when navigating a meaningful life from an open-hearted, connected, telescopic perspective.
As living beings, we abide by ancient forces, yet we have lost the taste of their spell. This disconnection creates chaos in our inner landscape and clouds our inner knowing. Fearing the unknown, we make decisions from our small-self. Scarcity incites control. Scared, we initiate behaviors to feel safe: avoid, disassociate, blame, escape, perfect, please, over-produce.
Panicked and frenzied, we abandon the portal to peace — our self-care. A portal we try, at our soul’s cost, to dismiss as wasteful, self-indulgent and unproductive. Yet, living in our over-manufactured world, designed to separate us from our true self, wholeness is what we need most. The forest knows where we are, we must let it find us.
Our true nature is oxygenized by nature.
To live utterly alive in an era of distractions, we need self-care to heal a disconnected soul. What might happen if we rewild self-care -- commune with the natural world as a vital and necessary source of wellbeing — with the understanding that are inseparably intertwined with the natural world?
13.7 billion years ago, atoms spontaneously collided together and created the portal to the universe which is my physical self. You, elk, alder, river and moon emerged from the same collusion of energy too. Which is to say there is a fluidity of time and space that resides in the cells of all living beings.
We can view this fluidity from various perspectives. When we take a telescopic viewpoint, we see the interconnectedness of all matter, or as astronomer Natalie Batalha, posted on Facebook,
When we take a microscopic viewpoint, we see that our nervous system is intimately and intrinsically connected with the vast cosmic web. Our cells are cosmic juice. Which is to say that our thoughts, behaviors, emotions and fears are shaped by our ecosystem, and in turn, we use our thoughts, emotions, pain and fear to shape our ecosystem, as John Keats noted, “The world is a place of soul making.”
Soul making is my life work. As a midwife to the soul, I help others unearth what they long ago buried: a transformative process that begins with a death and ends with a birth. I commingle the telescopic and microscopic perspectives to teach students how to recreate a relationship with mystery and enter the wilderness of their soul. The wilderness is any threshold beyond the plateaus of being that frighten us but must be crossed to become the self one dreams.
This inner alchemy transmutes most rapidly in nature, where an inner calm suffuse our senses and ease our nervous system. Aligned with our true-self, we see multiple perspectives clearly, we fret less, we stop resisting, we enter into a nurturing dialogue with our soul.
The natural world is where we evolved, where we found our metaphors and meaning, and it is the resting place for our soul. 2.5 million years ago, we were wildlife. During those 2 million years, it was just us and nature, completely interconnected in a bio-synchronicity. In fact, there was no separation - us on one side, plants, animals and rivers on the other. Prehistoric humans were one among millions of species living on this planet with no more influence over Earth than mountain lion, otter or firefly.
As wild animals, we lived intimately connected to our subtle body -- the energy, chi or life-force -- that was pulsating in synchronistic vibration with cosmos. Like a magnetic compass, our inner guidance system lead us true North. Though life was unpredictable, uncontrollable and constantly shifting, as connected beings, we did not fear the unknown, deny our soul’s purpose, doubt our belonging or get lost in a haze of confusion.
As time went by, our relationship with the wilderness changed. 12K years ago, the agricultural revolution created barriers between us and the natural world. Living in our over-manufactured world, we forgot how to access our connection to cosmos and to our wild blood. We forgot how to calibrate our compass. Over time, we forgot who we were.
And yet, this ancient legacy lies deep in our tissues. Ecopsychology proposes that the first 2 million years are more important for our psyches and souls than the last 12 thousand years. Our bond with the natural world can reunite us to our true nature. We might have left the natural world, but the natural world has not left us.
You can rewild.
If you reopen the ancient portal, what part of yourself might emerge?
Expanding your relationship with self-care will help you live intimately connected with the life-force and inner guidance system that is your birthright. You’ll need this guidance system to live present in the world. And the world needs you.
You are more powerful and courageous, mysterious and magnificent than you know. You hold within you -- secreted for safekeeping in your heart – your own unique gift for the world. Each sojourn in the parallel world will take you deeper into the mystery of yourself, where you will pre-member that you are a two-legged animal learning new ways of tuning into the natural rhythms of your inner landscape.
There is a passionate homecoming to be found in the wilderness. Make room for mystery. Take off your shoes and enter reverently.