Reconnecting to nature, rediscovering the simplicity and sensorial satiation that can be found here and remembering our wildness.
'Rewilding occurs in the breathless awe of our encounters with nature'
~ Marc Bekoff
Rewilding as a term entered the dictionary in 2011 and is said to mean ‘the practice of returning areas of land to a wild state, including the reintroduction of animal species that are no longer naturally found there’. Rewilding nature is not about conservation, it is not about human intervention, it is not about us doing what we think is best for nature, freezing it in a particular point in time deemed as ‘ideal’ or ‘balanced’, it is about allowing nature to decide and to take its natural wild course.
Wild as a word stems from the word ‘wildeor’ meaning self-willed and wilderness from ‘wildeorness’, the home of self willed animals, so to allow nature to be wild is to allow the flora and fauna to behave and live intuitively, freely and without restriction including our very own species; humans. We often speak of destroying the natural habitats of animals without giving consideration to the fact we too are animals and this is also our natural habitat.
If this topic interests you, I really recommend reading Feral by the incredible and wild George Monbiot.
Rewilding Human Nature
Rewilding has since come to be used in many different contexts, including the rewilding of human life, allowing humans to behave, think, feel and live in ways that we have long forgotten. Rewilding our lives to remember that we were once wild animals and deep in our bellies and our hearts we are clawing at the walls of our self-made enclosures, desperate to escape domestication and live wilder lives.
Rewilding our lives does not need to mean going back to life as hunter gatherers or giving up our civilised lives but instead it is about embracing life fully no matter where we live. Rewilding is an internal shift; a change in our outlook, our perspective and our approach and even the smallest change can make the biggest difference.
Our minds have evolved to keep us alive by solving the problems of survival such as food, shelter and competition for resources but as these basic needs have for become less of a life or death issue the mind has turned to happiness as a problem to solve. All of our striving, seeking and struggling is just years of evolution manifesting in our modern minds as they adapt to a strange and unnatural environment but when we reconnect to our natural home and our natural state we are reminded that life doesn’t need to be so complicated. Rewilding reminds us that our purpose is and always has been to simply exist, to revel in the experience of being alive.
The Importance of Living Cyclically
Honouring and celebrating nature’s cycles helps us to remember that life should not be flat, consistent and dependable,life should be, as nature, unpredictable, cyclical and fluid.
As humans we have become detached from our cyclical way of life, from the innate and essential wisdom of ebb and flow that animals lives depend on. We stay up long after dark, we often don’t slow down and change our routine with the change of the seasons, we can tend to ignore the messages from our bodies, neglecting our needs, sometimes not even knowing what they are. We have learnt to override our emotional and hormonal rhythms, expecting ourselves to function consistently day in day out. Observing the cycles of nature serves as a reminder for us to honour and celebrate our own cycles, helping us to rediscover the joys of a life less automated, less flat, less predictable.
‘To know what comes next has perhaps been the dominant aim of materially complex societies. Yet, having achieved it, or almost achieved it, we have been rewarded with a new collection of unmet needs. We have privileged safety over experience; gained much in doing so, and lost much.’ – George Monbiot, Feral
Nature and Health
We are not supposed to live full tilt, constantly under attack from a barrage of external and internal stimulus, our ancestors would have shifted between short bursts of reactive stress (running from predators) and long periods of responsive recovery (digesting in the sun). Our modern way of living violates this natural cycle and leaves us with a baseline of perpetual stress.
Nature is a natural antidote to our unnatural lives and has been scientifically proven to reduce the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in our bodies. Yoga and meditation are the perfect accompaniments to nature as they too work with the body and mind to promote relaxation, which can overtime help us to bring our baseline back to a more natural, balanced state.
‘We need the tonic of wildness’
~ Henry David Thoreau, American Author and Naturalist
It is very easy for humans to feel indestructible as a species, to feel that we can continue to act in our own interest and with a sense of disconnection to nature without any consequence but it is time proven that even the smallest action ripples out through the entire ecosystem in ways we may not even be aware of yet.
Rewilding is not just about the healing of our own bodies and minds and the fulfilment of our yearning for a wilder life, rewilding is a practice of mutual healing, of remembering and respecting the interconnectedness of all life forms no matter how big or small. Nature gives rise to all life on earth, we are all made of the same composition, we all depend on one another and we will all return to earth one day. Our connection to nature when healthy helps us to feel grounded embodied and purposeful and helps nature to flourish wildly, freely and without restriction.
‘Losing awareness of our natural world is having deep consequences for our own well-being, as well as for the well-being of other species we share the planet with. However, our own well-being is interlinked with that of the rest of the earth. There is no separation between us. So what is happening to nature is also happening to us.’ – Claire Thompson, Mindfulness of the Natural World
For more information about rewilding and the unbelievable work being done in this area, head to Trees For Life.