Updated: Aug 29, 2020
Nature is at the very heart's core of everything we are and everything we do. In this piece I share some thoughts around the principles of nature that I bring to my work and my life.
Humans and nature are not separate entities and until we can come to know that deep in our bones life will always feel disparate and dissatisfying. There will always be an emptiness because we have disconnected from ourselves and our home. We have unpicked our thread from the tapestry of life and in our unravelling lost our connection to source.
But we can return home anytime we like. All that is needed is to remember and in our remembering those parts of us that we had forgotten come flooding back and all of a sudden the world seems a little lighter and brighter and we no longer feel so lost, we no longer feel so alone.
'The forest has wrapped us in a promise: that we are remembered there and always shall be' ~ Caroline Hillyer
As we Delve into the Forest we remember the importance of our relationship with nature and the imaginary curtain between us and the rest of the natural world dissolves before our eyes in wonder.
One of my all time favourite authors, George David Haskell, is a huge proliferator of this idea and speaks often in his books about how to view things that are created by man an 'unnatural' is to further reinforce this separation. I was once sat in my best friend's kitchen when she said to me: 'man made is not unnatural, there's thousands of years of ancestral wisdom that goes into making a fitted kitchen'. What a bloody wise creature she is.
'Man made is not unnatural, there's thousands of years of ancestral wisdom that goes into making a fitted kitchen' ~ Cherry Jeavons-White
Nature is not just our home it is our medicine. We are not supposed to live full tilt under a constant 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 and resting). 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 reducing the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in our bodies and helping us to feel connected, purposeful and alive.
‘We need the tonic of wildness’ ~ Henry David Thoreau, American Author and Naturalist
Rewilding is another name for this remembering.
The doors of my heart blew wide open when I started to learn about rewilding. I felt I had finally discovered a view of the world that made sense to me.
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.
What a powerful lens through which to view a human life.
To remember our innate wildness and freedom is not about us using our small minds to decide what might be best for us and following a strict protocol of actions that might lead us to an 'ideal balanced state' or to 'freedom' but rather letting nature take it's wild and natural course, letting nature decide what's best.
Rewilding is not a passive process but a receptive one. Passivity is disempowering, opening us up to abuse and oppression, whilst receptivity is empowering, opening us up to change, transformation and connection.
'I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.' ~ Angela Y. Davis
The beaver doesn't sit back and let the river flow on by, the beaver builds a dam to deepen the watercourse and create a lodge of protection for itself and its family to be better defenced from predators. These changes to the flow are not unnatural and in fact are often both essential and beneficial often having unexpected and far reaching consequences that provide opportunities for all those that surround.
Some things require acceptance and surrender, whilst others ask us to step up and create change. Sometimes our wildness asks us to flow and not force, sometimes our wildness asks us to craft our reality to create a better world for ourselves, our families and our communities.
Rewilding Human Life
Rewilding has since come to be used in many different contexts, including the rewilding of human life, inviting humans to behave, think, feel and live in ways that we have long forgotten.
Rewilding our lives is to remember that we were once wild animals and that deep in our bellies and our bones we are clawing at the walls of our self-made enclosures, desperate to escape domestication and live wilder and more meaningful 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. It's an internal shift; a change in our outlook, our perspective and our approach and even the smallest change can make the biggest of differences.
Rewilding reminds us that our purpose is and always has been to simply exist, to revel in the experience of being alive with all of its challenge and all of its beauty.
‘Rewilding occurs in the breathless awe of our encounters with nature.’ ~ Marc Bekoff
I use the word Wild a lot in my work and when I do this is what I mean...
George Monbiot taught me that wild as a word stems from the word ‘wildeor’ meaning self-willed and wilderness from ‘wildeorness’, meaning 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.
This is a central principal for my life and work: to encourage those I work with to move and show up intuitively, freely and without restriction.
As a caveat to that point: of course uninhibited freedom is a beautiful principle that I wish to be as fully expressed as possible to all who feel its call but it's also necessary (to me anyway) to blend this quality with a deep respect for those around us both human and non-human so that we are embodying the principle of ahima (non-harming) in our interactions with the world, whilst being mindful not to dampen our spirits, suppress our true natures or slip into people pleasing.
This is why in a yoga class, women's circle, yoga nidra, meditation, on retreat, in a 1-1 I'll always leave it up to you what you do and simply offer invitations, suggestions and inspiration or reflect back to you the wisdom and insights you already have within.
The Importance of Cyclical Living
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
Our culture speaks of how we are destroying the natural habitats of animals without giving consideration to the fact we too are animals and that nature is also our home, our natural habitat.
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.
‘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
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.
Our connection to nature when healthy helps us to feel grounded embodied and purposeful and helps nature to flourish wildly, freely and without restriction.
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.
Branches breach the window frames of the factory Those structures that seemed so permanent reduced to rubble permanently I don’t fear for the fate of the earth, it’s ourselves we’ll erase And return the world to it’s natural state
Quarries become lakes, concrete disintegrates and histories erase Global warming, nuclear holocaust will all be but a blip on the cosmic fate Earth will always reclaim and recuperate
The ivy that works it’s way through your brickwork or the bird’s nest in your roof They are reminding you that it is yours only temporarily And no matter how highly we regard intellect or our position in the chain We will all one day be reclaimed