“I don't think [the meaning of life] is what we're seeking. I think [it's] an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive." - Joseph Campbell
We return home to ourselves when we return to our ultimate home - the earth. It gives you a better perspective, you are more likely to be kind to yourself, others, the earth.
And yet, it’s really hard to do and hard to prioritise due to cultural barriers and they increase in the intersections of oppression. As women we are given a whole load of extra load of responsibilities that we didn’t sign up for and we have a load of other pressures on how we can be – not too fat, not too thin – you are never enough.
For me, the times I can feel myself are either in a loving community or when I am with nature. Which is why I think we can’t return back to ourselves – back to that inner child, that you were born with – without a relationship with nature. When I am in nature I am able to be myself and the listen to myself. When I numb what is happening outside, I also numb myself.
Being outside also helps us to feel feelings that our culture often suppresses – such as grief and exhaustion – and being with nature allows us to sit with those emotions rather than push them down or distract ourselves from them. We also open ourselves up to noticing small joys.
We begin to become aware of deep time and the graveyard of time and beings beneath you and that you are part of a long continuum and that this is your moment and how joyful and terrifying and precious that is. It is a comforting feeling and takes us away from the instant gratification and distraction of the every day. It also helps me to wonder what my contribution to the world will be in this precious moment on earth.
These thoughts are tips on what I have found useful for living more in tune with nature. It is not the definitive guide and it may not work for everyone but I hope it helps some of you.
1. Hear the call for the wild
"The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door." - Clarissa Pinkola Éstes
When the call happens how do we hear it? Becoming aware of the call can be hard – you can read about one of my experiences here while I was employed in academia (it involves sitting in a 3 hour meeting in a basement!). But if you’re reading this I guess you have felt it in some way and are keen to act on it.
2. Gift yourself permission to spend time with nature
This is undoubtedly the hardest step as our cultural conditioning deprioritises our needs in favour of productivity and, particularly for women, caring and serving others.
When I first started working freelance I was missing the transition between home and work my commute offered so I started a morning walk. It gradually got longer and longer because I could feel my body wasn’t ready to go back to the desk. It took me a long time to allow myself to give myself the permission to go for a walk rather than get straight to work. I also want to acknowledge the privilege I hold.
- Ask for help to allow yourself the space to act on the call for the wild.
- Think of a time and place when you felt you could just be, that lit you up and nourished you. Try to recreate it.
- Start small, e.g. a short walk, and notice how you feel after. Noticing how you feel is really important because when those other voices come in and tell you it’s a waste of time, you know how important it is to how you feel.
- Create a habit, e.g. spend time outside first thing every day (read this blog on 3 simple habits I have to get me outside every day)
3. Become aware of how and where you are paying attention
Our world is full of distractions – news, social media, emails etc. – it can be overwhelming. Noticing where we are paying our precious attention really helps. What we feed our mind and soul with affects how we feel, thoughts and behaviours.
- Notice where you are paying your attention throughout the day. Does it nourish you? If no, what can you put in place to change that habit, e.g. screen time app, delete apps, stop listening to the constant negative news cycle.
- When outside begin to get present by checking in with your senses and notice the delights and joys around you
4. Find a supportive community
Finding the right community for you that allows you to spend time outside with people who help you feel supported and heard will make it easier for you to spend time with nature. This is particularly important for if you feel “people like you” don’t belong in the outdoors.
- Find a community where you feel heard, supported and encouraged in seeking out this life
- Find a community that normalises talking about our relationship with nature. The more we share our stories the more it allows others to seek the same nourishing time with nature
Seeking a community? Join The Stardust Collective - a membership for busy folk seeking immersive, playful time with nature.
Communities for folk from groups traditionally underrepresented in the UK ‘s green spaces:
Image credit: Siobhan Watts