I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.John Muir
We often feel most fully ourselves when we are in nature. Not only can we experience its restorative benefits, but nature often facilitates connection to a deeper part of ourselves. We might call this our “wild” or “feral” self, that is mostly obscured in daily life, but can emerge as a life-guiding factor when the conditions are right.
Indeed, this wild part of the mind knows that we are fundamentally dependent on, interconnected with, and embedded in the Earth in all its aspects, and that we are not immune from these influences. It is also likely, perhaps more so now than ever before, that to live a full life we may want to consider that we are part of a unified organism within which, and in relation to, our life has greatest meaning.
But in living our life it is likely that we are increasingly drawn away from this wild part, and may even be unaware of this, through over-identifying with daily (though important) life-work routines. This can deprive us in many ways, for instance, from the potentially guiding wisdom of our instincts and intuition, often expressed through “gut feelings”, “hunches”, dreams and the deep imagination, as well as from deep-rooted meanings found in feelings of disconnection from life often felt as fear, depression, or grief. The wild mind presses itself upon us to be included as a vital aspect of who we are so that we can live more fully.
The possibility of hearkening to the “voice” of the wild is enhanced when we engage imaginatively with nature. When we notice, acknowledge and enter nature’s moods, and find ways to converse with what we may encounter, we forge a more intimate relationship with the community of nature around us, and deepen a connection with our inner life and wild self (nature within).
Whether we are going out to connect (Freya Mathews), or going out to go in (John Muir), or going in to connect (Carl Jung), encounters with nature are potentially transformative and may even make us more susceptible to “awakening” experiences.
Nature connectedness offerings: Overview
My nature connectedness offerings consist of one-day explorations in different locations in Northumberland. With nature as companion, these explorations provide opportunities to enter more fully into conversation with the wild outside, the wild within, and the wild space in-between.
The format of the days consists of a balance of walking, reflective exercises, ceremony and conversations on a specific theme. But most importantly the aim of the days is to allow space for discerning the “voice” of the wild mind, and where and to what it might be calling you.
Wilson. M. (2020). Nature connectedness and meaning in life in the Northumberland National Park: An inductive reflexive thematic analysis. Derby University: unpublished MSc Project.
This study suggests ways nature connectedness may increase meaning in life, especially from being immersed in areas high in greenness and biodiversity. The study Abstract is available on the Breamish Valley community website.