When was the last time you reflected on how are you feeling? How do we live more meaningfully? How do we create positive change? Nature offers us the chance to enjoy physical and mental space, slow down, and reconnect with our senses. It has been scientifically proven that just a small amount of time immersed in nature changes our brain wave patterns making us happier, healthier, and sharper and can even combat the growing problems of obesity and depression. Whether we coin it using fashionable buzzwords such as mindfulness or forest bathing, the value of spending time in nature for our mental and physical health has been appreciated for centuries by different cultures and communities.
“In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.”John Muir
I recently joined a Natural Change wilderness retreat in Scotland based on the remote Alladale Reserve, a stunningly beautiful landscape where there is hope for the reintroduction of wolves as part of the effort to re-wild Scotland to its natural balanced state. It is this balanced state that we often have difficulty connecting with inside, particularly in western cultures where the thinking part of the brain is so dominant in our daily lives and in our interpretation of the outside world. Too often we are caught in an achievement trap (the pressure to achieve something, be self critical, and to have an action plan) and the epiphany trap (the expectation that something spectacular will happen).
The Natural Change process uses practices of meditation and mindfulness, plus, conceptual approaches within nature to enter different parts of our psyche and better connect with our feelings and intuition. Whilst observing nature on the retreat, my thoughts went from the profound to the ridiculous, but it was truly liberating and gave the opportunity to exchange feelings and listen to others with full attention and without judgment.
“We cannot solve the problems we have created with the same thinking that created them.”Albert Einstein
The retreat was a transformative, rejuvenating, and stimulating experience. I left the retreat in full awe of nature with an inner feeling of patience, trust, warmth and calm. I also learnt to fully appreciate the complexity, sensitivity, resilience and adaptability of the natural world; how it grows slowly, changes collectively but also imperfectly, much like our own dynamic interior ecosystem. Not only do such experiences remind us of our personal direction, but also help us fulfil our creative potential alongside others by looking beyond ourselves as individuals and to think about the relationships that interlink us all. I left the wild landscapes of Scotland optimistic that our societies can learn to accept change with kindness, create stronger and empathic relationships, and that we can all have a positive impact for the world around us.
Natural Change has several seven-day wilderness retreats starting at £2700 per person, and can design bespoke retreats for private groups.
Photo credit: https://stefaniavanlieshout.com/en/
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