How Fresh Air Can Cure The Blues…

beautiful ocean sunset

There has been many a time I have stood in a place of nature and been awestruck by the beauty of my surroundings. In such moments nature has a way of instilling humility. Time and again my problems and concerns have faded to nothing as I feel the vibrant energy of the place sweeping through me. The experience, having delivered temporary reprieve from my internal dilemmas, allows me to return to my day refreshed, invigorated, and clear headed, with everything back in perspective.

It is hard not to have feelings of awe in nature when surveying a beautiful scene. Taking a walk outside, even just to the local park, helps lift ones spirits when one is feeling down, especially when you stop and just sit, paying special attention to a trail of ants, or an attractive flower. Nature draws you in, and gives you a moment of pause, of peace. In that moment, when you are drawn to start looking at, and feeling, something else, your focus on what has been bothering you drops away.

The same is true with anger. There are many times I have stormed off in a huff, walking away from an argument, retreating to my allotment. When I arrive after an altercation my urge is to yank out weeds muttering under my breath, and yet straight away I see the violence in this and my temper begins to abate. Within ten minutes I have calmed right down, and within thirty I can clearly see both sides of the story. A space opens up in my mind and becomes filled with understanding, ways to moderate my behaviour, change my approach, or even a potential resolution.

allotment scene

Why does this peace and calmness descend? What is it that touches us so deeply and transforms our mental state so rapidly and radically? It is the touch of the wild. We were born wild and inside of us, at our core, we will always remain wild. Nature is a part of us, and we a part of it. In our busy modern lives, where we barely take a breath of fresh air from Monday through Friday, we lose our essential connection; pressure and anxiety start to build. Without food your body goes hungry, without daily connection to the wilds of nature your spirit goes hungry – it’s as simple as that… 

My solution is to Rewild Yourself! To make a conscious physical connection to all that is wild and natural on a daily basis – standing outside with your morning cuppa breathing in fresh air and watching the clouds, walking barefoot in the park on your lunch break – you don’t have to live in the wilds to connect with them.

It is also essential to acknowledge the wild spirit in the wider than human world. We, humankind, are not alone we are part of a huge all encompassing energy matrix – don’t isolate yourself from this – acknowledge it. Talking to the birds and the trees, the wind and the sea, will draw you back in and deep down inside you will rebalance as your wild self will know it is surrounded by kin, that it is home…

Just some thoughts – a few days late for Blue Monday perhaps, but useful to remember whenever the blues hit!

If you would like to read more about my approach I recommend my book Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature ~ or if you feel ready for a natural life changing process filled with easy steps to transform your life then maybe you should consider registering for Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship which begins April 20th 2017. Either way ensure that you make time to feel the wind in your hair and the cold fresh rain on your face every day 🙂

Forget not the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” Kahlil Gibran 

Time for a Calming Brew

It has been quite a while since I have posted on this blog. So much has happened and changed for me, personally in my own life, and of course in the recent political landscape here in the UK. It is a time where tempers are continuing to rage and stress and anxiety are touching many people (and that was all before the referendum results!!).

Standing Barefoot

Standing Barefoot

I find that the best medicine for times such as these is of course time spent outside surrounded by nature, by our plant, animal and mineral relations. Just taking the time to walk barefoot on early morning dew laden grass, or to lie back in the park, eyes closed with the sun warming ones face, during lunch break will do wonders for reducing anxiety levels and grounding oneself.

Rose in my garden

Rose in my garden

There are herbal teas that can help too. Rose (Rosa spp.) is great for opening the heart and letting love back in. Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis) (which grows strong and wildly in my back garden) helps with nervous tension, insomnia and unsettling dreams. It can also help lift one’s spirits and improve one’s sense of wellbeing, combined with rose it works as a wonderfully potent uplifting heart opener. Both teas can be drunk up to three times a day to really benefit from these beneficial qualities. I certainly recommend them both right now. In fact I am off outside right now to smell the roses and collect a few leaves of lemonbalm for a fresh lunchtime brew. Join me and spread the word! 🙂

Collecting Fresh Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis)

Collecting Fresh Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis)

 

The search for Wild

We are a reflection of our environment, if we are sick it is a fair indication that the environment we live within is also sick – there is no separation. Even if you feel fine, if you have been reading recent reports on the health of “developed” or “Western” nations you will appreciate that as a whole the population is pretty sick in varying degrees. Whether it is stress, depression or anxiety; arthritis, heart disease or auto-immune conditions, most people have some health issues to deal with, even our children. Our cut off from nature is key to this. Spending time in a natural environment has almost immediate physiological effects including a drop in blood pressure and blood cortisol levels, a boost to the immune system, but also a drop in stress levels and anxiety, feelings of increased vigour, and having a more positive outlook – feeling less depressed.

As we are a mainly urban based world now, with over 50% of the world population living in urban situations, how do we remedy this, where do we find the healing solace of natural environments? Well, perhaps if you live close to a great wilderness, a mountain range or a desert you could head out for a hike every weekend and charge yourself for the week to come with fresh air and wilderness energy. But what about the rest of us?

urban alley way edged with wild hedge garlic

urban alley way edged with wild hedge garlic

The trick is to find the wildness wherever you are. Wildness is hiding around every corner (and in our hearts) you just have to open yourself to noticing it. Small back gardens, urban parks, little woods bordering farmland, urban alley-ways. They are all stuffed with wild plants surging upwards and outwards. Any nook or cranny available will eventually receive a wild plant seed that despite the lack of ideal growing conditions will somehow manage to find a way to grow.

Don’t overlook those little fellas – the buddleia growing along the rail tracks and on niches high up on building walls. The plantain and dandelion growing through cracks in the pavement at our feet. The “weeds” growing in our flower pots and at our allotments. They are the wild, and if you listen to their call, they are inviting you to join them.

 

Find your local park or stand of trees and look up, look out, reach out to them with your heart and embrace them. Recognise them as living, as alive and wild, as part of yourself. For we are all born of stardust and go back to dust once our time in this incarnation has passed. Without knowing it, this is what so many people lack, this connection with life other than humankind, this connection and sparking of our wild inner core. We need it so that we feel not so alone, so that we know we are part of something greater than ourselves.

So seek out the wild wherever you are. When you stumble across it – no matter how small

wild dandelion finding an urban niche

wild dandelion finding an urban niche

– notice it and acknowledge it. Feel love for it and recognise yourself in it. If we all did so we would, no doubt, encourage the wild to grow, we would let in the wild ragged edges, and all feel that much better for doing so.

On February 27th I am running a four hour workshop just outside Stroud, Gloucestershire called Entering the Spirit Forest, where you will learn the skills to connect more deeply with nature while we walk through woods on the urban edge. If you would like to go deeper still I am running an apprenticeship this summer called Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship, join me…

I have made a facebook page for my business Gateways to Eden if you are interested in my work I invite you to have a look and like my page ❤

Bringing back the Sunshine!

After the wonderful sunshine of March the last week or two have been sobering with their dark clouds, grey skies and jumper weather.  This, of course, is more seasonal for this time of year, but still a little hard to take after the t-shirt days of early spring.  If you are extra sensitive to this change in weather or feeling stressed for any reason, be it the stock take at the end of the tax year, Easter weekend spent with the in-laws, the price of fuel etc, etc…  You may be needing a little pick-me-up!  Nature has provided just the thing :0)

If you have been for a walk at all over the last few weeks, or have a wild lawn like mine, then you will have noticed primrose flowers popping up all over the place.  Just looking at their bright yellow faces makes your heart smile, but if that is not enough collect a couple of handfuls of leaves and blooms.  If you want to feel more hopeful, or just generally lighten your mood, then add those couple of handfuls of leaves and flowers to your bath water tonight.  Lie back in the warm water and let your body and mind relax, whilst breathing in the primrose vapours and absorbing its medicine through your skin.

If you feel particularly stressed, nervous or anxious then try drinking primrose infusion, it will relax the mind even easing the insomniacs among us off to sleep.  Try drinking up to 3 cups a day when you are feeling down.  Don’t forget to thank the primrose as your mood lightens and your sleep deepens!

To make an infusion cover 2 teaspoons of chopped leaf/ flower with hot water, strain before drinking.  Avoid drinking if you are pregnant, on blood thinning drugs or have a sensitivity to aspirin, otherwise enjoy freely!

For more simple remedies check out my book, The Medicine Garden.

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