Natures Medicine

Natures medicine

Nature has always been one of my closest friends. The relationship is based on a sacred sense of trust, companionship, understanding, unconditional love, respect, admiration, awe, and adventure. She’s been there my entire life. She’s witnessed all I’ve been through and all I continue to experience, and I have witnessed areas of her unfold around me, and experience all she continues to experience.

As someone who isn’t in touch with their family, and was never properly mothered, nature nourishes the parent within me and offers me a safe place to take my grief and allow parts of myself to heal. She reminds me I am part of the Earth’s family, and helps me feel a valid member of it too. When I don’t feel able to connect with anyone outside of me, I know I can with her. And at times of loneliness, when I feel like I am the only person in the world without a family or intimate relationship, my heart can still open to her. My heart knows the Earth is always with me, offering unconditional support and the opportunity to have my experience witnessed, without judgement.

The last five months I’ve spent the majority of my days tucked inside my bedroom because I’ve been – and still am – recovering from two slipped discs in my back. Fuck, it has SUCKED. This whole time, nature has been at the forefront of my mind. But she’s been there because she’s been missing. I think of her with an aching heart and feel a desperate grief. But also a crippling guilt. I have felt like I have abandoned my oldest friend, because – for the first time in my life – I haven’t been out, truly enjoying, her. And I haven’t been able to proactively support her. Instead, I have become addicted to screens. Nature always provided me with inspiration, comfort, reassurance and connection, but because I haven’t been able to be with her intimately and completely, this has temporarily been being provided through holding my i-phone…not the place I wanna try and get it all from. And not the place I CAN get it all from.

I have still connected with the Earth regularly throughout each day – through my window or in mindfulness meditations; lying on the grass outside in the garden; ritualistically; watching wild films; or simply from the birds, the stillness, the rustling trees, and the life, I can hear from my room. But this doesn’t cut it. Parts of me have felt neglected and almost forgotten. And I have noticed that a sense of being un-parented and totally alone has felt deeper than ever – I need my sacred time in, and with, the Earth. I need my relationship.

It has felt so easy to forget that my spirit is wild, too. So easy that I seemingly almost have. There have been creative ways I have made sure that I haven’t lost this wild spark completely, but it’s been fucking hard – my heart and soul needs nature’s wild spirit in order to keep it alive in me. I need the chance to be in nature’s magic and beauty, every day. I need the playfulness, the vibrancy, the aliveness she offers, as well as the stillness and the beauty that I can connect with when just lying in bed.

My body, as well as my psyche, has been aching for more. It’s ached for physical contact with her. Without my body moving with the Earth, in the way I have always known, I feel painfully lost. My compassionate mind-body connection that I was beginning to cultivate, has felt cut-off and replaced with one of frustration, hate and distance – my body has felt foreign. In nature, it feels like mine. I remember my body again. I feel like I’ve come home – within me and around me.

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The times my back has begun to mend and I have managed to get out into nature, even if to just cuddle a tree in the nearby park or lie on the grass and gaze at the sky or a quick swim in the icy sea, my pain has dissolved. Or I have been able to sit with it and offer it my compassion and my breath. The health that has felt a million miles away during my time in bed begins to come back immediately – my strength starts to flood my system, my body feels held, and my mind feels vibrant and open again. Parts that were seemingly forgotten, greet me like an old friend. They just needed nourishment.

I remember someone telling me that in times of struggle, we get insights into what we need…it couldn’t feel truer. I have always known I need my time with nature like I need my food, but this experience of being so confined to my bed and unable to move with her in the ways I have always known, has given me a deeper and more intimate insight into this need – I now know what happens when I don’t get it. I get depressed, anxious, and so lost. I feel ungrounded and out-of-my-self, and my imagination and inspiration wilts. And as for screens – they have been nourishing but they have also been incredibly draining and disconnecting. I know excessive time with them, just ain’t me.

To have had this experience and to have been feeling all these feelings has been incredibly hard, but it has also shown me I am human. A wild human. And by being human, wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I am part of the rest of the Earth’s family. The family in which we all, unconditionally, belong.

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We are animals

I just saw this article and it broke my heart. But it has also baffled me and brought me a massive whack of connection with the natural, animal, world. Seeing this Orangutan injured – in the photo below – and so clearly in pain and terrified, breaks. my. heart. beyond words. I want to reach into the photograph and stop its suffering. And the fact I can’t, leaves me feeling helpless.

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But when I see how it’s lying, I realise that that’s how I lie when I’m crying in therapy. I lie on my side at the moment (because of my back being sore) and when I cry, I cover my face with my arms up, exactly like this animal. And I cry like that by myself too. It makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like I’m protected when I’m feeling big feelings, or feeling scared. Realising, and seeing, this, blew me away.

It’s overwhelming beautiful but overwhelming tragic, as I look at the photograph and see this animal doing it too. Because we’re the same. Us humans, the animals, the earth.

I feel blown away by how we’re all so connected. We’re humans but we’re animals. And that’s why cruelty like this is just even more wrong. It would be wrong if we weren’t animals, but we are and by doing this to them, we are doing it to ourselves. By hurting animals, we are hurting ourselves. And by hurting the earth, we are hurting ourselves too.

I feel livid and full of sorrow. But I also feel grateful for people being able to show these things on the media, otherwise we would never know it goes on. And I know that there is a shed load more shit we don’t see, but know is there.

I had no idea the palm oil production was so destructive, and for that I feel ashamed. And I also feel a deep, deep, concern because the destruction keeps happening. It’s in these moments I am grateful I eat a Paleo style diet, because I don’t eat products pre-made. Not that I did before this anyway, or rarely have I ever in my life. It may sound hypercritical because I’m still eating meat, but health-wise I have decided I need it – and I really do. And my sources are organic – and when I can, local. I have made peace with this, almost. I can’t shed all the guilt but I have learnt to shed a lot of it.

We need more photographs like this, because photographs like this open up a place inside ourselves that makes us feel connected. And by feeling connected, we can feel love. And by feeling love towards something or sometime, we naturally want to protect it. We protect those we love.

Get your shit together Palm Oil producers, this is far from okay.

Vitamin D, where art thou?

I think I need some vitamin d. My insides feel like they could go on forever. They feel vast and empty and dark. And open yet closed off, all at the same time. It feels never-ending. It feels like a sensation – it’s in my body, yet my mind tries to make sense of it and come up with story. But it’s defo in my body. And I’m not surprised. It makes sense. Because of my back, I have only caught sunlight THREE times in the last three weeks…that’s mental. This here, is me needing vitamin D. No wonder I’ve been craving and just thinking about it almost non-stop it lately.

I found myself googling ‘vitamin d lightbulbs’ cos I don’t wanna fork out for a light lamp – 26939 pounds – but it broke my heart. I WILL NOT BUY ARTIFICIAL SUNLIGHT FOR MY BEDROOM. But I also don’t wanna spend this time in such deep darkness – deep. Like, I am really good at dealing with the surface darkness and places I find myself in, but this feels physical. Like, my insides are black. I don’t feel depressed, but my insides feel suppressed. Ancient. On vacation. Disappeared, and in their place is black. I notice how I just want to go inwards too – weird seeing as I am not usually one to walk into the dark. I have massive cravings to be looking outwards and connecting with the world, but the bigger pull is to go in. I notice how much more I thrive when I’m connecting both outwards and inwards – watching things, talking about things, thinking about things, that are out of my immediate world. When I’m on my own so much, and so stationary, this feels sooo important. I hadn’t quite realised until just this month – it brings me that reminder that there is so much going on in this world, even if it doesn’t feel like it from the four walls of my bedroom.

But the last few days I’ve tiptoed back onto the old ground I was walking on, just the week before last – before I had my episode of going-outwards – and it’s frustrating me, yet it feels…again…so physical. Like the draw of my insides and my internal world is SO much stronger than that draw for the outer one. It feels like a muscle, one that’s pulling inwards. The muscle pulling me outwards is one of thriving, light, hope, anger, power, and a desire for connection, a break, the bigger picture, perspective, and solace. The muscle pulling me inwards is one of inquisition, curiosity, comfort and self-loving, but also destruction, and a desire to just Hide. Away. I can’t tell you how much I have been feeling that the last two days. Like I have had to really PULL myself awake – metaphorically not literally – from my inner daydream and inner dozing (yet the pull only seems to last for a moment and then I’m back there, within).

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I just so long to crawl under my pillow and hide. Again, it’s felt so physical. I feel like I can’t close my eyes hard enough. I forget that I’m here, living a life. I feel like I’m just waiting for it to get started. I sorta feel like I’m in a constant dream and I need someone to wake me, gently. I just want to sleep and wake up and everything’s new.

I think I crave spring. I crave seeing that light and life in the world, too. A reminder of everything that’s living and cycles, new beginnings.

I also know I’m due my period any day now and so that kinda explains this all too. But I defo need some sunlight, artificial or real. PREFERABLY REAL.

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Yesterday I was on the phone to my friend, and that woke me, gently. Heart connections, I realise do it daily. I can be so drifted into My World but then a connection comes and bah, it’s gone. I’m back and here and my heart is open, and I’m home. I’m no longer dreaming or wanting to hide – I’m wanting to thrive. It only takes seconds for this to happen. This is health. It’s still there and always has been, will be, and is.

We were talking about my back, and I said – I hadn’t said this in full sentence out loud before, but it’s been on my mind lately a LOT – how I’m afraid for my back to get better, because I’ve forgotten what life outside my house is like. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to not be at home all day. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be active and upright and moving, and busy and free and out there living. Instead I’m so used to Inside Living – metaphorically and literally – I’ve simply forgotten what anything else feels like. Yet it’s Life and its life I want. My friend said, kindly, “oh, it’s so much better being better”…I think I needed that external reminder. It’s motherfucking hard keeping that for yourself all the time, when its yourself that’s forgotten. I know though, that the whole of me hasn’t forgotten, it’s just a strong part of me that has. The rest of me kinda feels like it’s lying dormant, yet ready to KICK INTO ACTION at the slightest flick of the switch. And hopefully that switch is coming…and in a way, it comes daily, it just looks a little different.

Hmm.

It’s ridiculously 5.20am and I need to get back to sleep.

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Trusting the process and grasping for solid ground

“As human beings we share a tendency to scramble for certainty whenever we realize that everything around us is in flux. In difficult times the stress of trying to find solid ground-something predictable and safe to stand on-seems to intensify. But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing, whether we’re aware of it or not.
What a predicament! We seem doomed to suffer simply because we have a deep-seated fear of how things really are. Our attempts to find lasting pleasure, lasting security, are at odds with the fact that we’re part of a dynamic system in which everything and everyone is in process.”

– Pema Chodron

Oh god these words feel so incredibly relevant to my living situation at the moment – going between houses, subletting until I find the right one. It feels like I need a giant dose of wisdom to let me know how I can discover the stability and wisdom within. Or more like, know it’s safe. Thing is, I have this instinct and this true knowing that things will be okay and that I am okay, but because my life doesn’t look like how I want it too, or how I think it’s okay to, I have such a mega mega mega resistance to trusting both these elements – my instinct and the fact that I’m okay. Everything in my body says I CAN’T BE OKAY IF MY LIFE LOOKS LIKE THIS. I CANT RELAX IF MY LIFE LOOKS LIKE THIS. I CAN’T RELAX AND TRUST IF I DON’T KNOW WHERE MY MONEY IS COMING FROM OR WHERE I’M GOING TO LIVE.

It basically yells this at the top of its voice. Truth is, in a way I guess noone really knows any of that, even if where they’re living is seemingly permanent, it never actually is. Everything comes to an end or shifts or move on at some point, and often when we don’t want it or least expect it…but generally when we always need it, I believe.

Fucking needs.

I feel like in all this resistance, there is an ability to trust despite not knowing it’s safe, it’s just that I feel like I need permission…I feel like I need permission from someone else who knows what they’re talking about.

I feel like I need permission from a mum.

Something I never had.

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This feels so present lately – this desperate desire for someone to just tell me what to do. For someone to tell me it’s okay to spend this money on that, to continue paying for therapy even when I don’t know where my next batch of dollar is coming from, to continue looking for the right house and following my instinct and not just settling for somewhere I don’t feel safe… I just want someone to tell me that what I’m doing is okay and for someone to tell me that I am going to be okay…that I am safe.

It feels like grief on the deepest level – beautiful but heartbreaking grief. And what makes it beautiful is that I can sit with my inner child and listen to her sing, cry, yell and scream…I can give her what she needs with many things. But this permission and this wise voice to tell her, tell me, it’s okay to trust and that it’s okay to continue on as I’m going, feels out of my reach. I don’t feel able to because its something I’ve never known.

I wanna say that I don’t hold proof that things work out this way, but I do. I’ve for so much proof that life looks after me and that things come to me when I need. So much proof it scares me because if I sat with it, I would feel truly safe to the deepest level. Thing is, I also have so much proof that shit gets messy, and I find this hard to let go of too. But maybe I don’t need to – maybe this is life. Two pieces of a giant puzzle – the shit and the beautiful. The safe and the crazy. The pain and the joy. The destruction and the beauty. It’s in it all, always. And there’s never just one of those things – there’s never just the good and there’s never just the bad. Although I hate the use of those words, I just can’t think of anything else.

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I ask nature for guidance and I let her mother me. I ask trees questions, I muse with the mud beneath my feet. I can find this mothering, it just looks a little different to what I thought it would/did, but it’s still full of beauty and its still what I need. It still enables me to trust my instinct and find what I hold inside of me. I feel held and I feel able to let go – I feel safer with her than I do with anyone else. And she knows her shit, too, so I feel like she’s got proof.

I also feel like wise women are what can bring this need for reassurance and guidance as to whether how I’m living is ‘safe’ and okay…the permission I need to trust feels greater that one I can actually meet, but fundamentally I know it comes down to me believing it myself. But I am someone who needs proof from outside – I need books of research to show this way of living is the future…this way of trusting, even when things are in ‘flux’ or go to shit and you have no idea how things are going to be okay, or you can’t see a way out except to trust…and what’s funny is there is. There are millions of books that say this, I just don’t know how to believe them. Because if I believe them, that makes life easier. And if I believe my therapist, who yabbers on continuously about me trusting and listening to my instinct and who advocates for me giving myself a break and letting go and being with what is…if I really take this as truth it scares the living crap out of me. And it makes me angry, because I don’t know it safe.

Thing is, what if it all goes to shit? What if trusting, makes it all go to shit?

But what if it doesn’t…? What if it all is okay? And what if I’m okay now?

Gosh that’s scary. 😉

And what is okay, really anyway? I feel like my definition of that is changing slowly too. But that’s a whole other blog post 😉

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Magic hedgehog hangouts

I haven’t seen a hedgehog for years and they are rare little things to see. Tonight I was stood on the phone in the garden and out-of-the-blue one was stood less than a metre from my feet, looking up at me. It must have pottered out from the hedge/fence thing marking the line between our garden and the neighbours’, beside me.

It then gently walked underneath the compost heap. I’m pretty sure it would’ve stayed a while longer had I not been (gently, and not so gently) squealing with excitement and disbelief. It was magic. I couldn’t quite believe it was a hedgehog because those guys should be asleep for the winter…but I’m guessing it was looking for food.

I’m not sure whether to leave some food out because I’m worried why this little fella is out on a January night…but I also don’t wanna step in when I’m not needed, and I don’t want it to get used to me feeding because I’m moving soon.

Hmm. Perhaps I’ll make some phone calls in the morn and enquire.

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2014, that was pretty magic. Yesterday I swum in the rain in an outdoor pool to welcome in the new year and honour my tradition of swimming outdoors on New Year’s Day (it’s always been the sea or rivers or a lake and last year was the FIRST year I didn’t and I think that goes to show how shit (intense) that year was gonna be…), and today I had a little hangout with a ‘hog. In all the intensity and the overwhelming feelings, the magic is pretty special stuff.

It’s funny how much joy, tenderness and compassion moments like this bring me. And my body. I feel like I can store the sensations and the pleasure in my bod to come back to…and the sense of joy, tenderness, connection, compassion and fulfilment is so strong, it’s overwhelming. But beautifully overwhelming.

And these moments happen so so often. There’s magic everywhere, we just have to look. I think the magic makes the SHIT bearable…that must be what it is. Lately my feelings have been so intense. Like, so intense. And my sense of hopelessness and anxiety has been blinding and pretty damn consistent…yet somehow I keep going. Somehow I have and find resources and a way, to keep on trucking through. And it’s moments like this that do it. They stay with me and fill me so full when they happen, that the sense of disaster and desire for self-destruction feels bearable and I feel able to resist it, steer away from it…watch it rather than be it.

Things have been so awful lately I feel like I’ve withdrawn myself as nothing, no connection or vulnerability or openness has felt safe. Everything and everyone has felt triggering, and in some ways still does. It’s felt like only surface stuff will do – writing and talking – any depth is unsafe because of the shit that comes with it, in myself…the projection and the disbelief of the love offered and the beliefs I hold within of what it means and what I am.

But maybe something’s different now, now that I can notice and be with this need for surface stuff and honour it…and know when to gently push through and find deeper connection, and know when to stick with it and honour my defences. Rather than only listening to one channel of my responses radio…instead I think I’m learning to listen to both. (I’ve got two channels…rational and irrational, reactive and centred, conscious and subconscious and so on.)

I will keep on looking for the magic. I seem to naturally do so anyway…it only gets really hard when I don’t. It kinda feels like when things are so intensely awful and my sense of doom and haunting from present trauma (here visiting from the past), things also feel even more intensely beautiful, magical, and overwhelming incredible too. It’s like my volume switch gets amped up a gear.

It can feel pretty nuts but the special, always feels pretty damn special.

To be wild is to be human

“To be human is to be wild.

Wild is the strange pull and whispering wisdom. It’s the gentle nudge and the forceful ache. It is your truth, passed down from the ancients, and the very stream of life in your blood. Wild is the soul where passion and creativity reside, and the quickening of your heart. Wild is what is real, and wild is your home.

So step into it. Your primal self. Be courageous. Stand up and show who you are, authentically, and completely unapologetically. Be fearless in your ambitions, goals and decisions. That energy will then spread itself into the world and boost the human race, for one drop can indeed, raise the entire ocean.

Make sure to listen to your cravings. They’re wild. And they’re your truth.”

V.Erickson

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Lover of the rain

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This is totes me. Rain has always brought solace and fun – surfing in the rain, splashing in puddles as a kid – but it wasn’t until this year just gone that I have really noticed how much I love it. How much it really soothes. When everyone is rabbering on about how much they hate it, I sit there puzzled…realising it’s made my day. I think it’s living in a city that’s done it. Suddenly, as the heavens open, I am surrounded by WATER. My favourite thing on the planet. Everything in my body breathes a sigh of relief as I watch the sky empty. I sit there, or walk there, in my anorak. I lord it up and get soaked through to the bone.

There have been countless times when I have headed out with the specific intention of getting soaked. No other reason but to get totally drenched with rainwater. And splashes of mud. I have headed out when the rest of the world are heading in, or heading under cover. I have allowed myself to feel wild and free, and to ignore the weird looks as I walk through the puddles, ankle deep. I fondly remember a day when the heavens literally DUMPED an ocean of rainwater on our rooftops here. I went out in my shorts, and my smile beamed from ear to ear for the two hours the rain fell. I had music in my ears, as loud as it would go. I had the streets to myself. I found my favourite pocket of Green, and lay under a tree as the soft raindrops fell, on my trusting cheeks. I climbed the hill and lay in the grass as the water pounded the ground around me. I had – for a couple of hours – nature to myself. In that moment, I was in the wild again. Living in a city, this is a hard thing to find – pockets of one-on-one time with my wild friend. But when the rain falls, it is a prime time for some romancin’ with her.

I’m not gonna lie, these days my body – after five or ten minutes – fucking hates it. My soul sings, but my body cries. The length of time I can do this – get soaked, get cold, feel wild – is heartbreakingly limited. Sometimes I ignore the signs and I submerge myself anyway. I get cold and chilly, and am happy and free. Or I wrap myself up in uncountable layers and allow myself the treat of divulging in whatever weather is coming my way. I look after myself as best I can despite the desperate need to just sack off that shit, and head out into the water semi-naked instead. But, despite the latter being something I am becoming better at, I still pay. Sometimes it’s just a couple of days, other times it’s a couple of weeks. And right now, with a slipped disc, it’s kind of limited to lying on benches…so the chill hits much quicker. But, despite the glands, the flu, the exhaustion, the snotty nose that follows, it’s fucking worth it. I believe in soul-health, and this is one of the ways I find mine. Raindrop town.

When everyone is looking the other way, I dare you to do something different and stare right at the sky. Watch the raindrops fall. Let them land all over your face. Let them gently sting your eyes, with a loving embrace. Let them trickle down your neck, into your t-shirt. Wear shorts and flip flops. Be out long enough for your bra and pants to be hit by it too. Find a patch of grass and lie in it, dew soaked or rain drenched, and absorb the clarity and the wisdom the rain brings. Let it wash your soul clean, and let it be the tears for the grief you feel. Or just step out in the street in your slippers and let yourself get temporarily semi-soaked. Let the raindrops awaken your wild vibe. It’s medicine. As is the hot cacao you drink afterwards.

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Getting to know the wild woman archetype

I’ve always been obsessed with nature. The wild. The outdoors…Anything. During this time of healing and growth, I’m loving watching this connection continue to grow and deepen in ways I never knew before. On an ecospiritual level. We all have the archetypal wilderness within ourselves, but bustling modern life can rip this out of us. It can gently or not-so gently, batter it out of us. Ipads, mobiles, computers, social networking rather than face to face, games rather than hours in the garden, convenience rather than hunting or picking…it all strips the wildness that we naturally, as humans, are innately programmed to live. Yes, evolution happens and yes we are adapting and our needs are different to generations before us, but there is still – and always will be – a wild archetype, a wild part of us all that needs feeding. I’m talking parts, Gestalt style. All the many subpersonalities that make us whole. This wild part needs nutrition and most importantly needs connection with the wild, and needs connecting with from ourselves, and integration with the other parts of ourselves so it’s not just out there, wild-ing it up on its own.

I loved this image so much – it is the epitome of how I want to always feel right now – so ‘borrowed’ it from here.

Recently I’ve really noticed my draw to growing my understanding of the female archetype, the relationship between nature and the feminine, the cyclical and wild nature of women and the wild, and the connection this brings and the connection that has been increasingly lost amongst women, young and old. And also, my draw to discovering this world of goings on – organisations, movements, schools of psychology – that all still continue this connection, and are trying to increase this movement and get it more known by women and men.

I have also begun to notice the qualities in the women that I am drawn to, have in my life as support, and want to keep connected with…and it’s all the women that have that air of wild about them. That have the grounded, earthy, connected to their wild, essence. Women who own their power, own their strength, and own their feminine, and know it. It’s lush. It’s lush to watch this grow, in myself and the world that surrounds me. I am choosing the women – friends and women in the professional support area (therapists, herbalists, etc) – I want in my life to support and to nourish my journey of coming into my true womanly nature. For so long I’ve danced around this, and danced around my fire and my power, but recently am able to step into it and through it, and dance with it. And realise it’s fucking beautiful.

From the book, Women Who Run With Wolves, they say “the journey of the Wild Woman is about coming into our power”, and that is so totes what’s going on. The last month, I noticed during my PMS stage (which is two weeks bloody long), normally the anger would overwhelm and it would channel towards myself and become self hatred, self destructive urges…it would fuel my inner critic on a two week long bender. But the month just passed, the anger felt beautiful. It didn’t feel overwhelming, it felt empowering. It felt cool. And I felt lucky, and honoured to be able to feel it. I had fire and the fire felt GOOD, rather than shitty and scary as it normally does. I was, and am becoming, proud of my power. This is pretty beautiful. And such a relief.

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And on this journey, as I watch myself get to know my own wild female archetype more and more, I notice how beautiful and contagious this part of me is. The more I feel her, the more I want to be her. And the more I allow for her, because within her lies the power and health that will continue to fuel me along this journey. And will continue to protect me – literally and metaphorically – from the critical parts of myself and from the critical parts of other humans.