A man walks into the forest to kill himself.
In our heart of hearts, we all know that nature is good for us. Science supports nature’s healing power, and the old Shamans always knew that nature was a source of healing and wisdom. In Shamanism, there are only two root causes of sickness and dis-ease. One is Soul Loss, where we have disowned parts of ourselves that can happen for many reasons (another blog). Then we may also suffer from Power Loss which is essentially a disconnection from nature. Both being prevalent today, the latter being relatively easy to resolve.
I must admit being shocked during the lockdown when suddenly Epping Forest was busier than Oxford Street at Christmas. Where did you all come from? What are you usually doing? I wonder how many of those people will continue to return to the forest once this hellish pandemic is over. Typically, I see one or two people on my walk in the forest if that.
I’ve noticed that if I’ve not been able to take my walk amongst the trees, I get grumpy and fatigued.
When was the last time you walked in a natural place of beauty and came across a grumpy adult? Connecting with nature can change how you feel on the inside. It can also change the way you see things on the outside. It makes a significant difference and yet we don’t spend enough time in nature. I bet if I met some of those same people in Liverpool Street station, I would be meeting someone completely different. We feel sad for animals in Zoos (although Zoos are doing great work these days). Yet we have deliberately built cages and locked ourselves in them.
When we lose touch with nature, we can find we lose touch with ourselves.
We can become a walking bag of negativity and ill health. On one particular day, I was walking through the forest with my husband and two dogs. An older man, with long white hair and beard, suitably dressed for the forest, was very slowly walking towards us, his staff in hand supporting him. I wasn’t surprised by the story that unfolded.
There was a presence about this man that immediately took my thoughts to something magical, helped by the fact that he had the appearance of an old magician. His eyes sparkled with life, despite his old age and apparent ailments. My youngest dog, Gwen, was barking like crazy as he approached, not a warning, I might add, just that she likes to get attention. The man continued his approach, a smile on his face and not a bit disturbed by my dog.
Meet the Wise Man of the Forest
We stopped and chatted probably close to an hour, listening to his story. It turns out that he is well known in the forest. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and on medication. When he retired, his condition was such that he walked into the forest to kill himself, but when he got there, the forest inspired and moved him in such a way it gave him his life back. He sold everything and moved in. Yep, he moved into the forest. However, after an initial tussle with the forest rangers, he quickly became a beloved feature of the forest. His life changed completely. He still collects his pension, goes to the doctor and buys food rather than collecting nature’s goods, but now he lives a happy life, a free life, camping in the forest and wandering wherever his staff guides him.
Nature Gives Us Connection, Insight, and Inspiration
We talked about how nature connects us to our instincts and creates a flow-like state that opens our intuition. How a mutual relationship between ourselves and the universe (nature) engages an experience of oneness – the interconnected nature of life. When we go with the flow of nature, it opens doorways, opportunities that we would ordinarily miss. Nature is creative, and when we immerse ourselves in it, our own creativity can begin to flourish, whether that is the inspiration for your next blog or book or a means to solve a problem that’s been on your mind. We talked about many things, even Shinto, steeped in Shamanic principles and one of Reiki’s foundations, came up in our conversation.
We walk along many different routes through the forest. I can never remember the official names, so I give them my own titles. I call this route the fantasy walk, so it wasn’t surprising to find myself talking to a white-bearded man with a staff in his hand. When I told the man the name I’d given this walk, he gave a hearty laugh. He then talked endlessly about the many moments of synchronicity that he’d experienced, and gifts received that was just what he needed at that moment. The more we connect with nature, the more harmony we experience in our lives.
Nature Replenishes Our Health and Wellbeing
He may have walked with a limp, but this was a man who walked into the forest to kill himself and now he was more full of life than ever before. He may have been diagnosed with bipolar, and some of that condition may still be evident, but he is on far less medication than he was and his condition more stable. What matters and what inspires is what he has done with it, how he has turned his life around, and you won’t meet a happier person living a more rewarding life.
There is no doubt that nature can change your life. It can increase your health on many levels, mind, body, and spirit. I was reminded of a client who was in the late stages of cancer, who spent the weekend in the New Forest, and to her pleasant surprise, the blood tests taken just afterwards showed an increase in cancer-fighting cells. She knew she felt better, but the evidence of her improvement was there on paper.
This seemingly chance meeting was a real blessing for me that day because I had been disconnected from nature for a while. He reminded me of why it was so vital for me to walk in the forest every day. That the forest is as much my home as my house.
Consume Less, Connect More
It’s incredible how we so easily let ourselves be consumed with life’s non-essentials. Striving to meet goals that at the end of our lives will probably have little to no meaning. Missing the true beauty of what this world, our mother earth, has to offer. How our health and happiness diminish because of our distracted, disconnected way of life.
Most phones have an app that tells you how much time you spend on your phone, and on what. Be brave and take a look. Do you spend more time on Facebook than connecting with real people, with nature? Are you shocked at how you are spending your time? If so, make a change. Go out into nature instead and not just because you are forced to because there is nowhere else to go. Put your phone away, embrace the nature you choose to spend time in and notice the difference it makes.
We allow our beautiful earth to be depleted of resources through our own over-consumption. In turn, we are drained of our vitality and wellbeing as a result of our disconnection from nature. Even taking more time in your garden, with your plants, noticing the birds, the trees along the path to work will make a difference. When we recognise how much the Earth gives to us, we not only support the Earth more readily, we experience a great range of benefits.