Finding your wild
There’s no doubt about it. Standing on top of a mountain in some far-flung wild place is good for your soul. That sense of majesty. Serenity. A profound depth of stillness. Feeling being part of something much bigger than your brain can comprehend.
It’s been proven that immersing yourself in such wild places – and the exercise needed to get there – interrupts your mental ‘autopilot’. It gives you fresh perspective on life, slowing usual thought patterns. Focus turns to the present moment where you forget about your worries for a while.
What does ‘wild’ mean, however? Technically it can be defined as: (1) ‘a sparsely inhabited or uncultivated region or tract’. And (2) ‘a wild, free, or natural state or existence’. But what about when you can’t access such ‘wild’ places?
I discovered this when I fell ill many years ago. For years I’d been an avid fell walker getting out as often as I could at weekends. But then I couldn’t. Just walking from the shower to my bedroom was sufficient to put me back in bed. Longing to find my ‘wild’, I had to resort to finding it on my doorstep and tune into nature on a micro scale. (You can read my full story here).
This was when I discovered sensory nature experiences. I was blown away at how I could feel the same way I did standing on a mountain top. By paying close attention to everything around me, colours, sounds, smells became greatly enhanced. I started to access awe – an emotion scientists now say is more important than happiness. [Ref]
Since then I’ve made a complete recovery and I now show others how to have similar small-scale experiences in nature. These may be short excursions up to a quarter of a mile or maybe even less. Or lower-level routes no longer than 3 miles or maybe up to 7 miles.
We haven’t built up to mountain level and true wilderness yet, that’s to come. But what’s really struck me is how much people get out of micro-level, nature immersion. Their wellbeing flourishes. They feel calmer, more expansive and less worried about life’s problems.
And what’s also wonderful, from doing these experiences, many have discovered a greater love and appreciation for the natural environment. And a desire to care for their local natural areas – as well as the wilder parts of this world.
So no matter where you are. Go and find your wild. You never know what might happen – or where it might take you.
Alison Goodwin runs Adventures for the Soul; a business dedicated to helping soothe people’s soul through magical nature, walking and dark sky experiences. You can reach her, and read more of her articles, here: www.adventuresforthesoul.co.uk
Wild and Well
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