I just came back from a short climbing trip in Spain, followed by two study days of intensive and rewarding experience with a group of people, who after almost two shared years can happily consider new members of my tribe. The 5 hours drive up north offered a space for a twist on some old thoughts on learning. When after 20 years I decided to continue with professional interests focused not only on traditional medicine, but psychotherapy, body-mind connection and nutrition (and so much more), a huge, sticky and layered burden of “I shoulds” and “I musts” was magically lifted off my chest. I used to have an uncomfortable dream of me being in a cosy working room, with lots and lots of books I’ve bought, all of them behind a glass door, with a lock on it. At the table next to my favourite armchair waited the textbook of Anatomy of human body and the old green and heavy atlases with everything you need to know on human body. I could not reach the books I wanted so badly to read, because the key to the glass door was supposed to be given to me after the anatomy exam. That dream started at the university and followed me to working life. Occasionally the textbooks on the table were changing, but I never got to the books behind the glass door. That dream hasn’t appeared after my decision on changing (or rather enriching) my professional path. A message from my subconscious, which I finally received and understood? Perhaps. Or first steps in learning flexibility, which doesn’t exist well with “should” and “must”.
When thinking of psychological flexibility (one’s ability to adapt to different situations and enrich internal and external behavior, in order to be in line with own values and goals), I firstly think of being present. You can’t hear and notice without being present. Its only then that I can get the reminder of giving a space in time and mind for checking with myself how aware and content I am, am I at the place I want to be or am I on my way there. And that I best do in nature. In the woods, at a lake- or seashore, on a top of a mountain. Should and must don’t exist there. I’ve learnt to listen and respond to inner wishes and curiosity. The conversation with myself is much clearer and gentler, accepting – as nature is to us all, as if I truly become one with nature. With the years passing by, and with the blessing of the beautiful woods outside my home, this has become an everyday ritual.
Carl Jung wrote “Whenever we touch nature, we get clean”. Clean of expectations, hurry, busyness. Our senses rest. Our heart beats stronger, our lungs fill deeper. Our body feels a sense of freedom, which our mind recognises willingly. And only to mention what incredible goodness the time in nature stores for our immunity and gut microbiome (thoughts and knowledge on that will come in later posts).
It is a very short train of thoughts to fully convince anyone of the benefits of time in nature. However, the online world is shouting about that in many different voices and ways, reliable, relatable and convincing voices. So how about scheduling some nature time in our work calenders? In our family lists of tasks? In our daily routine? How about scheduling a date with yourself in the easiest and most approving of environments? You might fall in love with the experience.