How I began to rewild myself and why
Long ago, in a time of plenty, I lived a life of excess and hedonism. My twenties were decadent in the extreme. A life of carefree frivolity, opulence and splendour.
Despite the material rewards of my day job and the fun had along the way, I was dissatisfied. I struggled to find meaning in any of it. Software sales consultancy was not my passion. I lacked purpose.
So, against the best advice of my parents, to the surprise of my friends and contrary to most sane minded folks’ perspective, I quit my job, left my partner of three years and sold my sports car to take off on a bike ride.
For a salesman peddling software in the late 00’s life was one long party.
I’ve always felt at home in nature. I love to climb mountains, to walk in forests and to swim in rivers.
These are happy places for me. If ever I’ve felt down about the state of things, either personally, professionally, emotionally or otherwise, time spent in nature has soothed my soul and elevated my being.
Most of us live like domesticated animals these days. Chained to our inbox, our attention sapped by smart devices. Taking off in to the wilderness is a rare thing indeed for many.
City life has disconnected us from our organic ways. I remember when I lived in London, I made a great effort to find time to spend in open air; green spaces such as parks and gardens were a sure way to ease the anxiety of urban living.
But these short moments were never quite enough. I longed to be out in a more physical realm, away from the drudgery of the desk.
I needed to be out in the wide skies, drinking deep from the well of life nearer the source. I loved the city for a while, until I didn’t. There was too much vice, too much of everything. I needed a reset. I needed to be rewilded.
What is rewilding?
There are two rewildings that coexist hand in hand; the first is all about conservation biology and ecology – looking after the environment and reintroducing native species; the second is about reconnecting humans with nature.
They’re essentially, in the fullness of the process, the same thing, but it’s the latter that we’re going to investigate in this article.
1. to reverse the process of domestication.
2. to return to a more wild or self-willed state.
Human powered rewilding
Taking off on a 500 night, multi-country camping trip by bicycle may not appear possible to everyone (*spoiler* it’s easier than you think).
That said, a long-term, unsupported, solo human powered journey may not be to everyones taste.
Thankfully, there are numerous and wonderful ways to reconnect with nature and engage with your primal self that don’t involve leaving town for multiple years.
There are opportunities in supported group environments and most can be done within a few miles of your home.
What is a vision quest?
A vision quest is a ceremonial rite of passage that happens across time and culture as an essential part the actuation of a youth to becoming an adult.
A vision quest is the boy becoming a man. It is the seeking to interact with a spirit guardian in order to convene with a future self.
The process involves fasting, self flagellation and hardship. It’s a traditional part of growing up in American Indian tribes, among other indigenous cultures.
Rewilding is the remembrance of these rites of passage. Rewilding is the call to reconnect with nature and the cycle of life. Rewilding is the return to a sovereign state of being.
I didn’t know it at the time but I’d begun the process of rewilding.
Here’s ten of the best ways to rewild yourself for 2021:
These ten recommendations for rewilding are the perfect way to begin the transition into a new way of being. There’s never been a better time to step out of our ordinary selves and into a higher state of consciousness.
If the year 2020 has taught us anything it is that we must learn to embrace nature with a tender heart, work in harmony with her and to tread lightly in our actions, for the future of the generations to come depends on us awakening to consciousness.
Rewilding yourself in 2021
Step into the wild.
Away from the sedentary ways of the office and home life there’s a wild world just waiting to be explored. A long walk in the forest, a swim in a freezing river or a cycle up a steep mountain – any activity that puts you close to the action of the great outdoors is fit for purpose.
Putting our physical bodies in the wilderness shifts our mind up a level. The nearness of raw, unadulterated nature activates our primal senses. It’s a fantastic way to embrace our wild twin.
I personally spend as much time as possible in the wild. A brisk walk along the beach, a splash in the ocean or a few miles on the bike keeps my wild side alive and kicking. A close connection with nature is something I strive to cultivate in my day to day routine.
Go full nature boy.
When I set off to cycle around the world I essentially became full nature boy. I bathed in lakes, followed rivers and seas as my compass and slept under the stars. I did this for more than 500 nights.
The takeaway for this point is the longevity of the expedition. Spending extended time in nature helps to strengthen our bond with the natural world. I found the process deeply nourishing. It became the foundation stone of my rewilded perspective of life.
In it for the long haul
A long term trip in the wilderness establishes a link with the seasons and the cycles. There’s something innate that is reset with time spent in the outdoors. The longer the time, the greater the benefit.
Time in nature offers the opportunity to discover the world once again. Away from the conditioned ways of narrative reality, we become more authentic within ourselves.
Discover your true north.
We transcend the expectations of dogmatic society and its petty labels to live a life more honest with our true north.
In turn how we relate with others shifts into new space for the better. No people pleasing is needed in the wild.
Plant a garden.
For those with green fingers this will be an obvious choice. To plant a garden is to truly connect with the world around us.
Whether its for the stunning impermanence of flowers or the generous nourishment of vegetables, planting a garden will engender the remembrance of our inner gardener.
Hands in the soil connection to the earth is surely one of the best ways to rewild yourself.
Forage for plants.
Seeking out the edible bounty of nature is one of the oldest methods of survival there is. More recently known as wildcrafting, the art of the hunter-gatherer has taken on a new lease of life in the modern day parlance.
Call it how you like, when it comes to seeking out herbs, edible plants and fungi, foraging and wildcrafting are one and the same thing.
Learn about local plants and wildlife.
Learning a little about the quarry particular to your local area ahead of time pays dividends. Apps can help if you’re unsure but a book is better. Be like Bill Oddie.
Creating a nature journal is a great way to record your findings and to have a specific intention for collecting and documenting your rewilding process.
Use your journal to make a list of the things that make you feel alive, grounded, free, nourished, and authentically yourself.
Move your body.
As obvious as it sounds. We are after all, simple animals with complex super computers inside of our heads.
Take off for a forty minute run in the wild and find a whole new perspective on things. We must use our bodies in order to maintain them.
A couple hours of activity each day is a minimum. Physical exercise stimulates the brain with endorphins making us feel more alive.
Find the thing that floats your boat and do it daily. It’s good to sweat.
Remember when strawberries meant summer and tennis? When pumpkins meant autumn and spicy soup? These were the hall marks of a childhood in sync with the harvest.
Perhaps we’ve been spoilt by the instant gratification of globalisation. Always available fruits and vegetables leaves little in the appetite for wonder and awe.
The anticipation of something often makes the experience more valuable. Waiting with excitement to taste a home grown fruit adds something special to the flavour.
Rewilding yourself can be as simple as following a seasonal menu and embracing the sensual nuances of the harvest.
Celebrate seasonal cycles.
Equinox and summer solstice are important milestones in the seasonal calendar. Celebrate with a gathering of friends in a forest with a fire.
A ceremonial fire to honour the cycles and seasons is a favourite ritual of the wild ways. A pot luck dinner, simple songs and intention setting is a powerful way to give thanks for the abundance of nature.
My personal favourite is a solstice swim at Saltwick Bay. On the longest day here it is possible to see the sun rise from and set into the North Sea.
Annual celebrations are fantastic way to gather in celebration. However, you need not wait for these key dates to reconnect with the cycles and seasons.
Rising with the sun is a simple daily ritual that serves to remember the wild ways. Take the time to step outside for a brisk walk, meditate or simply observe the dawn of a new day.
Bring nature indoors
Set up a temple inside your home to honour the natural world. A feather, a piece of wood or some stones that are particularly beautiful. Anything from nature that resonates is just perfect.
Add these items to a sacred space in the home as a reminder that the elements are present in every moment. Set an intention as you place the objects into the temple.
Surround yourself with natural textiles. Cotton bed sheets, silk scarves, hemp cushion covers are all great ways to bring nature indoors.
Give up the smartphones. Throw away your televisions. Break the internet.
These may seem the actions of a reckless vagabond but there is magic in reclaiming your attention span, thought processes and imagination for yourself.
Technology has the potentiality to be a force for good. Infinite connectivity and instant global communications is a wonder of the modern age. However, the way we consume content at this juncture is problematic.
Elections are bought and sold by those with the deepest pockets, agendas are set by multinational corporations and advertisers are looting our minds and pockets with ever more sophisticated algorithms and sales funnels.
Generally speaking, in the online theatre, If the content is free, then you’re the product.
Spend the weekend without the use of these small devices and you’ll feel a freedom of mind that refreshes the spirit.
Light your fire
Become more closely acquainted with open fire. Learn to cook on an open flame. Build a fire in your garden.
Fire is often claimed as being one of the single most important discoveries for early man. Ages ago, when we were hunter-gatherers, to find something so magical and terrifying as fire would have been immense.
In our modern society with the bleeps and rings of smart technology. it’s hard to comprehend the importance of this simple yet mesmeric elemental miracle.
Fire meant warmth, light at night, security from wild animals, and later, the possibility of BBQ. The first man to put a dead animal on an open fire must have been pretty spellbound by the results.
Go on a microadventure
Back in 2012, pioneering adventurer, Al Humphreys. risked it all to create a whole new category of outdoorsmanship. A microadventure is a night out under the stars between a busy schedule. It’s a midweek ramble and camping in a field. It’s a wild swim and a night in a hammock.
Microadventures are a mini rewilding. A cheeky refresh of the vital signs. I tried them while I was working a regular 9 – 5 in London. I spent many a night in the woods of Walthamstow Marshes.
Just a few miles from my house in distance but a whole world away in terms of connection. It was a fun way to test new kit in readiness for my round the world cycle and an essential reset of my overloaded senses.
A microadventure can include many of the aspects we’ve discussed in this list. They’re a super accessible way to get in to the outdoors more often. Perfect for those seeking to transition into a more wild way.