I just ran into the house – with toes and fingernails steeped in the dirt of my vegetable garden, because this thought wouldn’t quit. I’m currently up to my elbows in my garden creating this medicine wheel, healing herb garden that is just so alive and wild in my mind. I’m not a landscape designer, however I am a lover of wild spaces, gardener with a green thumb to my core. So when the Universe gave me this brilliant idea, it was filled with so much light and love, who could say no? I’ve discovered so much along the way – as the garden grows, so does the gardener! But that’s a whole another post….
The Energy of Wild Spaces
I’ve spent time in a lot of wild spaces from coastal Vancouver to the escarpments of Ontario, and everywhere in between. The wild spaces call to me through pursuits of geocaches, intriguing new trails and even cultivated parks and gardens. My very favourite spaces are untamed, abashedly wild and teaming with life. I find them by venturing off the beaten trails, and driving down the backroads and following my intuition.
Each of these spaces I’ve visited has it’s own energy. The energy can be positive and full of light, healing, joyful or even dark and mysterious. The wild offers us a place to regenerate, think deeply through what is on our minds and hearts, or just release and let go of what we need to do to grow further.
My favourite spaces have this sense of well-being, positive energy. Sometimes, they have trails that are well-trodden by many visitors (or well-maintained anyway). They make you feel lost (even if the car is only 500m away). They make you feel small in their height, magnificence, and imposing presence. More so, they make you feel connected, connected to the Mother Earth, part of that beautiful world in your small way. You can inhale lungfuls of air and feel like you can do anything, and are invincible. There are places to step off the trail, and sit on a boulder or by a tree and meditate or just soak up the forest. These spaces have been treated with respect by those who created things within in. The best forests are full of light & life.
But there’s other kinds of spaces too. I once stopped at this road-side cemetery along the Icefield Parkway. As I walked closer to the geocache I was after on the edge of the cemetery, the icy shivery feeling wrapped around the back of my neck. I knew this part of the forest shouldn’t have been disturbed. This cemetery was not welcome here. It may have been where some souls had perished but the wild didn’t invite them in. The air was heavy, the forest imposing. This wasn’t the wild that welcomed human interference and exploration. It was combative, restless and dark. Needless to say, I basically ran back to the car and sat there shaking for several minutes. My friend who was with me had felt it too and we discussed it in length as we continued on our journey.
Spaces that fill me up with joy are remarkable gardens where the wild and the gardener just seem to meld together. There’s this remarkable series of gardens by the boardwalk in Kincardine that just have whimsical little touches and the beach grass mixes into delightful native plants that have a splash of colour. As you walk along, you spy a little rain boot planter, and so many little garden art touches that make you smile. It’s a relaxing, restful and reflective time of trail and garden space in one.
Why You Should Add Wild Spaces to Self Care
Good lives require the balance of civilized and wild. The wild holds a place where you can rediscover yourself, a place for experimentation, or a place to bring about radical regeneration. The thing is though we spend a lot of our time in the civilized, following the rules and following the sidewalks. We hook up to computers and don’t even go outside and feel the sun on our faces.
The wild isn’t far away. Its in our green spaces, its in our forests, its in our provincial parks, conversation areas and trails. I am willing to gamble there’s a wild space just waiting for you in your neighbourhood. Sometimes it’s as simple as eating your lunch outside to start building your relationship once again.
As a kid, even though I was suppose to walk home via sidewalks, I never did. I sought the wild. I made bike jumps from dirt in the hidden forest behind a housing development. I ran my bike through creeks and slipped and fell in on the algae. I climbed the trees. I was fascinated by the Ontario trilliums (the provincial flower) that just popped up everywhere in the forest at certain times of year. The forest was my place, and I was one there.
We’re all searching for this wholeness, we’re all looking for connection. This is what is missing the connection to the land we’re walking, the wild we once enjoyed, and the peace in being present within this moment that it brings with it.
3 Ways You Can Do Self Care in the Wild
- Explore + take a walk. Leave your cellphone in the car. Instead bring along a bottle of water + quick healthy snack. Pick a loop that you can walk without worrying where you’re going and where you’re going to end up. Take this journey and make sure you don’t have to rush off to somewhere else right after. Give it all the time it needs. Walk at a comfortable pace for you. Bring along children, dogs and loved ones – they just make the experience sweeter. Stop and look at whatever catches your interest. It’s not a race. Enjoy any views. Sit on any bench provided and tune into everything around you.
- Get to know your land in your backyard. Grab a yoga mat and a towel. Find a spot in your backyard that calls to you – it might be leaning your back on a favourite tree, it might be sitting next to your favourite garden (or soon-to-be garden), it might be right the middle of the backyard. Spread out your mat and create a sitting or lying space for yourself. Close your eyes and let your thoughts go where they want to. Clear your mind and tune into the sounds around you. Can you hear bird song? Your neighbour mowing their own? Insects buzzing through the air?
- Absorb the Earth Energy. Find that forest that calls you with its positive energy. Find a spot under a tree, on a boulder on in a place that you feel secure. You might have to bushwhack a little to find a place. Close your eyes + sit still. Listen to all of the sounds in the forest. Put your feet in the dirt (prefer bare feet if it’s warm enough!) Image your feet growing roots into the earth. The earth energy will start to flow upwards into your toes, then your feet, then your ankles. Keep your awareness of the next place you want the earth energy to flow up into.