Rewilding Your Heart is About Climbing out of the Box
As a revisioning life-coach and author I meet a lot of people who so want to be wild at heart but don’t know how to get there. Secretly, in their heart of hearts, they want to be wild, indeed feel they are wild … if only they could express it! they tell me they feel cooped-up inside, restricted, afraid to be themselves. They fear peer disapproval, being shunned and laughed at, told they’re stupid and to “get a grip” and be real … but the real they’re told to be has no inner meaning for them. It’s about being “normal”, they feel the social pressures on them are too great to allow them to be wild. That feels to me like such a horrid way to have to live … aching inside for what you feel society will not let you have, not approve of.
So how can we be wild? Wild inside? Wild at heart?
A big think I’ve found really helps people is to help and support each other, share how it feels if you lean against a tree, hug it, feel your heart lift as you see a robin come down to drink at the pond, Listen to the dawn chorus through your open bedroom window. Yes, all that does help you be wild at heart.
It’s about taking joy in Nature, in the natural world, in what’s not human.
There’s a massive disconnect for so many people nowadays between their own lives and “the countryside”. It’s OK watching it pass through the car or train window but being out there can be really difficult for many. When I do retreats here I really notice how many folk are OK sitting in the car on top of one of our fantastic Stretton Hills but even getting out and standing there to look is a bit difficult. I take people on walks too, not usually difficult ones, not hard terrain or steep hills, and even then I sense them clumping together at first, not wanting to get separated.
One of the favourites is up a beautiful valley, a cleft in amongst the hills with a stream chuckling and galloping round the rocks down through it. We keep quiet once we’re on the walk, it’s about stillness, about letting nature touch you, hearing the birds and the soft wind, smelling the grasses and heather, maybe tasting the wild plants as we pass, maybe even making birch-leaf tea over a camp fire while we sit by the stream and watch the sunlight and clouds colour the hillsides.
One thing people notice quite quickly is there’s no human sounds. Maybe the occasional plane overhead but no traffic, no shouting, none of the usual noises most people are used to. And that can feel strange, at first, alien even, people are not used to it.
We stay out for a a few hours, with picnic and tea-making, just a wee little bit of bushcraft. As they get used to being out, people loosen up, often by the time we need to head back people don’t want to leave the wild place. The wild has touched their hearts, spoken to them, and they heard.
That’s a big deal too. People are not used to hearing Nature. They’ve been told so often that non-human critters can’t talk to them, or understand them, so they can’t talk with Nature. then they get out there for two or three hours and find they can, in fact they already are without seeming to have made any effort. As we sit by the stream – not bunched up any more but spread out, people going off on their own, perhaps even out of sight of the rest, I can see them listening to the water. They come back after a time, say things like, “The stream really sang to me! It was like it was talking. And there was a tune in it.” Quite often I also get them telling me how the stream told them what it felt like to flow round some rocks and splash over others. All stuff they wouldn’t have dreamed of doing before the retreat.
We come back home. Have a cuppa and maybe some cake, while they sit around the house with a huge sheet of paper and some crayons and draw their experience. They always find this quite epic, not realising until they do it just how much happened and how deeply it affected them. In the modern world people so rarely get the time to go over their experiences, really take in what their afternoon has been about. The retreaters do this alone, not talking nor coparing notes with each other, this is entirely for you, your experience to savour.
Later, after supper, we get together in my studio and share our experiences. Now, each person show the drawing of their afternoon – they tend to come out like a journey round the big sheet of paper – and each person takes us on their journey. It’s a whole other opening for the person too, doing this, they uncover more of what happened for them by telling the story. And everyone else grows from hearing the story too. There’s always “stuff” for other members of the group as well as yourself and that can be a whole new experience for many – how often do you get to tell your story to other people? That’s not “normal” and so many never do get the chance. It’s enlightening and inspiring, both to tell and to hear.
And how telling your experiences – how the stream spoke to you, how you felt completely “with” that raven who swooped over our heads, how the little roe deer stood in the thicket of bracken watching you as you watched him, and how connected you felt to him at that moment – makes them even more real for you. So does hearing everyone else’s stories too. The sharing, the witnessing of someone’s experience, is so validating to the teller and the listeners. We don’t do things like that together very much in modern life – we watch TV, sit around a pub trying to be sharp and clever and cool in whatever we tell those with us. it’s all about how you appear to your fellows, or at least how think you appear! Actually listening to someone else, without trying to tell them how their experience should be, is often a new experience for the retreaters but one they really value.
Being in Nature, being still in nature, being present in nature, these things are so important for all of us. It’s something I’ve done all my life so people can sometimes say, “Oh! It’s easy for you!” and yes it is, because of lifelong habits, but that doesn’t mean others can’t do it just as well too. It just takes a bit of practice, and encouragement like coming on a retreat with like-minded people who want to get the hang of this too.
Being in nature here on a retreat is very safe. There just aren’t going to be people being a nuisance, contemptuous, scoffing. Nobody n the retreats looks down on anyone else because they’ve never tried one of the experiences on offer, everyone supports everyone, is interested, wants to share even if they feel they’re actually lousy at sharing. They get the idea that nobody’s going to do them down so there’s no need to be afeared, the peer-pressure isn’t going to be there, only the support-feelings and reassurance.
And when they leave the retreat, the people know each other, they know there’s other people they can keep in touch with both for their own support and to give it back again as well. Their world has opened up, even if it feels like only a teensy bit, and there are others in the world who care about the same things they do. Their hearts have opened up, got a bit wilder and, most important, they know they can come and do it all over again, get wildness-fix that will help it become a natural thing, on autopilot.
Another thing happens too. As these folk leave the retreat and go out into the everyday world they see it differently. And the world sees them differently too. Friends may well say “how did it go? Your weekend?” and they tell them, enthusiastically, so the friends get hooked too. The whole thing can grow exponentially snowballing more and more, so more and more people let their hearts go wild. And that can change everything!
Getting wild at heart like this can change your life. In fact it’s almost bound too. You look at your job differently, your family, your friends, even the government! You don’t get gulled into accepting bullshit from people just because it’s “normal”. As your heart, and so your life, get wilder so you question, you stop people in their tracks maybe and say, “Excuse me, why? Why do you say that’s so, that’s how it has to be?’ And when this happens things change. Even big things that can actually help slow down climate change and extinctions, and help us learn how to live with this new world we’ve created through climate change. And we really are going to have to learn to do that. there is no “quick fix” through technology or such like. To get the idea really into proportion just how can we ever put back all the melted ice from the north and south poles? We can’t! We’re now stuck with what that change is bringing about.
So we need to learn to change.
When lockdown first started, people stayed in … and the wildlife came out! We stopped messing with nature and the wildlife thrived. If we can learn to Be in Nature – and we most certainly can – then nature can get on with sorting out the mess we’ve made and helping it to grow and live in the new way it needs to. People can learn to allow their wild hearts out of the box and that’s what happens on the Rewild Your Heart retreats.
And as we each of us change so we inspire others to change as well. And the more we each of us all change, open up our hearts, feel ourselves to be a part of the whole environment, so the more the world is able to change too.
There’s an old adage … you cannot change anything but yourself but as you change so you see the world change around you.
Let’s do it, let’s go for that, let’s all let our hearts out of the box and become wild at heart.
About Elen Sentier: Cross a best-selling author-cum-psychotherapist with a witch and what to you get? A revisioning life-coach with lots of new, innovative ways and ideas on being authentic, reclaiming your power and realizing your full potential. I was born of an old family of witch-folk so I’m a rebel and revolutionary thinker, passionate about helping people be their true selves, rewild their hearts and find what makes those hearts sing.
Go to www.elensentier.com for more