“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift“ - Albert Einstein
In today’s culture we move very quickly. We are always busy and rushing and yet we never seem to have enough time. It’s the modern-day time paradox. It’s a rare thing to move slowly, intentionally and to pay attention to our inner and outer landscapes. But when we don’t stop to catch our breath and notice these things, our health and wellbeing suffers.
If you come on my Nature Connection walks, you’ll notice I value slowing down. In Forest Therapy and Nature Connection work, we place great emphasis on the practice of “wandering”. In our modern culture “wandering” seems to imply being lost, aimless and directionless. But I want to advocate for it. We must move slowly to become fully aware of the life all around us and inside of us, and the vibrant nourishment and nurturing it can give us if we pay attention. For me, wandering has become a spiritual practice. It helps me connect to my deeper, intuitive self and to remember my innate connection to all living things. (And, it’s really fun, often playful, cheeky and joyful!)
I was lucky enough to be at the 8th International Adventure Therapy Conference last week, where I listened to Indigenous speakers from around the world share their perspectives on nature and wellbeing. Unsurprisingly, they all had similar messages about the healing power of deep connection with nature and the importance of slowing down to deeply listen.
In our Western world we commonly refer to just five senses – touch, smell, taste, hearing and seeing. However, Professor Liz Cameron, Director of the Koori Institute at Deakin University introduced us to two more senses that are common knowledge in Aboriginal culture and central to traditional healing; Ngara (imagination, memory, play) and Oolgna (deep intuition, insight, gut feeling).
Ngara invites us to explore transpersonal experience. It simultaneously heightens our perception of that which is outside of us, as well as our inner landscape, deeper psyche and unconscious. In the West we think of imagination as only for children’s games, but allowing our adult selves to play in imaginary and transpersonal worlds increases our endorphins and makes us feel happy.
Oolgna encompasses other ways of seeing and knowing the world. Our ancestors were reliant on deep intuitive senses for survival. Internal feelings alerted us to changes in the external environment and served as a trusted guide. In the Australian Aboriginal cultures Professor Cameron spoke about, the Oolgna is considered the core of knowledge and is central to wellbeing. Located in the stomach area, it is the primary focus in traditional healing.
On Nature Connection Walks I invite you to become curious about your imagination and intuition. Perhaps you haven’t slowed down enough to listen to them for a long long time.
We begin with a guided meditation that moves through the 5 senses and also beyond them, into the realm of imagination, memory, play, creativity and intuition. Then we wander, but not aimlessly or without intention. Each time we practice connecting with nature with heightened awareness, our relationship with it deepens. Like a yoga or tai chi practice, these are skills of perception and interoception we can cultivate over time.
In today’s world there is knowledge about our physical needs and emotional needs, but there is little knowledge around our spiritual needs. We have forgotten and devalued the spiritual ways of knowing and being that nourished and sustained our Indigenous ancestors.
Albert Einstein said “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift“.
I invite you to come walk with me and remember…