Rewilding activities are conservation efforts aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and wilderness areas.– Rewilding in Wikipedia
Rewilding is a hot topic these days and is sorely needed. It’s needed for nature in general, and it’s needed for our human civilization to continue and thrive.
I have had a deep love for nature since childhood, and have had a passion for sustainability, deep ecology, ecospirituality, and ecopsychology since my mid-teens.
If we talk about rewilding nature, doesn’t that also mean rewilding ourselves?
What about rewilding the part of nature we call ourselves?
What do we mean by rewilding ourselves?
And what are some of the ways we can rewild ourselves?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO REWILD OURSELVES?
In a very real sense, we are a wilderness area that has been impacted and domesticated by civilization.
There is nothing wrong with this. It’s a natural process. Civilization is also nature.
All we know from society, culture, industry, technology, science, and so on is nature taking these forms.
All of it is Earth exploring itself through and as us and through and as all of what we think of as civilization.
And yet, internalized culture can put a damper on our aliveness, passion, and curiosity. It can impact our sense of wholeness. It can lead to a sense of fracture in our connection with the rest of nature and existence. And that often leads to a life that feels a bit disconnected and artificial.
So what does it mean to rewild ourselves?
For me, it means nourishing our natural sense of belonging to our wider natural systems and all of existence. It means restoring our natural aliveness, passion, and curiosity. And it means to invite in and nourish a sense of wholeness.
A good place to start is our definition of nature.
Do we have a sense of nature as opposed to what’s human? As only “out there” in the form of conventional ecosystems like forests, lakes, and so on?
Or do we recognize that nature is all of what this living planet has formed itself into, including us humans, our thoughts and feelings and imagination, and human civilization, culture, and technology?
As Carl Sagan said: We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness.
For me, a more inclusive sense of nature is an important first step in rewilding ourselves. It breaks down the imagined wall between nature and humans, which was a product of our particular form of civilization.
A GOOD STARTING POINT IN REWILDING OURSELVES
There are some relatively simple ways we can explore rewilding ourselves.
We can spend time in nature. Especially long periods in nature, over weeks and months, tend to deepen our sense of being part of nature.
We can learn about nature, including the patterns of weather and animals.
We can learn how to survive in nature and how our ancestors lived. We can learn what plants are edible, how to fish, how to cook food on a campfire, how to make and fire pots from local clay, and so on.
We can do gardening and grow food.
We can rewild our yard, or join a local rewilding project.
We can develop inter-species friendships. We can get to know someone from a different species and seek to understand their communication. We can make a practice of seeking to understand what they wish for and give it to them if possible and imagine how they perceive us and the world.
We can follow the natural cycles of nature. Go to bed and get up with the sun, within reason and what’s possible. Rest more and seek nourishing environments and activities during the dark season, and naturally be more active during the warmer and lighter season.
We can have days where we minimize our use of electricity and anything electric or motorized.
We can sit by a campfire in nature.
We can spend time in nature in the dark. (It’s amazing how much we can see on moonlit nights, and many other nights if we allow our eyes and senses to adapt.)
We can spend time under the night sky.
We can walk barefoot in nature.
We can walk in the rain without protection now and then.
We can go to the shore and watch the waves during a storm.
We can swim in lakes and the ocean at any time of year.
UNIVERSE STORY AND PRACTICES TO RECONNECT
As mentioned, how we see ourselves in relation to Earth and the universe is an important part of rewilding ourselves.
We can explore views that help us find a more fundamental reality beyond our ideas and images of separation. This includes systems theories (Fritjof Capra), deep ecology, deep time, Big History, the Universe Story, and the Epic of Evolution.
We can participate in, and perhaps learn to facilitate, the Practices to Reconnect.
We can seek out and explore local or global ecospirituality groups. If we belong to a religion, we can explore the ecospirituality movements without our religion. (There is always one.)
We can participate in any form of nature-oriented rituals.
We are already part of nature.
Any sense of disconnect comes from our own imaginations that we – somewhere in us – hold as true.
For both of those reasons, it makes sense that rewilding ourselves includes exploring ourselves.
When I explore rewilding myself, I find that authenticity is a vital component.
We often allow internalized culture to hijack us and lead us away from following what’s more authentic and alive for us. This is an important part of how we domesticate ourselves.
So finding what’s authentic for me at the moment helps me rewild myself.
This doesn’t mean acting irresponsibly or in an unkind way. That worry is the voice of our western culture.
For me, I find that authenticity means living in a more responsible and kind way. It means to find what’s alive and juicy for me, in a way that’s kind to myself and those around me.
How do I know what’s authentic to me? If we are used to following culture and shoulds rather than our own inner guidance, it can be a process to uncover our authenticity. For me, it’s what brings up a spontaneous YES in me.
Acting from a “should” feels a bit disappointing and discouraging and it tends to lead to resentment. Finding what’s more authentic comes with a whole being YES.
GET IN TOUCH WITH OUR PHYSICAL SELVES
This is another obvious approach to finding the wild in and as ourselves.
Go barefoot. Swim naked in lakes, rivers, and the ocean.
Dance. Move with the rhythm. Make music.
Do yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema.
Run. Swim. Play.
Learn inner yoga and energy work. Get in touch with you as an energetic being and the world as energies.
See how it is to bring playfulness and authenticity into this.
UNDO ASSUMPTIONS AND BELIEFS
For me, an important part of rewilding myself is to examine my assumptions and beliefs.
I find that just about all of my stressful assumptions and beliefs come from somewhere else. They come from culture. Many of them are common or universal within my culture. And some may be relatively universal across cultures.
Identify a stressful belief. This is often a version of a universal assumption and belief from my culture.
What happens if I hold it as true and live from it?
How would it be if this assumption didn’t exist?
What’s more authentic for me than this assumption and belief?
FIND WHAT WE ARE IN OUR FIRST-PERSON EXPERIENCE
For me, another aspect of rewilding myself is to find what am in my own first-person experience.
At one level, I am this human self in the world. That’s not wrong and it’s an assumption that works reasonably well. (Although it does come with some inherent and inevitable stress.)
And yet, is it what I more fundamentally am in my own first-person experience?
When I look, I find I am more fundamentally capacity for the world as it appears to me. I am more fundamentally capacity for any and all experience, for anything that appears in my sense fields.
I find I am fundamentally what the world, to me, happens within and as. I find I am what whatever appears in my sense fields happens within and as.
To myself, I am the oneness the world – to me – happens within and as.
Here, I am already inherently free of any particular identities. I am free to allow and use any one identity. And I am inherently free from it.
This is what already allows the rewilding process, as it allows anything else.
And noticing this and resting in (and as) that noticing supports the rewilding process.
- rewilding of ourselves in short / nutshell
- recognize internalized culture
- beliefs, assumptions about ourselves + world
- find more freedom around it
- connect w. ourselves (and everything) as nature
- recognize internalized culture
- redefine nature
- recognize that all is nature
- universe story
- we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe
- spend time in/with nature (conventional sense)
- be in nature over time
- have non-human friends, get to know them,
- follow the sun / daylight, follow the seasons, have electricity-free days, dark skies,
- grow food/plants,
- eat locally grown food, perhaps bought directly from the farmers,
- spend time with ourselves
- get to know our body, emotions, thoughts etc.
- learn to relate to what’s happening in us with kindness, respect, allowing, welcoming, listening ** essential
- learn to follow heart, inner guidance
- being authentic / honest with ourselves
- being authentic / honest with others, as a confession, with kindness and respect
- get in touch w. the body
- yoga, tai chi etc.
- inquiry, inner yoga, energy work etc.
- dance, rhythms, music
- massage, wild swimming, barefoot,
- undo assumptions / beliefs
- identify cultural ideas
- recognize that any and all ideas are mind-created and human-created, often widespread, passed on through generations
- examine the ideas, find what’s more true for us
- any stressful beliefs, assumptions about ourselves, others, the world
- I am not nature, this is nature and that is not,
- reality is… (indifferent, hostile, cruel, etc.)
- shoulds, guilt, shame,
- anything from Christianity, capitalism
- any universal beliefs
- find what we are
- capacity for our world
- explore living from it
- to me, the world happens within and as my sense fields
- to me, the world happens within and as what I am
- What I more fundamentally am, in my first-person experience, is capacity for my world, for any content of experience
- rewilding of ourselves in short / nutshell
When we talk about rewilding, it’s good to look at a couple of related definitions.
What do we mean by nature?
What do we mean by wild?
What are some of the ways we can rewild ourselves?
cultural and universal assumptions and beliefs.