The work we do at Wilde Earth Journeys is partly grounded in the principle of crossing thresholds. Indeed, the very beginning and end of every Shinrin Yoku experience involves the crossing of a physical threshold – a gate/style/bridge/a path between two titanic Oak trees, stood like sentinels…the idea being that you cross over into liminal space, leaving behind what you think you know to be true of the world and all its man-made constructs, and entering into a new space with a child-like curiosity and where the possibilities are endless. This simple but hugely powerful ritual is about permitting yourself to allow and fully experience anything that comes up for you as you journey through the forest.
And it’s a challenge! It becomes all too easy to assume and second-guess what is going to happen in life – how many times have you caught yourself worrying about something in the future that isn’t even 100%, guaranteed, cosher, legit going to happen?! Something I’ve also been personally working on is the releasing of expectations of certain events – as part of the praxis for our Shinrin Yoku training we had to undertake a medicine walk. I think it took me around six months to be in a place to take my walk with unadulterated humility and without anticipation for some miraculous epiphany! Being genuinely open to anything is seemingly a difficult task for our highly cognitive brains!
This came up again for me just recently too. In a big way! Just a few short weeks ago, I found out I was going to be a Grandmother! At the age of 40, with my eldest son being just 17, this was not the news I had expected to receive for a long while yet! And my initial response was one of shock, followed quickly by utter sorrow. Not for myself, but for my son, whose life was about to change inexplicably. I grieved. I grieved for the life my son was going to be unable to experience. This was something I wouldn't have chosen for him, and I know he would not have chosen for himself at this point in his life either…
I also began to worry about it. How would it work? What happened if things went sour between himself and his girlfriend? I’m not expecting a ‘Happily ever after’ story, but these two human beings had a responsibility to each other and this new life they created together. As chance would have it, we were due to be away for the weekend camping. My eldest stayed at home by himself. The time and space was a welcome opportunity for us all to process this news. It never ceases to amaze me what allowing myself some room to reflect on situations in which strong emotions arise can do for my ability to 'energetically digest' such circumstances!
Several hours later, on that Friday evening, I had concluded that for reasons bigger than us, her soul is meant to be here on earth at this moment in time and that my son and his girlfriend have been chosen to be her guardians. As coincidence (ha!) would have it, at this time, I had been working on the wording for a beautiful naming ceremony we were asked to do. Now, anyone that knows us at Wilde Earth Journeys, knows that we have a lot of love for the words of Irish Philosopher and Poet, John O’Donohue. And I had been reading through some of his fabulous book that I believe everyone should read, ‘Anam Cara’, in preparation for the naming ceremony. As I was reading a particular passage, what I had found to be personally true was echoed right back at me; “To be born is to be chosen. No one is here by accident. Each one of us was sent here for a special destiny. When you consider the moment of conception, there are endless possibilities….”
I found peace. Having sat with my feelings and emotions, I understood that my granddaughter was due here by divine destiny. I also came to realize that my fears had only been borne from the expectations placed on us by society – get an education, get a good job, settle down, buy a house and have some kids. Considering the diverse family units we have come to acknowledge and embrace in our modern day, this seems a little ridiculous. If every one of us is unique (which we are – there is no other like you in the universe!), and thus it follows that we each have our own purpose and destiny to fulfill while on earth, then there are countless possibilities for how each of our lives unfolds. So what then truly matters comes down to one exclusively human phenomenon - to love and be loved. Love seeds connection and a desire to help and support. Not the social construct of the notion of 'romantic love', but a deep, visceral, protective love – the kind I'm sure you've personally felt for your children, good friends, or your own Anam Cara (soul friend)
Life can sometimes feel unjust and cruel; Fairy tales exist only as reminders of personal quests of the psyche, And true ‘happily ever after’ endures in one place only – inside each and every one of us. So, whilst challenges along the way are inevitable – we cannot conceive what the future holds, only deal with situations as they arise - what is needed right here and now is love, understanding, and support. I believe that with those things in place, my son and his girlfriend can find happiness despite the circumstances. And generally happy people are more relaxed and confident. And this is a wonderful environment to bring a child into for sure.
Our forest-based invitations are rooted in creating and holding a safe, non-judgmental space for every individual curious enough to come and give it a go. It's an invitation to be inquisitive and questioning. To leave expectations and outmoded beliefs behind and step into a space of exploration and discovery. Being in nature aids and abets this process tenfold – being in a truly natural environment allows for a realization of genuine, authentic self, where the forest meets you where you are and any generational, cultural, and societal programming melts into the moss and decaying leaves to become transmuted into something real, valid and beautiful.
Change has its own rhythm, its own course – it's happening even when we can’t see it, and can be sudden and absolute. The ability to recognize life's pertinent crossings and meet them with humility, reverence, and grace is crucial to finding acceptance and happiness. It is a key component of that lifelong pursuit of personal growth. And so, I'll leave you here with a beautiful extract from John himself from his book, To Bless the Space Between Us. His words give weight to what it means to move from one experience to another, to cross into new ways of being, and to ultimately trust in the possibilities that each new threshold offers:
“At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it? A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms and atmospheres. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or a stage of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up. At this threshold a great complexity of emotions comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope. This is one of the reasons such vital crossing were always clothed in ritual. It is wise in your own life to be able to recognize and acknowledge the key thresholds; to take your time; to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there; to listen inward with complete attention until you hear the inner voice calling you forward. The time has come to cross.
To acknowledge and cross a new threshold is always a challenge. It demands courage and also a sense of trust in whatever is emerging. This becomes essential when a threshold opens suddenly in front of you, one for which you had no preparation…..Suddenly you stand on completely strange ground and a new course of life has to be embraced. Especially at such times we desperately need blessing and protection. You look back at the life you have lived up to a few hours before, and it suddenly seems so far away.
Each life is a mystery that is never finally available to the mind’s light or questions. That we are here is a huge affirmation; somehow life needed us and wanted us to be. To sense and trust this primeval acceptance can open a vast spring of trust within the heart. It can free us into a natural courage that casts out fear and opens up our lives to become voyages of discovery, creativity, and compassion. No threshold need be a threat, but rather an invitation and a promise. Whatever comes, the great sacrament of life will remain faithful to us, blessing us always with visible signs of invisible grace. We merely need to trust”
Namo Namaha – Go well and go wild!