Guest blog by Twin Cities Oulakin Leah Johnson
As we enter October, we are rounding out our I Am Connection affirmation. We have had the wonderful opportunity to connect with each other as a community, which feels so viscerally needed as we continue through pandemic life. We have had the chance to dig deeper into our connections with ourselves, focusing into our own hearts, minds, and bodies and taking a deeper look into the relationship we keep with ourselves. And now as we head into October, we are going to take a deeper dive into the connections we keep and hold with our natural world.
In our busy everyday lives, it is incredibly easy to feel no connection to nature at all. We are more connected than we have ever been, constantly having a phone in our hands reading news, checking in on social media, posting videos and pictures, interacting with friends close and far through a screen. As more and more people have transitioned to working from home and we have been forced to spend less time in person, this is both a blessing and a curse. With all this connection through devices, when and how do we take the time to connect ourselves in our natural world? And why? What is the value and importance of taking the time to get lost and find ourselves through nature?
I recently had the opportunity to disconnect from my day-to-day life and immerse myself into nature. Although my trip was only a week, I decided to take a 2-week social media vacation. On this trip I spent several days without cell service entirely. It was the first time I can ever remember that for 3 days, I didn’t even turn my phone on. I spent my time kayaking in the ocean (with the assistance of some amazing guides), planning our days around the tides, the ebb and flow of the water and traveling when the water told us it was safest. It was an incredibly humbling experience to be in a tiny boat in a massive body of water surrounded by nature just doing its natural thing. By the end of the trip, I realized how different I felt than my normal state. I hadn’t been feeling my usual anxiety, stress, and overwhelmed feelings. I hadn’t thought about what I was missing on Instagram or what horrible news articles I didn’t see. I didn’t have my typical bedtime dread of what stress might be lurking for me the next day. I felt good in my body and in my mind. And this isn’t to say I was completely comfortable the entire trip by any means. This trip altogether was a giant leap outside of my comfort zone (I’m sorry dear husband, you want me to get into a tiny self-propelled vessel and hang with the orcas in the ocean?!?). But I was facing my fears and my worries head on. I was quite literally paddling straight into my anxiety. And something about succeeding in this had a profound effect on me. Being entirely present in my body, in my mind, and being active in nature all combined.
Now is it realistic that we can disconnect to that degree on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis? Probably not for most of us. So how do we get the same feelings of immersing ourselves in nature in our own backyards? Can we shift our mindset from going into nature to find ourselves to maybe realizing we are nature? It is in us and all around us. It is not a place we leave to go to, but a place we find within. If you ignore the sound of your neighbor mowing their lawn, can you hear the birds chirping? If you look past the airplanes flying in the night sky, can you see Jupiter and Saturn right behind them? Can you feel the vastness of the earth under your feet as you stand in your own backyard? What opportunities are we missing out on each day that can help us feel grounded, connected, present, and at peace?
The best and my most favorite thing the pandemic has brought into my life is outdoor Oula. It is not a thing I ever knew I needed and now I never want to give it up. It is that connection I never knew I was missing. As always when we dance, we experience that connection to our community, moving and singing together. We feel that connection to ourselves as we experience the music and emotion moving through our bodies. And now as we take class outside, we get this added bonus of experiencing all of this out in the presence of our earth and nature. We get to look up at the sky as we yell “I AM HERE” or “THIS IS ME” and this hits just a little bit differently, a little bit deeper. We get the opportunity to stomp our feet on the ground and cry out, hoping that as we heal ourselves, we are healing the world just a little bit as well.Lots of love,
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