Helen Tanner Creative Psychotherapist
‘If you go off into a far far forest, and get very quiet, you will come to understand that you are connected with everything.’ Alan Watts.
The wheel of the year is turning and it will soon be spring equinox (March 20th), a time of equal day and night, and an opportunity to reflect on what needs to be re-balanced in your life.
Over the years, I have found the equinoxes a particularly potent and intense time energetically, often leading to a sense of overwhelm.
I have learnt to notice the telltale signs of when I am going out of balance; sleep being disrupted, feeling irritable and reactionary towards others, and the biggest indicator of all – not being able to find my calm place within.
What I know about me is that there is a simple solution that brings me back to balance; retreating fully into nature.
The magic ingredients of the retreat process:
1. Before I go… I write down everything on my mind on a piece of paper, like a stream of consciousness, fold it up, and place it in a box at the foot of a small buddha statue in my home. I let it all go, just for a while, to allow me to focus on replenishing my resources.
2. I clear time over a long weekend, turn off all devices and head to nature. I spend three nights (twice a year) at a natural, off-grid retreat, on my own, with no electric or running water, in a solitary wooden cabin, in a woodland, overlooking a natural lake. (Not everyone’s cup of tea for a weekend away I know!)
3. For the first day, I focus on simple tasks like collecting water, sweeping leaves off the terrace, making dinner on the gas stove, collecting firewood, and making a fire.
4. On day two I notice… I notice the birds, and take time to watch them, and over the years have been gifted with the sight of kingfisher, woodpecker, crow, buzzard, pheasant, jay, and many others I couldn’t even name. I slow down, and begin to listen, listen to the wind in the trees, feel the growing warmth of the sun on my skin, and notice the shadows changing as the sun moved on its course. I write down the stirrings of my Soul, ideas emerging and inspirations.
I meditate and seek out books, words of wisdom, and poetry such as that of John O’Donahue. I gradually sense the calm returning within.
I go to sleep early and notice the moon shining through the window, the owl, and the silence of the still night.
5. By day three I walk, usually long distances along the coast path, noticing fellow humans and creatures, gently enjoying the scenery and the weather (whatever it may be). I notice the beauty of the spring light, and occasionally just stop and breathe it all in. I remember how blessed I am, and have the sense of nature whispering to me ‘I’ve got you’ and I silently and humbly say ‘thank you’.
6. On the final day, I usually awake with clarity as to how to resolve the challenges which may have been weighing heavily on my heart and mind only 72 hours earlier. I walk a labyrinth of stones and I affirm my oneness with all life and give thanks to this magical place, to this natural oasis for her healing balm. And I return back into the human and built world, replenished and restored.
7. On my return home, I retrieve the piece of paper, and usually burn it — so grateful for the blessing of having the time and opportunity to go home to nature.
This is the time of the equinox, where we are called to find balance. To honour the cycles of the passing year, and of our souls. To balance the going out in the world with the going in to re-connect to our heart, our soul, and the spirit of life which is breathing us and gently guiding us always towards our growth, creativity and joy.
As we move towards the equinox, why not take a little time each day to write, retreat from the world, walk, meditate, listen, reach, simplify, notice, say thank you, and come back to your heart and body.
Top tips for retreating into nature to find balance:
-Write down everything on your mind on a piece of paper, fold it up, and place it somewhere safe/ sacred.
-Turn off all devices for as long a time as is possible for you and head to nature.
-Take time to give your full attention to simple tasks (if appropriate) like cooking, cleaning, collecting firewood, preparing a fire etc
-Walk slowly and really notice the beauty of nature. Take time to see, to hear and experience being surrounded by the natural world.
-Breathe in and give thanks for the moment-for the simple things, the breath of the wind, the warmth of the sunshine, the beauty of the spring flowers.
-Be inspired, seek out words of wisdom or beauty that nourish your Soul.
-Journal any inspiration/thoughts/ ideas that come to you-now you are more open to hearing and receiving messages from your intuitive soul-self.
-Upon your return, burn the paper or release what was worrying you.
The whole web of life is awaiting and celebrating your return.
And if you are able to, I highly recommend immersing yourself in nature, completely off grid, and give yourself a chance for a complete ‘re-set’. You will be amazed of the benefits.
Helen Tanner is a Creative Psychotherapist, Healer & Forgiveness Guide offering one to one sessions from The Wellness Hub on Wednesday afternoon and evenings.
Explore her work here: helentanner.com and contact Helen on 07768968189 or email at email@example.com to book an introductory session.