“To speak of wilderness is to speak of wholeness. Human beings come out of that wholeness.” -Gary Snyder
Rewilding might seem like a lifestyle restricted to those living in the great outdoors who enjoy activities like hiking, bushcraft and wild food foraging. Most of us observe this lifestyle on social media as we sit behind computer screens with an overwhelming list of to-do’s and a deep desire to rid ourselves of the daily stresses and the endless FOMO. We often long for the smell of burning wood and nights out under the starlit sky, sprawled out on a blanket with friends and a good bottle of wine.
Time spent in nature has become a recreational hobby most of us only get to enjoy when on holiday, but it is actually a wellness necessity – one we all have access to and deserve more of, no matter who we are and where we are at in our lives. True rewilding is based on this crucial belief.
THE DEFINITION OF REWILD
The common definition of rewild is to ‘restore (an area of land) to its natural uncultivated state (used especially with reference to the reintroduction of species of wild animal that have been driven out or exterminated). The rewilding of man, however, refers to ‘the re-introduction of man to the wild, more importantly, to his original, unaltered, vibrant state.’
Since the dawn of agriculture 10,000 years ago, there have been so many wonderful human achievements, but there have also been major drawbacks for man himself: not only physical aspects such as the loss of bone density, increase in fragility and the rise of chronic and mental disease, but emotional and spiritual aspects, too. We have neatly segregated ourselves into buildings, cities, etc and it impacts us far more than what we may think. The internet and social media may be blessings in that they instantly connect us, but these platforms can never replace the power of real human interaction. So not only has there been a loss of community, but probably the most important drawback of all: the loss of oneself. With all the technology and information around us, something unexpected has happened. Even though our world has grown smaller, many individuals are beginning to feel more disconnected, alone and overwhelmed at the mere thought of who they truly are and what their unique purpose is.
WHAT’S THE POINT?
The main idea behind rewilding is to become aware of this loss of self and disconnection to the world as a whole. It is a holistic approach that helps us to re-establish our relationship with our natural selves so that we can thrive in an increasingly stressful, fast-paced world and it uses nature as the perfect ‘toolscape’ to do so.
It all starts with becoming better observers by placing ourselves in natural settings. Nature doesn’t judge or ask judgment. It only ever asks observance, silence and contemplation – for us to be our authentic selves. As writer Henry David Thoreau remarked, “The voice of nature is always encouraging.” This conversation with nature also helps us better understand our physical impact on the planet and how we can live more sustainably on this beautiful earth.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS:
Let’s take a look at an outdoor activity as simple and natural as walking:
- Improves mood
- Relieves feelings of stress, anxiety & helps heal trauma
- Promotes creative thinking & problem-solving
- Increases energy levels
- Cleanses lungs & encourages deeper breathing
- Development of senses
- Soothes joints, muscles & tendons
- Sun exposure (vitamin D for healthy immune system and bones)
- Improves blood pressure & heart health
- Brings forth feelings of connection to all living things
- Awakens intuitive intelligence
- Increases our desire to play an active role in taking responsibility for and preserving our wild places
At this point, you may be asking, “Is rewilding another practice I need to schedule a lot of time for? Can I do this with a 9-5?” Below are a few ways you can easily rewild your life!
REWILD YOUR BODY
- Eat organic, local, seasonal wholefoods (if you eat meat, eat pasture-fed and in moderation)
- Grow your own heirloom fruits & vegetables
- Support small organic farmers
- Walk and hike in the outdoors – do this as a conscious practice and not solely for exercise
- Watch more sunrises, sunsets, burning firewood and crashing waves
- Observe plants and animals; sit with them, ask permission to engage with them
- Swim in rivers, streams, ponds, oceans
- Get sun exposure on your bare skin (use only natural sunscreen)
- Go on a foraging course to learn about your environment
- Sign up for ‘wilderness therapy’ (research ecopsychological practices)
- Go barefoot, try to ‘ground’ yourself for a few minutes each day
- Flood your space with living plants, natural light and fresh air flow
- Switch over to all-natural, chemical-free body and household products
- De-clutter your space, recycle and practice a more zero-waste lifestyle
- Do the type of exercise that makes you move your body in non-restrictive, non-repetitive, playful ways
- Observe the natural cycles: the different seasons and what they bring, phases of the moon, the weather patterns and how they make you feel
- Switch off electronics at night; put your phone in flight mode when you sleep
- Get more sleep – go to bed earlier and rise earlier
REWILD YOUR MIND & SOUL
- Always schedule me-time
- Don’t add too much to your to-do list. Prioritize
- Have days where your diary is empty. Ask yourself, “What do I FEEL like doing today?”
- Get clear on the bigger picture of what you want in life – don’t get lost in the how’s
- Practice a morning routine: journal for five minutes, write down what you are grateful for, meditate, stretch your body
- Create a vision board with pictures, quotes and positive affirmations
- Act like you have already achieved your dreams –envision them with intense emotions and in detail – then let it go, trusting it will happen in divine timing
- Get more creative (with art, music, food, crafts)
- Let go of people, places and situations which don’t make you happy
- Donate, recycle or sell that which you no longer use – too much information, commitments and objects will take you further away from your core
- Engage more meaningfully with everyone you encounter on a daily basis
- Spend more time with people who inspire you
- Be the most enthusiastic person you know – have the attitude of “If not this, then something better.”
- Learn to sit with uncomfortable feelings – these are lessons waiting to reveal themselves
- Step back – taking a break from the plan is actually a big part of the plan
- Disconnect to connect – have days free of social media and news – this allows you to form your own authentic opinion of the world
- Find ways of serving the world with the things and hobbies you are passionate about. The world needs your authenticity!
Rewilding isn’t about escaping our ‘domesticated’ lives, leaving the cities and abandoning technology. It is also not about fanatically following specific fitness and nutrition trends. It is about bringing the wild back into ourselves and our living spaces.
It is so vitally important for us to start seeing ourselves as part of the whole. Being too deeply embedded in the belief that we only cause destruction to our planet subconsciously dis-empowers us which in turn actually prevents us from preserving it. This belief also becomes a form of shaming and blaming that separates us from ourselves and others. We must start believing that we were born with rational, emotional abilities not solely to advance our species, but to be the very ones to save this one, precious, wild planet.
Go find your green, happy space – whether it is in your garden, city park or nearby beach and spend more time there alone or with those you love. We are a part of Nature, in fact, we are Nature and Nature is us.
HOW CAN YOU LEARN TO REWILD?
Become a part of a rewilding community. There are retreats that explore the deeper meaning behind rewilding and teach ways in which it can be implemented in daily life. The packages include daily yoga (for beginners, intermediate and advanced), guided meditation, plant-based nutrition, nature immersion activities, scripting your dream life and holistic health talks. All accommodation and meals are included. Visit: Wildcore.co.za. Or find out more on Instagram and Facebook.
- 26th – 29th July: 3 Day, 3 Night Yoga & Rewilding Women’s Retreat, Grotto Bay, Western Cape
- 27th September – 1st October: 5 Day, 4 Night Forest Adventure Yoga Women’s Retreat, Knysna, Garden Route
By Roelien Kora Steenkamp
Writer. Rewilder. Nutritionist. Retreat Facilitator.