As a child, playing in the garden, the blissful absence of having to think or to worry seemed to me like my natural state. But now as an adult, all the conditions seem to be against finding something like that natural state.
As a child, I was always to be found at the bottom of the garden, stirring up some mud soup, climbing the tree and thinking, weaving fences out of sticks. It soothed my soul and shifted me seamlessly out of the different senses of disturbance I often found myself juggling at school, with friends, or at home with my family. Wounds I did not know I had sustained healed themselves when I was concentrating on working with nature, fitting in with it, making things, following trails of ants, meditating (although I didn’t yet know the meaning of the word).
The blissful absence of having to think or to worry seemed to me like my natural state. Being there was a way to recharge before entering the fray again, like the school system with its sometimes bizarre and usually stressful requirements to fit into something that was never exactly spelled out, and to achieve, which meant generally being the best at whatever was put in front of you, and of course being better than others while pretending not to be trying to do that at all.
As a counsellor now, it seems that many people who come to me spend the vast majority of their time thinking, worrying and fitting their feelings and their lives into the bizarre and stressful requirements of various social systems, at work and within the family — not to mention the laws of the financial and political systems. As adults, we are supposed to be in charge of ourselves and our time, to be empowered and able to choose. That’s how it looked to me at school. But it doesn’t seem to be the case. And so many people are depleted, stressed, anxious, depressed, sad, angry — so far from what I used to feel was the natural state — and hoping to catch a bit of it with a mindfulness app slotted into snatched moments of the day.
I try to charge myself, like an electronic appliance, with what I sense to be the natural state, as often as I can. I try to help others to find it. But all the conditions seem to be against us. I started to think a bit wider. Instigating social action is not what I am best at, as an introvert. What if there was a place based around the idea of a natural state and how I used to experience it first in the garden, and then when I ran off to the woods? How about a place where people could run off to and recharge themselves and then go back into those systems and speak up for themselves and for others, because they feel peaceful and powerful inside and no longer as if they have to fit in at any cost?
I joined forces with a friend and we’ve been investigating, in our own lives, what kinds of conditions are necessary for that natural state to arise: living alongside nature, working along with it and not against it, making buildings out of it, growing food, using traditional as well as contemporary knowledge to heal and look after ourselves, meditation practices — as I got older, I discovered the natural state had already been described as such long ago by Buddhists and Taoists! — creativity, both privacy and company. Over the years, we’ve acquired some pristine, wild land, and we are hard at work creating a healing refuge for those whose bodies and souls are just exhausted with the various absurdities and disconnections of life today.
If you’re interested in reading more musings on the natural state and seeing what we’re up to in practice, you can have a peek at terrealuma.com. Hopefully there is some peace in the virtual place already. You are more than welcome…
All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on November 5, 2017.
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