Updated: Feb 8
There is something about the mountains that evokes a deep feeling of connection and wonder in me. The sound of the alpine wind, the stars twinkling above, the smell of fresh mountain air, and the rugged majestic beauty of rock jutting up from the Earth towards the sky. As I grow older I cannot trek as much or traverse peaks like I used to but the call of the mountains are still alive in my bones and heart.
Earlier this winter I spent some time in the Rocky Mountains, out under the stars, walking along the shore of a glacier lake at the base of a massive snow capped mountain. Gazing up at the expansive sky filled with stars I felt a strong pulling sensation in my body. Like the cosmos were calling to me. Every sense inside of me was awake and the beauty of it mesmerized me, carrying me away to another place. It was so dreamy that I lost track of time.
I have felt this pulling sensation before, it is like a yearning to go home to an ancient hidden place. We have all heard this call at some point in our lives. It is why we go to the mountains, to the sea, to the forests, and look to the stars. It is why we sing, dance, love, write, cite poetry, and pray. It is our desire to find the source, and return home - to our true nature.
The earth and her plants, birds, insects and animals offer us endless lessons about returning home. There are millions of songbirds who fly thousands of miles every spring in the dark to find their way home. Salmon swim hundreds of miles to return to their spawning grounds, sea turtles make incredible migrations in the open sea to lay eggs, and a monarch butterfly can fly 265 miles in one day when called back home. So how do we humans find our way back home?
We are of the earth like fish are to water, and birds to the sky.
― Julia Plevin, The Healing Magic of Forest Bathing: Finding Calm, Creativity and Connection in the Natural World
To be in connection with our true nature requires something of us, a slowing down, to the natural flow of life cycles and seasons, and to the rhythm and language of our own bodies. The more we tap into the natural world, the more we will understand our own intuitive nature and instincts. We are part of the web of life and our psyches are not isolated or separate from the environment. Indigenous knowledge and wisdom has long taught that personal well-being and planetary well-being are not separate from each other. Finding our way back means coming home to our bodies and taking care of the land.
“Being naturalized to place means to live as if this is the land that feeds you, as if these are the streams from which you drink, that build your body and fill your spirit. To become naturalized is to know that your ancestors lie in this ground. Here you will give your gifts and meet your responsibilities. To become naturalized is to live as if your children’s future matters, to take care of the land as if our lives and the lives of all our relatives depend on it. Because they do.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
I am incredibly lucky to live in the middle of a forest surrounded by 150-year-old trees. Every day I spend time in this forest walking, dreaming, listening to its sounds, and noticing what is growing here. I know the First Nations history of this land and the Russian families who came to live in this valley. I grow food here and drink water from the creek. I protect this forest like it is my own body. It is my home, and I return to every day.
This relationship I have built with the land also informs how I do my work in the world. Being in connection with the mountains, forests, oceans, and stars is some of the best medicine for our well-being and growth. It is a natural and effective way to calm anxiety, reset our nervous systems, discharge trauma, and reconnect to goodness. We can also learn important things from the natural world like how the plants and trees are rooted in generative darkness but grow up towards the light. This journey of going down into darkness so you can grow up towards light is the process of transformation. The innate wisdom of nature is a roadmap for restoring ourselves and society to a natural order of balance and interconnection.
Maybe home is not found, but felt - in a sunset, a falling star, the shadow of light, the crashing of ocean waves, a warm embrace, or the sound of an owl in the forest. Perhaps home is the glimpse of a hidden, wild life around us and within us.
~In the spirit of respect, reconciliation and truth, I want to honour and acknowledge that the place I call home is within the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territory of the Sinixt, Syilx, Secwepemc and Ktunaxa Nations, and is home to the Métis and many diverse Aboriginal communities. I am committed to upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada and across the world.
Rachel Schmidt specializes in a depth psychology coaching approach called Psychosynthesis. This mind, body, spirit approach can help individuals connect to self in meaningful ways, and access inner resources so life transitions can be moved through with intention and ease. Rachel's background includes training and certification in Psychosynthesis from the Synthesis Institute in San Francisco, a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from the University of Victoria, 20 years of counselling experience, and expertise in meditation and nature-based mindfulness. Outside of her work, she is a mother, activist, artist, and sweet soul.