By bringing a notebook…
By Stela Pasic
Our trips in the wild are self love retreats in their own right.
Essentially, that is why we do it. Back to nature for self love, to feel good, to enhance our connection to Mother Earth and ourselves.
But what if we can boost the self love retreat experience every now and then?
Or every time, if we are lucky enough to be able to carve out that time for ourselves.
The experience I am suggesting below can work when you are by yourself, when you are hiking or camping with friends or family, or even with small kids coming along, too.
(ok, if with kids, you will have to juggle your time a little bit)
Bring a Notebook on Your Next Self Love Retreat
So, here is a question: when you pack for your camping trip, is a notebook, or maybe a journal among your essentials?
And I am not talking about a note-taking app on your phone, but an old fashioned, real deal notebook.
Preferably something like a composition notebook. You know the kind, sturdy and indestructible, but still as inviting as any fancy journal.
Pick up on and bring it along. And be ready to jot down your thoughts and observations on your hike or walk.
The Creatives Do It
Being out and about in the wilds has been used by many (if not most) authors to clear their mind, think about new ideas, seamlessly receive new ideas, and work on issues of the day. Because, as we all know, being out and about amongst nature’s beauty makes problems of the day fade away.
It is in itself a form of meditation, connecting with nature in order to think. A Self Love Retreat.
Or in order to not think.
They walked, some of them hiked and they journaled. Out of self love.
Henry David Thoreau published an essay and a series of lectures on the topic called.. you guessed it… “Walking.”
“I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil, -to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.”
“Moreover, you must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking.”
Thoreau also points out that when a traveller asked Woodworth’s servant to show him his master’s study, she answered, “Here is his library, but his study is out of doors.”
Writers often chase what Haruku Murakami famously called the void, which he described in his superb memoir ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.’
He believed that running and the solitary time that comes with it had an enormous influence on his writing career.
A study from Stanford University showed that when people tackled mental tasks requiring imagination, the act of walking led to more creative thinking than sitting.
But we don’t need a study to know that walking itself inspires and clears the mind, we just have to be ready to capture the results!
And you don’t need to be a writer or a creative of any kind to reap the benefits or the result.
Do the Morning Pages
Some people are really good at just sitting solitary and working through the issues on their minds. Some need a tool. Like a notebook!
I have spent most of my life journaling in one form or another. I wrote about all the details of my life.
I have captured dialogues, memories, descriptions, indeed much of my entire world in detail. I kept my ‘to do’ list, everything, always in that one same notebook.
Then came the digital world, digital cameras, phones, and much of it replaced my notebooks.
But I have kept my old habit going for years in one useful form: The morning brain dump.
It is almost a cliche practice now, popularized in ‘The Artist Way’ by Julia Cameron.
It isn’t something that I first started when I read that book, but its content gave a name and a purpose to my little daily escape.
It goes like this:
First thing in the morning, before you do anything else (ok, you can still make that cup of coffee) do three pages of long handwriting. This is important, do it by hand.
Write about anything that comes to your mind. This is how you can release your inner demons. Or angels.
You can complain about your husband, write about how much your best friend can be such a bitch sometimes, how Covid19 is impacting on your life, how we may colonize other Earth-like planets, your ‘To Do’ list or lists, things you would love to accomplish or, simply, about your surroundings.
For example: “I am sitting here with my notebook on a beautiful morning surrounded by birds chirping and the mountain ranges waking up, I am about to make my first cup of coffee. I want to remember this peaceful morning…”
You get it. Write anything. Because you will get into the flow and who knows what may come out. What problems you may solve. What decisions you may make.
The technique is used to help with the writers’ block after all.
And where better to produce these pages than while you are boiling your first cup of coffee, in front of a tent, solitary, camping. Or while taking a break on your next hike.
Take that notebook and a pen and let your hand go. Let it write and explore what you are really thinking about.
Remember the quote by Joan Didion: “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”
I believe that most of us are those people.
We live in a busy world, flooded by information.
Longhand writing helps us focus our mind.
Let me make a confession here. Being that I am a busy mom, my schedule can be unpredictable, so I don’t do the morning brain dump necessarily in the morning. I do it whenever. My notebook is almost always with me. Whenever I have a few minutes, I sit down and write.
And Keep on Walking
Now, go for that walk from the beginning of this article and clear your head.
If you are with company, that’s fine too, but a meditative, solitary walk is better.
I once did a 4-hour silent walking retreat, while still walking with a group of 30 people around me and it can be done. It takes a while to get used to it, but maybe your companion would like to do a meditative self love walk too. A retreat for both of your minds.
You don’t even have to consciously think, but rather surrender yourself to ‘the now’.
We have all experienced it in the wild, the feeling that there is nowhere you have to be, nothing you have to do.
You can do wonders for yourself with a mindset like that.
Just imagine the self love you can give yourself on this kind of retreat, when there are no other distractions around you.
Just you, with your cleared mind, in a stable mood provided by nature. And your notebook.
You don’t have to check your social media, your latest report, your stats of any kind. You don’t have to answer phone calls or messages.
You can sit down and start writing.
Who knows where it might take you.
You may end up:
- Writing a “To Not Do” List;
- Reaffirming your values in writing;
- Jotting down Your Secrets of Adulthood
- Reexamining your FOMO (I have it, you have it, we all have it)
- Analyzing Your Strengths or Self Improvement Areas
- Writing down your Life Vision. Using present tense.
It is a perfect time to visualize your perfect life. Let your imagination flow. Let your brain and heart tell you what is really important to you.
That list won’t be the same if you write it out after the self love retreat or in your office after a busy day.
Self Love is Always Our First Step to Good Living
Does this type of self love retreat sound like something that could be of use to you and your busy mind?
Isn’t quieting our mind one of the main reasons we want to disappear into the wilds, to make that primal connection in the first place?
A notebook can help you honor it.
It will also help you relieve it again and again when you are cooped up in your city apartment, waiting to become a natural part of this beautiful planet again.