A Solo Adventure in the Pyrenees

As I feel the wind on my skin and the sun warming up my face in the middle of London, I am brought back to my spot on the mountains in the Pyrenees a week ago, where I did a 24-hour solo… a day and a night on my own in one spot, to just simply be with nature, writes Nicole van den Eijnde.

When the opportunity arose to go onto a wilderness retreat in the Pyrenees with Way of Nature and Active Earth I knew I had to go. A big part of what we have been doing with Global Generation in our Engaged Philosophy sessions, yoga and sitting still practice is to open up a space inside of us to just ‘be’ and in such a way connecting more deeply with who we are and the world around us. This would take me further on this adventure …

A very warm welcome awaited me and the other six participants by Andres and Korbi. Chi Gung in the morning using movement to connect to the 5 elements and our own emotions - wood, fire, earth, stone and water - amazing food, meaningful discussions, great company and a long hike in the beautiful Pyrenees with majestic views on every corner.

The next day was our solo. In the knowledge that my mind and thoughts would be the main barriers to me having a connecting experience, I went with the intention of not trying for anything in particular, of letting go. I chose a spot half way up the mountain, flat stones to sit on with pine trees and a bit of soft grass behind me. Andres dropped me off and would be back in 24 hours so no need for a watch. In fact no need for anything much apart for some warm clothes, a sleeping bag and a tent.

So there I was. What was I going to do until bedtime? Are there bears and wild boars around? Would they be hungry this time of year? Have I chosen the right spot? Will I be afraid at night? I took a step back from my questions and my worries, saw they were happening and did some Chi Gung to ground myself, to recognise the values and the wisdom in the elements that the world is made up of, including ourselves. And I landed. I became present. Time passed slow and time passed fast. I became very aware of nature’s sounds and busyness - the hoverflies, bees and flies buzzing away as a background chorus to the birds chattering all around.

Everything around me was alive and a sense of gratefulness rushed through me for being alive on this Earth and for the awesomeness of it. The sun blazed and the clouds passed, a caterpillar climbed all the way up a single spider web’s thread from the ground to the highest branch … in which all concept of time was lost to see this little creature achieve such an unbelievable feat. And then the light started changing as dusk approached.

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The spectacle of the sun slowly setting was there for me to see. I was entranced, completely fixated and for the first time felt with my whole being that I was part of a moving Earth. The sun was not ‘setting’ or ‘going down’, I was moving and the sun was still shining all its glory, all its warmth onto other parts of the Earth. I felt the Earth moving, circling slowly getting out of sight of the sun and as if all of a sudden all of nature stopped, the buzzing and the chattering, all went absolutely still and silent. Complete peace. I recline and see that behind me the first stars come into view, far away where the remaining rays from the sun cannot reach and very gradually it gets darker and more stars appear. I don’t know for how long I lie there. Long enough to see a shooting star.

I go into my tent to sleep but the tranquil night draws me out again, so I zip up my sleeping bag completely and find a spot on the rocks to sleep under the stars. I drift in and out of sleep, secure and at peace with the night above me. Morning arrived as slowly as night arrived. To the East the first change of light. So subtle, so gradual and I am still just as amazed at the realisation that the Earth and all that lives on it has travelled such a huge distance overnight to once again meet the sun this morning. A deep pink, orange and eventually bright blue sky emerges. The loving ball of energy that makes life possible on Earth, comes rising above the mountain, waking me up and all that is around me as the buzzing and the busyness of nature starts once again. I feel the rhythm of nature.

In those last moments I become deeply aware of the sacredness of nature, of the Universe, of all living things, of all that exists on Earth. We all form part of this, we are all related, we are all connected through the simple experience of being here. And so I make a promise …

Mother Earth
I make a promise to you
I become the mountains
The stones, the trees
The fire of the Sun
The water from the streams
I become part of you
I am you

A renewed sense of belonging. A renewed energy and fire inside of me. To remember this in all that I do.