How to align to the rhythms of nature in an urban environment

How to align with the rhythms of nature

The pace of modern life demands convenience to function, but often at the expense of primal instinct. Being able to turn on a switch and instantaneously acquire light, heat and entertainment has distanced us from our wildness and the biorhythms of nature. Yet it’s possible to retune into your innate wildness, your primal essence, and still enjoy the comfort of paved streets and snug homes.

Rewilding isn’t about donning a loincloth and swinging from lamppost to lamppost. It’s much subtler than that. Slowing down is key. Nothing happens in a hurry in nature. Even hurricanes take time to amass their whirling centres. And so cultivating a practice of rewilding in suburbia is a process of sowing seeds every day.

Reconnect with the sun’s cycle

The sun governs all life in the solar system. Technology, weather and our consciousness are all affected by solar flares, so it makes sense that forming an intimate connection with the sun links you to everything. Sleep without curtains. Wake naturally to dawn. A key tenet of rewilding is to keep the flow of things as organic and synchronistic as possible, so use the sun’s light as an alarm clock.

Sleep without curtains. Wake naturally to dawn. A key tenet of rewilding is to keep the flow of things as organic and synchronistic as possible, so use the sun’s light as an alarm clock.

If catatonia cripples at dawn, or work shackles at sunset, there are other ways to summon the sun’s energy. Walk into the back garden. Choose a spot that feels anchored and erect a mini monolith/crystal there. On a particular day once a month, perhaps the first one of every new month, at a specific time (again intuit this — perhaps the time you were born), check where the sun casts its shadow in relation to the monolith. Place a rock or a crystal at the tip of the shadow. Do this for a year. At the end there’ll be a pattern, an artwork created by the sun. From an energetic point of view, you’ll be in the presence of the sun even when it’s cloudy. This rock pattern could also be the layout for a garden mandala or shrine.

Stone circles have been found in Scotland dating back 5000 years. Gail Higginbottom from the University of Adelaide authored a report in the Journal of Archaeological Science in August 2016. She theorised that Scotland’s ancient circles were links to the cosmos. Higginbottom believes they were created so people could acknowledge the very places that showed them the “permanent representation of their understanding of their universe” with reference to the sun and moon. Such understanding tunes us into our own place within the wilds of the natural world.

Reconnect with the moon’s cycle

Reflector of both the tumult and calmness of our inner tides, the moon affects our consciousness as it does the patterns of the ocean. We’re around 70 per cent water, so connecting with the moon enables a better understanding of our mood cycles. Ditch the Gregorian calendar; it doesn’t align with the lunar cycle. Following it disturbs natural body rhythms. Full moons are times to fire up and explore wild desires. Howl. Prance naked in the garden. New moons are integration periods, times to retreat into the burrow and self-reflect.

In some tribal cultures, women retired to a red tent during their moon time. Their periods were times of heightened psychic ability. The tent provided space to fully be with their bleeding and do little else. Red-tented women divined visions for the future of the tribe, for how their community could function more optimally. It was the men’s responsibility to action these visions.

Removing shoes gives the body access to negatively charged electrons that can then flow into your body and neutralise excess positive charge, thereby stabilising the body’s electrical environment.

Get tribal. Turn a study or bedroom into a red tent. Men, step up during the first few days of a partner’s moon time. Cook, clean, shop so women can operate more in accordance with planetary sway. She’ll probably be clearer on how to manifest for the relationship with this courtesy, and it’ll enable the man to step into his primal masculinity to protect and provide. It’ll galvanise the relationship into one of trust and intuition. This is rewilding in its purest form: fostering relationships with the world and everything in it built on trust and intuition. Rewilding requires the intellect be used as a secondary rudder.

Invite the moon into the house. Build an altar in reverence. Some people use rocks to build moon gates — large circular openings in brick walls – to create a portal to the moon’s energy.

For women, learn about herbs and vaginal steaming, an ancient practice governed by the moon cycle. It’s a three-way symbiosis between plant, human and celestial body. To rewild is to forge numerous symbioses. And with vaginal steaming, not only does it connect a woman to her womb emotionally, but it also eases period pain.

Eat seasonally

It has never been easier to buy food out of season. It may seem odd to assert there could be energetic implications of eating blueberries in winter, but this is a dormant time for blueberries and so consuming them is not consuming what is actually thriving at that time of year. There’s a reason nature produces certain plants at certain times. For example, chickweed, full of vitamin C, grows in winter to stave off colds.

As with food miles, eating out of season means the food has been sitting around longer, thereby losing its nutritional density. We are extensions of nature, so it makes sense that eating seasonally imbues the body with the energy of what nature’s actually doing in its cycle. As the food we eat thrives and grows at this time, so then will we. Eating a paleo diet pays specific attention to eating seasonal foods. There’s a plethora of seasonal growing tables online to create your own diet.

Plant a mini food forest in the back garden, or else in portable grow bags if there’s no earth. Build vertical gardens if there’s little space. Get your hands dirty. Feel the earth.

We are extensions of nature, so it makes sense that eating seasonally imbues the body with the energy of what nature’s actually doing in its cycle. As the food we eat thrives and grows at this time, so then will we.

Author and self-proclaimed neo-peasant, Patrick Jones, used to run weed walks in suburban Melbourne, where he introduced people to the abundance of edible weeds. He’s currently writing a book about native bush tucker. He believes such knowledge is empowering. To eat weeds is to eat life. Picked fresh, the plant is still vital. And weeds grow with no human input; they know not only how to survive but also how to thrive in the environment — an essential nutritional uptake in the life of a suburban rewilder.

Jones advises to avoid harvesting weeds on nature strips unless you know the council doesn’t spray there. There’s a food forest in your back garden nestling among the plants you call weeds, those pioneers that nourish the soil and cultivate succession for future species to take hold.

Go to the lawn or a local park, pack the Weed Foragers Handbook by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland, and go grab a free salad. Forage for mushrooms and berries in forests on suburban peripheries. There’s a variety of mushroom-foraging workshops around the country. Make sure you know exactly what mushrooms you have, though, as some are extremely deadly.

Walk barefoot on uneven surfaces

Feel the dirt between your toes. See if you can feel the vibration of the earth coming into your being. Walking on asphalt or gravel is incidental acupuncture.

Jim McFarlane, a professor of physiology at the University of New England, is an advocate of earthing. The theory of earthing stipulates that, because the surface of the earth and our bodies are electrically conductive, we build up a positive electrical charge throughout the day. Removing shoes gives the body access to negatively charged electrons that can then flow into your body and neutralise excess positive charge, thereby stabilising the body’s electrical environment.

McFarlane believes earthing produces small but significant health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure, boosting the immune system and having anti-inflammatory effects.

“We are very isolated from the earth’s environment,” says McFarlane, “and this means we slowly but surely build up an electrical charge. Our nervous system is electrical and you really only need slight alterations to your [body’s equilibrium] over long periods of time to have health effects.”

Synchronise with solstices & equinoxes

Equinoxes are about equilibrium, so they’re the perfect time to call in balance, to ask nature for inspiration on how to live comfortably wild in suburbia. Celebrate with mini ceremonies (perhaps using the sun sculpture) and seasonally inspired feasts. Have a ceremony on the solstices to celebrate the emergence into light and the descent into darkness and introspective hibernation.

Make a fire pit

Fire is a direct link back to your ancestry and the dawning of humanity. Its guardianship is the ideal cleanser for a bad day at the office. Give frustration and anger to the fire. Sing around it; tell stories; dance; or simply gaze at nature’s television — there’s never a repeat. Fire contains primal wisdom in every crackle. It predates intellectual endeavour. It tunes you in with the essential flame of survival that has perpetuated our species for aeons.

Rear your own meat

Keep rabbits (New Zealand whites are good for meat) and chickens (not roosters, unless you want to lose friends!). Slaughter them periodically for food. I once killed a rooster and it was the best meat I’d ever tasted. It was a confronting yet empowering experience. I made a ceremonial fire, which I kept lit throughout, using it primarily to boil water to dunk the carcass and then pluck the feathers.

The process gave me a newfound respect for the animal giving its life to merge with me. A kinesiologist friend of mine believes that incorporating the animal into our microbiome by eating it is an exchange of soul codes, that animal and human have come together to embark on the ultimate symbiotic exchange.

Eating an animal you’ve killed activates a survival gene, one practically dormant in modern life. The resultant pelt/skin can be tanned to make clothes and rattles, which can then be used in equinox and solstice ceremonies.

Operate in gift & exchange economies

This lessens the need for financial accumulation; it’s a more relational way of acquiring items or services. Indigenous Australians traded between tribes. This underscores the essence of rewilding: to come back to more natural, equal and intuitive-based economies where accumulation is about momentary need, not excess stockpiling. As when foraging for mushrooms or berries in the forest, take only what you need for that time.

Find a sit spot in nature

Find a natural environment in which to sit and be still for around 20 minutes. Observe birds, flowers and clouds. Nature is truth. It’s the only pure reflection of you there is. And you’re a wild thing that doesn’t need to be repressed by the relative tameness of suburbia. For under every rock there are colonies of creatures, in every bush a micro community of bustling bugs. Wildness is everywhere. It’s just a matter of tuning in and taking time to rekindle ancient flames to illuminate the modern age.

David Cauldwell

David Cauldwell

David Cauldwell is a writer who combines his visionary art, poetry and storytelling to instil a stronger sense of connection to creativity, Nature and Self. He often ventures out on wilderness hikes to reset his mind. This, he believes, is an essential aspect of integrating abstract spiritual practices into practical, concrete ways of living well day-to-day. His artwork, poetry and writing can be found at his website.

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