It’s no doubt we live in times of dire consequences amounting to turbulent climate change, anxious populations, and the loss of lineage through species declineto name a few. There is a feeling I get though, when in the company of trees and sky, and other humans who have been softened by the teachings of nature, and it is a feeling of ease, contentment, and equanimity. It’s surely a feeling too, of love. I have been practicing for awhile now to halt my narrative of needing to stay busy to prove some kind of worth in the world. This hurried pace of thought and action has been bred into me by my culture, my schooling, my society- and it’s not natural. The more space I have made between busy thoughts, the more abundance I have. I have met Angie and Andrew of Sarana Institute because of this, and I continue to be drawn to their collective vision of transforming off-grid property into a place for community because as it turns out it’s my vision too. It’s my vision too because as a creature of spirit and elements, I desire to be balanced, supported, inspired, happy, and healthy. The only way for me, and for a lot of other people to feel a state of wholeness is to be surrounded and uplifted by their community.
This concept of needing community is very striking in our youth populations who are overburdened by social media, peer pressure, and high standards for ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’. I’m 26 years old, and I find it very difficult to figure out what I want to be other than happy, but staying happy is tricky. With the environment’s future in such disregard it is difficult for me to feel entitled to happiness, joy, and security and yet that’s exactly what I need to be experiencing if I wish to create within me the potential for healing myself and our planet- but I need a strong community around me to help, and chances are you do too.
When I am surrounded by wilderness outside of myself I feel excited, whole, free and purposeful. I feel like I am part of something much larger than myself, and yet I am integral. Nature can build in oneself a sense of optimistic confidence by displaying her beauty, precision and predictability of elements and seasons, and yet at the same time she offers the chance for one to cultivate a healthy ability of loosening the need for control. This brings one to a place of inner stability and contentment, and one has greater flexibility with their reactions when they study the pacing and delightful movements of nature.
When it comes to then combining community, nature and youth we find more space for intimacy; understanding a deeper sense of self, our capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. The wilderness demands an upfront honesty simply by being so true to her form. For instance, when you practice enough you can read the ground to discover the movements of other forest inhabitants, or if you are loud with body or mind other creatures can feel it, and it is not so easy to find them. When you let this wisdom enter your bones there is suddenly more mindfulness for the needs of others around you, for nature, and for yourself. Out of all the things I have ever learned in the education system I guarantee nothing has been more potent for the transformation of my behaviour and thoughts as spending time in nature has been. This is a necessary component generally lacking from the daily routine of our society, but mostly our youth as they have been exposed to the digital age of convenience right away. For the majority of our adolescent youth between 14-27 there is likely very little lingering memory of a time when all lights were off, when all devices were shut down, when all were together instead to cook, or tell stories, play music, or just to simply be together.
I’m writing this article as an advocate for time outside, youth in nature, and bridging the generational gap. It’s partly a call to action, and partly a reflection. My desire is to be in community with others to instill a greater respect for coexistence, preserving our hearts, minds, bodies, and the planet at large. The Land that is home to Sarana Springs is the perfect parcel of wilderness for offering youth focused programs. Those who have been drawn so far to this land and concept of merging youth and wilderness are passionate individuals who stem from both urban cities and small towns.
It is truly an honour to be part of the mysterious and exciting progression of transforming Sarana Springs (Angie & Andrew’s personal land) into a space for celebrating and nourishing our adolescent youth. It is my hope that in time you come to meet this property too, and share with us your insights and presence. Together we can always build a more hospitable society, together we can always breathe. We just have to slow down and let go to accept the transformative wisdom that nature is always whispering to us.
Maxine Iharosy is a Yoga Teacher and occasional blogger inspired by nature. She, along with many other individuals are working to create a place for youth to come and recharge with a focused curriculum on food sovereignty, mindfulness, and nature awareness.