I am absolutely delighted to introduce Dave and Laura who have recently published two terrific books: Happy Place and Move Happy. They have a super story to tell.
I met Dave last year on a writing and running retreat hosted by the excellent Adharanand Finn and Richard Askwith (The Way of the Runner). We spent the weekend immersed in the rolling hills of Devon, studying words and exploring trails in great company.
Heading out into the countryside is a privilege and a pleasure. It would be easy to prefer this to running the roads of a town or city. Yet both offer something. Dave and Laura explore this notion with his words and her photos.
They make a terrific team, and so I am thrilled to feature their work here. So, over to them!
Finding your happy place
Humans are designed to move through nature.
This is our nature. We are nature. Organisms not machines.
In the modern world we concentrate mainly on moving forward. We go from place to place, firmly fixed on forward motion, using transport where possible to get us there faster. If we’re not moving forward, we risk getting left behind. But what if all of this moving in one direction, away from our nature – means we end up leaving something behind?
There are natural movement tools wired into your DNA. Walking, running, balancing, climbing, lifting, carrying, jumping, traversing, ducking, vaulting. These are all part of the human blueprint because we’ve needed to use these skills for most of the time we’ve existed on the planet.
We remember being able to do these things as children, when we were perhaps a little more free, but we don’t really remember how we learned them. We still do some of these things now, but rarely in fun, or even useful ways. Saving up all of our movement to be carried out inside synthetic environments, where we must pay for the privilege.
We eventually stop using these skills in fun ways and we rarely need to use them in useful ways anymore. The modern world has our backs on this. Even if we ever do feel the urge to move in the old ways, it’s just not what a grown up is supposed to do.
No matter your story or your circumstance, these movement skills are still there. Buried underneath it all, desperate to get out and be used. It often takes finding a natural setting to bring them out. To feel like it’s something you might be able to still do. Nature thrives in nature after all.
It’s easy to do this when you live in the middle of a forest in the English Lake District, but how can you find a bit of green space in your own locality to spend a little time getting back in touch with your own movement heritage? Well, go back to what you did when you were a child and explore!
Even in the most built up environments there are opportunities everywhere. Go round a corner or two and you’ll find parts of the urban world that feel more natural. Greys and blacks replaced by greens and browns. Straight lines and symmetrical shapes start to fade, revealing more of the natural curves of the world.
The more organic looking nooks and crannies of the man made world can provide a quick break from the hustle and bustle. Seek them out. When you find them take the opportunity to breathe. The air feels slightly cleaner, you feel slightly more in sync with the world, aware of your awareness. In the moment – if only for a moment.
While you’re there, find a patch of grass and take off your shoes. Stand on the grass and see how it feels? When your bare skin touches the earth there is a flow of electrons into your body from the ground that balances your energy with the earth from which you came. Yes, we just mixed science with new ageism there. Dangerous ground to tread on, especially with our bare feet, but do you feel centred and balanced when you do this? Does it FEEL good? That is what matters.
Suddenly something clicks – a flicker of primal instinct. You remember you have the ability to move like a human and not just a member of modern society. You feel an urge to move your body in ways you may not have done for many years. See how creatively you can move over this uneven, organic terrain. Can you make the most of the small amount of time you’ve allowed yourself, to reawaken some of that unexpressed DNA?
Don’t worry too much about ‘getting it right’. You can always save that for another day.
Of course, the question here is why might this be useful to an adult living in the 21st century? How can moving more like a human in settings your were designed to move in help you make your way through the man made world, with more health, wellness and vitality? There are many benefits – many ways for you to grow in nature. Here are just three.
1. Resourcefulness – Practice natural movement in nature, then take it with you into urban settings. This type of movement should be playful and fun. Not only spotting opportunities to practice them, but taking them too, can help to build a resourcefulness that your ancestors had because they most definitely needed it. Can you use these resources – this increased movement range – to help you get to know and engage with your own patch a little better. Perhaps you may even spot opportunities to carry out useful tasks for your community?
2. Mindfulness – When in natural settings you may feel more peaceful. There is a little less noise in your world. Moving around mindfully in nature has a habit of putting trivial matters to one side and creating some headspace. Take this headspace back into your busy life and use it on your creative endeavours or for solving sticky problems you may have been facing. Whenever the noise begins to kick in again and you’re unable to go back to a quiet spot in reality, know you don’t have to be there in person to tap into its power. Focus on your breathing and go there in your mind.
3. Awareness – Nature moves slowly, but it’s growth is continuous. Speeding up slightly during the good times, suffering setbacks on stormy days just like the rest of us. Whenever you are in nature see if you can get a sense for its pace. When it is bursting into life during spring or winding down to protect itself during winter, the force of a fast flowing river or the tranquility of a meadow on a calm summers day. Whether you are still yourself, or moving through the natural environment fluidly, it continues to do its thing while allowing you to do yours. If you can extend your inner awareness out into the world around you, it can feel very supportive. Like you might be able to express yourself a little more fully.
When you return to the 100mph modern world, can you still move at your own pace while it continues its forward march? Can you avoid getting swept up in it but still move forward yourself intentionally? Maybe stopping every now and then to step back and see what’s going on. Moving off to the side, over here or over there, just to get a slightly different perspective on things. You may find yourself moving through your world, perhaps even your life, with a little more flow.
There is no doubt that spending more time moving around in nature helps connect you with your ancestral heritage. The ability to be more resourceful, mindful and aware is already hardwired into you, it may just need teasing out.
So try to get out and explore your local environment whenever you can. Try to seek out a little of that nature you are a part of and see what you discover about your world. About yourself.
For more, check out our ‘Adventures For Adults’ books on Amazon
Laura does the pics. Dave does the words.
Or see what we get up to in our own daily movement adventures on our FB pages: