“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
~ John Muir
Nature is the mother of reinvention.
It’s also the most natural place to find a renewal of heart and vision – thus the perfect place to ignite a career reinvention. In the first post of this series we touched on how nature can nurture a career and life reinvention through its ability to:
- Bring us into the moment.
- Slow us down enough to listen and reflect.
- Open us to perspective and gratitude.
- Get us out of confusion and out of analysis paralysis.
- Reset our pace and restore peace of mind.
- Open us to guidance.
During times of reinvention, we can tap nature’s power in both BIG ways and in small, daily sips. Below are some practical approaches and resources for ways you can use nature as nourishment for your reinventions:
Nature can be a source of daily perspective and listening for your reinvention process. Here are two easy ways to access this…
Perhaps the easiest and most accessible – there is magic in moving our body in nature. Whether city park or country road; go alone and go without music. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, includes a daily walk as one of the three key tools she prescribes for nourishing creativity. And creativity is the seedbed of reinvention.
RESOURCE: In a short Youtube video talking about the gift of walking, Julia shares this wisdom:
“The minute you step out on a walk it’s as if you’re saying to the Higher Power, ‘OK, I’m ready to listen now.’”
2) Sit Spot
An ancient form of meditation-like practice that uses nature as a place of listening and discovery, Sit Spot is a source of guidance as close as your backyard.
RESOURCES: Michael Trotta’s book, Sit Spot and the Art of Inner Tracking, is both a guide and a journal for developing a daily sit spot practice. In it he writes:
”By taking yourself out of your regular daily routines and reconnecting with the rhythms of the natural world, you begin to recalibrate and reconnect with your own true nature.”
The ART of Sitting on Purpose: In our interview with Lynn Trotta she goes into depth about finding guidance through listening to nature; and more about the practice and benefits of a 30-day Sit Spot Challenge.
“Regardless of how, where, or when you experience it, Wilderness changes you. You come out of it a deeper, wilder (more natural) you.”
~ Gerald May
Sometimes we need an even healthier dose of nature. Beyond a daily pause, we need a more spacious time to step back, be, and listen.
3) A Day of Wildness
Take a day. Take a weekend. And go into nature. To the ocean, the river, the mountains, desert, open plain, or deep forest. Ideally, the kind of place in nature where you feel most at home. Practically, go wherever you’re most likely to make it happen.
- Turn off your phone.
- Bring paper and something to write with.
- Let nature work its magic in you.
RESOURCE: Open your calendar and set a day aside.
4) Solo Retreat
Retreats are a time set aside for deep listening.
- Find a cabin or a place immersed in nature with quite and space.
- Go alone.
- Take at least 2 full days, ideally more.
- Bring: books that inspire, pen and paper, food you enjoy.
- Don’t bring: Work, entertainment, or alcohol.
“As one settles into the strangely different “world” of being on retreat, one’s perception of reality and possibility start to loosen up and admit possibilities that would not be considered in the everyday world.”
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. “ ~ Henry David Thoreau
For BIG change consider a deep dive into nature.
An immersion long enough to really shift, slow, and open to the kind of deep listening that can ignite a reinvention.
Many years ago my friend Carol when on an Outward Bound journey for a full month with a group in the Southwest wilderness. As a New York City native, she was far outside her comfort zone – and well into nature’s transformation zone. So she came back changed.
While she loved NYC, she realized it was no longer her home. Looking around at skyscrapers, in her inner vision still saw canyon walls and desert landscapes. Something in her had changed and her old place and life were no longer big enough. So she began her search for a new geographic home to begin her next life chapter: which eventually led her beautifully into that new life – along with new love, community, and the career growth that came with it. Reinvention.
5) A Quest
There’s a reason Cheryl Strayed book, Wild: From lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail, hit a nerve, became a bestseller, and was then made into a movie. I believe the reason is that it taps into our desire to step back far enough to re-find ourselves. And nature has a space big enough for that kind of reinvention.
While a two-month trek may be more than many of our current commitment’s allow, I’ve known several people who’ve taken this kind of nature sabbatical – and none who have regretted it.
6) Wilderness Rites of Passage
A step beyond a wilderness experience is a wilderness rite of passage – a program facilitating what is popularly known as a “vision quest” – drawing on elements from traditional indigenous rites of passage.
It is common for rites of passage programs to include an element of ceremony, and to unfold in phases from a rites of passage model that has ancient roots – usually including a wilderness solo period with fasting. It is a highly intentional process with a structure that allows the seeker to completely step back from daily life for long enough for a new direction to be heard.
RESOURCE: One good resource to explore the people and organizations offering wilderness rites of passage is the Wilderness Guides Council.
7) Nature-based Retreat Programs
Reinvention retreat programs in nature are my personal favorite as a way to bring together all the conditions needed to ignite a career reinvention. They are a modern day form of the vision quest – tapping into nature’s renewing power in a way that’s more assessable and effective for our times.
The ways I incorporate this in my own work ranges from retreats held while canoeing down a lazy river to those held in a cozy retreat center nestled in a wilderness setting.
A reinvention retreat goes beyond nature – because it uses nature as an ideal container to bring together other critical elements that support a reinvention. Here are the other elements that make these retreats such a powerful place of transformation.
A) Immersion. The intensive nature of retreat, with expansive time away from all the demands pulling at your attention, is ideal for the kind of listening needed. Because you’re able to stay with the process, clarity that you might have gained over many months of work (or never gotten to at all) can be found in a week or two.
B) Structure. This element is especially critical for the initial “discovery phase” of reinvention, when you’re on a quest for clarity about your true talents and certainty about the difference you’re here to make. Having a structured step-by-step process for focusing attention, listening deeply, and gathering the clues and energy for new clarity is essential. Alternating structured program time with breaks for solo time in nature to reflect and integrate is a magical combination.
C) Support. The most important element. Being part of a small group of committed people navigating a similar reinvention can create a trusting community that has healing of it’s own – especially when combined with one-on-one support from an expert guide. This level of support is the most essential ingredient for a reinvention breakthrough, and creates an ongoing support lifeline.
So in this type of retreat, nature acts as the catalyst that supports and intensifies each of the critical elements that must come together to ignite your reinvention.
“None of the Above”?
Can you navigate a big reinvention without a nature element?
Absolutely. It’s not a requirement; and the more essential elements need to be in place to fully utilize nature’s reinvention value.
Yet nature it is the most powerful environment I know for reinvention. It is a place that brings us back to ourselves and to our true nature.
How about you?
Combined with support and other necessary reinvention conditions, nature can nourish and even accelerate your reinvention process in big ways.
Daily nature will support you at any stage of the reinvention. A deep dive into nature is most helpful when you’re in the discovery stage (finding new direction and purpose.) When you’re in the momentum stage of a career reinvention (following your new direction to find a new fit in the world of work) it is the smaller step-backs that help you stay connected to your vision and inspiration.
So what kind of nature connection will best support you now?
If nature does call to you, don’t let this remain an idea. If you sense that nature offers just the environment needed for the reinvention quest you’re ready to begin, take a step…
- Begin with a walk.
- Begin with 20-minutes in nature.
- Begin by following up on just one resource mentioned above.
And, step by step, you will find your way into nature’s wild embrace – entering a door that leads into your next work and life.
NOTE: To read the first part of this series just click here => Slowing Down for a Change