In 1996 I experienced my first eleven-day nature retreat in Crestone, Colorado, with John P. Milton, founder of the Way of Nature. Up until then I had spent a lot of time outdoors, having grown up on a farm in Southland, New Zealand, and then through the joys of white-water kayaking, mountaineering and other adventure sports. The outdoors was my recreation nirvana and while I knew it rejuvenated me, it was not a what I consider a conscious knowing. Nor did I really have the sort of gratitude for the environment that was due.  That all changed once I spent seven days alone in nature, as part of that retreat and it’s been with me ever since.

In the last 6 years I have partaken in advanced awareness and guide training with the Way of Nature in Arizona and Colorado, mostly in August. And since 2015 I have been hosting and running Way of Nature programmes in New Zealand. It was not in the calendar to go to a John led, USA based retreat in 2018, and as September rolled around I had this yearning to spend some alone time in nature. And I realised that I had not yet done an All-One time experience on New Zealand soil.

It was as if I only had to acknowledge this and the opportunity arose with very little notice such that last week I had my much needed solo time in nature on a piece of land at Kuaotunu north of Whitianga in the Coromandel. Just me and a tent, the trees, the sound of the stream and newborn lambs in the distant, a most fantastic view out to the Pacific Ocean, and the local resident kiwi. From a Sunday afternoon until the Thursday morning. I fasted to keep things simple, and also to allow myself the full effects of my time out there.

I had a lot of “personal work” to do for myself as it has been an eventful year. I talk about this in another post, “Leadership and the act of self forgiveness.” Mostly, I simply wanted time to be and to connect. I enjoy the opportunity to have dialogue with those in non-human form. I believe that nature wants to engage and support us in our time here on earth and that engagement and support extends to letting us know what they need from us.

The owners of the land are recently new there and they would like to open up access to the valley and have a path that reaches the stream as they prepare to host nature retreats (search for Happylocal Hideaways this summer). One of the parting comments to me was to find a route for the path. So, while out there, I put the question to the surrounds and over the next few days I had some useful feedback. The lone kauri tree didn’t take long to let me know that it really didn’t want a path nearby. That is was to be respected and enjoyed and that a seat or a picnic table at the end of the current track would be just enough. I had a few attempts to find a possibility nearby, however bramble literally stopped me in my tracks and the two big branches that had fallen in the shape of a cross sent me on my way.  And then I did find a spot that really does seem conducive to the entrance for a path down the steep slope, about 100 metres from the kauri tree.

Once surprise was the pines – these have mostly been removed with the intent of allowing the native bush to have its reign again. On one of the afternoons I was sitting in a spot which now had a clear view to the ocean, thanks to the removal of said pines. As it happened, the area I was sitting on was full of the remnants with many a branch scattered around.  At one point I received a very clear message from the pines, asking to be acknowledged for their time on the land – whether it be by using the wood in construction of seats, or placards, and to tell their story as part of the history of the land. Fair enough I say!

These are just a couple of examples of how nature really does communicate with us when we take the time to ask and to listen. I encouraged my friends to include their surrounds in actual dialogue as they muse about the further developments they have planned.

It may seem like an odd thing for many, however it’s really as simple as having a chat over a coffee with a friend about the plans you have, and seeing what they have to say.

I suggest you give it a go.