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Episode 28:
Developing your Inner Compass through Relationships with the Non-Human World


Marina Robb

Hosted by: Marina Robb

In this episode, Marina discusses: 

In Episode 28, I'm feeling more reflective as I revisit some of the themes from my conversation with Peter Owen Jones last week.

  • A sense of sanctuary and intimacy with the non-human world, and ‘place’.
  • The celebration of springtime and how the greening of our land informs our practice.
  • The inner compass that pulls us home and helps us navigate the journey.
  • Themes of love and punishment and how we exile parts that we find difficult to ‘own’ as part of ourselves.  How do we bring them home?
  • My curiosity about the teachings of Jesus on love and forgiveness – and my interest in other figures in history that we can learn from.
  • How we value others and be present with who they are (intrinsic value), not how they behave (extrinsic value).    

Music by Geoff Robb: www.geoffrobb.com 

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(transcribed by AI so there maybe some small errors!)

Hello, and welcome to The Wild Minds Podcast for people interested in health, nature-based therapy and learning. We explore cutting edge approaches that help us improve our relationship with ourselves, others and the natural world. My name is Marina Robb, I'm an author, entrepreneur, for a school outdoor learning and nature-based trainer and consultant, and pioneer in developing green programs for the health service in the UK.

Welcome to Episode 28, developing our inner compass through relationships with the nonhuman world. So I've been more reflective today. And I am revisiting some of that my themes from my conversation with Peter last week. These are kind of large and rich conversations. And it's hard to just share some of my private thoughts sometimes, you know, to kind of put on the recording button and allow what's in my heart, my thoughts to just be shared, it's difficult, and I wanted to share that. Because whilst I do research and think about things that are important, I, you know, I also feel vulnerable to come up with these ideas and to share them.

So I wanted to let you know that. And of course, this is all about all of us finding ways to show up and be kinder to ourselves. And I think this time of year, really lends ourselves lends ourselves to think about how we can be more in balance, and how we can kind of draw out the things that are hidden in our lives and find a new relationship with those kinds of things.

So I really hope you enjoyed this podcast, and I really look forward to getting any feedback, thanks for your support, and take care. I was really taken aback by the conversation with Peter Owen Jones last week. And before I start, you know, wanting to do some gratitude, and linking that to last week, the kind of sense of safety and sanctuary that I can feel when I'm in a place I know in the natural world. And that feeling of intimacy, that feeling of being part of the natural world feels so important. And I and I've been wondering, and I absolutely have no idea if I can put this into words, but this feeling that everything that's going on in the human world can feel really quite difficult and quite challenging, particularly when you look at the politics and the that's happening at the moment. And I think well this is all kind of human made and man made.

But when I go into the woods, or when I walk along a river or when I look at the sky or when I imagine the planet or the sun or see the sun rising, then I get a real comfort in feeling that this non human world is alive and exist and is has in has been created just like humans. I have no idea how that's happened. But it gives me a lot of comfort because I think well if what I can see out there doesn't feel ugly in the natural world. It doesn't feel disconnected or in some way. Painful. It actually holds for me anyway, a lot of beauty and the many moments of feeling that sense of intimacy.

So when Peter last week was talking about the stone gives sanctuary to the moss and the soil gives sanctuary to the seed and the river gives sanctuary to the Eat and silence gives sanctuary to the sound. And sort of all of life has this sense of supporting the other part of life and this real sense of intimacy and I keep thinking about my life, the life of so many people that I work with and how they struggle to feel that intimacy with humans, because humans have often been tricky, and how this relationship with the natural world is probably so important even though so many people don't have it.

But because it has this sense of authenticity, and simplicity and straightforwardness in a way you kind of, in a way you get what you expect. Of course, there's a lot of mystery in beyond what you can see, but it has this sense of security for me, that humans just don't have. All the time. Obviously, there are some that do. So I'm really grateful to, to those moments until those places into this relationship with the natural world because it really does bring this amazing wonder and awe and love alive in me.

And I wanted to celebrate that. So now here we are, at Spring time, and were in Easter time, and we've been through spring equinox already in the northern hemisphere here, when the light and the dark are in balance, and I wanted to speak to what's happening around us in the land, and also how that might impact us as practitioners in the work that we're doing. So right now. Well, actually, I wanted to say that I was remembering my experience not long ago, only a few weeks ago of going for a walk.

And in the evening, as it was getting dark and seeing all these toads jumping along and just being mesmerized like wet. Why? Out of nowhere, it was a warm day. And suddenly these toads were there, which I've never seen before. And if they were going to their ponds to breed. And I since found out that this is a toad migration. That happens obviously every year and they go back to the ponds, where, where they were birthed and, and it got me thinking about what's happening now and how so many of the birds are migrating, and we have swallows arriving from Africa and cookies arriving and so on.

So this sense of being pulled home, it's kind of inner compass, of being pulled home and how amazing that is, and I don't understand how that works. But this kind of attraction, this inner attraction being pulled to something. And this magnetic Hasidism, I'm not saying it right, that must be there, that pulls you to something or to somebody or helps now helps you to navigate the path that you're on.

So this time, we've just come through spring equinox. And there's always something happening out in the natural world that can be supportive of your life, to reflect upon or reflect with. But this is the time when the sun is getting stronger and the flowers are arriving. And there's insects everywhere and the insects are eating all the other insects and summer enjoying the nectar of the flowers and the birds are now laying their eggs in the nest that they've been busily making. And of course, this will reflect in the work that we're doing in the woods or the choices that we might make and the things we might be getting into.

So we might be playing lots of games around birds, we might be making our own nests out of cleavers and, and painting eggs or taking the shells and dyeing the shells and picking lots of that wild food that is finally starting to grow that's been hidden and resting under the soil and now things like wild garlic and nettle and just so many wonderful ways of participating and enjoying the abundance around us if you if you get a chance to go outside this is this is really one of the most wonderful times of years for foraging.

But again, I'm thinking back to Peter saying it's not just us participating with the natural world. It's the natural world participating in us, you know, all the things means that the air that we're breathing is within us. So it's kind of joining with us, and the food that we're eating all the invisible little microbes in the earth, and how they might be getting under my nails and entering into my biology and my systems and helping me and so on. So we're the innate natural world is participating in us. And that is extraordinary.

It's extraordinary that there is life everywhere within us outside of us. And most of the time, we're completely unaware of it. And most of the time, so much is hidden. And in this season, I've been really drawn to attracted by themes of Love and Punishment and control and fear. And I'm aware of how that might be in aspects of what's going on in the natural world. So at this time, this kind of wonderful moment in the northern hemisphere, where we get to be in the balance of dark and light. And I'm mindful that, you know, we're start our life in the womb, and in this darkness.

And then we're birthed into the light, and yet, and yet, there's absolutely no way that we can live with just pure light, it would be blinding, in the same way, that pure darkness where it wouldn't be blinding, but we wouldn't see anything.

So there's no need to have dark and light is very profound. And I'm very aware in the work that we do therapeutically, and as therapists that we are often working with the stuff in our lives that are a little below our awareness that are often seen, you could describe as being a little bit in the shadows, sometimes people will describe shadows, or shadows of the things that were completely unaware of, that are influencing our lives.

So sometimes we might see, as we've talked about before, this behavior that we're seeing, actually, underneath that behavior, there's a lot of needs, and a lot of unconscious areas to ourselves that are that we're not aware of that are actually hugely influencing us. And that makes me think of darkness and of shadows. And again, how Peter invited us to dance with our shadows, which kind of changed the relationship about how we might meet aspects of ourselves, that we don't like that we've put away that we've hidden that we've exiled.

Often that might be our fears, our shame, our sense of being really small and vulnerable and feeling really ugly, or disgusted. And these are the parts that we do not want to walk with the do not want to show people don't actually even want to show ourselves and this kind of invitation to perhaps dance with them, for me, is an invitation to, to perhaps not ignore these aspects. Because actually, if you really did come across a wild part of yourself that had been caged or dis owned or exiled, they're going to be very undernourished and under loved and incredibly scared to come out because, you know, they've been put away they've been locked away.

So this balance of darker light really makes me think about that. And it makes me think about how important it is to have a relationship with the sides of us, the parts of us the many, many parts of us, that we may have disowned in some ways, and if we don't do that, what we end up doing is scapegoating. We deny our fears, we deny the parts of us that feel angry, and then we project them onto others. Because we can't contain them, we can't hold them so we make it into the other person having the problem.

When really underneath we don't we don't really know how to be with those parts of ourselves. And this is the long journey but I feel that this is one that is really important this time and having access to the natural world and having times where we can be in groups or in a One on one. So we can feel safe and witnessed and seen and listened to and accepted. 

That's going to really help us to find our way back to love, which is one of the other themes of this season that seems to be coming up. And I'm mindful that it's Easter. And having talked to a priest, in the last week, I was really curious about this person called Jesus, who, again, I only know from my childhood through going to church sometimes, and I've mentioned before that my mom was Catholic, my father was atheist, a scientist, wasn't really interested in that aspect.

But so I had both. So I had these both kind of going on. And I was always curious about what it was what it really meant all these people going to church and singing and praying to somebody that I couldn't see or experience but now, as I've read more, and talk to people more, I am interested in what these teachings were of this man called Jesus.

And it feels pertinent to think about that this particular time being that it's Easter. And I understand that this is a time when they celebrate His resurrection. So he's come, he's been, he's on the cross. He's been crucified, and then he's put away and then he comes back to life. And again, for me at this moment that feels connected to the, to the land, how, through the winter, we've been, everything has apparently died.And, and then it comes back to life again, and again, from talking to Peter last week, he seemed to be really clear that for him, the teachings of Jesus were what he most comfortably follows.

The teachings of love the teachings of Love your neighbor, the teachings of forgiveness, and how that really is, you know, when people do choose to love and not to hate, and how hard that is, when we don't have a sense of love in our lives, or in ourselves, even for ourselves. And that acknowledgement how hard it is to actually even love ourselves. He refused to divide people in the world into the pier and the pier, or the right and the wrong. So he actually was teaching people to welcome in those that were apparently sinners, and to kind of love those people as you would yourself. And there's something incredibly generous and wise in that, because if we actually do that to ourselves, if we can welcome back the parts of us that we've exiled or feel ugly, or untouchable, and do that, and find the love for that do that with love, then they're not exiled anymore.

And then we can build a relationship with them and stop othering and making people or other others as separate from us. And we become part of this community, together with all our issues and problems and failings. And that makes me come back to because that feels quite big and quite profound. And I'm grappling with it all the time. But if we bring that back to us as practitioners or people that are working with groups or the systems we're in like a teaching system, and we go back to those people that are in our classes, or in our groups that we find difficult or challenging.

And we notice how we're doing we're kind of doing the same thing in a way we're not. We're not finding a way to value them beyond what their behavior is. We're kind of only valuing people if they have a particular ability or talent or a behavior in a particular way. If they're doing something for you, then you do something for them. And through that they're getting kind of awards or rewards.

Rather than this kind of view, this way of working, that, regardless of what they're doing, or their abilities, they still have this dignity, they still have this, place that where they, they have a part of you that can either love them or be loved. And in a way that brings me to John's podcast a few weeks ago as well, that was kind of questioning, we really shouldn't be in these roles as teachers, if we don't have a capacity to love the people in front of us.

And this isn't kind of superficial. Love it, we can have all kinds of complex feelings, but to have a real baseline of, of being connected to our vulnerability to our heart to the parts of us that haven't maybe had love. So that we can actually stop this projection and this scapegoating on to others, which can often be the young people in our care as well, that feels important to be to be talking about it and absolutely haven't got it figured out. And I've decided, anyway, this year that I'm going to try and stop figuring things out, and to actually just trust what's happening a little bit more.

So as was said, in the last podcast, our job as humans, is to fall in love, can you believe that is really our main job is to fall in love, to not necessarily to fall in love with a other human, but to fall in love with life, to actually feel even if it's momentarily that magnitude of living on a green and blue planet, lit up by a star, which is our son, to feel that incredible blessing of life.

And to have those moments of feeling it is a wonderful thing and to be able to offer this experience by enabling children to get out into the natural world by enabling ourselves to get out into the natural world, and to have an experience of seeing that there is more than the human world and more and more than the human creations and that we are also we have come out of this incredible diverse landscape. 

And I suppose to grow this sense of attachment to place and to feel this intimacy and this sense of family with place because it's it will be from that place, both outside ourselves and in ourselves that we can re-imagine and grow something different. And I really look forward to co participating in this journey together to see what we can do.

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Wild Minds Podcast. If you enjoyed it and want to help support this podcast, please subscribe, share and leave a rating and review wherever you get your podcasts. Your review will help others find the show.

To stay updated with The Wild Minds Podcast and get all the behind-the-scenes content. You can visit the www.theoutdoorteacher.com or follow me on Facebook at theoutdoorteacherUK and LinkedIn, Marina Robb.
The music was written and performed by Geoff Robb. See you next week. Same time, same place.