One of the most overlooked tools used in traditional jungle medicine is full immersion in nature. I’m talking about isolation in the middle of the woods, surrounded by nothing but trees, grass, rocks, and the occasional furry passerby.
What happens when we rid ourselves of all modern day distractions? Our televisions, our computers, the radio, even newspapers and books – things that certainly have value but also take focus away from ourselves.
The patients we brought into the Amazon packed a ton of extra stuff including iPods, laptops, writing instruments, painting tools, you name it. And to their dismay, each of these items was taken “for safe keeping” by the support staff upon their arrival.
You see, in this type of ancient medicine the key is to rid yourself of any outlet that you can distract yourself with, regardless of how beneficial you might think it is.
This notion may seem odd to many of us who keep journals or take painstaking notes when learning something new. After all, how will we remember what transpired and what needs to be worked on moving forward? A medicine man might answer that the act of hastily recording your thoughts indulges your rational brain which is part of what got you sick in the first place.
The indigenous healing practices differ from modern medicine in that much importance is placed on investigating the underlying thought patterns and emotional disruptions that lurk beneath the surface symptoms of our illnesses. The sacred plant ceremonies can catapult you into this unpredictable realm alarmingly fast which can be very beneficial, but also a bit horrifying. Another way to get here, which requires awareness and peripheral inner vision, is through solitude in nature. As Roman Hanis said:
Our bodies are mirrors of mother nature.
Mother nature is the mirror of our inner nature.
In that way each of us are our own best doctors.
If this strategy resonates with you, here is an exercise that you can try no matter where you live on this beautiful planet. This can be used to supercharge whichever healing methods you are currently implementing. A word to the wise, don’t be fooled by how simple this practice is.
The 90 Minutes of Solitude Exercise:
- Schedule 90 minutes this week to gift yourself. You will be embarking on a short voyage.
- Before leaving your house, remove all items from your pocket / backpack that could be a distraction – including cell phone, laptop, magazines, newspapers, iPad, notebook, etc.
- Find a local forest or park and travel to it.
Upon arrival, walk until you find a space away from any manmade stimuli, including other people. And sit down. There is no need to close your eyes, just be still.
If possible, remove your shoes and socks, letting your feet touch the earth.
Begin to watch the ticker tape of thought and notice how it fluctuates over the course of 90 minutes.
Some things you may want to pay attention to:
- How long does it take for your mind to become extremely quiet? If at all&helip;
- What triggers your mind to become hyper active?
- What thoughts, positive and negative, begin to come up?
- What can you sense about your immediate environment?
- If you are working through a particular health challenge, what thoughts are coming up around this?
This type of practice is obviously not an overnight cure. But if you take 90 minutes of undistracted solitude once or twice per week, information about who you are and where you need help will begin to present itself. This hard earned information is what many healers use to help plot out a medicine map.
This inner map can be a crucial aid to ones recovery.