The hardest walk of my life took place last month on Queensland’s tallest mountain: Mount Bartle Frere. It was signposted as a 2 day walk but Rani and I thought that if we left early enough, we could get it done in a day. We were wrong…
It was a beautiful day, perfect conditions for a walk of this magnitude and the surroundings were picturesque. We walked through stunning rainforest, over waterfalls and had incredible views the whole time. It was challenging as there were many steep, muddy and rocky parts to the climb, as well as a few vertical climbs up tree roots and branches.
It was about 1pm when we thought we were near the top and we had been walking for 5 hours already. We knew that we had to be walking back by 1.30pm to avoid walking at night but we felt like we were so close to the top that we pushed on.
At 3pm, we still hadn’t reached the top and that’s when we decided to bite the bullet and turn around. The alternative was to risk walking dangerous terrain in the dark and that wasn’t a risk we were willing to take on this day.
We managed to get down all the dangerous parts before nightfall, but we still ended up walking for over 2 hours in the dark with our head-torches. The last 2km were extremely challenging for both of us as our legs turned to jelly and my feet and legs were in a lot of pain.
The last kilometre was agony and Rani helped me through by distracting me from the pain, talking to me and asking random questions. We walked 19.8km over 13 hours and even though we didn’t reach the top, it still felt like a massive accomplishment.
There were many lessons learned on this day, the biggest one: if it says it’s a 2 day hike – give it 2 days!
We are all a part of nature and that means we operate in cycles. Like the seasons of the year, similarly we have seasons in our lives.
We’re born in spring time, growing, learning and being nourished. Then, at about 20-25 we go into our summer, we have grown to adulthood and this is our prime ‘til about 50. Then we go into autumn, followed by winter – still just as beautiful, but very different times in our lives.
In this modern world, we have created a world that to some degree separates us from nature. Technology, while being an incredible development in human evolution, has contributed to this separation from the natural and changed the way we live.
In the last 200 years, we have developed in some ways more than the previous millennia. Technology also provides ways for us to return to nature, but unless we surround ourselves in nature as a conscious choice, it can be a challenging practice.
Why is nature important?
Well, put aside the fact that wifi has only existed for the past 15 years or so, now it surrounds us almost every waking minute, and there hasn’t even been much research into the effects it has on our system. When we return to nature, we tap into an infinite resource for healing.
When we return to nature, we tap into an infinite resource for healing
Simply connecting to the earth – skin contact with the ground – has incredible benefits to our overall health and wellbeing. It reduces inflammation, calms our nervous system into a para-sympathetic state and calms the mind.
Research has shown that taking a walk in the forest is more effective than anti-depressants. I’d much rather take a walk in the forest any day of the week than take medication with a long list of potential side effects.
Whether it’s going to the beach, taking a camping trip or simply going to a quiet park, being in nature makes us feel more relaxed, our body can heal more effectively and it’s just an epic way to spend your time.
Everyone can benefit from spending more time in nature, especially when healing from an illness or injury. Even if you’re not in recovery, being in nature can help to reset your mind. You turn off your phone and immerse yourself in the moment, then your mind has a chance to clear out all the mental chatter than is constantly going on.
When you’re expanding, growing and challenging yourself, it’s really important to take time out because it can help you consolidate all that you’ve learned, as well as shift your perspective, much the same as going to new places, exploring new hobbies or simply going a different way to work. It forms new neural pathways in your brain and ultimately helps to expand your mind.
You may be asking yourself… Really? Just being in nature can do all that?
I can only speak from personal experience, when I completely disconnect from the world of technology and surround myself with trees, mountains and sit round the fire, I feel more inspired than ever. It recharges me and allows me to re-enter the world with renewed vigour and spirit.
Here’s a list of ways you can get back into nature:
- Go for a walk in the park or anywhere in the forest
- Connect your feet or hands on the ground, walk barefoot
- Go camping
- Go to the beach
- Go swimming
- Bring flowers and plants into your house
- If you live somewhere where there are animals, just sit and listen to the birds
There are so many ways to bring a little bit of nature into your life to boost your healing and expand your mind and life. There’s really no excuse: schedule it, do it and see how you feel afterwards.
Everybody has good days and bad days, it’s a part of life.
Sometimes we can get bogged down in the bad days and our focus turns to negative thoughts and feelings.
Where our attention goes, energy flows. Often, if we have something negative on our minds, we will most likely find more negativity around the corner.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stressed or focused on something stupid when something else bad happens, like stubbing my toe. Or I’m in a rush and suddenly can’t find my keys.
I always find it very interesting during these moments, questioning why is this happening. How can it be, that simply the act of thinking, speaking or acting in a negative way is enough to bring even more of that into my life?
Eventually, I learned a very valuable lesson!
There are positive and negative elements to every single thing in this world.
Everything has equal good and bad parts, whether you believe it, or not, is a different story.
Every decision you make, there is a silent, or sometimes not so silent, cost-benefit analysis going on in your head.
If you choose to go to the movies, you can’t be ten pin bowling at the same time.
If you choose to eat the pizza, you can’t have the pasta at the same time.
If you choose to focus on the negative, you can’t focus on the positive and vice versa.
This life is full of paradox and duality. It can get completely overwhelming if you don’t learn how to focus and be present to tune out the negativity.
When you can accept everything in your life – the way it is and the way it isn’t, this moment and the next, and the next – that’s where you find presence and when you’re present, you can choose where to put your focus.
The more we train ourselves to live in the moment, the greater our focus
The more we train ourselves to live in the moment, the greater our focus and the less we allow our mind to dwell on negative thinking.
So, do you want to continue bringing more negativity into your life and the world? Or, do you want something different?
I prefer to put my focus in positive, inspiring and grateful thoughts – some days I’m brilliant at it and others, I’m terrible.
Although, even when I do follow negative thought patterns, I still make the most of it, because every negative thought, action or event has something to learn from.
See the paradox? Out of every negative is something positive, if you work hard enough to see it.
If you want something different but don’t know how, ask yourself this question every day: What am I grateful for today?
This one question has the potential to change your life, if you do the work consistently.
Don’t let your thoughts control you, learn to take control.
I promise that you won’t regret it.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing training walks with many different people on this journey to Kokoda but this hike by myself was spectacular. It was in the heart of the valley in the Blue Mountains, called the Grand Canyon track. It is the most beautiful walk I have done in my life.
It was so peaceful getting out of the city, walking by myself, day dreaming about life and enjoying the scenery. Spending time in nature is so healing in many different ways, as is spending time by yourself.
Today we did a hike with an awesome group of people, 6 of us are on the team who are walking Kokoda together. It was a beautiful day in Kuringai National Park and we walked 10km on the Sphinx Track.
I first walked this track back in April and it was a struggle to get through the last couple of kilometres. I felt excited by the progress I’ve made over the last 4 months because not only did I finish it this time with ease, I felt like I could probably do it again straight after.
Training to walk Kokoda has opened up my life in many ways, one in particular that I’m thrilled about is getting to explore nature with friends and family. As a kid, I loved being in nature and was in Scouts. From the age of 13, up until I started training for Kokoda, I didn’t explore the many national parks that surround Sydney because walking was so painful.
Finishing the goal of walking Kokoda will be incredible but the process that I’ve gone through to get there, the lessons that I’ve learned and the benefits are even better.