Last week Ross and I visited the land around High Heathercombe centre on Dartmoor. We walked through the Edge Sculpture trail in the woodland and then visited some of the gardens and appreciated the surrounding landscape.
When we left the house, I was feeling quite tired with a buzzing, foggy feeling in my brain. I was sleepy after a month of traveling from place to place for study, work and beautiful weddings that, although each ing their own sense were great experiences, were needing some space for digestion and stillness.
We drove the 40 minutes from our home in Totnes to the centre on Dartmoor and I watched the landscape drift before my eyes to that or a more rural, wild and natural setting. We found the track that led us to our desired location and parked up by the woodland.
It’s not just here, many woodlands seem to touch me in this way. As soon as I step inwards, immerse myself amongst the tall trees, crackling leaves, vivid greens, and wet earth, something in me calms. The whole cycle of life is represented here. I am inwardly soothed by the lucidity of this space, the clarity it evokes within me.
And here, woven in amongst the vibrant, natural landscape, is art. Art that, too, evokes my senses and inspires my mind. I am struck as I walk through this space by how my senses become alive and awakened. I can hear, see, taste, smell and feel more clearly.
We weave our way through and along the trail. My heart skips a beat at the amount of community projects that include pieces created children and families that evoke awareness of environmental issues and sustainability. Sculptures are either formed from earthen wares or recycled / reclaimed materials and educate on welfare of the bees, our planet, contain a philosophical message or offer a direct experience with my own hopes, dreams, wishes and desires through this living body.
One such moment came about when we came across a pod that held the wishes of people for our own lives as for our planet. We were invited to enter a quiet area where we had access to pen and paper to write these down. Ross and I sat in there for a while, in silence, while the gentle babbling of the brook and the soft breeze amongst the leaves and birdsong surround us.
After some time, I had the strong desire to bring this contemplative time into movement through my body – to experience in a lived way through this living entity, that which I was contemplating and feeling. I asked Ross if he would be open to witnessing me in movement and offered him the same in return. As I moved, I could feel the messages within my body becoming more clear and grounded. I attuned to the feeling of them in the presence of my witness, not just the thought, but all that was coursing through me there and then in that emerging moment. We held the discipline of the practice of Authentic Movement in that Ross witnessed me while I moved and I then witnessed him. We then discussed our own experience of being both witness and mover.
Through taking these short moments to turn towards our bodies in movement and to practice conscious listening and speaking with each other, our senses became acutely attuned, our relationship with each other and our natural environment both heightened and deepened. There was a piercing and beautiful silence that penetrated everything and I felt I could truly breathe again, breathe with this living, breathing world.
There was something about this space, the sculpture trail in the forest as well as the intentional landscape and focus of the High Heathercombe Centre, that conveyed to me a way in which the man made and the wild can coexist in harmony with each other. I have so much been exploring and integrating this within my own being of late, finding places of conflict between form and fluidity, order and chaos, as well as the places where these opposites meet, relate and even thrive through their relationships to each other.
I feel a much needed sense of renewal and hope that these meetings are possible. This feels so important to me when I consider so much of the conflict that is present in the world today through our relationships to politics, to our natural world, to each other and to ourselves, all of which can be so overwhelming that we deafen, dumb and dissociate ourselves from all that is occurring.
I am reminded, when I step into nature, the absolute intimacy that I can share with the landscape, the intimacy I can feel with myself and how that affects my perspective and relationships out with this space too. Without this nourishment, I am not sure I would be of much use in the world at all. Without these moments of silence that speak volumes to me, I may end up a collapsed heap upon the floor, weighed down by all the ‘bad news’ that is projected into our society and culture.
I feel an infinite gratitude towards nature – our natural world as well as our inner nature. Movement, voice, the creative arts allow me to access and express that which is within me – the sadness, the joy, the anger, the celebration, all of it. Spending time in reciprocal relationship with our natural world inspires me to express as well as, I feel, holds an unconditional space for me, you, we, us….. and then it’s important to take that back into the man made – how can our inner nature flow in harmony with our outer world in a way that serves humanity and respects natural, wild spaces?