Healing Our Inner Hunter Gatherer
By Lea Kendall, Counsellor & Woodland Activity Leader
You’ve probably heard the idea that we all have an inner child inside of us that may need healing. This aspect of ourselves may be where our fear and lack of self-worth resides. Many of our behavioural, emotional and relationship difficulties can stem from childhood hurts and trauma and how we internalised this trauma when we experienced it. Through good therapy and personal development we can learn how to accept, protect and love our inner child, so it no longer calls the shots and controls our reactions. There is a deeper and more ancient aspect or ourselves that needs nurturing too. Our inner hunter-gatherer, who resides much deeper in our psyche, in the genetic make-up of our ancestors!
Life takes a long time to evolve and adapt. Our brains and bodies have been evolving for around six million years, and humans as we know them today evolved around 200,000 years ago. Around 11,000 years ago we evolved from foragers to farmers and then, only in the last 200 years have we have seen the rise of machine based industry and more recently the digital age.
So, in the blink of an evolutionary eye, we have gone from foraging, hunting, building our homes and living in tribes to a world where computers do much of our thinking for us. We live in brick boxes next door to each other yet many of us rarely communicate with our neighbours. Modern lifestyles are fast paced, media tells us there is danger round every corner, yet it’s nothing we can actually run away from, so our stress levels and risk of depression are higher than ever before. We don’t get enough sunlight, exercise, nutrition or regular contact with green spaces. No wonder the rate of suicide and sick leave at work due to stress is at record levels. Our bodies and brains are confused and not built to be living in such conditions.
If around 99% of our evolutionary past was spent as hunter-gatherers then surely our brains are just not wired to deal with traffic jams, desk jobs, school exams and huge amounts of screen time.
As a Counsellor and Mindfulness in the Woods Practitioner I regularly take my therapeutic work outdoors, into the woodland for 1-2-1 sessions and group work. I earnestly believe in the power of nature to heal and invigorate, to nurture and nourish the soul and provide a safe place where we can truly feel at home and be our natural selves.
Here’s a few things you can do to make time to heal your inner hunter-gatherer. Above all else, take time for yourself in nature, just slow down and take notice of the natural world around. You can try foraging, plant identification, bird watching, cooking over a campfire or simply get lost exploring wild places.