|Posted by Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. on August 11, 2017 at 5:00 AM|
Sometimes the daily grind can start to wear on us. Bills, chores, errands, looking after loved ones, waking up at the same time every day, commuting to and from work, checking items off your To Do list…even if you love your work and adore your family, our daily routines can sometimes feel drab and uninspiring. On the one hand, routines help us develop security and stability, and they can be very comforting. On the other hand, we can get so stuck in our routines that we go through our lives as if we are asleep - never stopping to look around and question whether our routines are serving us.
Almost all of the work that I’ve done in my adult life has involved spending time at a computer. On the one hand, this is awesome, because I can work from anywhere and set my own schedule. On the other hand, my heart and body know that I’m not meant to spend so much time in front of a screen.
Have you ever sat back in your office chair, taken a breath, looked around, and thought to yourself, “My work/life isn’t supposed to be this way?” Have you ever looked outside of your office window (if you’re lucky enough to have one) and longed to be outdoors? Have you ever felt like there’s something not quite right about spending 8 hours per day on a computer? Have you ever wondered why we seem to work on pointless “make-work” projects, send endless emails, attend meaningless meetings, and make inane small talk at the water cooler?
I’ve written many blogs about topics like breaking out of the 9 to 5 grind - but I think the issue goes deeper than that. I think the 8-hour “workday” started picking away at our souls long before we got our first “real job.” For many of us, it started when we were 4 or 5 years old, when we first went to school. How many of us, sitting in class, had the same types of feelings that I described above? How many of us stared out of the classroom window, longing to be outside?
Humans have spent the last few hundred years becoming very civilized. We prize our inventions and accomplishments - often for good reason. We’ve managed to extend our lifespans, travel all over the world with ease, and even venture into outer space.
But at what cost?
We’ve created a society that forces us to be caged animals for most of our lives. In fact, even the evolution of humans’ ability to use thoughts, logic, and reason is a mixed blessing. Our minds constantly jump from one topic to another, rarely giving us time to stop and appreciate the present moment. Research suggests that “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind” and that “the ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”
We’ve created our own physical, mental, and emotional cages, and now many of us long to break free. When I say “break free,” I don’t mean you need to quit your job, or home school your children, or abandon modern society. There are more subtle (and socially acceptable) ways for you to break free if you aren’t ready to make major life changes. So how do you break free?
You go wild.
How do you go wild?
You start paying attention to your instincts, emotions, and intuitions. You start to notice the subtle language of your heart and body by learning how to quiet the mind. And you do things that feel wild for you.
A couple of months ago I read Martha Beck’s latest book, “Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening.” The book is a story that’s meant to serve as an example of how humans can awaken to their true nature. The main character, Diana, gets lost in an endless forest and is forced, in a sense, to go wild. She’s told that “Waking up is the goal, be-wilder-ment is the method.” I won’t give the whole book away, but suffice it to say that Diana uses 7 tasks to transform out of her ordinary existence into a barefoot, wild-haired, intuitive, connected, and awakened soul.
At some level I believe this is what many of us are craving. We don’t necessarily want to give up the luxuries of running water and heated homes, but we long for some sense of wildness that we know is our birthright as humans. Babies and young children are experts at being wild. I was recently talking with a friend who mentioned that her 1 year old daughter is particularly rambunctious. My friend jokingly said, “If we could just let her run outside naked, without having to put sunscreen or shoes on her, and without ever having to sit her in a high chair to eat or make her lay down so we can change her diaper, then she would be the happiest child ever.” To which I replied, “It sounds like she just wants to be human!”
I wasn’t saying this as a critique of my friend’s parenting skills (we both laughed at my remark). My friend is an excellent mom and of course she wants her child to wear clothes and not get sunburnt and learn how to eat at the table. But what do you think human babies were doing during ancient times? They were probably running around naked, eating in the dirt, and sometimes getting sunburnt. In other words, they were wild. With the best of intentions we end up taking the wildness out of our children so that they’ll be “civilized” and fit in with modern society. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing - most of us were raised this way and it makes perfect sense.
Our job as adults, however, is to reclaim our wild nature.
Let me ask,
When was the last time you put your bare feet on the earth?
When was the last time you got dirty?
When was the last time you played - not for sport - just played without any goal or objective?
Our wildness is part of us. It is in our heartbeat. We feel its call after we sit under fluorescent lights all day and spend two hours commuting home. We feel it calling to our bodies after we end up with carpal tunnel syndrome or one of many other vague auto-immune diseases that don’t seem to have a specific cause. We sense it in our hearts when we get the urge to do something a little crazy. After all, as Alanis and Seal say, we’re never going to survive unless we get a little crazy. I believe this statement to be fundamentally true. Humanity needs to get a little crazy - a little wild - in order to evolve as a species and create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
Your task, then (for your health, the health of our species, and the health of the planet - no biggie, right?), is to figure out what feels wild for you. Everyone’s version of wild is different - and none is better or worse than the other. The main thing, of course, is to make sure you aren’t harming anyone else or yourself in the process. For some people, wild might mean having a glass of wine after putting the kids to bed. For others, wild might mean having an orgy. It’s up to you to decide what feels wild, and then make time to do it.
If the word “wild” doesn’t work for you, pick a different word. A friend of mine describes her process as “going feral.” Some people try to imagine themselves as animals - living more by instinct instead of always relying on rational thought. I think about this often when I watch my cat. When my cat walks into a room, there’s a moment when I can tell that she’s trying to figure out what to do. She has many options - she could play with her toys, sleep on a chair, jump on my lap, or climb up the bookshelf. As far as I know, she doesn’t use language to think about which of these things to do. There is some instinctual, wordless part of her that guides her in the direction of what she most feels like doing in that moment. When humans go wild, they start embracing a similar decision-making process. Instead of relying solely on the language of rational thought, you begin feeling into the wordless nudges that tell you which option is most suitable.
Below I’m going to give a few examples of activities that feel wild for me. You don’t need to do my version of wild - my intention is to offer some examples of what wild might look like for a (relatively) “normal” person living in the modern world. You’ll notice that some of these activities are rather tame, while others are a little more “out there.” There are, of course, more things that help me feel wild, but not everything needs to be shared publicly. So here’s a sample:
- Being in nature
- Doing non-work related activities between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Sometimes I go for tea in the middle of the afternoon, or go for a walk, or read a book, or eat cake.
- Any form of travel that breaks my usual routines. I’ve noticed that even work-related travel seems to pull me into a new headspace, where I can take a breath and tap into the pulse of life.
- Any activity that involves getting dirty, like sticking my hands or feet into the earth or sitting on grass without a blanket. Lately I’ve been making a point to try to get leaves and twigs in my hair, usually by laying down under trees.
- Any activity that involves being naked outdoors. A few that I’ve enjoyed have been skinny-dipping, dancing under the full moon, nude beaches, and rubbing clay on my body, sunbathing, then jumping in a lake to wash it off. I’m sure that one of the reasons these activities feel wild is that they’re taboo, but I also think it’s deeper and more primal than that. These activities literally put my body in touch with the body of mother earth - and like my friend’s baby - there’s no place that my body is happier.
- Sacred sexuality (you can read my blogs about sacred sexuality here and here)
- Walking around in thunderstorms that burst open on hot summer days. For extra wildness points, try making out with someone in one of these thunderstorms. Grrrr!
- Doing anything that’s different from what I would usually do on a workday
- Staying up until 5am after having a soulful evening with friends
- The “mini-glow” brought on by a glass of wine
- Music that makes me want to move my hips (check out my playlist on Spotify here)
- Deep, honest conversations - usually about taboo or vulnerable topics
- Adorning my hair and body with beautiful things like butterflies, flowers, essential oils, and luxurious creams
- Swimming in fresh water lakes
- Letting my wavy hair air-dry instead of blowdrying it straight - and making sure I don’t cut my hair too short
- Thinking about, looking at, or embodying magical creatures like fairies and unicorns
- Trying new things
- Gazing at the stars or staring at a fire
- Going to a pub for a drink on a weeknight
- Anything involving sacred rituals
- Live music, especially outdoors or around an open fire
- Challenging myself to do nothing for an hour, or an afternoon, or a day
- Watching animals (domestic or wild)
- Finding, feeling, and participating in magic
- Reading about topics related to transpersonal psychology, the evolution of consciousness, and the nature of the universe. Here are a few articles that I’ve read lately (just a little light reading for those who might be interested):
- The Two Quests for Consciousness: Integrating Scientific and Mystical Ways of Knowing
- Transcending The Limits of Time
- On The Nature of Reality, the Self, Time, Space, and Experience
- Mapping The Courses of Heavenly Bodies: The Varieties of Transcendent Sexual Experience
- Integrating Yoga Epistemology Into an Expanded Integral Approach to Research
- Non-Ordinary and Transcendent Experiences: Transpersonal Aspects of Consciousness
I want to take a moment to flesh out the bullet about magic. For me, part of going wild involves opening myself up to the magic of the universe. My wildness and my sense of magic are deeply interconnected. On days when I spend a lot of time on the computer (or stuck in my head) I like to ask myself the question, "Where is the magic right now?" Then I either remind myself of magic, or I go find it.
By "magic" I don't necessarily mean hocus pocus. It's hard to describe in words, but for me, magic is the felt sense that I live and participate in a meaningful universe where people and events are connected in ways that we don't fully understand. Sometimes magic appears as a song, or a synchronicity, or sunlight dancing off a spiderweb. Magic can be simple, like the feeling I get when I gaze at the stars, or complex, like synchronistic events that give me goosebumps.
Here are a few examples of magical events from my life so that you’ll have a better idea of what I mean - and so that you’ll start being able to recognize these types of events in your life.
- There was the time I submitted my resume to a company’s online HR database and then ran into the CEO of the company at a pub that very same night (and ended up getting the job through meeting him).
- There was the time I signed up for Sera Beak’s Soul Fire retreat and left my apartment the next day to find that someone had spray-painted the words “I will set my soul on fire” on the sidewalk in front of my apartment.
- Or the fact that I went to the soul fire retreat two weeks before I moved to Prague, and out of a group of 31 women, three of them ended up having connections in Prague who helped with my move.
- There was the time I met my husband through a synchronistic meeting of our two best friends from high school.
- There was the time I was tagged in a random Facebook comment on the blog of an American who was moving to Prague - and that American ended up being my next door neighbour (and now friend, hi Mel Joulwan!).
- Or how about the time a couple of months ago when I sent an email to a transpersonal psychology professor who I’d never met, who informed me that the 2017 International Transpersonal Psychology Conference happens to be in Prague this year (for the first time in 25 years).
- Or the time I saw an article in a magazine (that I usually don’t read) about a professor who was doing yoga research at Harvard Medical School - a professor who ended up hiring me 2 years later through a series of synchronicities?
- Or the time I couldn’t leave the United States for months because my Canadian passport had expired, only to have FedEx show up with my new passport on the day that my mother-in-law passed away (a day that I happened to call in sick even though I wasn’t sick and even though I didn’t know yet that she had passed). Because I'd called in sick, I was home to receive my passport and could then travel to Canada to be with my husband.
- Or the time my husband’s updated Czech passport arrived at the Czech consulate in Toronto in the morning of the day we were moving to Prague (after months of us waiting for it to arrive).
- And let’s not even get started on the many times I’ve had dreams or hunches about people, only to have those people show up in my inbox - or in my face - shortly afterwards.
- There was also the time a few months ago when I decided to make magic a more intentional aspect of my life, then went for tea with a friend and she pulled this tarot-style card for me (from a randomly shuffled deck):
I have more examples, but I think you get the point. And if you think hard enough, I bet you can come up with examples of similar types of events in your life. Seemingly magical ways that you met or felt pulled toward certain people or events, or times when things lined up for you in ways that you never could have imagined or forced to happen. Just reminding yourself about these types of events is often enough to put you back in touch with universal magic.
If I wanted to, I could choose to believe that all of these synchronicities were just random coincidences. And I’m objective enough to admit that this might in fact be true. But why not choose to believe that we live in a participatory and meaningful universe? Life is way more fun (and wild) that way.
The word “participatory” is very important here. You’ll notice that in all of the events above, I was participating. I put myself out there and then I let go and allowed the universe to respond. This is what I mean when I talk about concepts like stop trying so hard. You take inspired action, then you surrender and let the universe do its thing (which won’t always be what you think should happen). In my examples above, I submitted my resume, I signed up for the retreat, I decided to move to Prague, and I decided to contact professors. These decisions were often guided by nudges and intuitions that didn’t make logical (or financial) sense.
This is what going wild helps you do. It helps you get quiet enough to listen to these nudges - because these soulful, intuitive, heartfelt longings are the actions that the universe responds to with magic.
It’s like being the universe’s dance partner. A good dancer doesn’t go limp while her partner drags her across the floor. A good dancer feels into her partner’s natural flow and moves in kind with it. When you feel into your wildness, and take inspired action, the universe dances with you. Sometimes the results are beautiful. Other times they’re scary, or challenging, or tragic. But they always serve the evolution of your Soul.
The goal of this blog is to help you awaken your sacred animal body. Because, after all, humans are just wild animals masquerading in civilized clothing, surrounded by modern gadgets, craving the wildness and magic that is their true nature. It’s time for you to remember this part of yourself. It’s time for you to wake up.
What makes you feel wild? Where is the magic in your life today?
Find it. Do it. Be it.