Foraging for Answers: How to Decide With So Many Possibilities


I use nature to help me in so many areas of my life, and have since I was a child. It was not something consciously chosen, rather a natural solution to much-needed solace.

A recent conversation with Paula of the popular blog, Rainforest Mind, happened just as I had completed a few pages in my “capture” journal.

One of the most difficult aspects of modern life is actually not a new problem, but today’s hectic life can mute out your greatest desires if you do not have a way to turn them off now and again.

I am an idea person and over the last year I worked on a way to bring those ideas down out of my spinning mind and into a safe place. I believe that to make sense of these messages and ideas, you need to capture them. You need to do this in the same way they come to you, naturally and in bits and pieces.

My process begins with a walk in nature. You can do this is a natural area, park, or just down the sidewalk in your neighborhood, but the more natural the better. Nature provides a sense of mediation space and can be one of the best ways to clear your mind and unplug. To create even more benefit from this walk would be to take it slow, and really pay attention to your surroundings. I notice many walkers, so intent on exercising their muscles, they forget to exercise their mind as well. The nature that surrounds us can alleviate stress and distraction better than any candle filled room.

Notice the temperature as you walk, is there a breeze? Look for signs of life, birds, flowers, plants.  All of these things will help you become more in tune with your natural surroundings.

Now when I recommend a method that is as fluid as the very generator of the messages itself. I use a sketch pad for such “idea captures”. No electronic media, just an artist’s sketchpad. I don’t write in complete sentences. Just whatever is coming my way in bits and pieces. I add photos I have taken or clips from magazines if they inspire me.

Next, I do nothing.

I only add to the pages if another idea comes my way, or I feel compelled to know more. You will likely feel a rush of energy from this. Unresolved thoughts can drain your body and mind, capturing them and putting them in a safe place alleviates this energy drain.

A day or two later, I come back to the pages. Do I still feel that way? Are these messages part of a theme? If you have one that says, I want to live in the country, but the photo you have is of a condo in the city, then you have conflicting messages. This is okay. This is better than okay, it is great!

The idea is to look at all the notes and words and consider what it might be hinting at?

Often we need to edit the thoughts, but our mind is too busy for that at the moment. This technique is one I have used throughout my life. Get out into nature. Now, a walk around the block will help, but a true walk through a botanical garden, forest, or a hike along a river will have a much different effect on your senses.

This was first thought of as a therapeutic tool in 1874, and referred to as a camp cure. It is very much like pressing the mental reset button. You do not need to go camping to get the benefits of a camp cure. Often we need a simpler reset to clarify the messages we are receiving.

Find a local state park, a botanical garden, or hiking trail and take some time for yourself. Consider your “capture journal’, talk to yourself if you want, or simply walk.

Take in all that surrounds you. You will see that there is beauty hidden in plain sight. Consider looking for natural elements you can collect to take home (if that is allowed). A smooth rock that catches your eye, take photographs, listen, and really listen to the sounds around you. As you learn to tune out the noise of the modern world, you may just hear and see what your own intuition is trying to tell you.

You can create a foraged memory bowl of your walk. Just put your treasures into a glass bowl, and leave it next to your capture journal. You may think this is a bit hokey, and if you do that is fine you can stop reading. You are trying to capture the moment when you unplugged with something you can see and touch.

After your local camp cure, take a few moments to add it to your journal capture. When and if you feel compelled to make a decision on your captured ideas, take a slow walk through your journal and imagine it coming true.

This is not about wishing on a star, rather really seeing if these images and words are something you want to dive into. If it is yes, then by all means dive in. If it isn’t, turn the page. Every new page, brings a blank slate.


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