With the lighter evenings on the way, we’ve asked each of our brand ambassadors where they get their motivation from. If you’ve struggled to get outside over winter, or even if you haven’t, we hope your motivation fire is fuelled with this mini-series blog. Today, we’ve asked our new brand ambassador, Ruth Allen, who’s an outdoor therapist, counselling psychotherapist, mountain adventurer, endurance runner and writer.
Asking what motivates me to go outside is a difficult question to answer, akin to asking ‘what motivates you to eat?’. It’s something almost automatic, a need that has always been there, a vital and enjoyable essential in my life. That’s not to say there aren’t times when I don’t just want to be indoors in front of the fire with a book, but it’s being dynamically connected to the outdoors as the central structure of my life that makes the comfort of home feel special.
This is a way of being that many of us have forgotten. In our deepening domestication we have moved further to the comfort of indoors at the expense of being outside surrounded by nature; remembering what it is to be uncomfortable, and how to manage that discomfort and risk.
As the years pass, I return with increasing enthusiasm to the basic joys revealed through time outdoors. What it is to earn your tea after a day of movement. What it is to be warm having been cold. What it is to return to the slower sensory input of rolling clouds rather than a scrolling screen. These basic joys still matter to the human spirit – I believe we all have a core of simplicity that we have become unacquainted with, but that drives emerging movements like ‘slow living’, for example.
As these joys matter to the mind, so too does intuitive movement still matter to the body. Getting outside, for me, has very little to do with athleticism, endurance or achievement, though I find all of these are inspiring and equally valid ways of being in relationship with the natural world. Personally, I am interested in the ‘entry-level’ way of being outside and reminding others that it’s enough. There are no rules on how being outdoors should look, and those who try and tell you otherwise have failed to see the inherent democracy of our living planet. Nature does not discriminate.
Developing, maintaining and investing in a meaningful relationship with nature and the outdoor world is vital to my overall wellbeing. I take my commitment to this seriously, and hope that living it shows others they can too. On the whole my connection with nature sings loudest when I’m alone. I like to have plenty of time and space to be still outside. To be in communion with everything else that lives and breathes. Day to day I work with others to understand and support their mental health and wellbeing, and so welcoming quiet solitude is how I recharge and replenish; it’s how I tune back in to what matters. It’s how I get perspective, and learn to approach life with humility and openness.
At the front of my mind is always how can I take less from the outdoors. How can I embody the truth that the earth is not here to serve me; It is not my playground. How can I be of service to my world in the time I have here? These aren’t easy questions, and there are no quick answers, but being outside makes the process of discovery real and vitalised. Stepping daily into the non-judgemental, non-partisan natural world is how I practice a compassionate relationship with myself and my capability, and how I learn to be a better citizen of the planet. Nature reminds us of the duality of life constantly and I am happy to be reminded that it all comes and goes. This is the foundational principle that nature has taught me over the years and it is as alive in me today as it ever was. I go outside because it teaches me how to live.