WELLBEING | I Find Some Time To Rewild On A Solo Camping & Wild Swimming Micro Adventure

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I’ve felt a sizeable shift in my consciousness recently. It happens to me maybe every couple of years or so. I’m always striving for greater spiritual enlightenment and recent work I’ve been doing seemed to click and come to a head for me during a solo weekend of camping and wild swimming.

Colemere at sunset
Colemere at sunset

I spent the entire weekend happy. I don’t just mean I enjoyed myself, I spent the entire weekend feeling completely content, at peace and experiencing gratitude at every turn.

I had planned half a day of leave on Friday, pre-booked a small campsite I’d never visited before and as the working week progressed I realised that anxiety was starting to take hold of me.

I was already feeling a little overwhelmed with work and freelance obligations and a friend was borrowing my medium-sized tent, which meant I had to take a large family tent with me. The weather was terrible and forecast to get worse and I had a massive to-do list as well as some pre-wedding anxiety to wrangle, all of which were threatening to engulf me.

Colemere
Colemere, a few steps away from where I was pitched

Controlling my anxiety

I’ve learned to recognise feelings of overwhelm before they swallow me, and so I was able to stop my thoughts from spiraling using mindfulness techniques and an intention-setting meditation mid-week helped massively, but I knew my planned weekend had come at the right time – I needed to ground myself and spending time outdoors is always the answer.

I made the decision to let worries wash over me. If I struggled with the big tent, no drama, I’ve put tents up hundreds of times after all. If it rained and I got wet, I’d change into dry clothes. If the wind was so bad It threatened to damage the tent, I’d pack down and come home. It was no big deal, so with my creeping anxiety stopped in its tracks, I set off on Friday afternoon in the pouring rain.

The rain continued and 40 minutes later I crossed the Welsh border, and then almost immediately into Shropshire as the rain got heavier still. I was aware of the rain, but I just turned up the music and carried on singing. I genuinely didn’t care and didn’t give it a second thought, until sat nav told me I’d arrived, at which point the rain stopped.

A weekend where everything flowed

I set up camp and had no issues getting the big tent up on my own (I adore AirBeams for that reason!). Everything was soon set up and all cosy inside so I sat down to make a brew. As I waited for it to cool a little, I heard the first pitter-patter of raindrops against the tent.

It struck me how fortunate I’d been to have a break in the weather at just the right time, for just the right length of time and I felt a deep sense of gratitude. I grabbed my coat, took my tea and headed out to explore.

When I’d booked I knew the campsite was near to a lake, but I had no idea just how close it was. I could see the water from my tent and in under a minute, I was at the water’s edge. I found a tree trunk to sit on and quietly took in the location, once again feeling extremely grateful.

The thick woodland all around the edge of the lake (actually a mere to be precise) sheltered me from the drizzle and I did a short meditation, focusing on the beautiful landscape, feeling the cold breeze and drizzle on my face, listening to the abundant birdlife.

Chilling in my tent listening to the rain
Chilling in my tent listening to the rain

I finished my brew, returned to my tent grabbed my phone and headed back out again, this time with the intention of walking around the lake and exploring a little further. As I walked I realised I was smiling. The sun was setting and as I reached the far end of the lake I was taken aback at how beautiful it was, and to think, I’d had no real idea when I’d planned where I was going to stay.

I spent a lovely quiet evening reading (If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie) and as I sipped a G&T and ate a slice of cheesecake I’d bought myself as a treat, I received a video call. A dear friend I’d not seen in years was calling to share the happy news that she’d just got engaged. I felt absolute joy for her and we had a great, long overdue catch-up.

I marveled that technology had facilitated our chat with me in the middle of nowhere in a tent and felt blessed she’d called me with the news. I drifted off to sleep with no clear plan for the rest of the weekend, happy just to be.

Setting intentions

The following day was wet and grey and I realised I’d forgotten to bring coffee with me, so I nipped out for some and ended up spotting a canal and so went for a walk. On the way back to the campsite I drove past a nature reserve and stopped off there for another walk, aware again of how happy and relaxed I felt, watching birds and walking among the trees.

Back at the campsite, I decided I wanted to do a Shamanic journey. Since starting just over a year ago I’ve had incredible success with my journeys, though I don’t do them often. I treat them with deep reverence and instinctively feel that they aren’t something I should do lightly, or too frequently.

I held a clear intention in my mind; I wanted to stop my proclivity towards anxiety, triggered in part, by me constantly wondering ‘what it’ and planning for the worst.

My brain sometimes feels like it’s a depressed computer, doomed to run endless simulations, testing out worst-case scenario after worst-case scenario. Instead of always projecting into the future, I wanted to gain the ability to be more anchored in the now.

This was the intention I held on to, so with my favourite drumming track to accompany me on my journey, my rattle, incense burning and a blanket covering me, I settled into it. It was over an hour before I returned, and the feeling of calm that had been with me all weekend only intensified. I came to, feeling blissful, secure in the knowledge that the power was within me to affect that change I wanted.

Trail run around Colemere

I stayed with the floaty, slightly drugged-up feeling and settled down with my crochet, listening contentedly to the rain on the tent. When the rain stopped I decided to make the most of the window of dry weather and changed into my running gear and did a lovely little trail run around the mere, pausing to take in the scenery and take a few photos.

That night, as I lay in bed, usually my mind would have turned to fears of the weather and packing down in the rain, but the thoughts washed over me and didn’t linger. I slept soundly, absently aware that the rain was heavier than ever.

On my final day I awoke to birds singing, sunshine and absolutely no rain. Again I felt a rush of gratitude and set about packing down, wearing a t-shirt, singing happily to myself.

As I packed everything away, I realised I didn’t want my weekend to end just yet, and it occurred to me that I could delay arriving home by stopping off for a wild swim on the way back. I keep an always-packed swimming bag in my car just in case, so after packing up the car, I headed to the lake where I finished my weekend with the most wonderful swim.

Swimming Alderford lake
After my swim in Alderford Lake

I swam to the other side of the lake, then halfway back and stopped, just floating. I turned on my back and bobbed around there, looking up at the sunshine slanting through the clouds and the snatches of blue sky, feeling another great big rush of gratitude and happiness.

Renewed positivity

Although I’ve always known worrying is futile and a total waste of energy, my brain has never let that fact make any difference and my anxiety has spiked regardless. This weekend, however, something in me changed.

If you’ve read Untethered Soul, of course, you’ll know that the real test comes when things all go a bit tits up. It’s easy to remain positive when things fall into place and go right, but much more challenging during difficult times. My experience this weekend however has positively reinforced the benefits that come with keeping my focus on the here and now and not endlessly anticipating worst-case scenarios.

I realise now I used to do that because logic told me, it meant I’d be prepared for the worst if it did happen. Of course, all this was actually doing was keeping me locked in a cycle of anxiety whilst I continually worried about the bad things that could happen.

It seems so obvious to me now and to have lived this way for so long makes no logical sense. I feel mildly bemused to have only just ‘got’ it. This weekend, as well as grounding myself I think I’m finally learning how to let go of anxiety.

Good riddance to it.

Where to next?

Shell Robshaw-Bryan
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