Pieces of wisdom from the mountain
On belonging to oneself and nature …
Last week, I had the priviledge to spend 7 days in pure nature, travelling by myself but part of a group of 20+ amazing humans. All volunteers for Habitat For Humanity, hiking with the intention to raise money to build safe shelters for families in need around the world. The group went to hike more or less the intense parts of the Larapinta trail in the Northern Territory of Australia, in the elements, sleeping under the stars. The top challenge was a night hike lighted by a super full moon, to arrive before sunrise at the 1300m summit of Mount Sonders: 4 hours up, 4 hours down.
Heavy rain had fallen a few weeks before we arrived and the land was blooming of green grasses, lush leaves on bushes and the most colourful flowers. In a region that is usually desertic, this was quite exceptional and made the trip even more unique. Seven days bathing in a dreamy land of beauty.
On the first day, we were welcomed to country by an aboriginal elder from the Arrernte people. He started his welcome with the concept of belonging. He mentioned that indigenous people don’t want to possess or own the land, they belong to the land as much as the land belongs to them. A beautiful concept I believe, very different than the race to possess, own and buy in our western society.
He encouraged us to communicate with the land, the mountain, to say hello to the plants, flowers, trees or rocks, and to ask permission to them if we wanted to take a piece home.
This idea of belonging to the land is something I love and now deeply understand. Nature is one of the only places where I feel a sense of true belonging. I feel at peace, I don’t feel judged or the pressure to be something, someone, to act a certain way, to say or not say certain things…
Full acceptance. Total peace. True belonging.
Every morning as we started walking in the beautiful landscape, as instructed, I would start by saluting the mountain (“werte” phonetic in the local language). I would then listen and feel the wisdom that came from that simple act. Most days it gave me a sense of presence. Not to think of the past or worry about the future, just to be truly in the present, soaking in the beauty of the land, bathing in its’ peace.
Everyday was wonderfully surprising, different from the previous one, with its own glory. The mountain welcomed us with its flowering beauty, its immensity, its gargantuan caterpillar shaped formations, a somewhat forgiving climate, a super full moon which made the night sky so bright (even called for a howling dingo to wake us up in the middle of the night near the camp site). The opportunity for a daily swim in piercingly cold but stunningly spectacular creeks and gorges left us feeling alive and vibrant. The exceptional few clouds transformed every sun rise and sunset in explosions of magnificent colours and shapes.
The last day, as we sat in a circle in an area called “the pound”, which is a sacred healing place for the indigenous people, we all shared: our human experience of pain and overcoming it. The sharing was deep, touching, healing for all. A very special moment. We had to share what we wanted to let go of and what we really rocked during this trek. I shared I wanted to let go of the fear of not belonging (to this new group but really overall, that feeling I have had throughout my life), fear of coming to such a trip alone and doing it all by myself, fear that my body would fail me at some point, with some pain or weakness.
What rocked is, I did it! By myself! My body felt strong all along. Not a complaint. Simply an enjoyment to move a lot, no pushing over my limits, being well nourished and following the natural sleep cycle of day and night….
What rocked was that I felt I was part of this whole we call nature, planet earth. The need to belong anywhere else disappeared. Belonging nowhere and anywhere as Maya Angelou says.
So the 5 top wisdoms I learned from the mountain:
The mountain, its immensity, its strength, its equanimity to the seasons, the wind… activated a sense of being here and now. Strong. Equanim.
For as long as I remember, I have felt like an outsider. When I was young, living in France, I moved every few years then later, in my twenties, many different countries… unable and in some ways also unwilling to fit in fully to any group, country, sport team, religion…
Even when I did not have to move, I often felt an urge to leave. Maybe in a search of a potential tribe who would accept me as I am, partly as a rebellion to conformism, a refusal to be labeled or confined to a group and ideal, partly to simply find myself outside all those set norms and rules by family, society, religion…
After a while in one place, that urge always came back. That urge to leave. To explore. To start again. Fresh. With no mess, no baggage, no hurt.
It is hard work to try to fit in to a group, to constantly try to say the right thing, to act the right way according to the local culture and group.
I learned along the way, that as long as your inner-self believed and felt you don’t fit in, you always can find evidence that it is true… Finding a sense of belonging is an inner job.
Nature always brings this sense that I belong. If I take the time to slow down and be present with it.
We belong here. To nature. To this world.
Full acceptance. Total peace. True belonging.
3) Circadian rhythms:
Since we are nature, following its rhythm is natural, is healthy, and is good for us. It feels great. Waking up and going to bed with the sun was so divine, and my body felt so vital despite the intense daily activity!
4) Let go of fears:
During that trip I got to peal another layer of fear. The sense of presence, of being here and now, removed the anxiety I brought with me in the beginning.
I believe the pealing of the onion is never ending, pealing layers of shadows and fears, continuously unfolding the best version of ourselves. I will continue finding new areas to heal, even as a spiritual leader, a healer, a life coach, psychotherapist… we are all humans on this healing journey.
I am strong! Stronger than I believed.
You are strong! Stronger than you believe.
You can do anything you put your mind to!
Like a mountain, we have strength and compassion. We have seasons, flourishing moods, and we are beautiful just like that.
Side notes for those who are thinking of trekking the Larapinta:
My favorite moments were numerous but I would list a few:
- The midnight wake up from a couple of howling dingos around our camp site. A deep loud howl that went deep into my bones.
- The ascension of Mount Sonders, waking up at 1:30am, starting the hike around 3am. A 4 hour hike to the 1300m summit, lighted solely by the full moon which was so bright we barely needed our head torches apart from the times our moon shadows were so dark we could not see where we were putting our feet. Oh so special. We had a cup of tea at the top, where the temperature and wind were not forgiving, while we watched the spectacular sun rise just in time… oh so worth the ascension! The way down simply a completely different landscape as the sun had risen.
- Swimming in beautiful creeks and gorges everyday — not sure what the temperature of the water was but definitely below 14C for sure. Felt very much alive after a cold bath like this. The last day we had to cross a creek and a few tall “unvoluntary” volunteers had to build a human chain and pass our backpacks on top of their heads… that was fun…
- The flowers… oh the flowers on this trip were so out of this world, different colors, shapes, smells, textures…. fields of flowers to walk through… a dreamy landscape to walk through.
- The people… the group was a group of motivated volunteer for Habitat For Humanity. So many amazing, kind hearted people in this group with heart wrenching and warming stories. Everyone helping each other as they could. I had so many meaningful conversations on this trek, from personal stories, to different life challenges, to talking religion, non-religion, with people of very different beliefs, to Wim hoff, yoga, parenting, separation, union and love…!
- The fact that this group of people raised about AUD 75,000$ which will support the build of 25 homes for people in need of one!
- TIP: Trekking poles are so helpful, give confidence, balance in a rocky sandy area, and save your knees on the way down. A good backpack with hip support and attachment a must. Training before so the trip is even more enjoyable and not a struggle. Have fun, enjoy, listen to the mountain!
With infinite love and gratitude!
Photography by Dorothee Marossero, copyrights apply.
Dorothee is a transformational coach, creator of Fearlessly Yourself and Dottyoga. She uses Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Yoga, mindfulness, somatic and self-care approaches to bring sustainable and deep transformation to women around the world.