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  • Gizem Cetgin

Insights I didn’t know I needed until I started living simply, socially isolated, immersed in nature

We are approaching our second week in the mountains of North Carolina on a farm called Chipmonk Hill. We are volunteering at this farm in exchange for room and board. We have a house to ourselves: two bedrooms, one bath, a little kitchen with just enough supplies in it. There is a creek behind the house, we wake up and go to sleep to the sound of the serene water. Most days start with a meditation and 20-30 min yoga, followed by coffee and breakfast. We go to the main house around 9:30 am and check in with our host Tove to get a schedule of daily things to do. I usually work on replotting the tiny plants that need more indoor love and care, and sowing the hardened ones on the ground. As my hands are digging, touching, and shaping the soil, my mind gets quiet. I can only think about the task in hand:

– ‘Take out the little plant”

– “Separate the roots carefully”

– “Oh hi beautiful miracle being!”

– ”How come you are going to get so big and strong?”

– ”Ok, find a pot”

– ”Plant the individual roots”

– “Don’t squeeze or push too hard”

– “Next one..”

I stay in simplicity and the pleasure of the now, much often and much longer.

Observing the mind ever so clearly

Sometimes, I hoe and shovel. My body, unfamiliar to the intensity of the movement, gives in quickly. But the mind, being a “pusher”, commands that I continue and do a good job. That’s when I catch myself, realizing how easy it is for me to get lost in the “shoulds”, “musts” and the “get shit done” mode disregarding the signals from the body, even in a chill environment like this where everybody including nature is welcoming and forgiving. Then I do the thing I can do: I just take a deep breath and practice relaxing the business savvy, engineer minded Gizem. I thank her but also remind her that she can’t run the show here, we are here to integrate all parts; flowy and focused, spontaneous and disciplined, free spirited and structured.

Tasting the freedom from our modern habits

Maybe from all this presence work or the actual physical work, I am tired by 6 pm. I feel beat up. But somehow it feels good on my body. As if nature rewarded me with satisfaction and a sense of completeness in return for my hard work. With that, I sink into gratitude, not the kind that I think I should have, but the one that naturally emerges when nature takes over your body and mind.

In the evenings, we cook, listen to audiobooks, and have conversations about how life feels. We have a very weak internet connection in the house. We don’t watch much TV (ok, maybe a few episodes of BattleStar Galactica with an old school DVD player) and it feels like freedom. Freedom from Netflix centered, instant gratification flooded, undercover numbing habits. We wonder if we could do this when we go back to our “normal” lives. Just questioning that shows the severity of our bondage to the modern tools of entertainment, not truly chosen but manipulatively plugged into our lives. We promise each other we will keep this new routine while internally asking for strength to make that happen.

Seeing the other person truly

Since we experience life slower here, we also have more time for working out relationship conflicts. Triggers are still there, but as if they happen in slow motion. As if there is more air to breath, more space to move around, in, and out of the subject, and more grace mostly likely channeled from nature. Somehow, we are able to see each other as marvelous beings with intricate, unique, and unimaginable complexity. Then the mind can relax and tune in to the present moment we are in:

– “Ok, take a deep breath first”,

– “Oh, resentment is coming up strong”,

– “Does he really mean it?”

– “Look at his eyes”

– “Oh man, his eyes are full of love”

– “Can I let go of this emotion?”

Looking at him, but really seeing him:

– “Yes, I can.”

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