I met Henrik and Anne at a Vipassana meditation retreat in the south of Sweden last summer. I learnt that spending ten days in silence together without any form of verbal or visual communication can create a really special kind of bond. This was a connection on a subtle level – beneath narratives of personalities, accomplishments or judgements. On the final day, when the silence was broken, somehow a friendship had already been established. Our first talk was sparked with enthusiasm, and entailed that Henrik and Anne were working on a fascinating dream-project in Sweden called ‘Her Berg’, and also that we all share a deep calling to facilitate sustainable change.
A couple of weeks later we met again, this time at Her Berg. Living in the high-energy pulse of Stockholm, coming to this beautiful place in the middle of Sankt Anna’s archipelago brought me back to the calm summers I spent on Gotland as a child. This time I also learnt more about Henrik’s long background with Nature Quest, where he has spent many years facilitating experiences for people to connect and grow with nature as the main teacher. Intrigued to discover how we might do similar experiences at Her Berg, we arranged an experiment for me to make a ‘quest’ for the coming spring.
So during a chilly April weekend I spent my first night alone in nature, with nothing more than a sleeping bag and a tarp as shelter. It was a profound experience, and the combination of “checking-out” from society and “checking-in” to nature gave me some fresh perspectives on how to support more people on their trajectories.
What was my major lesson? “Have wholehearted intentions, complete acceptance and drop all expectations. This is where my suffering ends and where I give space for magic to emerge”.
This lesson came to me quite hilariously in the form of three goats. They made my acquaintance just two minutes after I saw Henrik off. He had now headed back home on the boat we took to get to the small island in the middle of the archipelago. With no phone and nowhere else to go, neither me nor the goats had any choice other than to learn how to cooperate. I quickly understood that I would not spend the night alone, nor spending most of the time in meditation as planned. But as soon as I let those expectations go, a sense of gratitude for life’s never-ending jokes came over me. Me and the “three wise goats”, as I named them, became friends and I had yet another magical experience to cherish.
So, after coming back home and spending the remainder of the weekend on integration and enjoying the lovely company at Her Berg, we considered the experiment a sign to keep exploring. We instantly decided to try a new one – this time by including some more friends of ours.
A few months later we gathered at Her Berg. Old friends were now mixed with new ones, and everyone was aligned around the intention to pause and focus on some deep inner work. The experience was initiated by zooming in on our personal key themes for the stay, and we supported each other in getting set for our night in nature. Day 2 arrived and with the words “what if everything that happens has a meaning?” echoing in our minds, we headed out into the forest to find our respective places to stay for 24 hours. In solitude, we now confined to small circles as our basecamps, and surrendered to the vastness and elegance of St. Anna’s archipelago as our main teacher.
We all got to experience some of the challenges and rewards that follow any steps taken on a personal hero’s journey. Here are some: making bugs friends instead of enemies, seeing the creative flipside of boredom, discovering the absolute magic of the dark and silent night , and gaining new insight into ourselves and how we relate to the world around us. And, not the least, reminding ourselves how beautiful it is to be truly humble guests in nature rather than non-considerate trespassers.
With fresh insights and a sense of momentum from taking us through the full day and night, we could then spend the rest of the time on integration, sharing circles, yoga, and eating delicious plant-based food. We also had time to do handiwork at Her Berg and jam by the fire. What more could one expect?
So what did I learn this second time? For myself, the key insight that nature taught me was: “I can truly and fully allow myself to be happy and playful for no reason at all. I never need a reason to feel alive. I am magic just by being me, and so is everybody else. The only thing we need to focus on at the core of ourselves is to resonate love and creativity, and by being ourselves fully we allow others to be as well”. I also take with me the complete joy of sharing this experience with friends, and how much we can co-develop by doing such an activity together.