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Here at Po-Zu HQ, we are getting ready for our Mindful Sunday Walk on Hampstead Heath on 13th April. We are joining up with the lovely people at Way of Nature for the walk, and were delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Andres Roberts, one of the founders of Way of Nature, and our guide for the afternoon. Here Andres gives an insight into what you might expect from the walk, and what puts a spring in his step.
Andres’ background covers a number of areas – leadership, guiding and sustainability – and this mix of influences and experiences has led him to founding Way of Nature UK. A few years ago, he was investigating playfulness, or the lack of it, in our working lives. And this evolved into taking his work out into nature, leading groups in nature in Spain and enabling people to experience solos in the wilderness, out on their own for a day or two, helping them to reconnect with themselves and nature. Way of Nature UK stems from his desire to bring more of this work to the UK, and also share the teachings and practices of one his own teachers, John P Milton.
Andres Robert, Way of Nature UK, Co-founder
Andres does not identify himself as a hiker or a walker. He believes that at heart we are all walkers. We evolved in the wild with trees, birds and grasses, so when we go for a walk in nature, it’s about going back home, and it’s about letting go. Being outside in nature can lead to deep relaxation and opening of the heart and Andres believes that it is an antidote to what contemporary work and life, fuelled by a consumer culture, is all about. People come from all different types of groups or need to experience Way of Nature activities, from those who are keen adventurers and outdoors types, to people working in Leadership and organisational change, and those interested in spiritual and personal development.
One of the techniques that Andres is going to share with us on the walk is mindful walking. At its heart, this is about really slowing down to notice what is happening and awakening our senses and awareness. Andres describes how it is so difficult to find silence and space in our busy lives. At its simplest level mindful walking is just a lovely way of walking in silence, which then leads on to the next question, “What do you notice?” For example, how is the tree moving? This in turn begins to open up a space within us. Andres quotes the Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who wrote in one of his poems “Kiss the earth with your feet”. Mindful walking is about bringing this appreciative connection into your walking, being mindful of how the earth is holding you and supporting you.
One of the other practices we will get a taster of on the walk is Qigong (Chi Kung) which is a set of Chinese exercises, to help develop awareness of the energy in our body. As Andres describes it, these are simple and lovely practices, which you can use to ground yourself, cultivate your energy and, when practiced outdoors, connect your energy with the earth and sky. During the walk, we can try out a few exercises, and maybe we will sense something, maybe not – but the important thing is to have a sense of curiosity and intrigue.
Finally, we wanted to know if Andres had a favourite place to go for a walk. He loves the rugged, expansive landscapes of Snowdonia, where he can enjoy a wild swim as well as a walk. Going barefoot on sandy beaches is another favourite. But he can find tranquility in urban spaces as well, such as Battersea Park in London. It’s a good reminder that we can go out and explore and experience the nature that we have on our doorstep, wherever we are. We look forward to joining Andres on Hampstead Heath on 13th April – and hope you can come too. If so, please join up to our facebook event here or email directly firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in finding out more about some of the experiences that have shaped the development of Way of Nature, and the benefits of spending time in nature, you can view articles and videos here.