I was born and brought up in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, in the Champagne area in France. I hated it. I couldn't wait to escape and yearned for action, noise, lights, business. So, I moved to Berlin, Dublin, then outside London. Like many people, I thought that being busy meant having a fulfilling life and that stillness was boring.
Three years ago, when my husband talked about moving to the countryside, I hesitated. I wasn't sure I could survive in a tiny village. We negotiated really hard and agreed on moving to a village as long as there was one café. I'm now really happy I never developed better negotiating skills!
So here I am now in the beautiful hills of the Algarve in Portugal and I love it. I admit I was wrong.
Nature is fascinating
One of the many reasons I love my dogs is that they start every single day full of enthusiasm and joy. When we walk them in the morning, we always go the same way, but they don't get bored. They're still excited about everything no matter how often they've been there before. They're so curious about anything. Imagine if we could see life with a beginner's mind, like dogs. How wonderful and exciting everything would be.
I'm trying to learn from my dogs and pay attention to my surrounding. Right now, I'm sitting outside under a walnut tree. Before I would have thought 'how boring: there is nothing going on', now I'm amazed at how full of life everything around me is. Lots of tweets, buzzing, chirping, a woodpecker pecking on a bamboo... and Ela, our big dog snoring in the sun.
Nature is intelligent
I was always in awe of our body's intelligence, how all the various systems, organs, cells work in harmony to optimise our health - even when we live with a chronic illness, I believe our body is trying to regain balance. The same intelligence permeates Nature as a whole, and if we don't interfere, Nature seems to work perfectly well. My husband has now become an organic farmer and we can see how the less we interfere, the stronger the plants grow.
In the same way as the organs and cells in our body work in harmony, so do the various species in Nature. I find it fascinating for instance how healthy trees support weaker one for instance, as Peter Wohleben explains in The Hidden Life of Trees or how much we learnt from observing Nature, even tiny little insects as described by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson in her book Extraordinary Insects.
As a yoga teacher, I always found it interesting that so many yoga asanas (positions) are named after animals or Nature. I love to go into an asana and think of the qualities that the animal or plant stands for and feel it in the position. When I'm in the Cobra pose for instance, I always try to feel the Cobra's strength and his ability to see everywhere when rising tall. More than creating a shape, yoga is about embodying the qualities of the asana and in doing so, it helps to reconnect with Nature too. Practising yoga outside in Nature makes it even more powerful.
Nature is resilient
Since moving to the Algarve, I feel inspired by Nature's resilience. Nature never gives up. A tree may twist and bend and grow roots in the air to find a way to survive. That's why I love succulents and started a little Star Trek garden. The most unusual shapes, the better.
My latest find is a living stone. Because the majority of the plant's body is underground, it doesn't have a lot of surface to gather sun's energy, so it develops “windowpanes”. How smart! No wonder many human inventions were inspired by Nature.
I really enjoy spending time outside with my dogs or in the garden. It is relaxing but also comforting to know that we're part of this fascinating, intelligent and resilient system. Feeling this connection gives me strength and hope.