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The Transformative Power of Wild Places and Connection—My Journey

The Transformative Power of Wild Places and Connection—My Journey

Feb 1, 2021 | Disease, Disorders, and Illnesses, Indigenous Wisdom, Survival Skills

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that I may earn a small commission from, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I use or have used myself. All opinions expressed here are my own.

As a scientist, researcher, educator, and herbalist, I’ve focused on transformative nature education in a variety of settings and situations over the years. I feel it is important to share my knowledge of nature connection, ancestral knowledge, natural wellness, and survival skills with the world, especially in this modern era when we are more disconnected than ever.

The Path Unfolds

My love of nature and wildlife lead me to pursue a biology degree. After university I joined the Peace Corps and worked as a game warden in Africa; and after my posting I became a lion researcher in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Living in the bush and doing lion research was a life-changing experience for me. Camping in the middle of nowhere in a tent brings you to a place of extreme awareness. You need to develop excellent tracking skills and bird language skills. And you need to cultivate a sensitive grasp of your environment. After all, you are residing in the habitat of lions and mambas.

Transformative Encounters

Working with the San Bushmen in Botswana is one way I have connected with our human community. I brought back the knowledge and wisdom I learned from them to the United States and began teaching wilderness living and preparedness skills to others. It’s a great joy for me. Students light up when they realize the power of being in nature. They’re tuned into the natural world around them and experience a dramatic shift of perception. It is incredibly rewarding to spark that fire and passion in people.

Cultivating a Sense of Place

When I returned to the US, I didn’t experience a sense of place like I did in the Kalahari Desert. I needed to make a conscious shift to develop that same feeling of home in Oregon. So I took what I learned in Africa, all the awareness and wilderness skills, and applied that to the Pacific Northwest. Paired with building connection with our community, I began to cultivate a new-found sense of place here.

Igniting a Passion for Teaching and Sharing

After learning about medicinal plants from the elder San Bushmen women, my passion for teaching and sharing this information took root. The more I taught, the more I learned. When people ask questions, it stretches you to learn more. Eventually, these experiences lead me to develop my own line of herbal medicines. I also have a blog about herbs, diet, connection and lifestyle to help support others to live the healthiest life possible.

It is interesting to directly experience indigenous communities like the San Bushmen and compare it to our western culture. They rarely have mental illness and very little, if any, physical illness; whereas we become ill quite quickly in our culture. I feel this is because we’re fragmented without a sense of place. We are incredibly disconnected from nature, community, and often even ourselves.

Healing Through Connection

Through these life encounters and learning adventures, I’ve found that connection needs to be rekindled if we are to be truly healthy in mind, body, and spirit. This is one of the reasons why I am such a strong advocate for regularly spending time in nature, learning wilderness skills, and foraging wild foods. Cultivating a deep relationship with our communities is crucial as well. We can also connect with the natural world and support our wellbeing with healing botanicals.

I hope my sharing this part of my journey inspires you to explore your own unique bond with nature and community and that it helps to bring you to a place of ultimate wellness and joy.

Nicole Apelian

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