For those that know me well and follow me on social media I LOVE the forest and being out in nature. Every day I walk with a passion and there is no greater feeling than the earth beneath my feet and connecting to the energies of the universe. I’m no Urban Shaman. However I have to admit that a few years ago I did have a long-standing fear of camping and staying outdoors all night. This irrational fear, which felt perfectly rational at the time related to a long standing allergy to mosquito bites. When I was around 17 I lived on a hippy boat on the River Amstel and one day woke up with half my face the size of balloon and the other half resembling something out of a horror film. The mosquitoes that night had a feast like no other. My reaction was so bad I ended up in the hospital in Amsterdam on all sorts of medication. This was obviously quite a scary time for me. I had left home at 16, to be a busker at Dam Square (Yes – I know – don’t judge I was young). My dreams were temporarily halted as I didn’t look cool or hip any more. Afternoons were spent in a little known dark cinema run by my housemate watching reruns of The Story of Jimi Hendrix.
So for years after this every time the sun would go down and the mosquitoes would come out I would go indoors, shut all windows and hide. To some extent I still have to be very careful and those that have mosquito reactions will completely get where I’m coming from.
Anyway, around 2 years ago I was invited to the Earthdance Summer Gathering, a conscious new age event in the UK.
I was also invited to trial The Mood Cards which was an amazing opportunity. The drawback was this. It was a camping only event. Apparently there was a B and B option but this didn’t look too promising going by the reviews. I said No, NO, NO! I’m kind of used to the more luxurious way of travelling these days, not always 5 star but standards are important.
I was asked again and these were the initial negative messages I gave myself and others:
- I can’t sleep out all night
- The mosquitoes will find me and I will wake up double the size
- I’ll be scared on my own in a tent in a field
- I’ll have a bad back
- I won’t be able to do the workshop if I’m up all night
- I don’t have a tent
The problem with a negative thought script like the above is that I believed it completely. It suited me to believe it because that meant I didn’t have to come out of my comfort zone and face one of my biggest fears, being eaten ALIVE. These six thoughts created fear, anxiety, worry and a sense of failure
As time went on, I was being encouraged to attend and others were coming up with offers of sleeping bags, camping beds and tents.
As a therapist offering CBT my job is to help people overcome their fears and phobias and it felt a little hypocritical when I couldn’t overcome my own. I was also working on creating The Mood Cards at the time and the Fear card kept popping up to challenge me. So I decided to challenge myself. I changed my thinking:
- I can sleep out all night
- I’ll zip the tent up and use the strongest insect repellant known to man
- My friends will be in the tent next door so I’ll be fine
- I’ll find a comfortable mattress and I’ll sleep well
- I’ll enjoy a relaxing night under the stars and be refreshed for my workshop
- I can borrow a tent
These thoughts were just as believable as the first 6 and the feelings I experienced were motivation, positivity and excitement.
So I went, I camped and I conquered. I also had the most brilliant time of my life and will continue to go back every year.
I have now upgraded from boy scout tent to bell tent which is now my spiritual space of peace and contemplation.
For details of this year’s event see the link below. Come and visit me at my Bell Tent or at my workshop. I’ll make you a nice cup of herbal tea too.
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