How to Heal Yourself – Chapter 13

Nurture connections 

This week I’ve been working on Chapter 13, which is all about nurturing our connections with people and with the earth. I’ve been thinking about connections a lot this week with the terrible fires all around us here in Australia. I’ve been thinking about how important our connections with people are as we rise together during and after such natural disasters. I’ve been thinking also about our connection to the earth and how we have failed to look after her properly; we have forgotten how important our connection with our planet is.

So this blog is about how we can connect with the earth better; it is a shortened version of the chapter but it gives you an idea of how we might renew our relationship with mother earth.

There are two parts to this renewal; the first is to restore our connection with the earth and the second is to look at ways to look after the earth better. In the book I go into more detail but here are the ways of connecting with and looking after the earth that I think are important.

Ways to connect with the earth

  • Go outside

We should make it a priority to spend time in nature. Walking in the bush or swimming at the beach or tending plants in our own garden are all very therapeutic. 

  • Grounding activities

I have three favourite grounding activities. The first is just to walk barefoot on the earth; grass and sand are ideal. Walking on the beach has a double benefit if you put your feet and legs into the water. 

The second activity is to find a tree and either lean into it and give it a hug or sit at its base with your back against it. Imagine you are part of the tree with its leaves touching the sky and its roots sinking into the earth.

The third activity is to lie on the earth. I like the beach but any grassy area will do. Lie on your back and feel your weight sink in and be supported by the earth. Visualise how big the earth is and how you are part of her. Feel her energy flow into you.

  • Animals

Having animals in our lives has been shown in many studies to be beneficial but we don’t need research to tell us this. The joy that pets and other animals bring to us is immeasurable. Connecting with both wild and domesticated animals brings us healing and brings us closer to the earth.

  • Indoor plants

Tending to plants connects us with their cycles and their needs and can be a mindful activity. Enjoying the growth and changes in our plants brings us in touch with the natural world. Especially if we live in a city having indoor plants is a wonderful way to remind us of our connection to the earth

  • Gardens

Connecting with the earth through gardening is an easy way to bring more earth energy into our lives. Gardening is also a mindful activity and can be done by almost anyone on some level. Maybe only indoor plants are achievable but getting outside and getting our hands in the dirt is what we have been doing for centuries.

  • Pay attention to cycles

If you are a gardener you will notice the cycles of the earth. Even without spending time gardening we can pay attention to the cycles of the earth. The days get longer and shorter, the tides come and go, the moon goes through a 28 day cycle, the seasons cycle around the year. When we connect with the earth and her cycles we become more in tune with her energies. 

  • Consider taking herbs

Herbs have the energy of both the earth and the individual plant itself. When we take a herb we are not just getting the actions of all the parts of the herb but we are getting the energy of the whole. Plants and particularly herbs that we use have developed over millennia to have useful properties. 

Ways to look after the earth

  • Consume less

While generally decreasing our consumption of stuff the important areas to focus on are buying local and seasonal foods with minimal packaging, avoiding the use to single use plastics, eating less meat and dairy. We can grow some of our own food and avoid wasting food. We can make do with buying less stuff.

  • Use renewable energy

Using renewable energy instead of those based upon fossil fuels is an important change. As well as using renewable energy we can make an effort to use less energy in our homes and workplaces.

  • Cut down carbon emissions

This follows on from the previous point and I believe we all need to think about our personal carbon emissions. Flying and driving are large contributors to carbon emissions and we can take personal action by decreasing our travel where we can and offsetting the emissions when travel is essential. We can make a difference by using public transport and cycling or walking instead of driving; holidaying closer to home and having virtual business meetings instead of flying to meet in person.

  • Become an activist

This is my 2020 news year resolution – to become an activist and help bring about change. I encourage everyone who is able to become active in pushing for change. This might mean becoming active in a local conservation group or a worldwide organisation. It might mean lobbying the government for change or supporting a greener politician or entering politics yourself. 

  • Avoid investing in non sustainable companies 

For those of us who invest, either through our superannuation or out of it, we should avoid investing in companies that aren’t sustainable. Investing in renewables instead of fossil fuels can make a difference .

  • Talk about it

Start a conversation with your family and friends about looking after the earth better. Let them know what you’re doing and simple things they can do to help.

Let me know in the comments or by email if you have any more suggestions about connecting with and caring for our planet.

In my next blog I will go back to Chapter 2 which is about making choices and decisions on treatments.

I acknowledge and pay respect to the Elders and Traditional Owners of the land on which I work and live.

Disclaimer. This blog is for research and entertainment purposes only. The information given in this site is not intended to replace a therapeutic practitioner relationship.

How to Heal Yourself – Chapter 1

Responsibility for your own Health

Well it’s the New Year and I’m enacting one of my resolutions, which is to write a blog each week. This week in How to Heal Yourself I have been finishing off  Chapter 1 – Responsibility for your own Health. This chapter is about the first phase in healing from any illness, which is to take responsibility for your own health. Too many people give away their responsibility to other people; to doctors or other health professionals. They follow treatment plans that they have no real idea about because they trust their doctor. But ultimately healing is done from within, not by external forces, so we must be responsible for all the factors that affect our health. This does not mean we don’t use conventional treatments it just means we take charge of our management and don’t just blindly follow along.

Responsibility means being both responsible and accountable for our own health and healing. Some definitions include being to blame but I don’t feel this is a helpful way to look at disease. Our lifestyles may be to blame for our illness but mostly we do the best we can in our lives. Blaming ourselves or others for our illness is not very productive. I like to look at it as being accountable. This means that we look at all the possible reasons why we might have become sick and try to change. It means we take account of the whole of our lives and seek to heal not only the physical body and the mind but also our soul and spirit. We can look at our lives and our situation in a holistic way and take steps to become responsible for our own healing. That means making changes that give our body the best chance to heal.

If you’ve read my other books you will know that I believe that our inner self, our soul, is the authentic self and through our soul we have a connection to universal spirit. When we connect with our inner self or soul we can better channel source energy and become the person we are meant to be. And this source energy, which is the energy of life, helps us heal. Much of the work of healing is about increasing the flow of energy from source through our soul to our body and mind. It is about being the person we are meant to be and this brings about healing on all levels.

The responsibility we have is to get in touch with our own soul and spirit and work in ways that enhance the flow of healing energy within our bodies and minds. We have to become accountable to ourselves for what we do to our body, mind and spirit. We cannot blame anything external to ourselves for our illness or disease; we must take the responsibility ourselves. We must do the inner work that brings our soul’s presence on to centre stage. We are ultimately responsible for making sure we live a life that is centred on our soul’s needs.

When we get sick we often feel out of control, plunged into chaos. Disease and illness destabilise our sense of control and solidity. We feel adrift from our life, as we knew it, especially if it is a serious illness. We may feel as if our bodies have let us down.

The feeling of loss of control is common with many illnesses and it often causes us to question everything. Indeed I believe this is one of the purposes of serious illness in our lives. It helps us question the life we had been living and encourages us make changes that bring about a better life. We can choose to not make the changes and let our illness be in control. Or we can become responsible both for the illness and our own healing.

I have been thinking about the steps we might take in order to take more responsibility for our own health. I think the first one is to learn to trust ourselves better. We need to trust that our bodies can heal and to follow along with our deep knowing about the best ways to heal. We need to trust our own body, mind and soul and its amazing capacity to heal given the right conditions. We simply have to trust that this is so and work out what the right healing conditions are on an individual basis. 

The second step is to trust the process of life and understand that illness has a deeper meaning for each of us. The changes we make that lead to our physical healing also lead to deeper healing and transformation. The transformation is ultimately about becoming our authentic selves and living a soul centred life.

The third step in taking responsibility is to make conscious decisions about our life and treatment plans rather than getting caught up in the machine that is illness and conventional medicine. If we don’t consciously make decisions about our life then they will be made anyway so we need to get conscious about it. 

The fourth step is to regain a sense of control and that is what the whole book is about – how to regain control of our lives in a conscious way in the midst of our illness.

My next blog will be about Chapter 2 – Choosing between Treatments. I am currently struggling with this chapter and finding it difficult to write but I think it is important to look at how we might choose between various treatment options for our illness.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2020.

Carol

How to Heal Yourself – Introduction

I’ve just finished a GP locum stint in Bairnsdale and now I’ve got some time off to write. Yay! My eBook – Tools for Transformation is at the publishers and should be ready in the New Year. I’ve already started my next book, which is called How to Heal Yourself. I plan to really concentrate on it over the next few months and will have the first draft finished by February 2020. Each week I will blog about how I am going and what I am writing about. It may just be a weekly up date or if I am writing a lot it may be twice a week. 

How to Heal Yourself covers very practical ways in which any person can create the right environment to help themselves heal. Healing is a natural process yet many of us have forgotten this. I will outline lifestyle changes that anyone can make in order to be healthier. Once we create the right environment in our body, mind and spirit we enhance our healing capacity.

This doesn’t mean we don’t use conventional medicine to help in our healing; we use every resource we can find. Both conventional and complementary medicines provide therapies that help the body heal. But we can help the body even more by making lifestyle changes.

The lifestyle changes we make are not just on a physical level but also on an emotional, mental and spiritual level. As we take responsibility for our own health and healing we can transform our lives.

The changes I suggest come about from my reading about the scientific evidence of what works for people and observing over the past thirty-five years with my patients and myself what actually helps people heal. This book will be for people with any chronic health issues who want to heal themselves on a deep level. Real holistic healing that can change lives. There are no quick fixes here but if you’re willing to step up and take a look at your whole life this book will transform the way you look at life and health. 

I will write about how you can take responsibility for your own health and how you might choose between different treatments, conventional or alternative. There will be a chapter on how to release and process your emotional baggage and one on paying better attention to your thinking. I will look at how you can pay more attention to your life and your intuition and then determine what steps you need to take on your healing journey. I explore how deepening your connections with people in your life and with the earth will help you. I will look at how determining your life purpose and following your creativity can help with healing. I help you to look at your life in a holistic way so that you enhance your body’s natural healing ability.

I hope you enjoy the weekly blogs.

Stay tuned for information about receiving your free copy of Tools for Transformation.

If you would like to buy a copy of my book – Holistic Medicine, Beyond the Physical – copies are available on my website for $30 including postage in Australia.

Disclaimer. This blog is for research and entertainment purposes only. The information given in this site is not intended to replace a therapeutic practitioner relationship.

December 2018 Newsletter

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STRESS

I was going to write this month’s newsletter about stress management and decided that what most of us need isn’t just stress management it’s stress reduction. Sure, we can do relaxation, mindfulness practices, meditation, get plenty of sleep, eat healthily and exercise to help manage our stress but wouldn’t it be better to reduce the stress? Yet many people find this hard to do. Our lives have become so busy that we are under continual stress to be somewhere or do something almost all the time. Our children’s lives are so full of school and after school activities that their heads are spinning too. We have changed from human beings to human doings.

How can we reduce the busyness of our lives? How can we reduce our stress instead of just managing it?

One answer is that we need to declutter our lives – declutter both our physical space and our time allocation. Two years ago, I started the process of decluttering my physical space. When we declutter our physical possessions, we look at each item we own and decide whether it brings us joy or whether it is a necessity. If it doesn’t bring us joy or it isn’t a necessity, we sell it or give it away or throw it out. We gradually surround ourselves with only things that are necessary or bring us joy. We can bring this awareness to how we spend our money as well by only buying things that bring us joy or are necessary. This helps the environment and our pockets.

We can do this in other areas of our life as well. How we spend our time is just as important; does what we do bring us joy? Is that time spent on an activity a necessity or a joyful experience? If it is neither then maybe, we could look at not doing it. We could decide to only spend our time on what brings us joy and what is necessary. This is a choice we make every day and if our lives are too full of stress part of the problem is that we fill them full of too many activities. We could look at how we spend both our money and our time more thoughtfully and we might find we can change our lives for the better.

Last year I decided to leave conventional general practice because I wasn’t enjoying my work. There is the necessity of needing money to live on, so I do need to work which is why I started at Safflower clinic. I now choose to spend longer with patients and not stress myself out with ten-minute consultations. Sure, I earn less money but now I try to spend less money. I try not to buy things I don’t really need, and I am aware when I buy stuff that it may have an impact of the earth and on my pocket. I could work more or harder, but I choose to work less and buy less and spend more time doing things that bring me joy. I spend more time writing and gardening and walking and having fun with family and friends.

I have taken on more study and find this can be a source of stress if I try to be a perfectionist about it. Like most people my expectations of myself can be too high so I try to find the joy in the study and if it’s just a drag I only do what is necessary. Since I started at Safflower life has been a bit too full of work and study, so I am considering whether to defer next year’s study or do less study. Each activity in our life can be examined and we can let go of those activities that don’t fill us with joy or aren’t necessary. In this way we help reduce our stress levels, which is really the best stress management technique there is.

If you would like to buy a copy of my book – Holistic Medicine, Beyond the Physical – copies are available on my website for $30 including postage in Australia or you can pick a copy up at Safflower Clinic for $20.

Disclaimer. This newsletter is for research and entertainment purposes only. The information given in this site is not intended to replace a therapeutic practitioner relationship.

October Newsletter

I thought I’d share my October newsletter on my blog. This is a new initiative and if you’d like to join the mailing list please sign up on my website.

I’m spending the weekend hunkered down in my house because the island has been invaded by thousands of people for the motorcycle Grand prix. Like many locals I did my shopping early and will try not to venture on the roads too much. It’s good timing because I have my Chinese medicine exams coming up in a week or so and I really need to study.

I had already written this newsletter earlier in the week but mysteriously it had disappeared from my computer, which has been prone to gremlins recently. I’ve lost a couple of documents I’ve been working on and had sent off some work only to find I had sent an empty file. All that work had disappeared into the ether. I got very frustrated and angry with my computer.

The original newsletter was about Qi and energy flow. Qi is the Chinese concept of the energy that animates all life and connects all our parts and all the parts of the universe. It is a hard thing to define in western terms. The newsletter had been about how to better manage our Qi so that we stayed healthy. It discussed things that probably everyone has read many times before – everything in moderation, meditate, do tai chi, walk barefoot on the earth (beach!), surround ourselves with positive people and energies. All great things to do to calm and ground ourselves and to connect ourselves with people and nature.

Such things are easiest to do when our lives are flowing well. What do we do when things go wrong? How do we manage our Qi and our energy then? Sure my computer glitches aren’t major problems but my rising levels of frustration could have disturbed my Qi even more than it did if I hadn’t remembered to step away from the problem and pay more attention to my feelings. I’ve written at length about this in my book but basically too often we get enmeshed in our problems and fail to step back and look at the bigger picture. We also don’t pay attention to our feelings; we ignore them, or deny we feel them, or use drugs or alcohol to numb them. Feelings and emotions are stirred up energy or Qi. They indicate something isn’t right and we should pay them attention. We can do this by feeling them rather than avoiding them. I took a step back from the problem and went out to the garden to weed and plant some seeds to help process the frustration. I let myself feel frustrated and gradually I became aware of other feelings that I had been bottling up. Once we feel the emotions we often become aware of other issues we have been ignoring. For me it was that I had been working and studying too hard and that I needed to do more positive things – like meditate, tai chi, walk on the beach. And that everything in moderation is a good Chinese habit to aim for; less study and more play.

Now when I am stuck in some way and don’t know what to do and even gardening and planting seeds doesn’t completely get me unstuck I know it is time to write. Writing it out may not be for everyone but most of us have some form of creative expression that helps us restore us to ourselves. It might be singing or dancing or painting or knitting but it sure is good to make space in our lives to do it. Of course I could make time for writing without having computer gremlins bring the lack of writing space to my attention. But like many of us I ignore my energy imbalance until it erupts in some way. Once again I came to the realization that taking time out to do my writing is important for my inner self. I realized that Qi doesn’t just need calming and grounding and connection but also inspiration and passion and creativity.

We can meditate and do tai chi and walk on the beach to calm and ground ourselves. We can nurture our connections to people and nature. But if we don’t also make time to be creative and follow our passions our lives can lack a certain spark. So remember to spark up your Qi with some creativity and passion on a regular basis.

 

 

If you would like to buy a copy of my book – Holistic Medicine, Beyond the Physical – copies are available on my website for $30 including postage in Australia or you can pick a copy up at Safflower Clinic for $20.

 

I acknowledge and pay respect to the Elders and Traditional Owners of the land on which I work and live.

 

Disclaimer. This newsletter is for research and entertainment purposes only. The information given in this site is not intended to replace a therapeutic practitioner relationship.

September 2018 Newsletter

 

Just thought I’d share my September newsletter on my blog. This is a new initiative and if you’d like to join the mailing list please sign up on my website.

I have been working at Safflower Chinese Medicine Clinic for a month now and it’s lovely to be working on the Island. The weather is improving and the Island is waking up from its winter slumber. I have had a steady flow of patients over the past month and am enjoying helping people with the laser acupuncture so I thought I’d share a little information about it.

Laser acupuncture is a method of acupuncture that avoids needles but has similar benefits to traditional acupuncture. It uses a laser to stimulate the acupuncture points and gets energy flowing through the meridians. Chinese practitioners describe this energy as Qi or Chi and acupuncture can help blockages in the Chi and get energy moving. Different points in the body are used depending upon the condition being treated.

The acupuncture laser pen is a low level ‘cold’ laser that doesn’t produce heat. This contrasts with lasers used in surgery that are ‘hot’ lasers which produce heat and can cut or burn tissue. The acupuncture laser doesn’t burn; in fact, most people don’t feel anything except pressure when it is applied. Occasionally people have mild sensations of energy shifting or a buzzing sensation.

Laser acupuncture works the same as needle acupuncture except it is generally quicker and completely painless. There is no risk of infection or causing any damage with a needle. It is also useful in people with needle phobias and in children.

Acupuncture is especially good for pain, including chronic pain and musculoskeletal injuries. It is useful for a myriad of conditions such as morning sickness, insomnia, migraines or tension headaches, period pain, bed wetting, infertility and in many other situations.

Generally, acupuncture requires a course of treatment for maximum effect. This varies from 3-12 sessions depending upon the condition being treated. It is thought that about 80% of people will benefit from acupuncture while 20% show no benefit.

I’m excited to be able to offer this modality to patients in Phillip Island.

Appointments can be made online at Safflower Clinic website or by ringing 59567011

Safflower Chinese Medicine Clinic

Opening  a GP practice at Safflower Chinese Medicine Clinic. 

I’m pleased to announce that I will be joining Safflower Chinese Medicine Clinic as an Integrative GP. I will be starting on Monday August 20th and consulting three days a week on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

The services I will offer as an integrative GP at Safflower are as follows –

  • Long consultations (history, examination, referrals, conventional and alternative treatment options)
  • Shorter follow up consultations (results, feedback and follow up treatments)
  • Routine appointments (for short general practice issues and laser acupuncture)
  • Routine appointments will be bulk billed for health care card holders and pensioners

I will offer longer consultations where I will spend time listening, taking a history, examining the person and ordering investigations where necessary to arrive at a shared understanding of the person’s health issues from a holistic perspective. I will then work with the person to explore both conventional and alternative treatment options considering the mind, the body and the spiritual aspects.

I have an interest in complex problems that may not have an easy diagnosis and I enjoy working long term with patients to explore their health issues and help them find ways to heal. I am also interested in all mental health issues and will explore with people the psycho-spiritual aspects that lie behind many mental health problems.

I will also offer routine consultations and advice on any general practice issues however the practice is not set up for emergencies or acute injuries. The practice is also not currently equipped to provide vaccinations, removal of skin lesions, suturing, ear syringing or pap smears.

I have an ongoing interest in laser acupuncture and will be able to incorporate this as one management option. I will work closely with other members of the team at Safflower to provide both a Western and an Eastern perspective on health issues.

I am currently studying a Masters in Applied Science in Chinese Herbal medicine at RMIT but am not yet able to prescribe Chinese herbs; for herbal prescriptions patients will need to see Brigitte, Eryn or Vicki.

More details about prices and booking an appointment will be available soon on the Safflower website.

 

 

2018

A New Year.

2018

A time for new beginnings and resolutions.

A time for visions and grand plans for the year ahead.

With all our resolutions to exercise more, eat less, stop smoking, spend more time with family and friends and many other variations we sometimes forget to take a moment and be thankful for all that we already are and all that we already have. Instead of making resolutions we probably will never uphold it is useful to examine our current strengths, gifts and opportunities and celebrate these.

Rather than focus on those areas of our life that we think need fixing maybe we can focus on those areas that are already good. Be thankful for what we already have instead of always pushing for bigger and better.

Remember most importantly that we already have the gift of the earth and nature. The New Year, and the summer solstice, reminds us that we are part of a great cycle. The seasons pass. The old year makes way for a new one. We gradually get older and one day will die. The cycle of birth, growth and death is the cycle of the earth.

Sometimes the real magic in our lives lies hidden because we see the earth and her gifts as ordinary and everyday. Inner or spiritual work helps us to recognize the magic in the ordinary pleasures of the earth and stop searching for happiness in consumerism and gathering more stuff. In particular having just passed the summer solstice here in Australia it is time to start looking inward as the days begin to shorten again.

Inner work helps us to look at who we really are and whether we are living the life that we are meant to be living. Changing the externals through resolutions that we don’t follow is one way to avoid looking deeper. So at the start of 2018 I encourage you to take a look inside at your authentic self and its offerings; to take a look at the earth and her abundant gifts and to start living a life that does justice to both.

Travels in Peru 2

Travels in Peru 2

We arrived in Iquitos in the evening and the heat and humidity hit us like a wet blanket. The streets were clogged with motorbikes and three wheeled moto-taxis celebrating Peru’s entry into the world cup. Everyone was tooting and cheering and it was almost impossible to cross the street. Iquitos is the largest city in the world not accessible by road and with all the young people celebrating it struck me as a real frontier town. Of course it is the gateway to the Peruvian Amazon and that was where we were headed.

The next day we caught a motorboat 140 km upstream to a lodge deep in the jungle. After a quick lunch we travelled further into the jungle and began a two-hour hike to look for monkeys. It was hot and steamy and even without walking the sweat dripped from our faces. The jungle was thick with mosquitoes and other insects and seemed foreign and inhospitable. Tales of anacondas, jaguars, tarantulas and piranhas combined with the heat to make us feel like we were in another world. We come from a different place, a major city in a developed country with all the amenities. Here we were plunged into a jungle that seemed potentially full of things that could harm us and it felt very strange.

I had to wonder – is the world a friendly place or one to be feared?

Being used to a large city I am used to feeling relatively safe from the natural world. When I go bush I am aware of snakes and biting insects but because I have been brought up with these the Australian bush mostly feels like home. And the big cities hold very few fears. But the amazon jungle felt so foreign that I wondered how I would survive if I had to live there. The heat and humidity I might get used to but the unknown of the jungle and the animals and plants that inhabit such a place made me really question whether this particular world was friendly or not. As we hiked through the forest I felt like we were walking in circles and had no idea of how to get back to our boat.

We visited a local village and discovered that the houses were all built on stilts because for some months of the year the whole place was flooded. People used boats to get around. I wondered how little children were kept safe from the water. We saw young boys cutting the grass with large machetes and I thought of all the possible machete injuries. Everything seemed more dangerous than the world I knew yet these people lived within the forest and depended upon it for their survival.

More walks into the jungle revealed details of which plants were used for which ailments or which trees were used to build houses or boats. The hot humid conditions were ideal for growing food. The rivers and streams meant plenty of water and fish, easy transport and play for children and adults. We boated on the river at night and walked into the jungle. Fireflies lit our way and the stars were brilliant in the darkness of the jungle. Tarantulas proved hard to find and not at all aggressive. We fished for piranhas and discovered they aren’t as terrifying as in the movies. Over just a few days the seemingly dangerous and inhospitable jungle proved to be friendlier than I had imagined. Sometimes our fears are just about the unknown rather than based on reality.

#Peru, #Amazon, #wilderness

 

 

Travels in Peru 1

Travels in Peru 1

We’ve just got back from four weeks in Peru and I thought I’d share some of the experiences. The highlight was the trek along the Salkantay route to Machu Picchu, which take five days and is hard walking; steep and at altitude. The mountains are, like all wild places, very special. Our guide told us that the local people considered the mountains to be gods, resting in the earth with their hair flowing down to the valleys. Many of them looked like gentle gods but Salkantay was snow-covered and steep, towering over the pass like a protector.

The walk up to Salkantay pass was steep and at 4600 metres was at considerable altitude. I took a horse up to the pass, as I didn’t want to hold back the rest of my group. The horses were stocky little ponies urged on by their owner from the rear. We had a rope to hold onto but no reins and we were perched on an uncomfortable saddle. The track was steep and wound up the valley for seven kilometres and over the pass. The horses liked to take the outside path close to the steep drop off and without reins I felt helpless to steer them to a safer inside course. Packhorses would pass every twenty minutes pushing their way forward. We passed walkers struggling for breath in the altitude, hugging themselves to the side of the mountain.

My fear of heights was overshadowed by my wonder at being in the Andes in Peru on a horse climbing up to a mountain pass. I had to just trust that the horse would take a safe path and give up my need to control. On reaching the pass we were rewarded with fantastic views of Mount Salkantay and surrounding mountains. We built a stone cairn to honour the mountain gods and the earth and drank coca tea to help with the altitude.

The trek continued for another few days towards Machu Picchu. Each day we were surrounded by mountains and wilderness and each day brought new challenges. The altitude remained a big challenge but my sore feet and aching legs reminded me that I am no longer as young as I once was.

Machu Picchu

IMG_2881Photos of Machu Picchu capture some of the wonder of the place but don’t do justice to the location. Machu Picchu is not just a unique archaeological treasure but it is located in a very special place. This ancient site is perched on a ridge between two mountains and is surrounded on all sides by more peaks, rising out of the jungle. On one side of the site is one special peak that stands by itself, looking just like a kneeling god with flowing hair.

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In the ruins I tried to connect with the spiritual nature of Machu Picchu but the crowds of people swarming around sitting on the walls and taking selfies made it impossible. It was only when I found a quiet spot with a view of the surrounding mountains that I could connect with the spirit of the place. Machu Picchu is a celebration of the natural world. The ruins themselves speak to the unusual advances in engineering of the Incan civilisation but for me the real achievement was in building in a location that pays tribute to the natural world that surrounds it.

Machu Picchu was never completed and it was only occupied for 100 years or so. There is still some debate about what it represents and why the Incan peoplebuilt it, as they had no written records. Unlike most other Incan sites, the invading Spanish never discovered it, so it remains relatively intact. Whatever the reason it was built and never destroyed by the Spanish I like to think it was left for us to show us how civilisation can be in harmony with the natural world. Here is a place high in the Andes, built out of local granite and a part of the mountains, which pays homage to the earth and her spirits. If we are to learn from ancient civilisations we need to understand how they lived in harmony with the earth and her cycles and how they worshipped the connection with the spirit of the land.

#Peru, #MachuPicchu, #Salkantaytrek, #wilderness, #trekking