What’s the Amazon rainforest like? Humid, lush and alive. The kind of alive where everything pulsates with a vibrant life force.
The air feels fresh (albeit damp) and there is a palpable sense of energy – you are, after all, in the lungs of the earth. More than anything you realise that the jungle is a wild, powerful force. She has dominance. You and your musty clothes and mouldy belongings will fit around her.
While most of us live against a backdrop of grey concrete and fake light, the jungle is vibrant and fresh – every shade of green you can imagine in a myriad of shapes, sizes and scale. Most of the leaves are bigger than your children. And everywhere you look the trees tower above you, creating little vignettes of the sky.
They say hindsight is a powerful thing and we all know from bitter experience how true that is, but the jungle gives you a whole new sense of perspective and detachment. You realise very quickly that you have become blind to the pace, noise and distractions of the modern world. From the roar of car engines to the ring tone of mobiles our senses are bombarded and jarred. Falling branches, nuts dropping, not to mention the unceasing chatter of cicada, crickets and frogs mean the jungle is never silent and yet the peace and tranquillity is immense.
During the day, dragonflies and butterflies dance before your eyes, seldom settling long enough for the obligatory photo. Crickets and grasshoppers land on everything and everyone, lizards scuttle in the undergrowth, thousands of ants march and exotic birds with vibrant plumes dart amongst the tree tops. The rain when it comes is not preceded by dark ominous clouds – there might not be a cloud in the sky. The jungle does everything in her own unique way.
Unlike Bear Grylls, I stayed at the Chaikuni Centre* There were simple facilities all built and maintained by workers employed from the local village. My wooden house, or tambo, was functional and basic. I shared my room with several cockroaches, two frogs (both gently evicted) and a handful of spiders, most of whom I could ignore and one rather vibrant red and blue spider with a spectacular white beard that I couldn’t (he too was evicted although somewhat more gingerly).
It didn’t take long to recognise that the parrots overhead at 5pm signalled the onset of night. It is a prompt twelve-hour turnaround in the jungle and the sun sets quickly. Night time is when the jungle comes alive and, under a blanket of inky-blue darkness, the volume cranks up to a whole new level. Cockroaches scuttle, bats
swoop, toads and frogs croak and the whole jungle pulses to the beat of nature.
Modern technology is our friend and our foe. It facilitates so much, including our own online spiritual clothing company, but it also invades our lives. Work emails, social media and a multitude of other distractions are a fingertip away. Most of us are drowning in the wrong sort of connection. It can get harder and harder to unplug ourselves and disconnect even when it’s bedtime. The jungle does that for you and, while initially it’s disconcerting, being ‘off grid’ is very liberating.
There is something empowering and peaceful detaching from civilisation and its paraphernalia. While I experienced unprecedented levels of disconnection, I began to feel more connected than ever before.
I was falling into sync with nature, going to bed early and rising with the dawn; eating simple flavoursome food cooked with love and without pesticides; spending day after day disconnected from the internet and unplugged from my phone; spending hours in the peace and solitude of nature at her rawest. I began to renew, grow and awaken. Like the jungle I was in, I came alive. I’d like to tell you at this point that I have returned from the jungle a ‘new person’, free of my attachments to the trimmings of modern life and have established the perfect work/life balance. It would be a lie.
Like everyone else, the first thing I did at the airport was to turn on my phone and check my messages. But I am different. Away from the jungle it’s hard – really hard – to stay connected with nature and my Self but what is different are the insights and realisations within me. I now know I need to meditate to create the space for inner connection. I know I need to turn off the gadgets and make time for silence and peace. So I can take forward the knowledge that this sacred time gave me and, maybe in writing this, you might be inspired to begin your own adventure and journey (metaphysically or physically) to a different landscape.
*We realise that some may question the necessity of a long-haul flight when we are trying to be as ethical and sustainable as possible. As sponsors of an Amazon-based, non-profit organisation, it is essential that we are fully familiar with the work of the organisation we support and where 10% of our customers’ money ends up. It’s also vital that we build on our wonderful connection with the team that receives the money so that Earthmonk can offer more to them than just a cheque.
*The Chaikuni Permaculture Institute is a non-profit organization and educational hub working for a truly sustainable future for the Amazon rainforest and the world. Through the union of traditional knowledge systems with the best of modern innovation, they teach and apply regenerative community-based development practices. They bring together people with diverse backgrounds to co-vision a common goal – the creation of a thriving Amazon rainforest, with all her people, traditions and biodiversity. We are proud to donate 10% of sales to this brilliant and worthy cause.