This is Part One of an inspiring and eye opening interview I did with Author, Robin Easton. Robin writes the blog “Naked in Eden” and recently released her non fiction book, “Naken in Eden; My Adventure and Awakening in the Australian Rainforest“. Please enjoy, leave comments for this incredible woman and come back for Part 2. 🙂
JENNY: I met Robin Easton of Naked in Eden through a mutual blogger friend; WD Favour of “Discover Yourself”. I have been reading and enjoying Robin’s writing for over a year now. What struck me from the beginning about Robin was she exudes LOVE, Kindness, Creativity and Authenticity. When I heard she was coming out with a book, an amazing true story of her awakening in the rainforest, I was very much looking forward to reading it.
To say I enjoyed her book is an understatement. She writes about her journey with her husband Ian in the rainforest and brings you into the story from the first page. She flashes back to memories and you feel like you are there standing beside her, understanding what she is going through. The book is moving, healing, thought provoking, suspenseful, funny and a must read. I am very fortunate I got to ask Robin a few questions about her amazing book, “Naked in Eden; My Adventure and Awakening in the Australian Rainforest“.
Hi Robin. Firstly, thank you for writing this book. I know many will be inspired by it. I loved it and it is a pleasure to be able to ask you a few questions.
There are so many quotes and passages in your book that grabbed me and had me re-reading them and nodding. The following is one,
“Ian, I grew up with radios, artificial light, chemicals in my water and food, artificial smells, car exhaust and plastic shoes and clothes that were often too tight. I was left with no soul, no connection to the Earth. I don’t even know where my food came from. A grocery store, that’s where it came from, and I accepted it all as normal until I stood in this forest. The cycle of life hasn’t been broken here. Can you believe it? This place is still intact?“
Robin, MOST of us grow up like this… this is how we are taught life is. Yet, when you are in nature you FEEL and KNOW life is so much more. Not everyone will resonate with giving their life up as they know it and moving to the rainforest… how do you recommend people get in touch with this in their daily life? Can you share with us the importance of us being in touch with nature?
ROBIN: Hi Jenny, It’s wonderful to be here today, and I am loving your questions and insights. You have always been a great inspiration to me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to look in ward.
When I was a child and young adult, right up until I went into the rainforest at age 25, I thought that “Life” in its entirety was school, college, work, the car, the house, the stores, town and all the things that made up my society…and took up my time. When I didn’t fit into that in the way my peers appeared to, and when nothing about “Life”, except nature, engaged me, I thought I’d failed at life. I thought something was wrong with me.
I grew up close to nature, but in a very limited way. My dad got rid of our TV when I was a tiny girl, and whenever he wasn’t working he started taking me and my five siblings hiking, canoeing, and camping. But that was only a fraction of my life. School took up most of my life. As I got older it was work and school. And the pressure to become something increased with each passing year. I knew I was expected to somehow fit into this thing I thought was “Life”. (And of course I didn’t fit in.)
You asked: “How do people get in touch with nature in their daily lives.” The operative word there is “DAILY” or as often as possible. The more we expose ourselves to ANY form of nature the more we heal. Simply lying on the grass in a park for five minutes and watching the clouds drift by until we forget our worries, can heal us. It’s important that we do this WITHOUT talking on a cell phone, or listening to music, or reading, or talking to someone, or anything else. Don’t put anything between you and that moment with nature, just you and the sky for at least five minutes. Or lie under a tree, look up through the leaves and watch them endlessly rearrange themselves. Or grow a tiny organic garden. Or watch a sunrise or sunset. Or look at the stars and moon, and remember how vast Life is. All of these things will heal the soul.
In our day to day busyness we forget this vastness, which we ARE. We become consumed by work, family, school, computer, TV, cell phone, house, car, shopping, doctor’s appointments and so, until we think we ARE these things. We forget there’s a world beyond our frantic routines, which extends far beyond anything we can ever imagine. It’s in this vast mysterious “Infiniteness” that we heal, that we “re-member” remember who we are, that we come to meet our “god”, whatever that is for each of us. We once again feel whole, healed and connected to something much larger than our day to day worries. Even the poorest of people have drawn sustenance and healing from the infinite stars.
We don’t have to go to the ends of the Earth to connect with nature. Nature is all around us. However, what we DO need is to STOP our busyness, take time out to be WITH nature. Leave the cell phone, radio, mountain bike, and camera at home. Often these things put a buffer between us and nature. If we remove them and are patient nature will seep in to soothe, heal and restore.
We are all inseparably connected to nature. We ARE nature. It is only when we don’t actively LIVE this connection that we suffer. We have longings and yearnings that we don’t understand, and that we try to fill with TV, food, drugs, alcohol, busyness, computer, cell phone, information, and more. Since these things aren’t what we really long for, they never satisfies us. We’ve become so disconnected as a species that we no long can comprehend that nature could sustain us spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and more.
We must give ourselves and nature time to reunite, time to become acquainted with each other. If we give it time, an awakening and healing will occur like we’ve never known before.
JENNY: I totally agree Robin. I have had some of my most profound healing moments in nature. I know if I do feel stressed a walk in the woods can sure cure all. Turning off distractions and “tuning into ourselves” and everything around us is so very important. Thank you.
You talk about growing up mildly autistic and having a very difficult time being in the classroom. When I read about your experiences I kept thinking about how empathic you were and the fact that you were picking up other people’s energies and it was too much. I have heard that some believe forms of autism are actually a child being extremely empathic and not being able to cope because we are not taught those tools. Do you have any words of wisdom to kids and parents of kids who are going through this? Did you find anything that helped you cope with the overwhelming emotions of being in a classroom 8 hours a day? (ASIDE – for those who don’t know being an empath means you may FEEL other people’s emotions, physical sensations or mental experiences as if they are your own. For a wonderful article on empaths please visit my friend Anna Conlan of “Psychic But Sane‘s”post, “Is Overactive Empathy Ruining Your Life?“.)
ROBIN: In reading about your autism empathy connection in one of your blog posts, I realized for the first time in my life that I walk around in a full-on constant empathic state, even in my nightly dreams. In fact, it’s not even a “state”, it’s who I AM. It’s all I’ve ever known. Up until I read your response, I thought everyone was like that. Sometime after you told me about the autism/empathic connection, I had a close friend—who has a Ph.D. in psychology—say to me, “Wow, I just realized something about you; you move through the world without defenses.” The moment she said that it was like a whole part of me caught up with myself, and I felt completely seen in ways I’d never before been seen. I knew she was right.
In the past when I’ve felt something come into me that was painful, people have said to me, “Oh just shut it out.” “You don’t have to feel it.” “Don’t let it in.” “Separate yourself from it.” And so on. I had NO idea what they were talking about or how to do that. Over the years I repeatedly tried to do these things. I even used my mind or meditation, but I always failed. One day I said to my husband, “How do we shut out something when we are irrevocably merged with everything ALL the time? And I don’t think with my “head”; I think with my whole being. He looked at me and said, “But we aren’t merged with everything all the time, well at least most people aren’t.” I was stunned, and said, “You aren’t?” LOL! 🙂
Then it hit me that I don’t experience myself as separate from everything else. Being separate or having defenses isn’t even in my physiology. I walk around in a heightened state of awareness of EVERYTHING, even things and people seemingly far away. This awareness isn’t fearful, nor do I feel “on edge”, not at all. It’s just that I’m aware of everything, even online. I feel how other people are feeling. I can go away drained from an overwhelming amount of “information” or energetic input.
(Seeing you talk about autism/empathy–set me free, because I no longer even tried to create defenses. I started to honor my sensitivity and who I am and how I experience the world. Then I started to look at what might work for me in terms of not suffering due to my complete empathic state.)
What I am learning to do is to discern what is mine and what might have originated in, what we call, “other”. If I can stop and “feel into” my own body, I can almost always know what feelings originated in me, and what originated in “other”. Once I see that, I try to choose what I will focus on, either who “I” am or who “other” is. Doing this doesn’t always stop what I feel, BUT it does make me see “this is mine and THAT is theirs”. And although I may still feel “theirs”, it doesn’t bother me as much. I can “be with” that.
The other thing that always helps, is doing something physical, where I intensely FEEL my body, like walking fast, jogging, swimming, pulling weeds, or anything highly active that draws my focus into my body and how that activity feels. I become very aware of myself, and not “other”. And doing activities that I LOVE, or doing activities in nature multiplies the positive effects on my well being. I also will often do a cleanse type of thing at the end of my day, like a really hot or cold shower, or smudge myself with sage, drink water or hot herbal tea, or anything that shifts my energy and allows me to shed what I have felt from “others” or the collective I merge with, that I am. That we all ARE. I also learn to choose who and what I am around. I begin to be more selective. Fortunately there is bounteous beauty in the world.
Since I now have a strong sense of self, I can in most cases immediately distinguish between what is mine and what is someone else’s. I can honor and recognize that I FEEL other people just as if they were in my body or I in theirs.
I think the only advice I could offer a parent or student would be to have a support team that understands or, at the very least, is open to the idea of living in a total a empathic state. That alone can help a child (or adult) realize that nothing is wrong with them. Parents can also make sure their children have “low input time”. Nature is a wonderful place for this. By “low input” I mean where there is limited noise, people, information, activity, demands, etc. Everything comes to rest. STOPS. This is essential on a daily basis, even for a brief time. I think we ALL need this, at any age.
Parents can also watch for the things that bring their child joy, and then foster these experiences, not to the point of pushing them on a child, but simply by making them available. These things will not only be healing, but will give a child a stronger sense of self. This might be playing the piano, violin, etc, or it might be painting, drawing, crafts or any number of creative activities. It might be swimming, canoeing, hiking and so on. Again, nature is wonderful for empathics, for ALL of us. It’s vast, soothing, communicative, and yet, in many ways it’s silent because it doesn’t judge. There is room to let down and breathe in nature.
I’m sure my school experience would have been much worse had my father not put me in close contact with nature. In doing that he gave me at least one place where I could experience peace, and a beautiful reflection of myself and life. This saved much of my soul.
In the rainforest I experienced this total empathic state as life’s normal state of being (for all life), whether we are human, dolphin, polar bear, ant, tree, river, Planet Earth, or distant star. All life is communicating with itself in a great conversation. It’s just whether we hear it or not.
How do we be part of this conversation? That’s obvious: by BEING part of it. How do we sleep? We take off our work clothes, lie down on the bed, pull up the covers, turn out the light, and sleep. How do we have an intimate conversation with a close friend? We take TIME OUT, go to their house, sit down with them, and talk…and listen. How do we be in nature, we stop what were doing (sometime through the day), turn off our cell phone, lie under a tree, and watch the rearranging patterns of green leaves against blue sky…and just “BE”. Eventually we will come to know nature and ourselves.
The advice for empathics is the same advice for us all. Whether we are extremely open or extremely shut down we all need time out to know who we are and why we are here. We all need to experience both our uniqueness and our connection to everything (or “our greater self”).
JENNY: Those are amazing words Robin and I hope that in the future there is more of an emphasis put on the connection between some forms of autism and being an empath. There ARE ways to cope and to nurture yourself. I am grateful you had nature and passions. I also agree we ALL need to do these things… I think it is so important to KNOW YOURSELF and for an empath I imagine it is even more important… how ELSE will you know the difference between what is truly your experience or if you are picking up someone else’s emotions or pain around you.
I went through a few months where I developed picking up random people’s feelings and feeling them HARD and not being able to shake them. It was NOT FUN. It was SCARY and it got to a point where I was afraid of being in group situations. I know it was not easy for you to feel like this and to be picking up on not just one person’s emotions but MANY simultaneously. I am so happy for you that you were able to understand this and heal. 🙂
Please join Robin and I tomorrow for Part II of this interview. Robin talks about how she healed herself from Autism and gives more amazing insights! Thank you Robin – your words are inspiring, authentic and so very helpful to many.
Please leave comments for Robin and go visit her blog, “Naked in Eden” for even more inspiration, truth and beauty.