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Muddy meets… Ray Mears

He’s the guy you’d want by your side if you ever, erm, got lost in the wilderness… Yep, it’s Ray Mears, aka the Father of British bushcraft and he’s coming to our ‘hood with his new show, We Are Nature. We caught up with him to find out more.

Can you tell us a bit about We Are Nature? Are we going to be getting our flints out and learning how to build bivouacs?

Not exactly… this is a show about reconnecting with nature and exploring the true depths of our sensory capacity. It’s about rediscovering ourselves, rediscovering who we are and exploring capabilities which have been passed down to us from our ancestors.

Ahh, sounds interesting, so how exactly can we ‘reconnect’ with nature?

It’s never been more important to feel, understand and connect to nature than now. With today’s fast-paced life and the rise of technology, everything is made very easy, but in nature, everything is far more subtle – more cryptic and camouflaged. It’s all about thinking and feeling the depth of our ability and turning up the volume of the senses that we normally suppress. Effectively ‘tuning in and turning on’ to nature.

And why is that so important for us?

Nature is hugely therapeutic – there’s evidence for that. In 1982, the Japanese came up with the concept of forest bathing to combat a rise in auto immune deficiency and to reduce the pressures of business life. They discovered that the atmosphere of a forest – the way the light is and the mood it creates – all help to reduce anxiety, and that simply being in forests exposes us to Phyto chemicals that can improve our immune system and aid post-operative recovery.

Why do you think so many of us have lost touch with nature?

Our dependence on electrical goods and gadgetry has accelerated in our lifetime. We spend more time looking at a screen than we do at the natural world. Although ‘armchair nature’ can also be very comforting and inspiring too, when you take people on a nature walk, they expect to see things with the regularity that you see on TV. And of course, it’s not like that. It was interesting to hear how people had time to look at nature during lockdown and how important they found it. I hope that we can build on that and maintain that feeling.

You’ll also be talking about how we can help to protect our natural world – tell us more…

Yes, I would like people to work to correct the issues that we face – climate change, pollution, lack of biodiversity. I would like them to feel that it’s an urgent thing because it’s not the planet that is under threat, it’s us and all life on the planet. But the biggest reason I want people to address this is simply because if we do, we will create a more beautiful environment to hand on to the next generation. It’s that old saying isn’t it? We’re only temporary custodians of the land for future generations.

What do you hope audiences will take away from your show?

I hope that when they leave the theatre, people will start to notice things that they didn’t notice on their way to the theatre. I hope that they slow down just a fraction to take in the information that often gets missed. The most important thing is that they go away and see and feel and most importantly enjoy nature. I don’t think there is a more important skill that I teach than that. It’s a very powerful skill.

Raymears.com

Ray’s show, We Are Nature, is coming to Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage, on 23 Feb. Book here.

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