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1-3 Valkyriegade
København, 2200
Denmark

Teaching by Peter Hunter and blog in both Danish and English

What do we REALLY need to grow?

Blog (EN)

What do we REALLY need to grow?

Peter Hunter

This weekend, I felt I had it all. I felt I got what I really needed. I was in touch with all the elements, in touch with all my social networks, in touch with my whole body. I had a uniquely diverse weekend, filling me with energy and joy. Certainly, most weekends aren’t like this, but I’ll tell you about this one because in three days, in small ways I felt I tasted a bit of everything good life has to offer.

The conclusions of this piece are that to become more healthy and well-rounded as a human being, you should seek to:

  • engage in movement COMMUNITIES and find friends who love the same PHYSICAL LANGUAGE as you (sports, movement arts, yoga, whatever you love)

  • spend time ALONE to find inner power and TRANSPORT yourself as much as possible with your body, not fuel and electricity.

  • develop your relationship to YOUR ROOTS, whatever they are, and find a way to do useful MANUAL LABOR to make your’s or somebody else’s life better.

  • love YOUR LOVED ONES with all your heart, and do what YOU need (specific training, pain management, etc) so you can be present for them and build a home.

1 COMMUNITY // on Møn’s Klint

I joined my friends and acroyoga-students on their self-organized trip to Møn’s Klint, one of Denmarks absolute pearls of nature. We were 8 people driving in 2 cars to get there, talking, laughing, snacking, all that road trip stuff. We spent most the time making and eating food, having lot’s of time to tell stories, discuss certain topics (like the upcoming election and the climate crisis!) and laugh a lot.

We all met each other through acro, so we spontaneously started playing throughout the day. We took a long walk, jumped into the ocean and slept outdoors. We had great surroundings and nature to enjoy, inviting all kinds of activity like tree-climbing, exploring and walking on varied surfaces and angles. We were excellent surroundings for each other, being a group with common values and a common language, including a physical language to speak together.

Our social lives determine how long we live and how happy we are[1]. Being part of a community is essential for our health, being the social primates we are. By cooking real food[2], walking and playing together, we grew thicker bonds between us and had the privilege of doing it all outside in fresh air in stunning nature.

2 ALONE // on my bike

Goodbyes are inevitable. I left my amazing group to bike west across Møn (40 km) for the first time. My destination was Hårbølle Havn, where my father grew up and where he and my mother were spending the weekend. I had 18kg on my back and no way to get it all inside my backpack, so things were dingling everywhere.

Physically, biking is a muscle-driven way to transport ourselves. Self-transport is one of primary things our bodies are adapted for: Crawling, walking, running. Evolutionarily, we aren’t adapted to transport using anything but our own body, but still I prefer using technology that keeps the physical body linked to transport (bikes, skateboards, rollerskates, skiis) over technology that uncouples the two (scooters, cars, planes, etc) - from both health and environmental perspectives. Make it a priority to actually MOVE when you move yourself around!

To reach my destination, I basically had to follow the water on my left side, but I used a map on my phone for navigation without location turned on. This didn’t save my battery, and at a critical moment, as I tried to save time by cutting through a forest by foot, my phone went dead.

møntur.jpg

I stood there, with no path anywhere in sight, surrounded by green, brown and blue. Mosquitoes instantly invited themselves into my life as I hastily unpacked my bag to see if I had my powerbank. I didn’t, off course. Now I had to make my own way through the analog world. Right there, I felt really alone. I felt anxious too, not knowing the way out of the forest or the way home after that and not able to ask for help or tell my parent’s I’d be late for dinner. A mini-crucible, nothing seriously dangerous (not in this country), but enough to push my buttons, giving me an opportunity to experience my fear-reaction and cope with the stress.

Me and my bike on adventure

Me and my bike on adventure

And to be honest, I love to be in exactly that spot. I’ve built a lot of self-confidence and self-efficacy from being in situations like this, where I have to rely on and motivate myself to solve the problem and endure through the unknown. There won’t always be help to call on. I want to be ready for it, and solving problems and dealing with risk ALONE in a safe and progressive way is key to building character, self-reliance and courage.

There is also the purely existential dimension of this: I had made this plan myself and found myself in a situation where I couldn’t experience it with or through anyone else. I could (and did, as you see now, dear reader) tell a story about it later, but INSIDE the situation itself, there was only me and the echo-chamber of my mind. It’s all about learning to be good company to ourselves…

3 FAMILY // in Hårbølle Havn

My grandmother during winter

My grandmother during winter

Well, after I finally emerged from the forest all sweaty and itchy, I did eventually arrive in Hårbølle by asking for directions and following signs. The old ways still work. I met my parent’s in the garden doing their thing, and soon we had dinner together. This was coming back to the roots. My grandparents lived all their life in this small harbor-town, and we’ve always celebrated Christmas here. I still expect to see my grandparents walk around a corner every time I visit - they have been dead for some years now.

When I was 13, I told my grandmother that I had tried smoking. I expected to be told off like my dad did, but she just listened - and I ended up explaining to her why I thought smoking sucked and how I would quit (I kept this promise after some years).

My parents are always in a better mood down here, getting their hands dirty and spending all day outside. They are more forgiving, more loving. Being on Møn feels like the safest place on earth, a place where I belong and where I usually get that unconditional love thing. The safety of family can bring great joy and peace of mind through belonging - and of course also claustrophobia, frustration or impatience, sometimes all at once.

If You Think You’re Enlightened, Go Spend a Week with Your Family
— Ram Dass

Physically, the countryside invites us back into the deep world of manual work. Out here, its deeply practical, necessary and useful. In the city, you can largely make your way through life without it, and it’s inconvenient and expensive.

I spent the whole next day moving heavy pots for my mother and pulling weeds out of the ground for my father. Like with most physical work, the purpose is clear and concrete, and I’m able to see my progress along the way. My back and underarms got totally sore from all this toil, and it also made me way happier than, say… deadlifts and hanging from a bar.

4 LOVE // on Nørrebro

The basis for being committed to anything is a functioning nervous system and body. Treating my body like shit is indirectly affecting everyone I love. The physical basis for love is self-care - found in the balance between yin and yang: rest / restitution / stillness and movement / activity / training.

When I came back to Copenhagen, I went straight to my girlfriends place to reconnect before starting a new week of work and study. We ate together and got updated on each others weekend.

We have taught acroyoga together since before we became a couple (check out our current regular classes or workshops - we also have FB and IG), so we share a professional space together as well as a more private and intimate one. This is of course very challenging at times, but also a great opportunity to work on better communication.

To be true to my loved one, I must know and act on what I want and need. I come from people-pleasing and conflict shy genes on both sides of the family, and I’ve made the mistake again and again (and again) of not bringing myself fully to the table under the assumption that everyone else’s needs are somehow realer or more important than mine.

This creates a situation where I’m not fully committed, not fully excited and not fully proud of who I am - and I’m also not getting fully what I want OR even succeeding in giving to others what I thought I would be giving them - by playing small and self-supressing! That’s called lose-lose.

Love is the willingness to stay together while negotiating the overlap and differences between two sets of needs. For this crazy project to succeed, authenticity and courage to be honest are primary skills to learn and improve at.

In this way, ironically, you might say, being two rather than one is the context in which I’ve learned most about being ME in my life. And this journey continued that Sunday evening between me and my girlfriend, and I’ll keep the details to myself.

That sum’s up my full weekend of May, 2019. As always, thanks for reading, and please add your input or thoughts in the comments below.

References

[1] https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_pinker_the_secret_to_living_longer_may_be_your_social_life

[2] Eat Anything You Want With This One Secret | Michael Pollan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUeCAoZgc0s

English blog posts: