A Nature Retreat Helped Me Find My True Self

One memorable adventure in the wilderness changed Lynnda Pollio’s life, author of Trusting the Currents, and helped her learn more about herself. Here is how she let intuition guide her to where she was meant to be.

Red rocks in desert

A nature escape reminded Lynnda Pollio about the power of following her inner knowing. Photo credit: Sebastian Boguszewicz

Have you ever dreamed of getting completely unplugged from the world and all of the noise? Lynnda Pollio—an Empathic Consultant who helps businesses and people navigate blocks and patterns that don’t serve them, and the author of Trusting the Currents—did just that. After going on a retreat in a remote area of New Mexico to temporarily escape the commotion of her New York City home, she never expected to end up in a life-or-death situation. However, the experience taught her an important lesson. Lynnda has seen a benefit in living at what she calls the extremes of society.

“That’s where creativity exists. I like being where new ideas are emerging,” says Lynnda. When she’s not in her home in the middle of noisy, bustling Manhattan, you’re likely to find her in the middle of nowhere. And by “middle of nowhere,” she doesn’t mean a small town—she means in a hut in the middle of a forest with no cell phone service. Here are the top lessons she learned, in her own words, from getting out of her comfort zone.

Immerse Yourself in Nature to Get Grounded

I tend to be hyperactive, and nature grounds me and balances me out and reconnects me to myself. Four years ago, I was feeling overwhelmed by New York City. Sometimes there are just too many people. I feel everyone’s energy, it stresses me out, and I need to detox myself. I was melting down, so I Googled ‘wilderness retreats’ and I ended up going to a place in the mountains of New Mexico.

I went by myself on this retreat and my husband was freaking out. I flew into San Antonio, Texas, and then drove a total of five hours to a little town in New Mexico. Then I parked the car and hiked by myself in a canyon through seven river crossings to get to this retreat that had no electricity, no running water, no cell phone service, and no Internet. As soon as you get there, they tell you about all the things that can hurt or kill you. They say, ‘If you have any trouble, just howl.’

Ten people had come from all over the country. We were there for five days, and it poured the entire time. I was in a hut with other people with no heat and no toilets or showers. I had no contact with anyone outside while I was there.

When you’re in a big city, there’s so much diversity—you have every race, every religion, and every thought process, and you have all these different energies banging together and growth comes out of that. When you’re living out in the country, there’s a survival mechanism that kicks in. You have to count on the people around you to help you. There’s always something new, unexplored, and unknown.

Our Biggest Challenges Show Us What We’re Capable Of

The retreat was wonderful. But when we were leaving, it had rained so much that the river crossings were twice as high and twice as long as they were before. It was difficult to get through them. I had to leave some clothes of mine along the river bank because I just couldn’t carry them in my backpack. When we got to the sixth river crossing, there was a flash flood. All of a sudden, we saw this wall of water come at us, blocking our path.

After two hours, we couldn’t call anyone and we weren’t sure what to do. The presence of death was in the air. You could feel it. It was cold, and there were animals and bugs. We had no protection. I was terrified.

We had no choice but to climb up the mountain, which was muddy and slippery. It took us an hour and a half, but we did it, and then, finally, we were able to get picked up by someone in a car. I was so relieved that we had made it out of there alive.

That was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I was truly at the hands of nature. When you put yourself in situations like that, you’re not in control. That’s when you really get a sense of yourself in a way that you don’t when everything is prepared for you and safe. It’s energizing and it activates your creativity.

Let Your Intuition Guide You

I learned the importance of following my gut. There was no logical reason why I should have gone on that retreat. I didn’t know anything about it. I had to go through a lot to get there. There was no way for anyone to reach me if anything were to happen to me. There was no way for me to get out of there if I got hurt. It was a fairly dangerous situation. But my intuition is what got me there. The idea of the retreat resonated with me, so I just got on a plane and I went.

That journey felt like a rediscovery of myself. These experiences bring you back to you, because your social conditionings are stripped away. When you’re in a new place, there’s no memory to go back to that will teach you what to do. You have to think on your feet. I believe the Buddhists call it plunging. You take yourself out of your normal environment and put yourself in a new place where everything is unfamiliar. So everything that you were trained to be and do is gone and only the essential ‘you’ is there. Out of that essential ‘you’ is this amazing magical potion. You’re forced to flex muscles that you don’t normally have to flex.

It’s like an onion being pulled away. It allows you start over again. I came back from that retreat with a deep inner peace and knew that I was on the right path. Sometimes we get so busy and even when we think we know what we want to do, it can get convoluted. Maybe things don’t happen the way you want them to. Or you question yourself. When you check yourself out of the environment and give yourself a break, you can see more clearly yourself and the people around you.