Heard of Wild pottery & Wild basketry?
Alpha Waves in the Woods
We recently met Ruby Taylor from Native Hands who runs Wild Pottery & Wild Basktry courses (in Sussex woodland) which piqued our interest as we'd never heard of the concept. We asked her to explain more and she has kindly done so below. Prepare to be inspired!
We call them ‘Wild’ because we forage our materials from the land and hedgerows and because courses are held mostly outdoors, in woodland settings. It’s an opportunity to learn life-long skills and to connect with the natural world. Our courses have evolved out of a love of making things in nature using natural materials, alongside an interest in ancient crafts and technologies.
A curious thing happens on the courses. Participants often come from hectic and stressful lives, many from the city and office jobs. They’re looking for time in nature to unwind and learn a new skill. By late morning, when we’ve done a short nature-connection guided meditation and then spent time foraging our materials (digging clay or cutting plants from the hedgerow), we all sit down to prep the materials and start weaving/making. Everyone gets stuck into the material and process and that’s when it happens...
A deep silence settles. A long period of absolute quiet with just the soft sounds of the woodland around us, as people are handling the clay or plant fibres. It’s a silence and settling that’s peculiar to working with our hands, creating a container. It’s something different from plain concentration. I think it’s this primal connection to the earth and plants, along with the rhythmic, sensory manual activity that’s so absorbing and immersive.
It’s the Alpha waves in action. They’re produced in the brain during this kind of activity. Wedging the clay repeatedly, weaving strands of bramble or strips of bark: these repetitive and physically sensual actions give us a feeling of calm wellbeing. We’re physically relaxed, we have a calm, focused mind and our senses are totally engaged so that we’re fully present. We feel in the ‘flow’, we get in the ‘zone’.
The benefits of spending time doing activities that generate this kind of brain activity are widely documented. It’s how we can manage stress and enhance our problem-solving abilities. It can develop our creativity in general, giving rise to spontaneous inspiration. One participant said she comes on my courses specifically to support her mental health. An increase in alpha brain waves also supports our physical health, particularly our immune system.
And doing this kind of activity in nature can augment these beneficial effects. We feel connected: to ourselves, to the natural world around us, maybe to the web of life itself.
Please see this link if you are interested in further information and course details.