Teemu Syrjälä: In Balance with Nature & Yourself

Teemu Syrjälä: In Balance with Nature & Yourself

I was born in Northern Finland in a municipality called Kuusamo. It was a wonderful place for a little boy to grow up in. There were proper winters with plenty of snow, and in the summer, you could enjoy nature at its best in the waters next to the summer cottage. All this left an unforgettable impression on me. I grew my roots in the forests, fells, rivers, lakes, and the traditional culture consisting of fishing, berry picking, sauna bathing, cottaging, and moving about in nature. 

As I grew a little older, I forgot my roots for a while. An innocent childhood gave way to a teenage life where fun, friends, and the opposite gender were the primary interests. I took my place of birth for granted and even saw it as boring. And for a while, childhood activities took a backseat to sports and exercise.

But then my story took a turn. The year was 2003, and I was 21 years old. I was living with my dad and I decided it was time to move away from home, a little further North. So I packed my bags, said goodbye to dad and gave him a hug. What I didn't know at the time was that I wouldn't see him ever again. A few days later, while my moving boxes were still scattered all over, my older brother called me to say that dad had died of a heart attack. It was then that I stopped for the first time in my life. And I began to reflect on life, my past with my dad, and the choices we make in life.

I became massively intrigued by human health. I started to learn about nutrition and how it affects us. Exercise had been a part of my life for a long time, and my interest in it continued. I even started studying sports. For years I thought that well-being was all about being physically fit. Until many years later, I realized that was not the case. We are also strongly influenced by our minds and the relationship we have with ourselves. 

My story took another turn some years later when I discovered I wasn't as healthy as I had tried to be. I wasn't even 30, but my libido was gone. I had no sexual desire at all. My long-term relationship ended in a break-up, and I ended up spending a year and a half in celibacy— staying away from everything sexual. Towards the end of that period, I realized something had to change.

So I started building a new relationship—this time with myself. I didn't like the guy I saw in the mirror, and I thought things had to change if I wanted to feel better, physically too.

Little by little over the years, I've learned to solve the puzzle that is human health. And now I get to share my journey with other people. I organize workshop weekends where we get back to basics. The focus is on breathing, stopping, being still, connecting with nature, being active, using your voice, and getting out of your comfort zone. And above all, doing things together with other people. We always act differently alone than in a group setting, and harnessing this sense of community is an integral part of my work. It is powerful in connecting with yourself, others, and the world around us.

I hope that I can keep taking people into nature, give them a chance to stop by the campfire, take a moment for themselves and take stock of what really matters in life. And let my roots in Kuusamo become visible again. The things my dad taught me are still alive in me. The things that touched me as a child take on a new life when I look at my own children and get excited about the things all over again. They take on a new life when I have honest conversations with people in nature—the very conversations I wasn't ready for when my dad was still alive. But it's never too late. Even though my dad isn't physically here anymore, I can have those conversations with other people, continue the traditions, honor my roots, and remind myself and others of the miraculous nature out there and inside all of us. 

So welcome to follow my journey and greetings from the middle of Finnish nature!

Teemu Syrjälä