To protect is to heal
At the heart of reclaiming our planetary health is healing.
To heal ourselves, we must connect to supportive life on Earth. Clean air, water, soil, and more.
We have known for centuries that immersing oneself in nature has curative properties. We even know that a view from a busy street window is healthier than being confined to a windowless cubicle.
But, if there are wildfires, floods, droughts, mudslides, hurricanes, and so much more to come, it is hard not to think of nature as an enemy.
Some people believe that nature is “fighting back.” Or, they think we humans who have polluted our way to destruction are merely reaping natural consequences.
Perhaps, some say, we gave Earth, Gaia, a fever, and she is only using her immune system.
Yet, nature demonstrates again and again that she does not play favorites. Nature simply responds with natural laws. With those, there do come natural consequences.
Nature, although obviously capable of mesmerizing beauty and miracles of complexity and grandeur, is neutral.
We, however, are capable of behaviors that can favor us. Our unique human consciousness allows us, if we make an effort, to think creatively, plan accordingly, choose wisely, be present, and listen to our senses.
For example, smelling smoke when a wildfire is closing in on your neighborhood tells you to have an escape plan. Seeing drought and low food harvests warns you to stock up on your pantry. Hearing of, or seeing wildlife trapped or suffering due to garbage pollution tells us to amend our choices.
But there is also a joy to yet be found and we all need access to that.
There are myriad ways to access nature’s healing capacity. The first is to be present.
Staying mindful, is key to allowing all of nature to flow through you. It is to recognize your belonging and interdependence upon nature. Practices such as shinrin -yoku, (forest bathing), can help you center your belonging and direct your healing. You do not always need a forest, but just exposure to air, water, grasslands, shore, wetlands, deserts, mountains, or just your own neighborhood.
The second way is to open your senses. You may need to repeatedly acknowledge your awareness, as our minds tend to drift. Do not worry about being distracted. Just note the distraction and open up another sense to what you can hear, taste, feel, smell, and see.
Do not limit yourself to five senses alone, but be aware of inner and external senses of things like temperature, gravity, hunger, space perception, texture, and proprioception.
Share with others
You may not even have to be with another human being, although it may help. Check-in with the lives of those living beings all around you. Inhale the breath exhaled by plants and trees, for example. Share a moment with an individual who happens to be an insect or a bird. Reflect upon how their lives make your life possible.
When we see other life forms not as objects, but as necessary players who each have their own life, and their own existence, it can shift our perception from one of alienation to one of belonging.
Begin to think in whole terms of being a part of something greater than yourself. Begin to realize we are interconnected and need one another to sustain life and to thrive.
Refresh, restore, regenerate, and reclaim
When you open your senses and are present with the flow of life you can reaffirm that life is happening all around you. It’s okay to acknowledge we are in flux. It’s refreshing to step out of denial, and into the truth of being, even when our being is confronted with suffering it is therefore confronted with empathy and compassion.
Do whatever your small part is to plant seeds, protect life, grow food, share community, regenerate sustainability, and reclaim belonging.
Ritual and reverence can help you focus. We try to walk to the same lake, but we see it change subtly every single time. In a sense, making a ritual, or at least a habit, of some nature immersion, keeps it psychologically assuring. It will help your healing time become a time to let go of frenetic stress and burdens.
Waste not, Want not
When you waste less of your life, you save your life. Buy less, want less. Live simply. Buy quality, not disposable. Don’t waste time. Don’t waste your attention. Get off of screens for hours at a time. Do those things that are truly beautiful and connecting. Don’t waste money, or power, or toxic fuel, plastic, and paper.
Invest the hours of your life in connection and see how many there are from your neurons firing to the oak trees and rain.
Involve natural beauty and stupendous power, and you will choose correctly each time.
Above all, be grateful for all nature’s wisdom.
Take it in. Teach it. Study how abundance can allow us to keep sustainability alive. Learn how diversity and biodiversity affect all living beings for our strength, and for our regeneration. Find out how biomimicry and technology benefit us by studying how nature has done “impossible” things for millennia.
Share with others. Note beauty. Get your head out of devices, (at least once in a while, unplug.) Remember the rules of regeneration, reclaiming, rewilding, and remembering our belonging.
Our consciousness, our capability to love and to appreciate, evolved over eons from Nature — no matter what you call your “higher power,” you do belong to a sum that is greater than its parts.
We should remind ourselves and find gratitude to protect ourselves every day.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Karsten Würth on Unsplash