“If a majority of Westerners were to viscerally experience the sacred kinship they naturally have with all life, we’d see an abrupt collapse of the extractive, synthetic economy and imperial politics on which contemporary Western culture is built”.
(Bill Plotkin, Wild Mind)
It is clear to me.
Naturing our mind is a political act.
It is a leadership act. An act of love.
Naturing our mind
I had to see if naturing was actually a word. And it is. One of being creative. One that focuses on our potential and what is brilliant about us.
Arguably most of Western psychology has focused on what’s wrong with us. Rather than what is inherently right and inspiring.
Naturing our mind is to step into our adult responsibility to become all what we can. To love and look after our minds. With so much out of our control, to focus on what we can do individually to look after our own mind, body and soul, is empowering.
When we are naturing our minds, we are doing that. Through reconnecting with the natural world. The larger mystery from which we are part. In doing so, we fall back in love with nature, and we care for it. We call on our governments and organisations to foster individual and collective wellbeing and facilitate regenerative ways of living.
We amplify those voices, ways, systems and institutions which evoke our brilliance, serve the greater Earth Community and enhance life of all.
Offerings on how to go about it
To complement the 50th episode of the #earthconversepodcast, we ran a 14 day “insta-immersion” on Instagram, exploring what naturing our mind could be and how we may go about it. Here are those offerings. See how they resonate with you.
1) Marvelling our Mind
Perhaps naturing our mind begins..by marvelling at it.
So often we focus on how ‘unruly’ our minds are. Reconnect with the miracle within. In whatever way you feel to do that..contemplation, meditation, research, looking at the stars.
Peacebringer Bijan Anand tells me he gives thanks to his incredible mind first thing in the morning and last thing at night. You may want to do that too.
2) Putting out the welcome mat
Surely naturing our mind requires us to accept its nature. To hold it in unconditional love.
To observe this coming and going of our mind, with compassionate awareness is, in the words of Tara Brach, an act of radical acceptance.
3) Cultivating a mindful presence
We can cultivate our innate ability to be mindful. To be aware and attentive in the present moment. This enables us to see ourselves and others clearer. To feel in communion with all of nature. Decisions and actions from such a place serve the world. As Jack Kornfield said “quietening our mind is a political act”.
Find the meditation or mindfulness technique and teacher that resonates with you. And practice.
4) Go outside more
Naturing our mind is not an intellectual exercise – it is an embodied experience. So to nature your mind, take it to nature more! Just go outside as often as you can, wherever you can. Feel the elements, embody the experience and connect with your local environment.
And you can just start with your breath. #Breatheyourbiome as Zach Bush says. With our breathe, we reconnect with ourselves and our ecosystem around us.
5) Giving thanks
Surely naturing our mind also involves cultivating awe, reverence, gratitude and appreciation for nature and our own nature, in our daily lives. For there is nothing in or around you that isn’t of nature.
We can bless, pray, give thanks to anything at anytime. As Gemma said on episode 7 of the #earthconversepodcast “small gestures connect us to the sacred”.
What we love, we care for.
6) Intuitive wisdom
In learning to respect and deeply listen to ourselves, we learn to respect and deeply listen to wider nature . We reclaim our personal authority and serve the collective.
Intuition access programmes like Emilie on episode 46 offers, help us cultivate this wisdom.
7) Go Solo In Nature
Springboarding off French philosopher Blaise Pascal’s observation….perhaps ‘all of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in ..nature alone.’
Arguably naturing our mind fundamentally involves us going out solo in nature, to heal the feeling of separation. And if we are prepared to interact with nature with an open heart and open mind, with all our attention, signs and symbols of belonging and inspiration will be reflected back to us.
8) Do what Mary said
Nature poet Mary Oliver wrote about ‘instructions for living a life’ in her poem Sometimes – which could also be instructions for naturing our mind as a leadership act:
Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
Naturing our mind is participatory. Not just being a consumer or mere observer. But being conscious and intentional about our ways of being and doing as nature’s co-creators.
Engage in nature-based practices, ecological activities, ecopsychological methods. Seek out ways that are indigenous to you. That fit you and your context.
On the #earthconversepodcast, many contributors talked about their offerings. In particular, the vision fasts, living practices and self-generated ceremonies offered by the School of Lost Borders. And Bill Plotkin’s writings, including Soulcraft and his work at Animas Valley.
Naturing our mind is intentionally widening our definition of community, our sense of belonging and connectedness. And being in ceremony with it.
In naturing our mind we embrace the ‘more than human world’ as termed by Cultural Ecologist David Abram. A world that includes human society as a subset of a much more extensive earth community.
All beings and non-beings, the seen and the unseen, the heard and the unheard, the felt and the unfelt. At any time we can be in commune. Every moment can be a moment of innocence and connection.
11) Dance with paradox
In naturing our mind, we embrace the natural cycles of our life, dance with paradox and along spectrums, explore different parts of ourselves and ways of knowing. In doing so we step into our wholeness.
It can start with ‘yes-and! (try it rather than ‘yes-but.) And using nature-based frames and practices such as those offered on the #earthconversepodcast.
Naturing our mind involves the grace and courage of surrender. Surrendering to life’s natural cycles, rhythms and flow. And engagement with its bigger mystery.
Here is Rumi with his beautiful way of inviting us to be porous. To loosen our grip and soften. To let go of those beliefs, behaviours, systems and structures that harm us individually and collectively. And to open to the life-enhancing energy of the universe.
Very little grows on jagged rock
Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.
You’ve been stony for too many years.
Try something different.
13) Engaging with Death
Engagement with death is a big theme on the #earthconversepodcast and central to naturing our mind. Whether it be 10 year old Malu talking about her chicken dying on episode 23 or 79 year old Ray on episode 14, musing that “death is the most important fact of your life”.
As highlighted in episode 3 of the podcast (a reflection on the Planet of the Humans documentary), “What I’m hearing is that if I haven’t come to grips with my own anxiety about death and life and presented with a reminder of that, I’m highly likely to make some tragic decisions for the community” .
When we engage with nature’s wisdom and the inevitability of our own death, we will make better decisions for ourselves, each other and the earth that is our home.
14) Re-imagine the future
We are homo imaginens as Dr Geneen Marie Haugen, coined. We create what we have imagined. And we can choose to imagine a people and planet life-enriching relationship.
To circle back to the words of Bill Plotkin in Wild Mind
“We must dare again to dream the impossible and to romance the world, to feel and honour our kinship with all species and habitats, to embrace the troubling wisdom of paradox, and to shape ourselves into visionaries with the artistry to revitalise our enhanced and endangered world”
To step into this, is a political act.
It is a leadership act. An act of love.
Am standing on the shoulders of giants with this article. So many people to thank and honour.
And grateful to Susanne Haegele who gifted me this beautiful print of Margalida Vinyes – which I have photographed for this blog posting. It seemed the best fit. Margalida’s work can be accessed here: https://margalidavinyes.wixsite.com/portfolio/retratos