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Posts Tagged ‘Ecology’

Third in a series, this article may sound like a spin on the previous article: The Art of Allowing Space into Everyday Life. Savvy readers however, will catch the distinction right away–this article penetrates the taboo-trending topic of self-discipline.

nothing Binds u

Self-discipline is actually a form of freedom. Not just freedom from, but freedom to live into one’s own unique pursuit of authentic happiness. It sits quietly at the core of ANY relationship–beginning with the most basic one: the relationship we have with ourselves.

Our relationship to ourselves—and with the natural world around us—has everything to do with keeping ourselves whole.

Every millimeter and area of the natural world is an ecosystem. Every ecosystem lives in balance with what it needs to stay whole—doing so continually activates self-organizing principles that drive the living systems of our planet and solar system.

So, shifting gears from macrocosm to microcosm: when we need balance in our lives, where do we go?

How do we change our perspective in a relatively short period of time? How do we re-balance from a busy day or otherwise stressful situation?

It requires a form of self-discipline that could initially be described as a yearning, a desire for something different…an urge to ‘bust out’, get creative or just escape…it’s an undeniable need. It’s really about the self-discipline of wholeness, or holistic awareness.

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In this world of designed fragmentation, ignorance of self-discipline has profoundly disturbing consequences. Just look around the world at anything that seems out of control, terribly unhealthy, insane or just plain ludicrous. Running through the body of that event, person or situation is—simply put—a lack of awareness.

Kick-start your own awareness.  Look at our planet via Google Earth or as Edgar Mitchell, founder of IONS, might have seen it from space.  Such a difference in perspective changes everything.

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Earth from space

Our interconnectedness with life is crystal clear. Denial isn’t an option. We are an integral part of the earth’s living ecosystem–and the quality of our lives depend on it.

Your own ability to unplug has everything to do with your ability to transform negative, life-draining energies into constructive, positive ones. The quickest route to unplugging is to immerse yourself in nature on a regular basis.

Want more experience doing this with others? Check out what other awesome people are doing and dive in!

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2 charis loopez island beach

Lopez Island

After almost three months to the day of a very special collaborative genesis, I’m back with Part 2 of the ‘Edge Effect,’ one of my favorite explorations of all time for a wide variety of reasons. Hang in there, this is going to be a bit more scientific than my typical blog.

Permaculture, TEK and Pattern Literacy

Permaculture design at its core is about creating right relationships amongst living things.  As humans, we do this by creating meaningful connections with the flora and fauna of our environment.  And, naturally, with one another.

TEK (traditional ecological knowledge) at its core, is about cultivating a deep connection with the land that supports us so as to carefully tend it for long-term fructification.  So where do the edges come into play?

When we observe patterns in the landscape, we can recognize that edge ecosystems (my favorite type of ecosystems) perform and demonstrate the same extraordinary functions as the ‘Four Bs’ of the earth’s flora fertility do—that is, birds, bats, butterflies and bees.  Like the Four Bs, edge ecosystems offer opportunities for cross-pollination so that plants have the resilience they need to weather change, and have the fertility they need to reproduce, grow and create food.  The end products of plants and animals are what we’re generally most familiar with, but don’t let that stop you from connecting these dots…

Here is a convergence of human intelligence with nature’s intelligence.  It is the ultimate expression of life.

Like fertile seeds, these connective patterns are absolutely key to creating a healthy future.

What comes alive in edge ecosystems is deep ecology in action.

Deep Ecology in Action

One of the greatest things about the natural world is that it is a reflection of our thinking.  Where healthy ecosystems exist, so do its caretakers.  Where it doesn’t there is unawareness of impact—and therefore room for personal and, by extension, planetary growth of a healthy sort.

For example for some, war is analogous with humanity.  For many of us, war is an anomaly—a reflection of our species’ inability to move beyond the limitations of our own thinking.  It’s where ‘taking the higher road’ means acting out of the recognition that “…the distinction between ‘life’ and ‘lifeless’ is a human construct. Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged.”                      (Joanna Macy, The Council of All Beings)

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Hardwood hammocks, Everglades, Florida

Fructification and the Edge Effect

Diving back into the world of ecosystems, consider this fascinating example of edge ecosystem fructification: the coastal forest hammocks, like those that grow in the Everglades of Florida, a 2-hour drive from where I spent my childhood.

Shaped by the slow-moving brackish waters of the Everglades, these coastal hardwood forests exemplify a beautiful blend of stability and complexity found in these hammocks. Like most forests, coastal forests not only prevent erosion via the web of tree roots, but also by slowing wind speeds to reduce wind-caused erosion.

Each tree acts as a sediment collector, wind break, apartment house for birds, food source, and…my favorite…a nursery for literally hundreds of thousands of water-born creatures including amphibians and naturally, their predators, like raptors and virtually all reptilian descendants of oceans and rivers: birds, insects, alligators and a host of other water-loving flora and fauna.

Given these components—and we’re not even touching on the special and unique talents of the mangroves themselves; nor the bacteriological or atmospheric aspects—the fact that our species has sent people to the moon and back, put satellites into space and instantly communicate anywhere in the world—why is our human impact on the earth so ecologically destructive?

The Exquisite Beauty of Non-Linear Thinking

I believe it has to do with four aspects of the human mind:

  1. Our minds—both individually and collectively—must develop the ability to flex with complex, non-linear systems.
  2. From this, we must discover and acknowledge the intangible (as well as the tangible) aspects of how ecosystems assemble themselves.
  3. Through this, the qualitative aspects of life reveal their fragile value, leading us to…
  4. Engage our hearts so as to inform the head.

Of course, coming from your heart doesn’t need to go in this order!  This is simply a connective arrangement to illustrate the deeper aspects of nature we can find meaning within.

The beauty of engaging both heart and head in the direction of earth-centric healing is that the mere existence of complex, non-linear ecosystem functions requires mechanisms of stability.

We can become that mechanism.  We can change the way we think to support the health of our planet.  Just imagine the benefits….

Got some ideas?  Let me hear from you!

Want more inspiration?  Check out what my colleagues at Odyssey Earth are up to!

never let reality get in the way

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As a planet-populated species, we’ve just moved through a powerfully catalytic full moon eclipse (the ‘pink’ full moon of 25 April) that’s ushered in a potent time for being fully present with one’s self and being fully present with others.

Full moons are peak points of brightness amidst the darkness and eclipses are doorways—opportunities to vision, sense, receive and strengthen ourselves through connection. In particular, the feminine principle is growing in strength.

What does this mean?

                                     We’ve entered the 20 Year Make-It-Or-Break-It

                                    crossroads of  human fate and must gird ourselves for

                                    the long haul as we wrestle truth from illusion.

                                                           ~ Mark Borax, Metaphysical Guide

Imagine—as you awake, to fully experiencing the day as a flower—unfolding and opening in this ever-expanding now … offering a lifetime of memories right here, right now—so expansive is this special time as it entwines with our souls …

Notice your response to the images these words evoke. Do you feel attuned, more open? Self-protective? Perhaps doubtful? Do you have to re-read the paragraph to begin imagining the words?

The real question is, will you choose to fearlessly walk a path of beauty that motivates every quadrant of your life? Will you allow the beauty of the natural world to work upon your soul and reveal a world of harmony in which you can co-exist? Or does this seem impossible?

What if your every thought and action was directly related to the well-being of the earth?

The feminine principle is about space and wisdom, which embodies the whole of life, much like a mother embodies her child for nine months before giving birth.  Like a container that creates the space for the content—much like a cup of tea—the container is the feminine principle.

Masculine energy is the skillful means within this space.  Whether you’re a man or a woman, the yin-yang of the feminine and masculine exists in each of  us—on tap as it were—for wholeness. Yet how many of us drink from this tap? How many of us recognize and attune ourselves to this ‘tap’ daily?

When viewed this way, it becomes apparent that as a species, we’ve been in the grips of a sort of ‘tunnel vision,’ focused on activity for the sake of more activity.

When we tune in to the subtle interplay of tangible and intangible elements in our daily lives, we begin to see the bigger picture between what is truly feminine and what is truly masculine. Holding the space for life to grow and evolve is core to the feminine principle.

And at the end of the day, what do we truly need?  Space … peace … unfolding … this is the feminine principle at work in our daily lives.

Where do you find solace?  Peace?  Authentic experience?

Where can we as a species co-create a constellation of wisdom?

Enjoy this beautiful presentation by Jane Fonda on the feminine principle that comes alive in our ‘third act.’

Consider living as a human of radical peace.

 plant-love

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Dear Earth,

Re-claim yourself. 

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 It’s what all living beings here need to move forward in solidarity with your well-being.

Winds of change are blowing everywhere it seems.

What are your deepest desires, dear Earth?

May the emerging soul of your being invoke encouragement and joy from the continuous music of your fertile soil, vibrant oceans and vivid skies.

May your evolutions move us beyond the limitations of our minds and emotions…to help us see and experience the Divine Infinite as only you can.

In humble gratitude,

human beans of earth…7 billion and rising….

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You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need  to do, in order to have what you want.    

                                                                        ~ Margaret Young

The more I let go of what other people think, the more I realize that authenticity is an ongoing practice.  I’m actually choosing how I want to live moment to moment, every day.

When I choose to show up and be real, I’m letting my true self be seen.  I’m not selling myself short to please someone else.  Brené Brown does a beautiful job of describing the anatomy of authenticity—I love the gift of Brené’s presence in the world.

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.  Choosing authenticity means ~

 

  • cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;
  • exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and
  • nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.”

(from Brené’s book,  The Gifts of Imperfection)

Sacrificing who we are for the sake of what other people think just isn’t worth it.  Staying vulnerable while sharing an unpopular opinion or idea is really the hard part.  Staying in presence while keeping your heart open—whooo, that is a true act of courage.

Every time we trade our authenticity for safety, we can expect to experience anxiety, unhappiness, resentment, anger, blame and sadness.

So where’s the connection to living sustainably?

Living sustainably—living so as to not compromise the ability of future generations of living beings (human, flora and fauna) to meet their own needs—reflects a holistic understanding of life rather than a surface understanding of life.

Most people settle for a surface understanding and try to get by on that.

But we’re living in a time where entire human infrastructures are imploding and governments (that should actually be governing) are running out of money to artificially prop these infrastructures up.  This has become so obvious that most of us see and feel the need for big change.

 

Yet, every time we trade holistic living for surface living—ignoring our individual impact on the planet no matter how small (remember, there’s 7 billion of us)—we can expect to experience the same range of emotions… anxiety, unhappiness, resentment, anger, blame and sadness.  Wow!

Ah, but when we develop a holistic understanding of life at its very center—when we experience learning in the REAL world (growing food, exploring a watershed, restoring a wetland, making preserves, raising chickens) such learning overcomes our alienation from nature and rekindles as sense of place—a sense of genuine belonging.  Living in harmony with the organizing principles of nature IS authentic living. 

Exploring our natural world

Teaching ourselves and our children that the fundamental facts of life are dynamically interwoven, with living systems nested within living systems—returns us to our wholeness—our authenticity—and revitalizes new ways of thinking and living within the earth’s resources.  Were we ever not part of the earth’s living systems?  Only in our heads.

Deciding, Choosing and Instinctive Values

While it’s true that we don’t need to understand how electricity works to light up a room, we do need to become ecologically literate to understand the principles that govern all living systems—including ourselves—that have evolved to sustain the web of life.  This way, we can truly live in authentic alignment with the world that sustains us.

Did you know stewardship is an instinctive value within the human being?  Joy and compassionate care of the natural world are instinctive in children who spend time in nature.  These behaviors don’t need to be taught except where the connection is lost.  That’s really something to ponder.

At some point you may, like me, prefer to use the word decide rather than choose.  I make this distinction because decision points are turning points.   They are reflected in our daily choices.  Like a fulcrum, decisions drive choices.  Otherwise choices are just choices, and there’s no uber consciousness guiding any given choice.

Blessings on your summer!

Darling Ohana relaxing in nature

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Les choses qui s’écroulent sont une sorte d’épreuve, mais aussi une sorte de guérison.                                                               ~ Pema Chodron

(English translation)

Things that fall apart are a sort of test, but also a kind of healing.

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Two weeks out from the Spring Equinox and the air is ripe with life.

Some mornings, I feel a thrill run through my body as the birds’ dawn chorus inspires me to rise and step outside to stretch in the cool morning air.

Spring has gently yet powerfully moved in, bringing new life and longer days of light.  And to think that a season as lovely as Spring is borne out of the cold, wet darkness of winter.

One of my favorite permaculture design principles is:

‘Use Edges + Value the Margins.’

Edges in nature are transition zones—the places where the composition of the terrain, flora and fauna change.   Edges and margins are also the places in our lives where real change occurs—where we are sometimes tested far beyond our comfort zones.

In nature, edges and margins can be where a forest gives way to a field of wildflowers, or where the firm footing of solid ground begins to soften and goosh, filling with dense ferns and mangroves before giving way to a riverbank.   It could simply be where crunchy beachfront sand yields to undulating clumps of sedge, tall grasses and scrubby brush.  It’s where life yields to life, and recombines to create new environments.   Each environment provides habitat for plants and animals that have adapted over millenia to that particular arrangement of life.  These are the earth’s ecosystems.  And they are incredibly precious.

This same perspective applies to each of us.

When we find ourselves thrust into experiences that we didn’t ask for—or would never consciously choose—you can count on those situations as opportunities to be stretched—to move beyond predictability into unfamiliar terrain.  In such situations, our primal instinct to survive sheds light on our life as a whole. Recognizing aspects of our lives that are out of balance—those that don’t truly serve our greatest good—end up defining our future.   This is the human version of edge.

Edge forces us to grow—to reassess.  Real growth happens when that which no longer serves our greatest good is released.  Real growth actually moves us to become more symbiotic—with ourselves and with all of life around us.

We instinctively know that solutions to big problems are found beyond the familiar boundaries of our self-prescribed lives.  When we are willing to embrace larger actions—lifestyle changes that reflect a holistic way of life—we rapidly become more symbiotically interconnected with life.  In this way, you could say that our lives parallel the edges and margins of an ecosystem.

John Francis, also known as Planetwalker—rediscovered rhythms in nature that western culture has nearly forgotten by walking the continent of North America in silence for 17 years.  In his book, The Ragged Edge of Silence, John shares that the single most valuable thing for people to know is this:  The basis of nature is cooperation and democracy. 

Indigenous peoples have long since recognized that each unique ecosystem yields it’s own unique set of bio-restorative offerings.  It requires only that we are able to distinguish the unique qualities, characteristics and properties of the plants and creatures living therein.  It’s worth repeating that this same perspective applies to each of us.

There is infinite possibility within the natural world to restore itself as well as what ails humanity.

Through our senses of wonder, curiosity and inquiry, our individual connection with the natural world has the direct capacity to restore ourselves as whole human beings at all levels.  Our greatness, our compassion and our authenticity become buried beneath the parts of ourselves we’ve become disconnected from.

Exploring your edges will take you on a journey to your most authentic self.  A place where you feel at home with who you are; where you recognize your weaknesses and your strengths, admit your imperfections and bask in your gifts.  In honoring this most human of journeys, we automatically honor the earth that has silently supported us all of our lives.

Making peace within our inner ecosystems, we become capable of restoring lasting peace for the earth as well.

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Greetings!  We are now officially into the New Year of 2012, with powerful, fearless and conscious choices that release our attachments to what no longer serves our highest good.

In so doing, a light joyful balance rolls in to wash through the old crevices where we’d kept old ideas held tightly, thinking that they would serve us.

Strengthening our vision and dream of what is possible in our lives—despite all outward appearances otherwise—continues to emerge.  This life force dawns each day with divine right alignment.  When we are aligned with the truth of ourselves, it becomes apparent that a harmonious pattern of divine intelligence is already in place—just waiting for each of us to wake up to its presence.

There is a sort of primal intelligence within every living being—animal, plant, insect or human—that experiences itself as an integrated co-creative part of this larger design.  So let the old pass away is it must, and embrace the fluid, life-filled cosmic blueprint of what is yet to be.

Give yourself permission to feel exhilarated for no reason whatsoever.

Give yourself permission to speak your truth compassionately.

Delight in the newfound space of your expanding being.

Begin to live the life you have always dreamed of.

When we ALLOW the old beliefs to fall away, and get right down to our essence, what else is there REALLY?

So, just be.  Just dream.  You’ll know when the moment is right to say YES with all of your being. 🙂

Beach mandala, courtesy of Sparrow Queen

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