Be renewed in nature
17. Back to the roots of life
“We are made from Mother Earth and we go back to Mother Earth”. – saying of the Native American Shenandoah.
The saying mirrors Chief Seattle’s speech, of which even the more well-known doctored version by Ted Perry for the film, Home, in 1970 is faithful to its philosophy of respect for nature that is synonymous with indigenous people. It’s also in line with the Taoist advocacy of non-interference. The first religion, medicinal methodology, and way of life rolled into one, Shamanism, was adopted universally by early human ancestors. It is still practised today by many people. It emphasises connections through communion with nature to access supernatural gifts for thriving in the world.
Treatments continue to be developed to harness the healing powers of being outdoors, such as ecotherapy. The sun-shine that encourages vitamin D production, positive ions from running water, oxygen and other benefit of fresh air, the visions of growth and diversity of ecosystems; all these and more have direct biological effects on the endocrine and other systems and thus on the mind too. Studies have shown that patients who tend living things, pets and even plants, do much better.
Nature primarily moves in cycles, such as those of day and night, the tides, the seasons, genetic migration patterns and life cycles. Psychologist Erik Erikson’s most well-known work from the 1950s traced the latter in human beings. Despite criticisms, particularly about variations from culture to culture, the idea of the life course being associated with approximately distinct experiences has become popular again in the social sciences, thanks particularly to the work of Stephen Hunt in The Life Course.
All of the arts constantly draw on nature for inspiration to present a cornucopia of riches for humankind, nudging those partaking back, like the pied-piper, to organic origins. The central tenet of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings concerns the inter-being of all things and creatures with nature and with one another, something ritualised in the unsettling but profound practice of Touching The Earth. Modern life’s pace and industrialisation can obscure health-sustaining natural influences for many people but, being biological organisms, there can be a price to pay. Those who seek out green spaces have the best chance of staying in tune with what they’re made of and remaining blessed children of the universe.