Sunday, July 29, 2007

Techniques for reawakening love for nature

Extracts from "The Lost Language of Plants" by Stephen Harrod Buhner (a great book that you should try to read if you can, I have a copy).

"Human beings, throughout most of their habitation of Earth, have been so completely interwoven into their environment that, until recently, there was no separation between them."

"Such deep interconnectedness to environment is so fundamental to us as a species that, ultimately, it is not possible to understand ourselves as human beings without understanding something of wild nature itself."

"Because experience of nature and other life-forms is so deeply interwoven into our emergence as a species, human beings possess a genetic predisposition for wild nature and other life-forms -- though it must, through specific experiences, be activated".

"Edward Wilson calls this innate feeling or caring for living forms and systems, for nature, biophilia."

"There are holes inside all of us. Emptiness that can only be filled by some of the other life on this Earth. Without filling them, we live a half-life, never becoming fully human, never being healed or whole or completely who we are. Never becoming completely sane."

"The loss of connection to the land, to Earth, leaves the holes with which we are naturally born unfilled. Merely human approaches can never heal them. Pathologies come from the empty hole that are unfilled, from lack of contact and communication with the wild."

"The holes within us possess particular shapes -- that of stone or tree or bear."

"Many people believe we should first establish this reconnection in the young. But I think that the best hope for restoring it is with the grown -- those in whom the impulse for biophilia has been stunted, those in whom the interior wound is deep, those in whom the need is the greatest."

"If simple information were enough to stimulate the experience, a book will do as well. But books do not and cannot do as well."

"Licensed teachers are embedded in a human-centric, we're-the-most-intelligent approach. They are likely to belittle the living reality found in nature."

"The teacher must embody the experience itself, so that the child can observe it in action and the teacher teaches."

Techniques for restroring biophilia

"The restoration of our capacity for biophilia begins with restoring, and supporting, our capacity for feeling."

"Restoring biophilia ... means 'coming to our senses', especially the sense of feeling -- of touch -- of being touched by the world."

"It has nothing to do with theory. Feelings come first, thinking second; thinking in service of feeling."

"This experience cannot be written down or found in books. It can only be developed ... by allowing ourselves to be touched by the livingness of the world, and exploring the meanings we encounter."

"This reconnects us to everything around us -- to everything that generates those feelings. It reweaves us into the fabric of life."

There are 9 exercises in the book, here is one of them.

Exercise 3

Go to a place in nature that you like. (Be sure and take a journal with you.) Choose a place you have been to before. Find the area that you like most and relax. Sit if you want to; get comfortable.

How does this place feel? Try to describe it in words. Be as specific as you can. Go on in your journal at length if you need to. Write down everything that comes to you no matter how silly it sounds. Even if you think it's crazy.

When you're done, allow your eye to rove, to be drawn to whatever one thing is most interesting to you. Look at it. Let your eye explore it, nothing everything about it. The colours, the shape, how it rests or grows in the ground. Its relation to the air around it, to the plants, water, soil, rocks around it.

What feelings do you have? Write them down.

Is there any part of what you are looking at that you like more? Less? Why? Can you tell? Do all parts of what you are looking at generate the same emotion? Different emotions? Write everything down in your journal.

Do this with at least two things that you see. Make sure that one of them is a plant. You can get up close if you want to, place your eye on a level plane, take an insect view. How is the plant shaped, how does it feel to your fingers, how does it smell? What emotions does it generate in you? Write everything down.

Now go to another natural place, different from the first. Sit down and relax. Get comfortable. How does this place feel? Write down everything that you notice. Go on at length.

Does this second place feel different from the first place you sat? How are the feelings different? Which place feels better -- the first or the second? Is there a name you can give the feeling you had at the first place? A name you can give the second? Names that will make clear the difference in feeling that you perceive? If you can't think of a word make something up.

When you are finished, as you did last time, find something your eye is drawn to and write down everything that you feel and perceive. Do this as well with two other things, at least one of them a plant.

Each place on Earth has unique feelings associated with it, as does each thing that grows or resides there. The number of shadings of their emotional nuances run into the thousands. Each can fit into a specific space within the different human beings that need them. There is a richness in feeling, a companionability that comes from perceiving, the complex interweaving of emotional textures that reside in the life that surrounds us.

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