Header: Claudio Testa via Unsplash.
I have vivid memories of my first experience truly conversing with Nature. I was on a short retreat for changemakers at Schumacher College in Devon and I joined an activity called “truth mandala”, inspired by deep ecologist and systems thinker Joanna Macy’s book Coming Back to Life. In her words, “this ritual exercise provides a simple, respectful, whole group structure for owning and honoring our pain for the world, and for recognizing its authority and the solidarity it can bring.” I had never experienced anything like that before and needless to say, I was pretty shaken up by the intensity of it all. But along with feeling overwhelmed there was a genuine sense of relief, of release, of reconnection. It was a cathartic and healing experience that allowed me to see Nature like I had never done before.
Why am I telling you about this experience and why now? Because this month’s topic in the Action for Happiness calendar is “new ways November” – inviting us to try out new things, to stay curious and engaged, and to open up to new ideas as ways to boost our wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. So today, I’d like to invite you to try out something new in Nature. That’s because most people take Nature for granted, they treat it like a resource to be used up to satisfy human needs. But Nature is so much more than that. For a first, it is us: we are Nature. And until we understand that as long as we treat it with disrespect, we keep inflicting pain on ourselves and the road to sustainability remains unattainable to us.
- You can access our tbd* / Recipes for Wellbeing Calendar and read more recipes from Greta here.
One of the surprising revelations during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of Europe was in strict lockdown in spring, was having conversations with changemaker friends who confessed they missed access to green spaces. These confessions were coming from people who are used to living in big cities and who saw my choice of moving from London to rural Italy as cool, sure, but bizarre and not “doable” for them. “I couldn’t do it, you know – I’m a city person” is what they would say. But with tight restrictions imposed on their freedom of movement, they realised how much they had missed Nature, how much they had taken it for granted perhaps, and how much Nature is essential for humans to thrive.
This wellbeing recipe is for all my friends and all those of you who would like to rekindle your connection with Nature. It is an individual practice adapted from the work of depth psychologist, eco-therapist, and wilderness guide Dr Bill Plotkin in his book Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche. This activity guides you step-by-step through a deeply humbling and touching experience of conversing with Nature. I know it might sound odd, but you will be surprised by how mute and deaf we have become in Nature, so may you re-discover your voice and tune your ears to listen to the voices of Nature.
You can access the full guidelines here. The next article will introduce a group activity to explore new ways of connecting with each other.
About Greta and Recipes for Wellbeing
Greta Rossi is a changemaker involved in multiple not-for-profit initiatives, including Recipes for Wellbeing, Akasha Innovation, Pitch Your Failure, and ChangemakerXchange. Recipes for Wellbeing works towards shifting the culture of changemaking to include a focus on holistic wellbeing to enable anyone to contribute more effectively to creating positive change in the world. From freely accessible wellbeing recipes, through wellbeing talks and workshops, to immersive wellbeing labs, we make wellbeing accessible to changemakers and their teams. If you’d like to host a talk, workshop, or retreat for your team or organisation, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.