by Susan Brelin-Bechio
Photo by Ed Kleingeertz
nature we can discern a sense of belonging that is not dependent on social
structures or human relationships. The wisdom that is contained in indigenous
teachings is invaluable at this time. Indigenous peoples carry an important
key to us accessing our correct relationship to land. The wisdom they
carry is based on a way of life where medicine, spirituality, and law
meet to form the basis of a culture. The appreciation and humility that
is a common factor with all indigenous cultures is vital for us to re-connect
with the earth and ourselves. If, for example, we do not have appreciation
and gratitude within a human relationship, we will not truly know the
ways to maintain that connection. So it is with Mother Earth.
If there is no ceremony or sacredness in our relationship with the Earth,
how will we know what to do to maintain the resources that are available
To understand wisdom we have to bring experiences into life in a very
practical way so it becomes part of our everyday life. Ecopsychology bridges
the natural ecology back to our own personal issues. Nature has teachings
and medicines or gifts, available to us as we learn to read it as one
would a book. Often these teachings can replace negative patterns and
re-build our foundations that are often lacking due to genetic or social
and environmental factors.
Year after year, we are part of, and subject to the seasonal cycles and
daily rhythms, completely dependent on the four elements Fire,
Earth, Air, and Water for our very lives. In becoming aware of
this, we realise that our most fundamental requirements for life are inseparable
from the land. Therefore, our spirituality and gratitude turn towards
what we have often taken for granted or known only in an increasingly
abstract way. Our separateness causes a lack of respect towards the Earth
and other people. In the same way, we may not recognise the turning of
the seasons and the lessons that the changing cycles can have for us.
All the Seasons are reflective of our own inner world. In Autumn for example,
we feel the contraction of the cold approaching; a slowing down starts
to take place. We tend to become more introspective and pull back to a
deeper place within ourselves, reflecting upon issues that may have lain
dormant during the Summer months. We are not putting out our leaves or
buds, but are instead nourishing and replenishing our roots, the very
foundations of our being.
Winter is the time to reflect more deeply on these inner roots, taking
a moment to consider where the instability lies, and how to strengthen
and balance these foundational patterns in order for them to be able to
support an outward movement and vision come Spring and Summer. Time perhaps
to re-educate old, long-held belief patterns and to prepare to embrace
the newness of Spring with buoyancy, enthusiasm, and innocence.
Have you ever noticed when we do not let go, that all the dead wood gets
carried from season to season? In the process their innocence is lost
and so is wisdom, becoming hardened and brittle.
Nature carries infinite teachings, its tapestry so rich and fertile. The
animals will often help us regain an instinctual knowing, that gut
feeling that has often been violated and ignored. These instincts
are basic survival forces. Within the elements of Air we observe the winged
ones, the birds, who use the currents of air and thermals with efficiency
and purpose. From this vantage point they can see the whole picture; their
vision is wide and expanded. This is the lesson we can learn from them.
For instance, how to lift out of the detail and over-focused intellect?
Birds carry this teaching, however, different types of birds will add
to our understanding. An albatross soaring over miles of ocean, a flock
of starlings, a kite swooping on its prey, a kookaburra singing with its
mate, all have something different to offer us which we can then relate
back to our inner thoughts and feelings.
There may be times when you are experiencing an identity crisis,
a collapse of known boundaries emotionally and mentally. At these times
we have little external to hold onto, and it is difficult to trust that
we will feel secure and safe again. The nourishment or medicine
of a waterfall could be one way of aiding the healing process. As the
water loses its holding structure, it falls, aerating and breaking up
stagnation and reforming again in a new way to resume its journey. Such
processes in nature reflect something that is happening inside us. In
observing or contemplating the waterfall in all its aspects, from fall
to flow, we come to absorb the strength and lifeforce assisting our formal
Rocks also reflect back to us in a different way. Rocks have definite
limits and endurance; they are quite dense and solid. When we become erratic
or over-extend ourselves, they can help us find a sense of gravity, a
still point that assists us while we reflect on our priorities. All rocks
carry these basic teachings, however, if we examine river rocks, lava
rocks, sand, moss-laden rocks or red desert rocks, each adds a particular
essence to the fundamental teaching.
To observe and reflect upon the natural world in all its moods and nuances
is the study of a lifetime. When we sit amongst old growth forests and
experience the ancient timeless atmosphere, we may wonder how many of
us as human beings will grow to our fullest potential and then rest with
the peace and stillness of knowing we have achieved fulfillment in all
aspects of our growth. Many forests now are similar to the adolescent
phase, the pushing striving growth that we see reflected in the world
around us and in human activities. The wisdom of the elders is being lost
in humanity and in the forests.
You may find yourself drawn to gaze and absorb the warmth of an open fire
as you come to feel the fire within yourself. Examine what it is to have
the type of fire that dances and flickers; the deep fire that thaws, which
is solid and ongoing in its application; or the straw fire that gives
off a quick and brilliant display but burns out quickly.
Look within to where your roots first gripped the earth as a young child.
As you formed your early impressions of the world, was it a serene and
fertile base? If not, see where your roots need strengthening or maybe
where your security issues could be crushing your life energy like
a plant in a pot which is far too small for its roots to grow. Look within
and then work with what you perceive, relate to the elements, relate to
nature and the forces that are released. You will begin to heal and regenerate
your whole being, re-align erratic rhythms and bring a sense of belonging
not based on your personality, but on a spiritual knowing that resides
in your heart.
Nature is about us. If we take it for granted, and through ignorance destroy
that which gives us life each day, before long we destroy each other and
our childrens future.