What is our true nature as humans? And why might reconnecting to your true nature be important in terms of your ability to be mentally strong? If you’ve never thought about these concepts before, stay with me. I believe understanding this is key to growing true and lasting mental strength.
When it comes to my own mental strength methodology, there are two aspects. One part is about blending cutting-edge, evidence-based tools that I’ve learned over the years, utilising positive neuroplasticity training, stress reduction tactics, peak performance psychology, and mindfulness training. All kinds of really amazing tools that we have to enhance our mental strength. But that’s also blended with core teachings from the world’s wisdom teachings. Especially around repairing the disconnection so many of us feel in modern life – with nature, with each other and with ourselves.
That is, when we get disconnected from that awareness of being interconnected with nature and all of life, we start to experience all kinds of mental struggles. It’s a subject that, more and more over the years, I’ve come to see lies at the heart of a lot of the loss of our mental strength. Listen to my podcast or read below to find out more.
We are nature
As we go about our daily lives, we tend to be very narrowly focused on what’s happening in our own individual lives. We focus on our responsibilities, our to-do lists, our goals and our problems. We tend to get very busy. But beneath our full calendars and our long to-do lists, beneath all that activity that’s occurring on the surface of our lives, there is a connection to the rhythm and pulse of nature itself.
There is such a strong tendency in the human mind for us to go about life with this sense that there is nature, and then there is us. That somehow, we are separate from nature. But in reality, we are nature. We are a part of an interconnected unfolding web of life.
In the words of author and philosopher Alan Watts:
“We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean ‘waves’, the universe ‘peoples’. Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”
Humanity as the fruit of the earth
In his lectures, Alan also used an apple tree as a metaphor to explain our interconnectedness with nature. He said:
“Look: Here is a tree in the garden, and every summer it produces apples, and we call it an ‘apple tree’. Because the tree ‘apple-s’; that’s what it does. Alright, now here is a solar system inside a galaxy, and one of the peculiarities of this solar system is that—at least on the planet Earth—the thing people-s, in just the same way as an apple tree apple-s. Now maybe two million years ago somebody came from another galaxy in a flying saucer and had a look at this solar system, and they looked it over and shrugged their shoulders and said, “Just a bunch of rocks.” And they went away. Later on—maybe two million years later—they came around, and they looked at it again, and they said, ‘Excuse me! We thought it was a bunch of rocks but it’s people-ing,’ and ‘It’s alive after all; it has done something intelligent.’ Relevance of Oriental Philosophy.
For many of us, we have become disconnected from this awareness of our oneness with nature.
But in the same way that an apple tree ‘apple-s’, human beings are walking around on the surface of this earth as ‘people-s’, as the fruit of the earth. You could say perhaps, humans are the eyes of the earth. We are the earth, walking around on the surface.
Disconnected from nature and ourselves
In today’s world, many of us have lost the awareness of our oneness with nature and the planet. We feel disconnected from nature in a way that many indigenous peoples did not.
For instance, indigenous Australians and many other indigenous cultures around the world really had a strong sense of interconnectedness with nature – the rocks, trees and animals were often seen as family. They were brothers and sisters with them. They felt that the same sacred life force flowed through all things. Uniting all things.
But in the modern day, we have this sense of disconnection more than ever, and it’s costing us a lot more than we realise. This sense of being divorced from nature also divorces us from a sense of our own belonging, wholeness and from a sense of the sacredness and preciousness of life.
I believe it causes us a kind of existential stress. A sense of meaninglessness, lack and isolation in the world. I think the idea that humans are just isolated fragments in a meaningless universe causes us to feel a disconnection, emptiness and fear.
But if we can start to listen to, and align ourselves with the unfolding of nature, both within and all around us, then we start to really understand – not just in a intellectual way, but in an embodied way – that we are part of something so much larger than our individual selves, and we find a greater sense of ease, wisdom, and belonging in every part of our lives.
We are the earth, we are nature, and by extension of that, we are a living part of the universe. The more we can remember that, the more we have a sense of belonging within it – trusting in it and flowing with it. The more we tune into the rhythms and pulses within our own being and can honour them and work with them, instead of pushing or fighting against them. Leading to a greater sense of ease, wisdom and belonging in every part of our lives.
A practice to reconnect to nature’s wisdoms
I have a simple invitation for this week’s practice, and that is to just see if you can pause at least once a day, maybe just for a few moments, just to tune into the rhythms of your body, your mind, and the environment around you. Maybe that means feeling the breath in your body. The beating of your heart, the breeze moving. Tuning into any sensations of tiredness or energy, hunger or satiation, warmth or cool.
Just feeling into the living world around you. And in that moment of sensing and breathing and feeling, just reminding yourself that you are not separate from the living world, you are nature unfolding.
I hope this is beneficial for you. I know this is a little different to some of the practices I’ve given you before, but I think that you’ll find if you practice this, you will find greater calm, greater presence, and a greater sense of belonging in your daily life.
As always, thank you for your practice. Your practising mental strength really is a gift that affects not only you but ripples out into the world around you. Wishing you well with this practice.
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