From the first moment we connected by phone months ago I knew I had found someone truly unique and magical in the realm of recovery and the healing arts.
Chara is a unique blend of incredible “book smarts” with the biggest heart and most beautiful earth loving soul you will ever meet.
It is my incredible honor to have collaborated with Chara on her “Transformation through Autoimmune Disease” Summit webinar, and my even greater pleasure to share her wisdom with you here.
This is one for a cozy chair and a wonderful cup of tea. (bring your journal too!)
In the winter of 2013 I was hit with a realization that our major movements of self care and Earth care are functioning separately, and that’s a false and limiting separation because really they are deeply inter-related. (I say this realization ‘hit’ me because physically it felt as though it was dropped onto my head from above while I was walking my dog. It was a ‘stand up and take notice’ kind of experience!)
It’s so wonderful to nurture yourself. Many of us, including me, are learning how to do this in deeper ways. You might exercise, practice yoga or Tai Chi or Qi Gong, see a therapist or personal coach, belong to a support group, carefully select nutritious foods, and thoughtfully purchase personal care products that contain only safe ingredients. You may meditate, take long baths or quiet walks, receive energy work, or go to a spa—these days, the options for “self care” are almost endless, and I assume that’s a good thing.
You very likely care about the state of the natural world, and you’re almost certainly aware that we have some serious problems in the areas of climate change, resource depletion, pollution of our air, water, and soil, species extinction, and more. You may help to address these problems by voting conscientiously, composting, making “greener” choices in your home and yard, donating money to environmental causes or serving as an activist.
However, I’m guessing that even if you’re committed to self care and aware of or involved in addressing the needs of the natural world, you see these as separate areas of your life. Your self care probably involves mostly you and other people, and may happen mostly indoors. If that’s the case, you haven’t yet tapped the wellness benefits of contact with the natural world. I’d like to ask you to be open to considering whether we’re tricking ourselves when we regard self care and ecological care as separate.
Why is this a mistaken separation? Let’s start with the positive side. Current research and ancient indigenous wisdom both indicate that our mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness depend on contact with nature. According to ecopsychology, Japanese research into meditative time spent in forests, studies of kids with attention problems, and studies of patients in healthcare settings, we’re simply healthier and happier when we have a relationship with the natural world. According to the research by the Earthing and HeartMath scientists, our bodies actually need to be in contact with the ground in order to be energetically balanced. This doesn’t mean that you have to go backpacking in the wilderness, but it does mean that you need to spend time outdoors regularly, taking in the calming effects nature has on your whole person. And it feels more nurturing to spend time outdoors in clean air with thriving plants and wildlife, letting a healthy ecosystem share its vibrancy with you. We’re starting to see that wellness isn’t just ‘healthful things we do indoors, for ourselves, often with other people.’ Wellness fundamentally involves our contact with nature.
On the darker side, we need to acknowledge right now that our health may not be as vibrant as we think if we exist in separation from nature. Exercise and yoga may not really balance your wellness if the air in your city is full of soot and ozone. Your well-being depends on clean air more than you may realize. Eating a plant-based diet (and eating healthful meat if that’s your choice) is only possible when our soils are healthy enough to produce nutritious food, and right now soil health is endangered, which seems to be leading to lower nutrient levels in our foods, and inadequate nutrient intake for some or many of us. Your well-being depends on healthy soil more than you may realize. You and I might adore our green smoothies, but what’s in the water we use to blend them? Developing yourself spiritually and healing or calming yourself mentally through various types of self-care approaches is superb, but how much can you enjoy your improved spiritual and mental wellness if the natural world—our home—is struggling before our eyes? Many of us feel more bodily and emotional stress related to environmental problems than we might realize, and it can erode our efforts at self care.
Wellness involves our inter-dependency with nature, the benefits we receive from nature, and the service we offer back. My goal is to help us interweave our self-care and Earth-care movements, because healthy bodies depend on a healthy Earth, and the natural world deserves our care as much as our own bodies do. As we open more fully to an attitude of care and a comprehensive value for health, wellness, and flourishing, we open our minds and hearts to the natural world that nourishes, inspires, soothes, and protects us every second of our lives.
I believe it’s time for us to see both wellness and ecological healing in a new light. We’re ready to discover, in personal, practical, and pleasurable ways, that linking our wellness to nature’s wellness benefits us and the whole life community.
Chara Armon teaches women to integrate self care with Earth care, for mutual flourishing for people and planet.