Sally Gillespie

Sally Gillespie

Cherishing Earth’s beauty is perhaps the greatest healing we can bring to our world and ourselves. There is so much to marvel about as we learn more about the intricacies of our world’s ecosystems, and so much to love. Both with an instinctive awe that has long been a part of the human psyche, and with a conscious appreciation informed by the latest research.

Joy, grief, curiosity, tenderness and awe are easily stirred when we bring full attention to Earth’s ways and her current plight. Climate crisis in particular gives a fresh view of our Earth. Informing ourselves about ecological losses, stir minds and hearts, transform values and motivates actions. Hope can feature too when we learn about the regenerative capacities of our natural world and the role we can all play in Earth’s healing

Approaching our world with attention dissolves the disconnections and distractions that underlie climate inaction. It also nurtures a love for our world. When interviewed about his lifelong vocation, marine scientist Charlie Veron, a world authority on coral and the Great Barrier Reef, said “I started working on corals because I fell in love with them…It became, really, a part of me”. Loving the world, or any part of it, becomes a part of who we are.

There is no definitive map for how to engage with Earth’s beauty and marvels, but there are plenty of invitations. For me, living close to Sydney’s CBD, a daily invitation arrives with the shifting sounds and rhythms of the dawn chorus. The calls of currawongs, kookaburras, lorikeets and Indian mynahs swoop through the roars of a nearby motorway and landing planes. Sometimes it’s all I hear, other times I have to choose to listen. I heed naturalist Diane Ackerman’s advice that “We can’t enchant the world, which makes its own magic; but we can enchant ourselves by paying deep attention.”

Consciously engaging with where we live focuses attention in rewarding ways. The busy-ness of modern life with all of its abstractions and distractions gives way to the body’s natural processes of sensing and breathing. Dropping agendas that so often distance ourselves from what sustains life, opens us up to the ways we are in and of this world. The more we can accept this, the more we can appreciate, understand, and collaborate with healing our planet.

Here are 5 ways to cultivate love and awareness of our natural world which you can do alone or with your children:

  1. Choose a spot outside to sit in and really take notice of the life within it, the insects, the birds, the cloud formations. Notice how this both slows you down and heightens your attention.
  2. Go for a walk with the purpose of appreciating what is beautiful along the way: flowers, trees, interactions between beings, human and otherwise. Consciously note what delights you.
  3. Practice mindfulness meditation, yoga or tai chi outside bringing attention to your five senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell- all primal ways to experience our world.
  4. Plant seeds, water and watch them grow: in pots, gardens, community allotments, street verges.
  5. Star gaze, watch the moon rise, wait for a shooting star, experience the magic of night.