We live very individual lives in these modern times, fueled by self-interest, materialism and gratification of our own desires.
This has led to us getting richer and accumulating more things, but at the same time we’re not happier and in fact, we are becoming more lonely and unhealthy as a species.
What we’ve overlooked is that a fundamental part of this survival is cooperation, connection and understanding inter-being.
At some point in time, not long ago in evolutionary terms, we were all connected as humans. There were no immigration borders, no class systems and other barriers that segregate us today. We were also a lot more connected to the world around us—mother nature, the seasons, we lived off the land, navigated by the stars and could tell what weather was coming just by looking at the clouds.
Over time we’ve lost this connection which used to be instinctive in us.
These days, we’d rather be connected to a virtual world through our devices than the real world and real life as it unfolds around us. If you’ve taken a look at the real world lately, you’ll have seen it’s a bit of a mess. It’s like when we’ve left the garden untended and it’s gone to ruins—this is what happens when we turn our back on something and get disconnected.
My journey with mindfulness has made me much more aware of how everything is connected.
It has allowed me to spend much more time living in the present and as a result, I’m more awake and aware. As my awareness increased, it was like I was looking at the world through new eyes, I noticed so much more about the world around me, mother nature and the natural world in particular.
During a summer visit to Plum Village, home of Thich Nhat Hanh in France, I spent a lot of time mindfully walking through the forest. Not only did I notice the trees around me, but I felt connected to them. I had a new appreciation for the oxygen they give us, their strength and how they remain grounded whilst reaching for the stars and supporting life on our planet all at the same time!
From this increased awareness came a feeling of connection—to other people, the natural world around me and the universe. Once we’ve experienced a deep connection to something we cannot possibly harm it; whether this is animals, other humans or our environment. We can learn so much from mother nature.
I believe that everything is connected, we are the sum of our parts and I marvel at how everything fits together.
Since the discovery of the atom, science has agreed. Animals are connected with their environment and we used to be, back in ancient times. Sharks and whales navigate using the earths magnetic fields, birds can migrate thousands of miles using the same routes and nesting turtles know to return to the same beach they were born on to lay eggs.
Being in nature brings this idea home to me as I watch the seasons change and the very food we eat grow.
In modern times, we believe we’re at the top of the evolutionary chain and somehow separate to our environment. We continue to take more than we need.
Somewhere along the way, we clearly got our wires crossed.
The fact that we can destroy the trees that provide us with the oxygen we need to breathe and poison the fresh water we depend on for survival—all in the name of making money—demonstrates a clear misalignment of priorities on our part. Whilst we’d like to think we are at the top of the pyramid and humans own the world, we are actually just a part of it.
Everything in life is connected, we rely on each other and respecting our inter-being is vital for survival.
Author: Jess Stuart
Editor: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Genta Mochizawa/Unsplash