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When our shaken nervous system cannot read clues of safety in the nervous systems around us, there is still a huge resource for our bodies to connect with: nature.
It seems most people around me have been having a difficult time lately. Although lockdown has not been so harsh in Croatia as in many other countries, here it was coupled with a series of earthquakes in the coldest time of the year—in February, and then again in December.
Pandemics and earthquakes have inspired people to do some wonderful acts of solidarity, until the second wave of double trouble, the resilience has dwindled—and people with it.
With so much physical fear experienced by the body in the dark time of the year, we mostly hide into our own shadows. And while the weather is friendly and shiny now and people are gathering again, we feel the effects of the long season that’s testing our resilience.
We need to feel supported by our fellow human beings; we need to feel this safety again through other nervous systems to feel grounded again. But what happens when mostly everybody seems to be sensitive, touchy, and needs to receive support in the same time? I feel my resources are limited. I feel I also need it—to bathe in other people’s positivity and energy, to receive some sunshine and hope from the community around me.
I try to give people dear to me (and sometimes to complete strangers) something of this sunlight. And then I get tired and feel my own space of unfulfilled needs. It seems so easy now when one member of the community needs more than usual of us—to support this person with the power of our own well-being. But when all our own personal powers are low, how can the community recharge itself?
“I feel lonely,” a friend told me the other day. “Yes, I know I get irritated easily lately,” another friend replied when I pointed out I was actually trying to help.
We all need an extra bit to feel safe and connected again. But when our shaken nervous systems cannot read clues of safety in the nervous systems around us, there is still a huge resource for our bodies to reconnect with.
I let myself this summer be swallowed by a greater self: nature. I am nature myself; we are all nature; the city is still nature. The difference is which part of it we can find safety in. Where there are trees—especially rivers and streams—and flowing water is where I find my nervous system can go to ventral parasympathetic mode, the part belonging to connection and safety.
Although we feel it strongly—the earthshaking and rising terror in our bodies—it is again feeling the earth under our bare feet that gives the strong feeling of safety and connection. All is well; I feel the soil breathing; all is well; I hear from the clear stream music. And then again, I can be of use to my fellow human travelers and offer some peace from my nervous system to theirs.
It is challenging to stop thinking in an uniformed way. It is challenging to not let our loneliness and neediness swallow us. It is challenging to stop dividing ourselves, even to use this language as if we are one thing and the rest is “environment.”
Maybe this is the opportunity all this hardship has to offer—to finally let us go back from our egos to the wholeness, to be carried and nurtured by trees, soil, water, wind, and sun. We can let ourselves be blown out by our wonderful insignificance, where we are just an equally tiny piece of a wonderful ecosystem where everything serves its purpose just by existing. Where everything finds safety in the fact that everything is connected and nothing is here to stay.