An invitation to the wild, a returning to freedom, a remembering, a willingness to be.
The call came to me as:
Hands together, grounding in earth
Illuminated dancing, wild footed, Growing up, rebirthing our home
On the first morning of the regenerative practitioner series (TRP) intensive in June, these words came to me, as I connected for the first time with the folds of the Serra de Arrábida, home to the Biovilla.
Having spent a few months devouring theory, grappling with frameworks and feeling like I will probably never “get it,” this was the weekend when my doubts and anxieties were transmuted. I had gone into this course believing that I would learn how to create regenerative projects. I did learn this, but what changed in me was much more than acquiring new knowledge, intellect or feigned understanding.
The most powerful realisation I had is that I do not have to learn how to regenerate ecosystems or communities!
That is what Life* does when She is given space to do so.
*Life is capitalised in my writing, to show my respect and gratitude for the force that moves my breath and being each day. I refer to Life as feminine (she/her), because that is how I feel Her in my body. You may refer to this as God, Universe, or any other name you wish.
In the abstract world of ideas, shoulds, what ifs, political debate and philosophising, of course I can pretend to have learned regenerative practice. I can explain, pontificate and present you with an elevator pitch on why regeneration is important for your business. In that world, I can play with questions like ¨How can we regenerate a catchment area/estuary/community/ culture etc.?¨ and I will find myself continuously falling into the mechanistic traps of our social and cultural conditioning.The world of techno-industrial rational thought; past/present/future; fear and control; science above all else; linearity; masculinity and rule of whiteness has created the terribly imbalanced and sick society we find ourselves in today.
If Life regenerates ecosystems and communities when She is listened to and given space to do so, then where does that leave us with all our rational ideas, technical knowledge and domineering worldviews?
Over the past few months of post-TRP integration, I can begin to articulate the change that has occurred in me. There has been a disarmouring of my thoughts, ideas and logic that built walls around what realities are possible, what outcomes should be achieved, and who is right or wrong. This disarmouring has been coupled with a reconnection to land and ancestry, by living on Irish soil for the first time in eight years. These two elements (disarmouring and reconnecting) have helped me to ground myself as a living being in a living system, listening to Life and responding intelligently to what Life wants to bring into the world and creating from this place.
There have been two main questions guiding me in this process. I´d like to share them with you and invite you to sit with them if they feel helpful for you. Q1 What are you afraid of?
In my experience, fear often likes to trap us in a comfort zone, a habitual place where we can be static and nothing much changes or we do not change. Life, as far as I can see, does not have a comfort zone; she is always in a dynamic flow. There is no such thing as balance or equilibrium; we are in a relentless becoming and returning. There is a gravitational pull to die while screaming to come alive. Our ancestors' bones still know this, and deep in my own, I feel it, too. Mechanistic and reductionist thought is static and often fearful, and when we experience life as an infinite flow of energy, cycles and stories woven together, it becomes strikingly necessary to respond as alive.
To me, responding as alive feels like surrender. It is allowing Life to move through me at Her will. I noticed that my comfort zone involved rushing to outcomes or the next steps, overplanning and working with a constantly full schedule, and believing that I would achieve something brilliant and unique through all this newly acquired knowledge. My brain's automatic setting was to frantically try to control everything around me. I have spent years manufacturing safety and being sold it from insurance companies, instead of trusting Life and listening to Her. When I direct my will from this place of mistrust in Life, I take away Life´s ability to regenerate herself.
To spot these places where I might be living in fear, I practise deepening my perception of the world as alive, or living systems thinking. Perception lives in the body, the collective and the field of change that we are co-creating with Life. My body craves resonance - it wishes to perceive the world and for the world to perceive it through a vibrational relationship. I practise perception through dance, movement and embodiment. Listening for yes's and no's in the body, signals in the environment that tell me to stay or go, energetic impulses to connect with others or be solitary.
I practise shifting my perception from focusing on the collective or the field and then bringing it back to my being. Intentionally meditating on our collective journey to peace or health and then in another moment focusing only on my own magnetic heartbeat. I witness the seasons changing, the growth and decay in my environment daily, the light draining from the sky and the air’s sharpness cutting my cheekbones. I practise perceiving the common ground that we all grow from, allowing all weight to leave me and merge with the earth, dissolving separation.
A breath is taken, attuning to what is needed before responding. There is infinite space for reality to coalesce and define itself in undefinable forms. And equally, there is no distance here. Space holds that which is. Space does not divide us with perceived distances.
With the depth of perception I am developing, discernment becomes increasingly important. Discernment is knowing the difference between what Life wants to become and what I might be consciously or unconsciously wanting to force into being. Some of these questions have accompanied me (and continue to) in this ongoing inquiry:
What does this relationship ask for?
What does this body tell me it needs?
What is this plant calling for?
What is this emotion making space for?
What forces are acting through us right now?
What medicine, lesson or gift is being given?
What offering do I need to make?
These questions remind me of my place in an interconnected world. They remind me to see myself as part of a living system and to respond to that system as just one living being within it in ways I believe will benefit and offer agency to others. Before I act, I ask directly for guidance from the system and other participants of the system that I’m trying to affect so that I am sure it’s not my own designs or ego guiding me and ensure that I am in service to something other than myself. For I alone, could never be. We are all entangled in Life.
The second question that I invite as navigation is:
Q2 Who or what are you in service to?
Being in service takes many forms. For some people, it is tending a garden, raising a family, being part of a community group, connecting with nature, praying, making love, and maybe for you, it is all or none of these things.
The potential that resides in me is awakened, ignited and set ablaze when I am in service to Life. Potential can feel like I am burning to my core and that the stars are colliding on Earth to commune with the dreams that are swirling in my cells, stripping matter until only threads of light and colour are braiding the pattern of a new world. Or sometimes it feels dark, like an emptiness, with the world hidden in smoke and shadow, where I lie waiting with seeds. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting for the resonance and thread needed to arrive in this reality. Each time I see a rainbow, I feel this potential being realised.
To reconnect with potential and be in service to Life, I’ve found it imperative to allow myself to dream, imagine, vision, sense, intuit and see with invisible eyes. We don't tend to give ourselves time to dream in our busy lives, but I would argue that this power our ancestors drew on by holding rituals, ceremonies, honouring the moon time and listening to the voices of the plants and living world, is essential! We were dreamt up, sung up, drummed up by people who walked these lands long before we did.
These practices reverberate through our bodies, landscapes, habitats and folklore to guide us on how to live in our respective places. Allowing the potential of a place and its people to come into being might mean finding ways we can hold space for dialogue with the living world. In this, we should feel into our own ways to resonate with Life and enter into dialogue; we may be guided by others, but we should not steal practices from other cultures or colonise Indigenous spiritual realms.
We may explore our own realms of conversing and communing: listening to the moon, the trees, the rivers and the ocean. Following the sun and the seasons. Asking our ancestors for guidance. Visiting sacred places. By making offerings to be in reciprocal relationship with Life. Honouring the dead and the dying and the compost we all become. Attuning to your moon cycle (if you have one). Dreaming, sensing, entering a trance state. Singing and drumming. Staring at a fire or flickering flame.
These are only some of the ways I make space for what is needed in the world to be transmitted through me and live presently in service of Life.
And so, post-TRP intensive, the last four months of life and work experience have brought me to this point of knowing: It is not my job to regenerate ecosystems or communities. That is what Life does when she is given space to do so.
My role is to listen to Life, to what she wants to become in a place or through a people and support this evolution in service of something greater than any of us.
This is why I feel regenerative practice can be lived as an invitation to the wild, a returning to freedom, a remembering, a willingness to be.