…. Dadirri. It is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognizes the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us … When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness.
My people today recognize and experience in this quietness the great Life-Giving spirit, the Father of us all. It is easy for me to experience God’s presence. When I am out hunting, when I am in the bush, among the trees, on a hill or by a billabong; these are the times when I can simply be in God’s presence. My people have been so aware of Nature. It is natural that we will feel close to the Creator.
~ Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann (Aboriginal teacher and artist)
Ever since I learned the meaning of the word dadirri in a conversation I was having with an Australian aboriginal friend of mine, I immediately fell in love with its significance. I was teaching him about ‘Pachamama‘ (what we call mother nature in Quechua) and other of my indigenous ways of looking at the world, while he was teaching me about his.
Nature is one of the best healing and teaching environments that has been used by every indigenous culture to reconnect with God, or with the Divine. In a time where we are so materialistically centered, it is unsurprising that we often take for granted a gift that is so freely available. It’s easy to forget that we don’t own nature, but we are a part of it.
Why We Must Reconnect With Nature
I travel into nature every free opportunity that I have so I can be alone, heal, revitalize and re-energize my powers, to reconnect with my initiation commitments, to converse with natural spirit allies and helpers, to be inspired and to generally fill myself with the connection to “All there is that is sacred“, so that I can come back to my life with more strength, power and balance.
In our densely populated world with its sprawling cities everywhere, it is often difficult to find an accessible place in nature to reconnect with. But in my experience to develop inner balance, and thus survive as a species, we must change our relationship with nature, reconnect with it and redefine our place within it.
Modern science is agreeing more and more with the notion that our dissociation from nature is extremely harmful to our psyche and to our individual and collective development. Bill Plotkin, an eco-psychologist who has worked with people in the wild for over 20 years, writes in his book Nature and The Human Soul:
… healthy human development requires a constant balancing of the influences and demands of both nature and culture … By suppressing the nature dimension of human development … industrial growth society engenders an immature citizenry unable to imagine a life beyond consumerism and soul-suppressing jobs.
There are three main reasons why I see we should immerse ourselves more into nature:
1. Artificial Lives: Most of our days are spent in artificial environments that have no living energy or ‘spirit’. We work and live in buildings made from bricks, and rooms illuminated by artificial lighting, we stare at artificial screens 5 to 6 hours of our waking time, and are surrounded by artificial noises and sounds from messages, emails, calls, apps and video games. This results in an over-stimulated mind and under-stimulated senses, all of which disconnect us from ourselves.
2. Reflects Our Souls: Our soul is that wild energy that vibrates in all that is living. When we are in nature, we are instinctively able to connect with these deeper aspects of ourselves, to explore our natural selves, and to find peacefulness and wisdom through inner-balance.
3. Species Survival: Unless we learn to reconnect with the natural world, respect her laws and appreciate the air we breath, the food we eat, the water we drink thanks to her, our survival as a species is doubtful. The way we treat nature serves as a great reflection on our level of conscious development. If we destroy nature, we suffer much more than she does. We as a species depend on her; she doesn’t depend on us. Eventually, with enough time she can heal any wounds we inflict on her, but we can never heal our own species’ extinction.
3 Ways We Can Reconnect With Nature
My experience has taught me that trying to make someone environmentally aware is just as ineffective as trying to make someone animal cruelty aware.
The whole PETA approach of “Meat is Murder” to shock and enrage publicity, and the guilt tripping approach of: “You’re no better than a mass murderer! Your eating habits are revolting and evil!! Join us!” portrays vegans and vegetarians as being subverts, accusers, haters, which often does nothing but repel and scare many people away from even considering a change in their eating habits.
So instead of following the demands to “take care of nature”, why don’t we take the time to immerse ourselves in the natural world and experience all the physical and mental benefits it can provide us? It is hard to take care of something you have developed no respect for.
These are some of the suggestions I offer our students to help them reconnect with nature:
1. Educated awareness: We live in an age where being environmentally friendly is associated with being a hippy, hipster, tree-hugger or eco-freak. Caring for the environment is somehow thought of as being stupid or uncool. Mostly this comes from the lack of education we provide to teach children and adults of the many benefits they can experience from immersing themselves in the wilderness. The first step is to develop a vibrant knowledge and understanding of the subject.
2. Become an exhibitionist: We often think of nature as a one-sided relationship, or in other words: that we simply go into nature to look at it. But have you ever thought that Nature also experiences you? ‘Pachamama’ as we call her, is very aware of the presence and energy that you bring into her environment. A fun exercise to try is going into nature with a piece of paper and pencil; sitting down, closing your eyes for however long you wish, and concentrating on your breathing, imagining that Mother Nature is watching you all around. Once you’re done, open your eyes and write down your experience, the thoughts that popped into your head and the feelings. You’ll be surprised what she can inspire in you.
3. Experience nature with intent: A good way to practice dadirri is going to a park or nature walk, and experience nature with intent. To do this, dedicate the first five minutes of your walk to noting all the sounds you hear. You then dedicate the next five minutes to experiencing or feeling the sensations produced by the wind, warmth of the sun, coolness of the rain, or even by extending your hand so you can touch the trees as you walk by. The next five minutes try to notice all the trees and plants, as well as all the wildlife you can find. And finally, the last few minutes can be dedicated to becoming aware of your connection with the earth, by experiencing how your feet firmly touch the ground with every step.
Intuitively, we all know the value of nature. When we imagine a calm and relaxing place, a place to escape from the business of the modern world, for example, most of us imagine a sanctuary in nature. I hope this article helps you get back in touch with our oldest friend.