Tag Archives: gratitude

Don’t just do something, sit there… The power of the sit spot.

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I think i saw a hare today! It was jumping about under some trees, bigger than a rabbit, with big ears, and much more of a hopping gait. I got to watch it hop from one tree to the next. It did a few circles around the place i had recently walked through – i guess i had made it smell human and funny with my bare feet – and then it buzzed off. I don’t think it spotted me – I had been sitting very still, wearing earthy colours under a nearby oak tree for 45 minutes by that point… I had been sitting (and at one point snoozing)  listening to the daytime birds sing their evening songs and occasional alarm calls, in a world of falling acorns, rustling leaves, eternal branches and dappled shadows. At one particularly magical point I heard a night time bird start its weird hooting.

I’m having a rare few week where i have some unscheduled time – I’m not teaching, consulting, learning or moving between countries. So finally all the things i need to give some time to, have some time. I have a very full to do list, several actually, and despite that, for these 2 weeks I have committed to go out into the woods and sit still, observing the life around me for at least 30 minutes every day. Its one of the core nature connection routines that i use to keep me open, connected, and aware. Its called a sit spot, and I came across it in the 8 Shields/Nature Culture Network movement a few years ago.

If I sit down in a life-filled place, and stay quiet for about 20 minutes (less if i have walked in slowly and quietly), the birds stop fussing about me being there, and then the other animals stop worrying that the birds are fussing, and life in all its shapes and sizes and colours and patterns and gaits, goes back to baseline. It helps if I’m wearing broken pattern earthy coloured clothing too, but the time, silence and stillness are far more important. Then a fox may stroll in, sit for a while, licking itself in a sunbeam, and stroll away again. Or a hare (?) might lopingly bounce through the woods, with huge ears. Or an arrow like bird fly straight in front of me. More likely, i will simply hear the sounds of life all around me – the falling leaves and nuts and branches, the birds seeking insects in the leaf mulch, the alarm calls and joyous songs of the treetop birds, all the rich and deep aural tapestry of ancient English woodland. It doesn’t have to be about charismatic animals and birds – time spent looking at a half disintegrated holly leaf, or watching an ant on the ground can bring me so much.

I value and prioritise this ‘do nothing’ nature connection time because it does a lot for me (and even knowing that, i still need to set daily  commitments to make me do it…) It is a rich, connecting, heart opening, relaxing, learning experience that brings me closer to the more than human world, closer to the complex, interdependent, diverse,  beautiful systems dynamics that my work in regenerative design is based on. ‘Nature’ observation is the foundation of Permaculture design – using the patterns and principles and techniques of the inherently regenerative ecosystems around us to design systems for ourselves (hoses, gardens, communities, farms). And even if it wasn’t so fundamental to my conscious design work, spending time each day listening to bird song, leaves rustle, acorns fall, creeping out barefoot among the oak and holly trees, seeing the sky through the tree branches, sensing how it all changes slightly everyday, nourishes me in deep ways i deeply appreciate, do not fully understand, and love.

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Thank you world.

Hello, welcome to my first blog post. I start by giving thanks, a cultural tool for grounding and gaining perspective.

I thank the earth for providing us with so much i cannot hope to list it all – material support, food, beauty, homes, nourishment.

I thank the sky for the gifts of sun to inspire and feed us, rain to cleanse and nourish us, wind to breath freshness into us.

I thank the soil and the funghi for their wealth, for their store of precious life and nutrients, recycling the dead that the living may feed.

I thank the water for its teachings of flow, for its constant cycling of resources and cleansing; washing us and the land down, quenching our thirst and that of all the animals and plants, creating the conditions inside us for all our chemical and biological interactions – cells, bacteria, digestion, blood, for all the beings that require fresh clean water to continue.

I thank all the beings that help to cleanse the water, to clear the imbalances from our water courses and rivers, from the dancing streams to the rivers, to the lake, to the deltas and bays to the seas and ocean.

I thank the plants for bringing us food and beauty, for protecting the precious soils and transforming sunlight and soil and water into such exquisite shapes and tastes.

I thank the trees for their strength and grandeur, their gifts of fruits, nuts, shelter, homes and versatile wood we can use in so many ways, to protect our vulnerable bodies in the cold and wet times.

I thank the animals, from the tiny unseen creatures of the soil who do so much to start our food web, to the large animals that teach and inspire us, the wolf, the deer, the elephant. They also often lose their lives for us, that we may feed and clothe ourselves.

I thank the human family for having so much love and potential, for wanting to learn and experience, for our beauty and bravery and creativity. I bring to mind the future generations of humans and other species, and dedicate this blog to them, to let them know we are thinking of them and exploring ways to leave them a wiser and more nourishing world.

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Some indigenous cultures give a thanksgiving address before each gathering, to ground themselves in their place in the natural world, in the passage of history and remind them of the larger perspective and their responsibilities and interconnection with everything, and probably lots of other more subtle reasons i don’t yet comprehend. Its a cultural tool we couldreally do with in the West. Our daily information is more usually about the problems and darkness of our human sphere, which is a part of the picture, but the picture is much larger than that.

I feel a sense of peace, expansiveness and awe having written this, and a desire to bring what is best for all beings into the world.

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Looking at my notebook I see I forgot to mention birds, spirit, stars and a few other things, but it is all a learning path : )

I will end by thanking my human mentors who have helped me along this journey as well, to my ever loving parents, to Aranya my deeply abundant Permaculture teaching mentor, to Jillian my incisive, wise life mentor, to the UK Permaculture Association for all their support in my lifework of connected sustainable living, and Jon Young and all involved in the Art of Mentoring for a rich work of cultural regeneration (including this thanksgiving tool). And i thank and appreciate myself also, for finally starting a blog and spending some time on my edge tonight.