What Does the Earth Have To Teach Us?
By Sanaa Green
Being taught by the earth, for some in Western, modern cultures, is an oxymoron based on the premise that the earth is an inanimate object here for humans to conquer and control. The earth can teach us how to heal our bodies, through herbalism. The earth can teach us where to build our houses and place our furniture, with Feng Shui. The earth can teach us when to rest, at nightfall. The earth can teach us when to plant crops, during moon cycles.
With all of the issues that are facing us, including race related killings, poverty, blatant racism, gentrification… life for some Detroiters is traumatic. I felt traumatized until I recalled, I can turn to the earth for comfort. When I look outside after a snowfall and see how the blanket of snow has covered everything and experience a sense of quiet, I can pause from the worried track that plays in my mind. This deep thinking is a contemplative practice. Contemplative practices focused on the earth can help us find rest.
The community needs ways to process our collective trauma that may have manifested in physical ailments. Some of us may not have a major illness, rather a gnawing subconscious feeling of unrest that causes us to eat too much food, drink too much coffee or watch too much TV. Some of us have illnesses that the medical establishment cannot heal.
We are longing for something we cannot name. The human being is an energy being that consists of body, mind and spirit. Any disease to the body first exists in the energy that extends away from our physical body 3-6 feet. Disease in any part of the body must be healed in the mental, spiritual and emotional bodies as well as the physical body. We are longing to come home to the earth, to recall ourselves as a part of nature, made of the same substance as the tree or bird. This recollection can shift our mindset and beliefs, which can aid our individual and collective healing. To come home to the earth means to see ourselves intricately linked to the soil, the lake, the grass.
This type of healing is available to all regardless of income or race because we have access to natural spaces in Detroit. The Wisdom series is intended to create various opportunities for residents of color in Detroit to connect to the earth through practices centered around nature. Utilizing Herbalism, Feng Shui, Belly Dance, Bird Walks or contemplating what you see out of the window can change lives. Anyone can choose one or all of the practices and with affirmative prayer and steadfast belief change their mind and, by extension, any personal situation.
In Detroit, there is a growing community of urban farmers, herbalists, mothers and outdoor enthusiasts who have awakened and are redefining their interaction with the earth in the city.
It is in this spirit that I created the The Wisdom Series to offer various methods to help the community see themselves and nature differently. Programs will include Herbalism, Feng Shui, Belly Dance, Four Directions class, Mindfulness walks and more. The centerpiece of the program is developing a contemplative practice. Evocative questions are offered to aid the community in developing a nature-centric contemplative posture. It is my hope that through this program individuals in our community will attend a program, start a journal, take a quiet walk in nearby nature and thereby find purpose and inner peace.
The Wild Indigo Wisdom Series focuses on contemplative nature exploration. Each season has an intuitive wisdom that we can learn and grow from. Evocative questions are offered to spark thought and journaling. Join us for monthly nature-focused activities. Wild Indigo is an outreach program of Great Lakes Audubon.
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Sanaa Green is a native Detroiter and a nature lover who has BA from Howard University. She has studied nature wisdom teachings from African, Chinese and Native American cultures and completed Masters work in Ecopsychology at Naropa University. She is also a Reiki Master and Belly Dance teacher. She lives on east side of Detroit near the convergence of Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River.