Deepening Relationship to Body and Earth as a path to Interconnection and Resilience…
In my twenties, without fully knowing where and why I was going, I set off on a 7-year journey of discovery that gave me a glimpse of how to live in deeper interdependence with the other-than-human world. When I finally ended this chapter of my pilgrimage, I was no longer the same person, changed by interactions with dawns and sunsets, frosts and fire, mountains and flowing water. Even from the urban sprawl of Bristol, UK, where I landed, I would seek out the local springs, caves, woods and wilder places, yearning to re-connect with what lies beneath the concrete.
Years later, still seeking to build bridges between these worlds, I come back again and again to this highly significant part of my life that I find hard to fathom. What was it that called me to go into the unknown? I now believe it has a lot to do with finding my roots. As I explore ways to connect with my ancestry, windows are opening in my felt sense to what it’s like to relate to those I have never met, whom I will never find on ancestry.com, including to those who lived before much of the turbulence and trauma, before wars, displacement, colonisation and more.
I do not know their names, nor how exactly they lived, yet I am graced with occasional and precious glimpses of a way of experiencing the world where life is about interconnection and reciprocity.
My 7-year journey called me to a place where I could begin to hear these comforting whispers that would help me to unravel some of the knots and tangled threads of living in an era where separation sometimes seems to be poisoning everywhere.
Although my ancestors are spread over many continents, as I see it, this journey of re-indigenisation does not necessarily mean living where and how they lived. As I remember my roots, acknowledging those who know what it is to be indigenous, those who are deeply immersed in separateness, and those who are both, I’m teasing out the ways that I hold both the traumatised and the resourced places within me. To connect with the bigger picture of people and places beyond Newtonian space and time paradoxically helps me to be more present here and now, in the place and the reality that I currently call home.
Interconnection deepens my awareness of the confusion, the pain and the trauma on our planet, yet it lands as a path of hope, of resourcing, remembering and recreating marginalised but not completely forgotten pathways to healing people and planet.
It’s one thing to agree (or not) about the need for interconnection, but what would it actually be like to embody and live from that place?
Here is what it looks like for me:
- decolonising my relationship with my body and with the human and the non-human beings around me; cultivating an animate relationship of reciprocity rather than domination, with awareness of pervasive ways in which this way of relating is systemically marginalised
- making space for intuition, the power of the imagination and the wisdom of the body to guide and resource me
- opening to the possibility that my feelings and body sensations may be a wholly appropriate response to the ruptures and systemic trauma in society and in our world
- honouring the body as the place where trauma is experienced as well as the place where it may be healed
- recognising that I live in what Martin Luther King called an “inescapable network of mutuality” in which personal wellbeing and issues of social justice are intertwined
- learning to listen and to take time to get to know the places around me and the beings within them
- learning from, and holding allyship with people who have kept traditions of interconnective wisdom alive amid innumerable adversities and struggles for survival
- honouring the diversity of life (including how we live in a complex and multi-faceted pluriverse which reminds me to question myself in moments where I may be tempted to think that there is one single path or ideology that will solve everything)
- taking time to reflect: amid panic or confusion, is the way that we walk together as important as where we are going? As Bayo Akomolafe quotes, “The times are urgent, let us slow down!”
I am currently facilitating a community-building project called Web of Life that is exploring what it means to remember the ways in which we are interconnected. Through practices to deepen our relationship with our bodies and with the Earth, our embodied community of the heart is weaving a web of hope. Doing this together with others is an antidote to the belief that we individually ‘create our own reality’ in isolation from the web of life. Within a paradigm of separation, our small steps may at times seem like an insignificant drop in the ocean, yet from this quite different paradigm, I feel the power and truth of Resmaa Menakem’s words:
“When practised by enough people… simple primordial activities can begin to change the world, body by body.”
You can find out more or join us for a while here: https://matthewheysemoore.com/web-of-life/