Nature Based Practice

This is a collection of exercises that support connection with the web of life in natural surroundings, amongst people in group processes as well as fostering connection with oneself through individual inner work. They are less focussed on input, but rather a tool to try to bring a felt and heartful perspective to the topic of permaculture, peacework and changemaking.

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Nature-Sit-In

This exercise can be used in different ways, depending on how much time you want to dedicate to it. The basic idea is, that people are spending a certain time alone in a natural surrounding, opening their senses, being present in the moment in order to explore and connect to their surrounding. It would be good, if people take no notebooks, phones or anything like that with them in order to minimise the distraction sources, and being able to open to experience the present.
You could take as little as 15 minutes for this solo time in nature, having it as a small break, and coming-down-to-earth in between other things, or give it greater space, like several hours or a whole day of free rumbling around and exploring. Important is, to encourage people, to explore, change perspective, try out new ways of moving through the terrain. To use their senses to connect with whatever is around them. Encourage people to follow their impulses, and let them live whatever feels appropriate and good to them in the moment.

Afterwards you can meet in a circle in order to exchange about the experience. If you had a more intense or longer solo periond, like several hours or a whole day, you might even do the sharing in a more ritualised way, giving more space to share and recognize the experience.

Open Sentences

This is a structure for spontaneous expressions. It is helpful both to train free, associative expression and non-judging listening. It can be used in all phases of the project, even though it might also be useful to be introduced in the first days, encouraging opening up and getting to know each other on a different level. People find together in pairs, they sit face to face to each other. One is Partner A, one is Partner B.
Partner A will speak the beginning of a sentence (which can be found below), which will be repeated and spontaneously completed by Partner B, they can also talk further, if there is any association coming up. After a short time (maybe 1-2 minutes), B will start the sentence, which will be repeated and completed by A. You can continue this exercise for as long as you want.

Sentences could look like:

What I like about being alive in Earth is…
A person or situation that helped me to believe in myself, was…
Something I appreciate about myself is..
Being alive now in these times of crisis and change is hard for me because…
What I appreciate about living in these troubled times is…
As I look at my life, it seems that I am taking part in the movement of change, and some of the ways…
What concerns me most about the world today is….
When seeing what is happening with the natural world, what breaks my heart is…
When I see what is happening to our society, what breaks my heart is…
When I think of the world we will leave to our children, it looks like…
Feelings about all this, that I carry around with me are…
Ways I avoid these feelings are…
Ways I use these feelings are…
What first inspired me to work for change was…
What I find hard in this work is…
What keeps me going is…

Going forth

This is an exercise helpful in the final phase of a project, wrapping up what has been learned throughout the shared time, and what can be taken from that to the future, both also taking a bigger, visionary perspective on possible future action.

Take some time to arrive in the space, in the body, in the moment. Following the breath can be a useful way to unite focus in both body and mind. People can find together in a circle, turn to the left side and slowly, with attention start walking backwards. While walking, they can receive guiding impulses for reflecting on the past days… They could look like this:

“You are slowly walking backwards. As walking backwards, you are passing through time… through this morning, getting up. Dreams of last night, the last evening… through moments of the past days.. the first days, meeting each other, slowly exploring who we are… Arriving here.. Departing from home. How did you feel then, what thoughts did you have?… Deciding to come here, having the impulse that this experience could be important for you… Travelling through time, forwards, come back here… To the present.”

Take some time to settle back in the present.
Then People should find together in pairs.
One person at the time will go in the process of answering the following questions, guided by their partner. The partner will take some notes of what the speaker tells, in order to make thoughts available to them afterwards.

Useful questions may be:
1.Imagine you would be liberated from all fear to fail or lose something, imagine you could draw on all the power available to you from the web of life, what would you do with your life? What would you do in service of life on the earth?

2.What particular project could you frame out of this vision? Is there something specific you could do to start bringing this big idea into life step by step?

3.What inner and outer resources, contacts, relationships, networks of people do you already have or are connected to? How could they support you in the process?

4.What inner and outer resource might you need to acquire? What might you need to learn in order to follow your inner calling?Are there ways you can learn that?
5. Are there ways of self-sabotage that you know from yourself? What obstacles might you throw in your way, that might prevent you from going forth? How can you actively meet and go through these obstacles or self-sabotage?

6.Is there a concrete step -and be it small- can you do already when coming back home, in the next week, in order to move along the envisioned path?

After having gone through the questions, the partner will reflect what they have heard from the people speaking, which may help the latter to see themselves and things with new eyes from the outer perspective. The partner can also read out the notes they took while first person was speaking in order to reflect what they heard.
Then, roles are changed. The person going through the questions first, will now listen and take notes, while the other will go through the reflection process guided by the questions.

Life Meditation

This is a guided meditation that helps to dive into the greater context of our lives. It helps to take a greater perspective on our action and how our individual life is framed by our surroundings.
For enhancing the meditative sphere and the connection to this exercise, it might be useful to use a quiet, not often frequented place, ideally in an outside setting. Otherwise no materials are needed.
One person should guide the others through the meditation. People could slowly walk in the space, or rest laying down, sitting silently. Anything that helps to be present and get go into the flow. The meditation could go like this…

Stand still.. Arrive in the moment…Feel your body..feel your feet anchored in the ground…you are being held,carried day by day though your life… from this earth energy is moving through you in every minute…follow your breathe…how it flows in…how it flows out…observe the movement of the breathe… how all movement results from this one movement of breathe… there is no inside nor outside, the breathe is both inside and outside of you, connecting you to all that is life and breathing…. people in the room, birds in the air, worms crawling through the earth… all breathing the same air… though, the air, this key to life, is being changed in structure and contents, as the time goes by, and today it is also by observing composition of the air, that we come to the conclusion to face a global crisis… these times of great peril, of massive destruction of life in all of its shapes, from the seas to the forests, to the mountain tops, are also times for change towards a better, a more life affirming world, and it is in our hands to remember life, it’s interdependence and our responsibility resulting from this… breathe… the same air is nourishing life since its beginnings, during all the length of its evolution, of its change and taking different shapes… it is also the same air that you took your first breathe from, coming to earth when being born… Why are you born… Why are you now? why are you here? Think back to the place of your birth… the place where you spent the first days, weeks, months, years of your being… think of the time of birth.. what has changed since then, what has stayed the same… which color of skin are you facing the sun with day by day… how did this make you act in certain moments… your family… what they are doing, believing, teaching…your role within their community… your relationship with siblings, with other children… which role did you take amongst them… exploring your growing up, finding out you have a gender, you are a certain way… your sexual preferences… how are they making you act in the world… growing up exploring also your gifts… what you can give to the world… that’s what you are… that’s how you are in this world, what you brought with yourself to this specific place at this moment in time, able to act… now take distance for a while… fly high.. leave the earth, rise up to the sky… look back, oversee your life in its wholeness… imagine, from here you can see how everything fits together, you can see why you came to this earth, and what you are going to do on your further path…
Come down again… Breathe… feel the earth carrying your weight… feel your body, all its weight and power… breathe… come back to the room… slowly open your eyes…