Three Lessons from Nature During Quarantine
By Alice Cunningham, Executive Director of International Affairs for Shumei International, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering a deep respect for nature, an appreciation of beauty, and spiritual values.
Note: All Shumei farms and gardens are Natural Agriculture so zero additives, manure, fertilizers or pesticides.
During quarantine, home gardening has become a growing trend along with spending time in nature and connecting with loved ones. There is something to be said about finding solace and peace in the natural world. Indeed, nature can teach us everything about the mysteries of life and the laws of the universe. However, we are often too busy, disconnected or distracted to recognize this wisdom. This global pandemic has created an opportunity for us to learn from nature and even experience a spiritual renewal and reset in how we relate to our environment and one another. As we go through lockdown and reopening at various stages around the globe, it is important to focus on the positive habits can continue to cultivate during quarantine. When we develop a grounded foundation in our inner lives and at home, we can take this energy forward into the world and transform it. If each of us can do this to our own capacity, we can truly build back better.
Here are three lessons from quarantine that can be applied when we let nature be our guide:
I have been practicing Natural Agriculture for many years, whereby I forgo the use of any chemicals or additives. I also travel regularly for work. This is the first time in a long time that I have been at home to see the day-to-day progress of my plants and to see all the insects and creatures that come into the garden at different times of day. It has given me a renewed sense of respect and appreciation for the harmony that exists in the natural world and its profound impact on my mood and wellbeing. We human beings are part of nature and we are all interconnected. The interconnectedness in living systems is reflective of the interconnectedness of our bodies and our health to the wider world. In this time of covid-19, we can use this opportunity to bear witness to the interconnections in nature and recognize how nature contributes to our health and well-being. In the same way, our actions have a profound impact on the health and well-being of our community.
In the past few months, we have seen disruptions in our food supply chains and growing demand on food banks while food waste continues to be a major problem across the world. More than 30 percent of all food produced is being lost in production or wasted by consumers. Nature provides for us in multiple ways, yet we are discarding her bounty and the hard work of farmers across the globe. By observing nature more closely, we can start to cultivate gratitude in our hearts and minds, and in our behavior. Feeling gratitude for the Earth’s gifts is a reciprocal endeavor; when we show the Earth our gratitude, she responds. Similarly, if we develop gratitude for what we have, it will help us focus on abundance as opposed to scarcity because of nature’s generosity to us. The more we feel gratitude for the food we have and the more able we will be to develop a mindset that encourages mindful consumption and production, and generosity to others.
3. An Appreciation of Beauty
Finding the beauty in our natural surroundings, in everyday activities and in others is something we can practice during quarantine and beyond. The global pandemic, the economic shutdown and the uncertainty of the future have caused many people to experience fear, anxiety, panic and depression like never before. In the midst of these emotions, one of the ways nature has the ability to help us navigate difficult situations is through the healing power of nature and its beauty. While none of us can fully control the situation in the world, this is a reminder that we can control how we react. One of the most powerful ways we can respond is through cultivating an appreciation of beauty, because while subtle, beauty can have a profound effect on us and create a shift in our mindset. Much of that comes from uplifting our spirits by seeing the beauty in nature. However, by simply finding the beauty in others and finding an opportunity to be kind to them, can spark a shift in the situation around us and ourselves.
These are lessons we can apply to our lives and to the situation the world is currently facing. Now more than ever, nature can help us to navigate these uncertain times and respond from a space of interconnectedness, gratitude and beauty. The sense of renewal and transformation that comes from gardening and seeing plants and flowers grow is not lost during this time, nor are the possibilities for a future more in harmony with nature and one another. Take this time to listen and let nature be your guide.
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