The observation of nature is our greatest design tool if we are to envision and live into a future that is green, healthy and whole. Our lives will be reflected in this new earth.
Where we are today is at the tipping point of earth evolution. Developing geographical landscape awareness requires attentiveness, time, and accord with the natural world that sustains us. The goal of permaculture--in the uber-redesigning of our lives toward what is essentially a zero-waste perspective--is to integrate our needs with ecological processes of the environment, so that we can work in harmony with our fellow creatures. How do we develop this awareness? Naturalists and trackers sometimes call this a view or sit spot.
There are three essential steps:
1: Go out into nature for as long as you can with little to no distraction. Plan adequately to take care of your own warmth and nourishment needs. Bring a journal/pen, sketch pad, or digital recorder if desired.
2: Find a good view and sit down. Clear your mind. And just notice. Nothing more. Notice the environment around you, the space, the animals, the birds, the plant life, the earth, the temperature, the sounds, your breathing, your thoughts. Just notice.
3. Continue Step 2 for a half-hour to 45 minutes. Journal or verbalize afterwards, noticing what you noticed. Notice how you re-acquaint yourself with the day-to-day world around you when you leave.
Repeat weekly -- daily if possible. This is essentially a daily practice. Ask yourself, "What am I noticing about myself in relation to the world around me?" "What qualities are different in me now?" "What is my true purpose in the world?"
Plants, trees and forests are stationary and can be challenging to comprehend in any one moment--their secrets unfold through time. To discover ourselves into wholeness, we need to see with a different kind of vision. We begin to learn how to see with our minds. We begin to listen with our hearts, and develop inner knowingness through intentional attunement with the natural world. Only in these ways can we begin to heal the earth from the ill effects of humanity's unconsciousness.
Taking these skills one step further, we actually move into the realm of permaculture in action--the most commonly known form of permaculture today. The design science and integrated practices of reclaiming our wholeness and healing the earth by noticing what she needs through bioremediation, cultivating food forests, mulching, mycoremediation, creating herb spirals, berms, swales and a variety of rain catchement systems to support organic multi-layer food production. The search and discovery of the sacred, hidden aspects of nature can be viewed as a metaphor for re-learning our holistic connection to our authentic selves and thus co-create new ways of living in partnership with the earth. This is also the goal of Deep Ecology.
My friend and spiritual comrade, Mary Reynolds Thompson, CPCC, has developed an amazing workshop and written a book about five archetypal soulscapes we can explore to tune in more deeply to the earth and discover the rich vitality that comes from meaningful connection.
“Permaculture is a new door for people to come back to the land. It is an entrance into techniques, some of which are ancient methods.” Today, he noted, because the soil and landscape have been degraded by modern farming, “it’s not just a matter of maintaining, but of restoring, the land.” -- Massimo Candela, resident, Torri Superiore, Liguria, Italy EcoVillage