We are the Earth


Human beings have lost the art of living in balance and harmony with their natural surroundings. The frenetic pace of living and indiscriminate use of resources is slowly pushing us to the brink of ecological and human disaster. It’s time we went back to caring for ourselves and this planet, says Kiri Meili. She also tells us simple ways to do this.

Many of the environmental problems confronting humanity today are caused by continuous human intervention in natural processes. The Earth is geared towards life and is always pushing towards more abundance and more life and more beauty, if it’s only given half a chance. A forest left to its own devices is naturally healthy, self-regulating, and self-cleansing. When we interfere with these processes, natural systems cannot function in the way they usually do. They cannot regulate themselves like they are designed to, and systems begin to collapse. Today this manifests in so many different forms of ecological destruction, which is really the ill health of the earth.

Human beings are a part of the natural world, and the health of ecological systems is responsible for our health. Health is far more than the fragmented subject we leave to be dealt with by specialists and doctors. To be healthy is to be whole, to be in harmony within ourselves and with the outer world. Health cannot be separated from our food, from the soil it comes from, from the air we breathe, the water we use, or from our experience of earth’s profound beauty. Our health is bound and wholly dependent on all that the earth provides, all that nourishes us. In order to understand our own bodies and our health, we must also understand our intricate companionship with ecological systems. To take charge of our health, we must understand how to make our life whole, and we must responsibly occupy our place in the cycle of birth, growth, maturity, death, and decay, which are the cycles that govern all life.

Be aware of nature’s abundance
Being healthy means allowing natural processes to immunise us, stimulate us, energise us and nurture us. To do this we need to have a deep and conscious relationship with nature. When we breathe we understand that this is what is giving us our oxygen, we are aware of where that oxygen is coming from. That we are bound to trees, to every tree we see, and all the greenery around us is what is enabling us to breathe.

That when we eat we are aware of where this food is coming from, that it came from the soil, was sown and grown by someone, that it needed water and sunlight to ripen and grow.

When we use water, we think of how it has come to us, the cycles of water and how it is purified by the earth. We think of what is happening to the waters of the world, of the difference between sick, stagnant water and the water of a running stream. Living a healthy life is living in recognition that we are active creators of abundance and therefore, of our own wellness.

When we begin to be conscious in this way, we become aware that our constant interventions in natural processes are often detrimental to our own wellbeing. When we live a fast paced life, full of stress and rushing, we end up being disconnected from our roots. We lose sight of our purpose as creators of healthy processes. We forget the relationship between our own existence and the sun, the air, water, soils and plants. When we lose touch with this basic knowledge of the interdependence of humans and nature, we try to fill the hole with substitutes. We seek fulfillment through the acquisition of material goods. We fill our homes and our bellies with stuff that is not really doing us any good, and through this we forget what true fulfillment is.

Consumerism and over consumption are the direct result of this alienation. The planet is being clogged up and polluted by endless streams of smoke, dust and things. Packaging from processed and refined foods, from bottled drinks and other mass produced goods fill landfills and line beaches. Everything we do ends up requiring a tremendous amount of energy and results in a huge amount of waste.

The more we live in this way, the harder it is for us to find what it is that truly nourishes us. This is when we begin to fall ill. By illness we do not mean the occasional cough or bad stomach, but illness as something which affects our ability to live our lives to the fullest. Lack of energy, lack of enthusiasm and strength, lack of flow. The more ill we get, the more trapped we become.

It is only when we disrupt natural systems and processes that we find pollution and toxicity. Balanced systems recycle nutrients and cleanse themselves. Like all natural systems, the human body is remarkable in its ability to self regulate, but in order for this to happen it must remain connected to its source of nourishment and health.

Let us look at some of the ways we can care for our own wellbeing, and in that way care for the Earth:

  • We thrive when we are surrounded by beauty. Think of what kind of environment makes you happiest and spend time creating it for yourself.
  • Become aware of the trees around you and all the services they provide. Here’s a glimpse: trees create rain, cool cities, save water, prevent erosion, help people heal faster, prevent dust and pollution, purify water, and create soil. We often only think about our trees once they have been cut down. Do what you can to create awareness in others too of the value of your local trees.
  • Cook your own food as much as you can. Cooking is relaxing and centering.
  • Think about where your food comes from and what goes into making it. Our bodies respond directly and immediately to everything we eat. Plant based whole foods which have been grown without the use of harmful chemicals contain up to thousands of times more of the essential micronutrients and minerals our bodies need.
  • Spend one week eating only foods that are whole, plant -based, and organic, and see how it makes you feel.
  • Grow plants and work with soil. Gardening is one of the best ways of slowing down and calming your mind. Keeping even just a few plants in the house can have an effect on your overall wellbeing. A living plant will also give you great pleasure as you will know that you have contributed to its flourishing. Don’t worry if your plants die, it happens to everyone in the beginning.
  • Grow our own food. This can even just be some greens, but there are few things as rewarding and instantly gratifying as watching something sprout and eating something you have grown yourself. It will also make you more mindful of your dependence on nature and on farmers.
  • Compost all your kitchen waste. Seeing fruit and vegetable scraps turn to beautiful rich, brown soil is a true miracle. Composting also ensures that you segregate your waste, which is one step towards solving our enormous garbage problem. Plants grown in compost will also be healthy and full of nutrients.
  • Become conscious of what you are buying and why, think of where it came from and where it will end up.
  • Take a few minutes every day to close your eyes, relax and breathe.
  • Remember that human beings do not exist in isolation, and that everything you do to take care of yourself will certainly also benefit others and nature.

  • Kiri-Meili

    Kiri Meili

    Kiri Meili is a gardener and permaculture practitioner living in Bangalore. Her work focuses on creating farms and gardens for food as well as linking organic producers to consumers in the city. She worked in the Earth Care department of The Health Awareness Centre, Mumbai for two and a half years, and continues to be a close friend and associate.