Starting a journey in Listening to the Earth
Listening to the Earth…
These words have possessed my mind and heart in the last few months, and I am keenly aware that I am only at the very beginning of a long journey of discovery. This journey is paved with beautiful encounters with Nature and amazing individuals, which I cannot help but share here…
The first door into this journey was open for me in 2017 by Terrylynn Brant, a seed keeper from the Six Nations of Grand River, in Ontario, Canada, during the International Symposium on Food Security and Nutrition in the Age of Climate Change, organized by Québec. As I already shared in a previous blog article, she told us that according to her people’s understanding, the changing climate change and rising temperatures are a sign that the earth is purging itself, like a body heating up with fever as it fights infection. “What are we to do to help her?” I asked. “We are to be present, to listen to her, and accompany her,” was Terrylynn’s response.
The door was further widened during my first stay in the Findhorn community, for the International Forum on Sustainability Forum in the spring of 2018, where our facilitator Robin Alfred, invited us to “take a question to Nature”. Doing so opened up a world for me. The answer is captured in this poem.
A year later, in April 2019, during the Findhorn Climate Change and Consciousness Conference, an inspiring farmer, Costanza Vergara, from Colombia, told us the story of how she regenerated the land on her father’s ranch through organic farming. “First, I decided what to plant where, but gradually, I realized that the land was telling me what it wanted to grow where. I started to listen, and the farm thrived in a whole other way.” My partner’s and my dream of one day cultivating a piece of land took on a whole new dimension… what could it be, I wondered, to develop a relationship with the land to the extent one could feel/hear it?
In this same conference, which fostered an alchemistry of science, environmental activism, spirituality, international cooperation and communion with nature, we debated how we can heighten people’s awareness of our sacred bond with Nature in policy making at the local, national and global level.
This question was of particular interest for me because, at about the same time, several friends were actively engaged in making Nature central to the political agenda of the United Nations Climate Action Summit, organized by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in September 2019. They struggled with this challenge: with political focus being driven more by economic imperatives and concerns, how can we make politicians care about Nature?
The question struck me. “So many people care deeply about Nature!”, I thought. “How can one not care?”
Upon reflection, however, I became more aware of how, today, we behave as mere consumers of Nature, seeing her as a tool not only to provide our basic needs, but also satisfy our whims and greed. Living largely in urban settings and indoors, we have lost touch with the elements. We are disembodied from our larger body, the Earth. The patterns of disharmony we see in Nature are echoed in our bodies, with diseases like cancer, auto-immune disorders and other chronic disease – symptoms that life is turning against life itself.
The urgency of these questions somehow fostered a series of serendipitous, or rather highly synchronous, encounters with amazing individuals (whom I invite you to meet by clicking here), leading to the creation of a highly strategic team who is convinced, as Gus Speth has famously said, that “we need a cultural and spiritual transformation” to answer the challenges inherent to climate change and environmental destruction.
The team sees that the crisis is not just one of carbon emissions and rising temperatures: the losses in biodiversity, the pollution of waters, deterioration of soils, the destruction of forests are all crying out in alarm that Nature as a whole is in crisis. And when Nature hurts, humanity suffers. Because we have an innate inter-connection with Nature – we are Nature. Could it be, we wonder, that we have forgotten this, and that this crisis is Nature’s call to us, that we may remember the sacred bond we share?
And can we even imagine solving the crisis we face with our heads alone? The problem is of such a complexity that we need to not only be guided by science, but also by our hearts, souls and by Nature’s wisdom. Is She not the master of complexity, adaptation, resilience, creativity and renewal?
Carried by the conviction that nurturing our innate connection is essential to support the behavior change required of policy makers, businesses and consumers to curtail the environmental crisis we face, the team launched an invitation to be “listening to the Earth” during key political events, such as the UN Climate Action Summit and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COPs).
The team proposes guided moments of mindful connection to the Earth, through social media and internet, on the occasion of high-level political encounters, while also encouraging individuals and groups to organize their own events at the same time. You can find the guided meditations shared on the occasion of the UN Climate Action Summit and COP25, as well as the kind of events organized by partners, on the Listening to the Earth website.
The Movement partners with and builds on existing environmental initiatives and networks such as Nature4Climate, One Minute for Earth, Youth4Nature, TreeSisters, mobilizing a growing number of individuals working in United Nations organisations and civil society, as well as spiritual communities and networks, such as the Anandacommunities and Zen Leadership Institute.
The movement is motivated by the following objectives:
· Restore our innate relationship with Nature, engendering a shift from being consumers of Nature to consciously living in harmony with the Earth.
· Infuse high level political events on climate with positive and compassionate energy and influence outcomes positively through the power of collective concentration
· Raise awareness about political events on Climate
· Strengthen connections between networks advocating for a harmonious relationship between humans and nature
The Listening to the Earth team is also increasingly concerned by the anxiety and fear the climate crisis is generating. These emotions are important activators but can also be destructive energies. It also sees the importance of supporting those who are so passionately engaged in climate and environmental action that they are at risk of burn-out. This makes reconnecting to Nature all the more key. Not only can Nature guide and inspire us, she can also comfort us. We all know the peace, grounding and expansion that comes from walking in a forest, looking at the ocean, hearing a bird’s song, smelling a flower, breathing fresh mountain air…
As I found myself engulfed in a wave of energy calling to be invested in this movement, a more personal call to be listening to the Earth was taking shape. Life was putting a gift in my partner’s and my way: a calling of the heart and senses to settle in a farm in the hills of Burgundy, in France. It entailed surviving a tempest of admin procedures and scrambling for the resources we needed, but as 2019 came to a close, we were in our new home, waking up daily to a heart-lifting view and the appeasing silence of the field and forest in front of our doorstep.
This is a special home. One where we will cultivate the art of listening to the Earth, but also invite all of you to join us in doing so … we will be creating a retreat and seminar center, which we hope to open in 2021…
This is why I know this journey is only beginning.
It is a journey that gives me great hope for the decades to come, because my heart tells me that by connecting with Nature and with each other, we can find the resources to act from a space of love and compassion, with a sense of joy, guided by the higher wisdom that has enabled Life to prevail since the dawn of time…
If you are interested to find out more about Listening to the Earth, please visit (and share!) the website, or write to me should you have any questions.
 “I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. (…) I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation…”