Tag Archives: earth element

Reconnecting to the web of life

Humanity’s disconnect to the web of life, the lack of respect and awareness for the many parts of the bigger whole, has got us into a pretty dire predicament.

Some theorists would argue that man is a predator by nature and that it is all about the survival of the fittest, falsely quoting Darwin who was in reality very much aware of the intricate inter-connection of all living things.

Any species which fails to find its niche in the web of life becomes extinct because the earth or “creation intelligence” always finds a means of discarding that which becomes a threat to everything else. It is something you become acutely aware of by spending alone time in nature or in the wilds.

I’ve had some of my deepest spiritual experiences while hiking alone in the Pyrenees mountains, the Spanish Camino and the African bush where simply by observation you begin to realize that every plant, beetle, bird, antelope or predator is there for a reason and plays its small part in sustaining life as a whole.


My theory is that humanity’s disconnect from the web of life is partly the result of alienation from nature and the “materialist-theoretical” approach to religion rather than intuitive spirituality that our forebears practised in the mystic traditions.

As hundreds of millions of people continue to move to urban areas there is a real danger that the alienation from our true destiny will continue. A growing number of people in the wealthier countries are living alone in apartments and getting lonelier and lonelier as they grow older and their already fragile support network of friends starts falling away.

In my previous blog I mentioned how much we are influenced and shaped by the people around us. Our health, our happiness and our lifespan depend on how well we are accepted, integrated and valued in that community we cherish. Loneliness is perceived as physical pain and is responsible for many psychological disorders. Read this interesting report on what people in Sardinia seem to be getting just right and why many of them stay healthy well over the age of a 100.

The biggest challenge faced by humanity is to rediscover that bond to the web of life and to make the switch from predator to custodian, protector and nurturer. Here are just some ways of reconnecting:

  • Sitting meditation with emphasis on the natural breathing sequence of inhaling and exhaling
  • Walking “things off” and reconnecting with your natural rhythm on a longer hike, preferably for several days. Its a wonderful way of detoxing your mind and body.
  • Any of the body arts such as yoga, taiji and qi gong have been practised and perfected over many generations as a way of reconnecting with your mind and body.
  • When outdoors in nature find just one sound to concentrate your mind on. It could be a bird chirping or the wind blowing through the trees. You will feel very relaxed after only a few minutes.

I had an amazing experience on one of my walks when I connected to a blackbird singing in a tree nearby. It responded by following me for several kilometres, hopping from tree to tree and on the track ahead. It was an amazing experience of connection.


Why face-to-face contact matters in a digital world

Yield and Overcome – How change can positively impact our lives

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An alien pondering on strange behaviour

I sometimes wonder what a higher being or “alien” would be thinking in observing the strange goings on of those humans down there.


We believe us to be at the top of the evolutionary ladder with creative minds that bring forth more inventions and technical revolutions than any generation before. Where a few years ago we had to spend hours in the library to get the information we needed, we now have it at the tips of our fingers via smart phone.


Our 12-year-old daughter just argued with me on why she didn’t need to learn certain things at school. “One day if I might need the information I could just google it,” was her response. Strange world indeed when I consider that I grew up in rural South Africa and had my first glimpse of TV when I was 18.


I sometimes wonder however, whether this information overload is not doing more harm than good. A lot of kids seem to have great difficulty in “feeling” who they really are. As teenagers we had our forms of protest against the adult world with bell-bottoms jeans, long hair and turning up the volume of Boston or Pink Floyd. The thought would never have crossed our mind to practise the form self-mutilation currently going around.


Many a beautiful young body is being scarred for life. Often the cuttings and piercings are found on energy points (acupuncture points and meridians) that have serious long-term health effects if you look at it from a Chinese medicine perspective. Doctors are increasingly treating young patients with serious infections caused by this “fashionable trend.” One young lad literally had to be told by a doctor that his penis would “rot and fall off” if the piercing was not immediately removed and the wound treated professionally.


Self-mutilation is intrinsically linked to the issue of self-worth. How do I feel in my body? Am I proud of who I am? Do I feel and look good? Am I beautiful or ugly, fat, too big or too small? I am not surprised that many young girls are cutting themselves if their world revolves around wanting to be like those sexy, super slim ideal models staring at them from every Super Model contest and glossy magazine. Its a battle they just can’t win!


I have been talking against a wall, telling our daughter that what she is looking at is a surreal world of make-believe, that these models spend hours being manicured in studios, the pics photo-shopped or manipulated in many other ways to fit the latest trend.


In these times it is crucial to give our children the tools to remain “grounded”. I am a firm proponent of limiting the time children spend on computer games, smart phones and television per day. Obviously this is a constant battleground. But we are sticking to our guns including compulsory gardening work on weekends – sorry all you so-called progressive parents – I am really old fashioned here.


From the perspective of the Five Elements we are looking at the Element Earth which is perhaps the most important of the elements (the others being metal, water, wood and fire). Spending too much time on electronic media especially weakens the earth element. On an emotional level it can lead to preoccupation with “things” that only fulfil our needs at a very superficial level – leaving us with an empty feeling in the stomach.


In Chinese literature the partner organ to the stomach – the spleen – is often described as the “residence” of the thought and thinking process that has enormous influence on our concentration and learning capability. Chronic fatigue and low energy levels are some of the physical symptoms of a weakened spleen. In the body arts we are talking about the lower or first Dan Tien – the major energy centre of the body where our life-force is centred. Muck around with it too much and you are reducing your life-span and life-quality time.



More information on the Five Elements in my book “Yield and Overcome”: http://goo.gl/TXSgw0


What is the Dan Tien: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dantian



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