We Are One Tribe.

There is not a corner of this earth that isn’t profoundly affected by the virus. My nephew and his wife live and work at a luxury safari lodge deep in South Africa. {Instagram: matt_fly} Nothing but veld and stunning wild animals surround them, and yet as airline travel dries up, even they are feeling the effect. When I look through my social media feeds, I see our shared fears and concerns reflected by friends and family from all over the world. As terrifying as our new normal is, the one thing that has struck me—and I am sure all of you—is how it underscores a simple fact: we are all connected. We are one tribe!

In our lifetimes, most of us cannot remember a situation that linked the entire world, an event that circled the whole globe in its deathly grip. Fires in Australia? Horrendous and heartbreaking, but sitting at a café table in Paris, it’s something happening on the other side of the world. Refugees flooding across borders or drowning in oceans? Tragic, but comfy in your chair with a nice Cabernet, you click a few buttons, donate some money, and life goes on. But, for the first time, we see the whole world connected and affected by one nightmarish epidemic. The actions of some can have consequences for us all. 

Will we learn from this? Will we now accept that just as every single human is part of the same tribe, every living thing in this universe has a place: humans, animals, plants, insects. (Not actually sure what benefit mosquitoes provide. Feel free to enlighten me in the comments section!) For millennia we have been messing with Mother Nature. We poison, pillage, and pulverize. We act like ruthless gods expecting our planet to accept whatever we do to her no matter how vile or cruel. Again and again, she has staggered under our torture, before desperately trying to adjust. 

No longer do we humans get to put ourselves at the top, subjugating every other living creature. We’ve tried it and look where it got us. It is time to understand, we share this earth, and we must learn to appreciate and respect life around us. But how do we learn this and keep ourselves sane? 

For me, there are two simple practices that calm the mind and draw us closer to nature:

  • Mindfulness versus mind fullnessfocusing one’s awareness on the present moment. How I wish I had learned this technique decades ago! I was born with a To-Do list in my mind, which led me to run lists through my mind continuously. If I were brushing my teeth, walking my dog, or cooking a meal, my mind would be racing as I planned, organized, and arranged. Then, during a particularly stressful time, I came upon mindfulness—and the difference was incredible. Now, at every opportunity, I quieten my mind and just observe the natural world around me. It takes practice, but it becomes easier and more natural.

Challenge yourself to calm your mind by studying the nature around you. If you are outdoors, take note of the smell of the grass, the changing of the season, and the color of the leaves. If you are confined indoors, look at the clouds moving through the sky and listen to the birds. Set your timer to alert on the hour, then stop whatever you are doing, look away from those screens, and focus your eyes outside. And all the time, keep reminding yourself how perfect mother nature is. How exquisitely designed the whole system is, and how flawlessly it works—when we respect it.

  • Just breathe: It was only ten or so years ago, after reading an article by a breathing specialist (who knew that was a thing?) that I realized that I “sipped” air—I thought this was how everyone breathed! Again, it took me a while to incorporate this correct breathing into my daily life, but the difference was palpable. I looked up various techniques and found one that worked for me. Then, whenever I was practicing mindfulness, I would also practice my deep breathing. 

Challenge yourself to practice your breathing while thinking about what else shares this air. Imagine the elephant in India, the field mouse in Scotland, the mongoose in Zanzibar, they all share this air.  We are all connected. We are all in this together. We are one tribe.

Stay safe—wherever you are.

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