There is something about the summer that brings us close to the Earth. The windows are open, clothing is light and puts us nearer to the air and the ground. We are more relaxed and days are long and full of promise. This summer in particular, I feel even more connection. I just finished a course at Schumacher College in England, and am full to the brim with not only the wonderful teaching of ecology, but with the closeness and kindness of the interactions there and the beauty of the place. I find myself thinking differently about the things I do, the way I am in the world. I am calling it Being Deep Time and Whole Earth. It has become a sort of ritual or small living meditation, which I will share here, in case anyone else would like to add it to their meditations or way of being.
An example was this morning when I went downstairs to make coffee. I usually spend the time the coffee is brewing to do my morning Salutation To the Sun yoga exercise, but this morning as I switched on the light on the machine the little red light flashed and stayed in my mind as I turned and bowed to the floor. I sat down, and a whole series of thoughts poured through my mind. The effortlessness of pushing a button and having coffee, the distance, the unconnectedness we have put between ourselves, that cup, and the deep time and the world that made it. I meditated. In this moment:
I have harvested and dug from the Earth millions of prehistoric organisms in their decomposed oily forms and burned them into carbon.
I have extracted copper and other metals, bound in rock since deep Earth time, formed them into electric generators and wires and sent the prehistoric oil energy through them into this place, my house.
I have engaged workers in Peru or Brazil to work in the fields, picking coffee beans from green growing plants with deep roots in loamy humus soil. I feel the sun on their backs like I am one of them, their sandals on the Earth, the beans in their hands.
I have transported beans across oceans, piled into crates, ground into powder, packed into plastic, placed onto shelves in the supermarket where I went to buy them.
I have pumped water up from the well under my house, placed it in the coffee machine, where it has percolated this, my cup of coffee.
This was my meditation. I might have got some details wrong; it is poetry in my mind, and metaphor, not absolute fact. I might well have gone even deeper, into the manufacture of the coffee machine, or the cup, or who knows, but this is where my meditation took me today. The impact was strong, and imbued my cup of coffee with infinitely deeper meaning.
This meditation in Deep Time and Whole Earth is not meant to induce guilt for the extraction of resources or the labour of workers, though it does promote consciousness, and that may indeed invoke action. It’s effect is meant to engender feelings of ownership, reverence, appreciation, responsibility and connection. It is, I think, closer to how the indigenous peoples lived in the world, in awareness of their relation to, and dependence on, the Earth.
I don’t have a prescription for when, or even exactly how, to do this. I think that being reflective in and around nature opens us up to an awareness that might instigate the moment. I think it can’t be forced, but maybe at one meal a day, or at a quiet time in the office, or even reminded by one simple action, we might try to practice this mediation, being Deep Time and Whole Earth. This, I think, is practicing Earthfulness.