On this day 44 years ago, we officially started celebrating Mother Earth with the first Earth Day. The thing is, she’s been teaching us lessons a lot longer than that. We’d be wise to recognize what Mother Earth has to share.
Here’s a countdown of the top four lessons Mother Earth can teach us about optimal health:
#4: Everything moves in cycles…and that’s okay.
Whether its the annual seasons or the changes of our planet over time, nature is all about cycles. Same goes for people. The cycle of life and death means that from the time we start breathing to the time we stop, we constantly move from one phase to the next—from infancy to adolescence, from adulthood to old age. Every step of the way has its aches and pains, but also its wonders. Each is necessary in order to move into the next phase, and the choices we make during these different stages can play a huge role in our overall health throughout life.
It can be incredibly reassuring to know that many health challenges you or your loved ones may by facing at the moment can be reversed before they progress to an autoimmune phase. “This too shall pass,” as they say. No matter how far from optimal health you feel at this moment, I guarantee there are resources out there that can help you get through it. Health Is Simple, Disease Is Complicated by James Forleo, DC, is a good starting point if you’re just beginning your self-health education.
#3: We’re interdependent.
We depend on nature to provide us with clean air and water and with nutritious foods grown in vitamin and mineral-rich soils. We assume that our planet will continue to provide these things for us, no matter what. But those provisions depend on our conscious choices. For example, we shouldn’t throw toxic chemicals into the soil as we plant our food and care for our lawns and think it won’t have a lasting effect on our planet’s health—as well as our own, since we eat that food and breathe that air.
If you’re at a loss for where to start with organic gardening, an excellent resource is Carolyn Herriot’s A Year on the Garden Path. This week-by-week guide is full of practical information and applies to any gardening region or zone.
#2: Slow and steady is best.
Every day, the Earth rotates on its axis at a leisurely speed, and we don’t even realize it’s moving. We inhabitants of this planet would benefit from following her lead. We should take some time each day to just slow down enough to enjoy life. Not everything needs to be done at a breakneck pace. Not everything needs to happen right this instant. Take the time to sit with someone you love. You can ask them about their hopes and dreams, or talk about what you’d like your next vacation to be like. Or you can just sit with your own thoughts and reflect on all the things you’re grateful for in your life.
All kinds of research has been done on the effect that gratitude can have on our overall life, including our health. This short speech from Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, discusses the power of gratitude.
#1: Mother knows best.
Nature is just as complex as humans as we all work hard to keep things in balance and adapt as needed. But sometimes less is more. There’s health and beauty in simplicity. The foods we eat are a perfect example of this. If we’d simply grow and eat foods in their whole state, rather than highly processed junk, we’d be more likely to give our body what it needs. In other words, we should reach for that apple and leave the apple flavored fruit roll-up on the shelf.
A more traditional approach to food preparation—the way our mothers or mothers’ mothers cooked—is rooted in a time when there was much less chronic illness. If you want to learn how to get back to the basics, Selene River Press offers a wide selection of cookbooks and research from the earliest days of nutrition science. And the SRP Self-Health Starter Kit offers a variety of tools on the basic principles of health and diet to get you headed in the direction.
What lessons has Mother Nature taught you?
Photo from iStock/cienpies