A few days ago, I spent a couple of hours in a little forest with a friend. There was no sign of civilization – no buildings, no cars, no mechanical noises, not even other human beings. We saw trees all around, tall grasses – lush from the recent rains, the sun glaring at us, an antelope watchfully observing us from a distance, an insect softly buzzing in the bush nearby. We are in 2011 AD, but I thought to myself that this scene could be from 2000 BC, or 20,000 BC, or 2,00,000 BC, or even 2 million BC. Scientists tell us that man, in his earliest form, first appeared on earth 2 million years ago, a time span that is hard to imagine. In the forest, perhaps there was nothing that was marked by the notions of civilization, development, or technology that man has built up since then. Read more…
In 2008, the Natural Change Project was started by the World Wildlife Fund Scotland in order to investigate if activities strengthening our bonds with nature can change our environmental behaviour in the long run. Seven individuals with influential jobs were to live, discuss and carry out exercises within socalled eco-psychology during three extensive workshops in natural environements.
The basic principles of eco-psychology is that the mental wellbeing of humans is closely linked to a healthy natural environment and that by strengthening this link humans will be inspired to protect nature better. A report from the project will be made public later on this spring. I find the approach interesting, but it raises the question: What is nature? Aren’t we as humans part of nature? I guess this opens for a longer philosophical discussion about nature and culture and that is not my scope. My experience is that through meditation it is possible to get in touch with our inner life and nature. This increases our sensitivity towards ourselves, others and also our environment.
Whether it makes us more environmental-friendly is an open question.
I live close to the Botanical Garden in Oslo, an oasis of meditative silence amidst noisy roads on Tøyen. The changes of autumn are fascinating and stimulate a reflective frame of mind. The poetry of falling leaves is also an inspiration to me as a painter.
I took some photos during a visit to the Halvorsbøle retreat centre earlier this autumn. They may not be perfect, but at least they made me see the place with new eyes.