Noël Radcliffe M.D. 

Earth Mother

The nickname "Earth Mother" started with a couple of my patients.  I guess they saw the deep connection I feel between health and nature.  I am greatly nourished by my connections to the natural world, and seek to explore the healing qualities inherent in all of nature.  I have learned that each of us experiences nature in our own ways, and therefore receives healing in different ways as well.  Here I would like to just briefly explore the ways in which you can find your own healing connection to the source of all being.

Native Americans believe we all come from the mother earth, and we are connected to everything else that is born of this earth.  We should learn from them and celebrate a combined Earth day/Mother's day every day, for we are born of this earth, and will return to this earth when our souls leave our bodies.    When we used to live off the land we were connected to the natural  rhythms and cycles, the seasons, the lunar cycles, and the daily rhythms of sunrise and sunset.  Now we live our lives by the clock.  We live with the constant stress of never enough time.  We do not rest when the sun goes down, or take time to restore our energy during the winter months.  Our bodies were made to react to stress for brief periods, with a fight or flight response.  Now many of us live in constant stress, leading to fatigue, exhaustion, chronic illness.  
We rely on the health of our planet.  When our water, air and soil is full of toxic chemicals, then it is no surprise so are  our bodies.  If we do not care for the earth, we may survive, but we will not be very healthy.

One of the ways to use nature as a source of healing is to look to the natural cycles as guides for our energy expenditures.  Spring is a time of new growth, creation and creativity.  Days are lengthening, the soil is warming and wildlife is reproducing.  Look to the spring as a time for new projects.  Summer is the time for productivity.  Work hard, play hard.  Fill your days with activities.  When a rainy day comes, it is time to rest, reflect.  In the fall it is time for harvest.  A time to gather in your friends and family, enjoy each others presence, harvest what you have sown.  Winter is a time for rest and reflection.  Allow for a decrease in productivity.  Sleep comes easier when darkness falls early in the evening.  Plan, revise, reconsider in the winter months.  Our diets should also follow what is seasonal.  Eat fresh, raw foods in summer,  increase the cooked foods in fall, and savor soups and stews in the winter months.  The natural cycles are a way to be in harmony with life, to accept what is as it comes. 

Nature can be healing in many ways.  
 Nature can be a way of meditating.  Sit quietly in nature and just notice what is around you.  Focus on the sounds of the birds or the wind.  Feel the breeze, or the firmness of the tree at your back.  Smell the earth, the flowers, the grass.  If your mind wanders, just bring it back.  It is the act of noticing you are wandering that is important.  Who is it who is noticing?  I think of it as your wise self.  Eckert Tolle called it your knower.  You can get lost in your thinker, but once your knower recognizes you are lost, you are no longer lost.  It is this wise knower that you seek connection with.  Every time you notice your mind was wandering you have connected to your knower.  Let nature be the setting in which you practice this deep connection, this inner knowing.  It will leave you much more peaceful.  The more you practice, the quicker it will be for you to connect to your inner wise self.

You can also look to nature as a way to create a ceremony of release.  When you are aware of an emotion or memory that you want to be rid of, you can create a ceremony for yourself.  Ceremonies that use nature can be very powerful.  When I have anger or sadness that I want to let go, I have often gone to one of the huge oak trees near my house.  Here I can give the thought/emotion to the tree.  These huge trees have been present on this earth for hundreds of years.  They have seen far greater suffering than my little worries.  I can give my pain to the tree an it will just dissipate into the universe. It will no longer be mine, or anyone's burden.  It is not the actual energy that is transferred, but it is the belief that I have let go that is healing.  It allows me to make another choice instead of being attached to my suffering.

Nature can also work through creative growth.  A garden can be a very healing place.  Plants can be chosen for their healing properties, their serene beauty, or their symbolism.  The participatory act of gardening is one of creating, and brining into being.  To go from thought to physical manifestation is a reminder of the process of co creation.  What you can imagine you can bring into being.  For me, the act of feeling the dirt is grounding.  A way of letting go of all the little things in my head.  It is a way to be present with only me and the garden, the dirt, flowers, vegetables, weeds and even the pests. 

Exercise in nature can be rejuvenating.  When ever you can, exercise outside.  Connect to your surroundings.  Feel the earth beneath your feet.  Take in the trees, plants grass,  and sun.  Let your breath be one with the universe.  Let your stress fall down around you and disappear into the emptiness.  Imagine your core energy growing with each step, with each breath, and with each moment that passes. Exercise with a connection to the earth, and you will find you have more energy, and feel more deeply at peace.

Let us not forget all the healing abundance in nature.  I look first to natural remedies to restore balance to the body, and allow your natural healing responses to kick in.  There are many products that can be useful to treat the symptoms of illness or the underlying cause.  There are some wonderful books out there that can be your inspiration.  As a society we have forgotten our natural cures, our folk medicine.  We have ushered in the laws of science and forgotten how far a little TLC goes.  It is more often time that cures our ills, and the care and compassion we get from our loved ones that fills our hearts, and boosts our immunity.  It that comes with a little cup of herbal tea and honey, so be it.

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