Observing and interacting is the foundational design principle in Permaculture. It was January’s focus, along with the character asset of honesty.
Permaculture is a design system of sustainability principles. It teaches us by studying nature and its local, rhythmic, and bioregional ways. It is guided by three ethics, People Care, Earth Care, and Fair Share.
People Care treats the self, or our inner experience, as a sustainable resource of energy. Think about this. Your energy level fulfills many roles and responsibilities on any given day I bet.
How do you keep your battery charged?
In January our CAC members were challenged to do just that. To take care of themselves, to love themselves, and to commit to practicing this all year long by creating habits and behaviors that support love as a renewable mental health resource. We will study a design principle and a character asset a month as guides to deepen and inform our practices of LOVE.
Observing and Interacting
Observing and interacting is rooted in patience. It is a practice of returning again and again to right now and witnessing your circumstances.
Patience makes us more mindful of our inner world, and how we are practicing love and self-care based on how we are feeling.
A lot of us hate to feel our feelings. We hate the feelings in the body expressing the ranges of love and fear!
Anxiety, depression. Anger, shame. Sometimes these are just words we use for feeling really bad. Addicts use to control not feeling, or to create a way of feeling.
Humans in general get stuck in why do I feel this way? when sometimes the remedy is simply to feel our feelings. Often, I have found that softening to how I am feeling right now, being gentle in accepting me for me, is a sure way to calm tension and anxiety.
I like this relief!
Self-care is about being present with who we are by honoring how we feel and what we need. It’s, in the words of writer Mark Nepo, allowing the heart to say ouch.
I like that, too.
Maybe a goal is trying to grow in mindfulness of how our feelings cause us to react.
Sometimes some of us have old stories written in our body of times our hearts got hurt. Hurts that weren’t allowed to be felt. Sometimes that’s why we focus so much on why?
Why is a way we pathologize, or make a problem out of something. Problems can direct us on how to find a solution. Self-care as a solution is about learning to not shame our feelings, and to stop labeling experiences that we can’t control or that don’t feel good, times when life has us in ruts, as bad.
If we grew up in a home where violence, neglect, untreated alcoholism or other substance abuse, or untreated mental illness existed, not getting needs met is our normal.
If this is the case, we repeat old self care systems of self-neglect, self-harm, self-abondonment, and self-abuse. Meaning we treat our self in ways that are neglectful.
We could do this with drugs, alcohol, relationships, food, sex, spending money. You name it.
Old self care habits like these usually have a story of self worth behind them.
Observing and interacting with our day to day experience with no judgment for our thoughts and feelings and no shame, becomes a way to stay more present with ourself in an honest, fact finding way.
This is how we challenge ourselves, to see if or where old self worth stories, in ways of perpetuating self neglect or harm, might be running areas of our lives.
We challenge ourselves to replace that story and the old neglectful self care behavior with stories and behaviors of love.
February’s design principle is Catch and Store Energy. The asset is open-mindedness. We spend February observing and interacting with the experiences in our lives that specifically help us catch and store self care practices of LOVE. We are open to this change.
Be well, friends. Begin, within. Begin, again!