Hello friends! So I was in the big city recently, riding mass transit, and I couldn’t help but notice that EVERY SINGLE PERSON around me was looking at a screen. Even the kids. I was literally the only one looking up. So of course my first instinct was to pull my phone out too.
But thankfully I had the blessing of a conscious moment that made me stop with my hand in my pocket and ask myself, “Wait. Why?” There was nothing I needed to check on. I was in the city (where I rarely am) and I was actually enjoying taking in all the sights. What was this urge to do as everyone else was doing?
I pondered this question and came up with some thoughts that I’d thought I’d share with you today.
1. We’re animals.
Some folks don’t like to admit it, but we humans are as much a part of the animal kingdom as a deer or a dog. That means there are some biological inclinations that are just part of our DNA. One of them is called herd behavior. Individual animals follow the behavior of their immediate neighbors. And in return, the herd provides companionship as well as protection to its members. The thinking goes something like this, “Hey, why is everyone doing that? I guess they know something I don’t. I better do that too to fit in, stay connected, and safe.”
2. We are hardwired for connection.
From the moment we are born, connection to one another and our natural world is of paramount importance.
As described by scientist Matthew Leiberman, “Across many studies of mammals, from the smallest rodents all the way to us humans, the data suggests that we are profoundly shaped by our social environment and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed. When this happens in childhood it can lead to long-term health and educational problems…. Social pain is real pain. The things that cause us to feel pain are things that are evolutionary recognized as threats to our survival and the existence of social pain is a sign that evolution has treated social connection like a necessity, not a luxury.”
Or as Brené Brown puts it, “We are hardwired to connect with others; it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”
3. We are under the illusion that technology provides connection.
It is a way we justify the hours spent texting and checking Facebook and taking selfies to post on Instagram. It is the way we justify the money spent on technology and phone plans and internet service and technological accessories. It’s the way we endlessly strive to prove our worth by making ourselves accessible 24/7 to anyone for any reason.
4. We’re more disconnected than ever.
We have lost touch with what genuine connection feels like. We use point #3 to stay on the surface and avoid acknowledging point #4. As I rode mass transit I had no conversations with anyone. Heck, I didn’t even make eye contact with another human, yet I was surrounded by about 50 of them. When was the last time you touched a stranger’s hand in an act of assistance? How often do you opt to call rather than text someone? When was the last time you wrote someone a handwritten letter? And this is just our disconnect from each other.
What about our disconnect from the world around us? As described by author Timothy Egan, “For most of human history, people chased things or were chased themselves. They turned dirt over and planted seeds and saplings. They took in Vitamin D from the sun, and learned to tell a crow from a raven. And then, in less than a generation’s time, millions of people completely decoupled themselves from nature.”
Based on point #2 the pain experienced from this lack of connection is real. It’s physical and is has dire consequences for our species and the planet. There are a ton of epidemics I could point to here that could be tied to this sense of disconnect and its resulting pain – teen suicide, obesity, school shootings, peak oil, fracking, the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” nature deficit disorder, and on and on.
#5. Mama knows best.
Mother’s intuition has been well-documented by research. Whether as a mother yourself or as a child, we have all experienced it. How many of us have woken from a dead sleep to a quiet baby monitor – only to hear our child’s cries for us start minutes later? Or you were in college feeling sick after a night of too much partying, only to have your mom call at 2am saying,”I just felt like I needed to check in with you.” As researcher and author Simone Wright explains, “Mother’s intuition is the natural, inborn intelligence that guides and supports her to deeply know, without external influence, what is truly right, and correct for her child’s best interest and wellbeing,” she says. “But in this world of intellect, data, and rational/ material thought, it is trained, and taught out of us from a very early age.”
I believe this innate intelligence is not limited to the bond between mother and child. I think it is also deeply rooted in our connections to the natural world. “Natural Intelligence” is our intimate, interdependent connection to the larger web of life. Even in our physical bodies 80% of the biological DNA is foreign to our personal DNA. We are actually of earth (humus or human?). But once again, we’ve built our lives centered around a virtual world so much so that the natural world is seen as separate from us – even expendable.
As beautifully put by author and ecologist Catherine Cunningham, “It’s time to rediscover our connection to the natural world and to reclaim our primary nature- our Natural Intelligence. …I am proposing that we resolve forward to increase the vibration of our pure and primal selves, so that we may again harmonize with the rest of the living planet, singing naturally together as an integral ecological choir.” I believe if we are to return to our roots, both one a biological level and spiritual level – we can rectify the situation. We are of this earth after all. Mama Nature is nothing if not ridiculously strong and resilient. And like all good mamas, she’s got our backs. See points #1 and #2 again. The longing for connection is in our blood. The understanding of how to forge it is deep in us. We don’t have to try too hard to make connections happen.
Step 1 is to look up (turn off the screens for a bit). Honor and connect with those around you.
Step 2 is to go for a walk in nature – like every day.
Step 3 is to be still and listen. Connect with Natural Intelligence.
Step 4 is to take informed action – stemming from your Natural Intelligence.
After all, mama knows best.
**With Mother’s Day just around the corner, this post feels especially poignant and timely. I’d be honored and grateful if you would share this with those you feel could benefit from its message. And in honor of and gratitude for all the mamas out there, I’m offering free shipping on all “mother” related images in my shop now through Mother’s Day.