Time for the mind

Stefan Batorijs Nature & Therapy UK

Living in the Anthropocene – Shinrin Yoku Deep

Hello, my name is Stefan Batorijs, and I thought I would share the transcript of my talk to the Mindful living show.

I’ve been wandering around in Nature and dreaming all my life. Nature has been my teacher, my tutor and she has shown me the most intimate details for the last 57 years, and I just wanted to share a few of my insights with you.

We live in a Biosphere that’s been around for 4 and a half billion years. (please stop and think about this)

10,000 years ago we made that transition from Paleolithic to Neolithic, and we have been methodically converting the Earth to a human sphere, but the outcome of that colonisation is that we recently became a technosphere.

That’s ok, that’s the route we as a species has chosen to follow, but I have a couple of clear problems with this (apart from the obvious ones):

First – We have gradually replaced our faith in an arbitrary, rule based religious paradigm with a kind of zealous blind faith in a Science and technology model. Scientific argument and logic has become our default position for everything in life, to the conscious or unconscious exclusion or suppression of other paths, and possibilities – (intuitions), other technologies. We tend to assume that this path is a natural outcome of evolution and progress, and we believe that it will ultimately save us; – This Newtonian linear model of the Universe, this left brain version of reality.There are however other options available to us that are not profit driven, not fear driven.

2nd problem is this: there is nothing wrong with technology per se, yet it somehow encourages us to feel artificially safe, quite numb, cut off and that we are independent from the Earth – there is a subtle disconnect between our immortal online selves, and our immediate primary need for healthy, unprocessed food, clean, fresh drinking water, and clean air to breathe.

Since we’ve been around, Gaia has maintained an exact ratio of 20.95% oxygen in our air. If it goes any higher, things start to self combust, any lower and we start getting a whole host of problems. As low as 19.5% and we are struggling to breathe. But now we are pumping out 6 x more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than Gaia has dealt with in this recent geological period. And it’s also worth remembering that Oxygen is the waste product of Photosynthesis.

The problem is that technology doesn’t know this, it doesn’t have consciousness, so how could it care?

On your iPhone, Ask Siri, what do you eat?

It doesn’t know that we are soft organic animals, that we are apes, that we are part of Nature (see Mary Oliver’s poem ‘Wild Geese’). So what’s an alternative?

I want to turn now to look at our Spiritual path through the woods. The deeper dimension of Shinrin Yoku. You see we came from the forest, and every part of our being was forged in the forest environment.

Our physical form DEMONSTRATES LIMBS, ( the shape and dimensions of our bodies – see Vitruvian man ) all of our mental and psychological processes, our social needs, our vagus nerve, all developed in the forest and by the forest. The forest made us how she needed us to be, and imbued us with all the strength and qualities we need to survive and thrive, We are part of the forest, we have simply just forgotten where our home is; our food and pharmacy, where we belong, our origins deep in the trees.

So we drift along through life with our sophistications and our material substitutes, but I sense that we are lonely and restless, and yearning for our lost connection, to return to the circle, to the cycle.

But all we need to do is quite simple really, we just need to soften, that’s all, – we gently allow ourselves to come back to our base, our common ground – our incontrovertible truth that we share between us, – and with all species.

We share 15% of our DNA with trees. They are our ancestors too!

So that little weed that’s growing out of the crack in the pavement outside your house is part of a vanguard, an orchestra of beauty, a crusade of flora and fauna, a cornucopia of wild vegetation expressing the divine blueprint of love, and you know what they are saying to us in plant language – Hello you gorgeous people, come and hang out with us, we love you dear friends, brothers and sisters.

And we’re like, ‘Nah, I’m way too busy, too important to hang out and get all dirty with weeds and soil.’

And then the microbes in the soil are singing – Hello, you need us, we welcome you, we have so much to offer, we’ve got amazing healing medicines, We’ve got Vit. B12, we’ve got anti-depressants, we’ve got Penicillin.

And then the herbs growing at the edge of the forest come in with their songs too – Sweet Marjoram, Wood Sorrel, Nettles, Goosegrass, Burdock,

Just come and sample all the wonderful free wisdom and herbal delights we have to share with you humans.Then next there’s all the shrubs and bushes covered in flowers and fruits- Brambles, Gorse, Rosehips, Crab Apples, Wild plums, the damsons and the sloes. A luscious abundance of riches.

And then finally come the trees, the leviathans, the listeners, the wise ones, and their children. Trees are social, relational beings just like us, nearly always up for a chat or a hug. They are beautiful, sentient, majestic creatures calling us home, singing their haunting tree songs, offering this perennial balm for the soul.

The evolutionary changes that forced us to spread and develop as Homo Sapiens, and become the modern humans we are now; to make that shift from hunter-gatherer to planter were climate change driven shifts, and with a certain irony, maybe the current impending climatic changes will see us de-evolving back to hunter-gatherers and early agronomists, lets see.

I don’t want to come over as being overly biblical but within the last year, we have had huge fires, storms and floods, 2 large plagues of locusts in Africa and Asia, and now a pandemic virus, – maybe it’s time to re-assess our relationship with Nature, maybe we will be forced into humble reciprocity if we don’t come by free choice.

Stefan is an Adventurer/Therapist, and Director of Nature and Therapy UK – running practitioner training courses in Shinrin Yoku in South Devon.
Tel. 01364 652162


Time for the mind

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