No one wants to watch the world getting sick, but nobody seems to know very well what´s the solution.
Long time ago Maslow introduced the Pyramid needs, going from the basic ones like food, to the more complex ones (like the sense of belonging). I believe (like other authors) that what distinguishes us as a species are emotions and for many reasons we are losing the habit of practice them. This was the main reason that inspired me to create an Emotion Tool Kit for Families. But, if I propose to create an Emotion Tool Kit for Families, I have to go back to basics, leave the most complex level of things and go to the base of the bases. If necessary, go back to our ancestors and build from there. It was this existential crisis that attacked me in the middle of the Colombian Amazon and put me in contact with nature. It was there that I looked at nature as “a place” where the basics (like food) and the complex (like the feeling of belonging) merge. So today, I focus on the benefits of connecting with nature as a solution, not only for global warming, but also for emotional well-being.
The typical western formality was lost when I felt a swaying hammock at 4:15 a.m. Rogelio’s granddaughters wanted me to wake up before sunrise so we could hear the nighty birds and look for the Jaguar’s eyes.
It´s hard to describe how it feels when you face a rainforest like the Amazon.
With limited access, it is the tiny rivers that crosses the jungle and lead us to deeper places. On the banks, many indigenous communities try to pick up the rhythm of “plata” (money) and thus mingle their values. Among the densest forest there are other tribes, who hide in indigenous territory and fight daily to keep their customs away from the occidental and white people´s law. The Colombian World Organization registers a total of 87 indigenous groups in which 18 are in danger of extinction.
Here we wake up before the sun rises, bathe when it still warms us, discover north and south in it´s shade; we make campfires for the ajuri (collective meal) and drink the pajuaru (fermented cassava drink). We hike for hours to find fresh water and drink with our shell hand. We sleep lined up in the amak when the sun goes down and we count stars. We also pray for frogs not to procreate that nights, otherwise they unite and practice a deafening chorus.
Rogelio’s family is an indigenous family living in one of the Amazon River flows and welcomed me. They live in houses near each other, built on stakes and facing the river. Rogélio belongs to the Cocama tribe.
The story says that Cocamas suffered a rejection of an intergenerational ethnic identity and led to a disintegration, from which grew the marriages between people of different groups, mainly the Ticuna. The Cocama communities are formed by relatives with strong ties and the proximity of the houses demonstrates their genealogical relationship. Women often prepare food and help their husbands in the agriculture and family gardens. Fishing and hunting are practiced by all.
Rogelio is only 85 years old (this is how he introduces himself, adding that he is ready to marry again) at the age of 11 discovered that he was a shaman “It is not enough to know the cycles of nature, to be a Shaman, i had to accept my gift and learn how to use it.”
The shaman is someone who manifests unusual powers, such as the gift of invoking spirits or the power of plants, an altered state of consciousness. Communication with these aspects of life is achieved through drum beats, dances, dreams and many herbs.
He admitted that at that time life in the Amazon became frightening, since he was receiving many revelations from nature, so he decided to go out and get some air. 11 years later he returned home, already with a medical course and many miles of nature on the way. He felt the weight of the legacy, but nothing was so heavy, as the shame of facing a mother who never left the house while waiting for him. Today he lives in a another side of the river, and is in that place that he practices its shamanism and heals people and more people. He told me that only with what nature gives us, he has healed thousands of people, some with simple diseases, such as floe, others with complicated diseases, such as cancers.
Jessica, 9, and Maria, 6 (granddaughters of Rogelio) were my guides. It has not yet been discovered if any inherit the same gift as the grandfather. Although the knowledge is shared by the elements of the family, the gift is only revealed in a ceremony when they are 11 years old.
From the time I arrived they tried to teach me every little sound and movement of that river flows. They were the ones who showed me 36 possible jokes with only one grasshopper. They presented me with the eatable mushrooms and the poisonous ones. With them, I learned the power of the “Dragon’s Blood” and the divine spirit of the Ayoasca plant. With them I learned to fish tadpoles. It was also Jessica who helped me to dive on the shores of the Amazon and recognize the noise of a canoe paddle to hide. After all a women deserves privacy when bathing in the river. The awareness and connection we must have, when crossing a stream populated by crocodiles and anacondas is not on the screen, it is a fact. Cooperation among all a real need.
These girls have shown me that it is important to look at nature, not as a whole, but as a starting point. If Mary loved the little animals of the lamas, Jess vibrated with the plants and species of grasshoppers. Rogelio depended on the seasons, and his children from the tides of the rivers. The way they deal with time and interact with nature is undoubtedly inspiring.
These children play outdoors and live from and with Nature. This interaction shows that there are cycles of life, seasons of the year, that things have their time: birth, growth or development, and death.
The engagement of this family with nature gives them a greater awareness of protection, preservation and conservation. After all Nature, for them is like a human being.
When I realized that one of the millenium’s concerns remains the environment and global warming. That most of the children’s responses from Sierra Leone, Japan, Portugal, Colombia and Brazil to the question “what advice would you give to adults to be happier? It was: PROTECT NATURE!! “I decided to include it in the kit and to understand how the Portuguese live this topic.
In the United States a study shows that American children have less contact with nature than prisoners. Another study shows that Portuguese children have an average of 63 minutes of contact with the open pure air. The mains reason for this goes back to insecurity, to dangers of neighborhood life… Already the impact of this gap between new generations and Mother Nature is overwhelming: At the level of the immune system (deficiencies of Vitamins like Vit D) as the NO engagement and protection that children end up having, with an entity with which they do not interact and they do not know , Nature.
Because future generations deserve to grow up with meaningful interactions with the planet, deserve to grow up healthy, physically, socially and emotionally, here are some tips on how we can promote our children´s connection with nature and contribute to solve this millennium concern: environmental protection.
- Do not look at nature as a single entity. There are people who love birds, others who prefer insects. Discover the interests of everyone at home. Take a walk with your children and see what hypnotizes them, whether the flowers, the insects or the types of wood textures. Enjoy the fact that a piece of wood can hypnotizes more than a game of Ps4.
- In family observe the sky at various times of the day: Morning, afternoon and evening. Identify the big differences, make a drawing where everyone collaborates.
- Ideal program for an end of day or Sunday: Walk in a park with vegetation. Take sales and one to one make the directions ride. Blindfold, the goal is to use all senses to discover the park through smells, sounds or sensations on the skin.
- Take a walk in a forest with active hearing. The mission? Discover the noise of the water or a fountain and drink with a “shelly” hand.
- Create a season ritual: Celebrate the beginning of each season with a walk in the field. Throughout this tour the family is encouraged to live through their senses (with their eyes closed, feel the smells, sounds and temperatures of each season. A visit to the park closer to home is ideal. Ideally a park with tree, flowers and other elements of nature other than a swings park).
- Take a walk to pick up leaves. Make a showcase of dry leaves.
- Make a fire.
- Do a clean up plastic in beach near by