The preservation of beauty is a primal desire. It is the very reason story + art are essential to culture; they serve as vessels for us to hold close the things that are meaningful to us. But unlike story + art, which require creation for preservation, the primary way we as humans have related to the beauty of nature is through its extraction. As we’ve come to learn, this extractive behavior can have detrimental effects upon the natural world.
So how can we, as well-meaning, nature-loving citizens of this world, be in relationship with the Earth in a more mindful way? First and foremost, by listening. When was the last time you sat in the woods or the meadow, at the river’s bend or upon the rocks along the shore and just listened? It’s amazing what you’ll begin to understand when you open your heart to the language of the Earth.
As we learn new ways of relating to nature, preservation, regeneration + reciprocity must be front of mind. If we are to be good stewards of Gaia, it is important for us to learn her ways and to really understand our individual and collective impact upon the Earth and all sentient beings. Whether our intention is that of enjoyment, of growth, of healing, it is imperative we interact with a sense of deep respect and gratitude.
Whether I am in the garden or the woods, I reverently ask permission of the plants I wish to harvest. There is always an answer from the plant and I heed it, especially when the answer is no. As our hearts grow fonder + fonder of our beautiful plant neighbors, it’s easy to get over zealous in our harvesting. But it’s important to carefully consider the relation of the plant to the bioregion as a whole. Be conservative in your harvest and only take what you know you’ll put to good use.
To summarize, these are our top tips for the mindful preservation of beauty in the natural world:
- Keep preservation, reverence, regeneration + reciprocity front of mind in all interactions with the natural world + its sentient beings.
- When harvesting or foraging, always seek permission from the plants, and respond with respect + gratitude.
- Be conservative in your harvest and only take what you intend to use.
- Listen well. Learn much. Tread lightly.