One of the primary practices I follow on a daily basis is to move through the world reminding myself that everyone and everything I encounter along the way is, in some way, “kin”. All are part of this planet’s life and nothing I see or engage with in the course of my daily activities is outside this planet’s origins. One of the things I’ve noticed, as a result of this practice of remembering that I am related to everyone and everything around me is that it has nurtured a deepened sense of connection. It doesn’t really matter what I may feel connected to in any given moment. The underlying and overall experience is one of never really being alone.
Indigenous peoples have understood and lived this perspective naturally, and there are other non-indigenous teachers who also hold this perspective. Among them is David Spangler, a mystic and spiritual teacher who was part of the early years of Findhorn, in Scotland. Through an organization, Lorian, David has published a number of books that speak to these kinds of experiences. There is also Daniel Foor, a psychotherapist who specializes in working with ancestors but now also focuses on the theme of animism, an approach to life that says all are kin. The perspective we share is that nothing is outside the collective life of this planet, nothing is without its own inherent value and right to be acknowledged and respected.
I’m sharing this as part of this week’s practice because of the way a sense of connection to all the “kin” around us cultivates a deeper feeling of being part of something bigger than our individual selves. One of the things I’ve noticed along the way is the importance of feeling part of something more, something meaningful, something that transcends and yet includes our individual sense of self. There are many ways to cultivate this awareness and acknowledging that we live amongst an infinite array of our planetary kin is just one of them.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to explore what it’s like to imagine, or sense, that you and everyone and everything you encounter are part of the Earth family. As you do this, notice the quality of your internal experience. Does it make you feel better to sense that everything around you is kin? Does it elicit mixed feelings and, if so, what are they? When you imagine that everyone and everything is kin, do you find you relate differently as you move through your world?
As with all these practices, there are no “right” answers. Instead, this is just the next opportunity to notice how your attitudes, beliefs, and natural ways of being affect the quality of your inner life and of how you engage the world. Please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to gently pat on the head any judgements that may arise.