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Leopold talks of “thinking like a mountain”. This week’s reflective exercise is a shortened, adapted version of a practice called the Council of All Beings (you can read about this practice here: http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/deep-eco/Joanna%20Macy.htm (Links to an external site.)). You are invited to try, in your own way, to ‘think like’ a natural entity.

For this practice, you will need to go outside – preferably somewhere relatively ‘wild’ and unmanicured, like a nature trail or a state park.

-Try to cultivate a sense of openness and notice if you feel ‘drawn’ to a particular form of life – be it a tree, a flower, a bird or an animal of some kind. You might even be drawn to a ‘collection’ of life, like a forest or a lake. Trying to put your judgmental, analytical mind to one side for the moment and cultivate a sense of intuitive openness by engaging in some sort of contemplative, calming exercise. Then try to ‘see’ life through the perspective of your chosen life form (or the life form by which you were chosen!), and contemplate the following questions:

  • What are your needs? What helps you thrive?
  • Still taking on the perspective of that life form, what message do you have for humans? For example, if you ‘are’ a lake and are constantly beset by the influx of pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural run-off, how does this affect your thriving, and what would you want to communicate about it to humans?
  • In addition, what positive qualities do you model for humans? For example, you could say that a lake represents serenity, calmness and depth; a squirrel resourcefulness, courage and athleticism. What does your life form teach humans?

– Now, in the discussion area, write your posting. Be sure to write from the perspective of your chosen life form. Begin by introducing yourself – for example, “I am oak tree, and I am speaking for oak trees”. Keep your posting in the first-person, always writing from the perspective of that entity (in other words, don’t write, for example, “I went to the woods and decided to write from the perspective of an oak tree and I think the oak tree would want to say ….”. Try to ‘inhabit’ that other entity as fully as you can. Trust your intuition and creativity, and ENJOY!