I want to share some background about membranes and communication systems in nature and in humans and then describe a win-win process we can use to heal ourselves and nature around us.
A membrane is like a cell wall. Every organism has them and also large natural systems and communities have a type of membrane, also called boundaries. The Spirits and Sages say that the large earth membrane systems such as the forest system and the ocean system work together with the synapse/communication systems of plants, animals and humans and they both need to be healthy for maintaining and healing the Earth and all the creatures here.
The synapse refers to a sodium potassium electrical charge that is a communication vehicle between nerve cells in all creatures. The picture that works for me is of living cells, each with a cell wall/membrane and then the synapses of communication like with nerve cells that help the cell work with those around it. The Spirits say there is accord across all the systems. They work similarly at the micro level of cells and at the macro levels of humans and human communities and wood-wide web levels of inter-tree and water communications with mycelium working like the cellular nerve ganglia synapses of humans.
Backing up a bit, the wood-wide web, a term believed to have been coined by the journal Nature, refers to the network of Mycorrhizae’s, which are symbiotic relationships that form between fungi and plants. The fungi colonize the root system of a host plant, providing increased water and nutrient absorption capabilities while the plant provides the fungus with carbohydrates formed from photosynthesis. So, it is essentially a “wood-wide web” of plants and fungi that fosters cooperation and health.
When humans tear up the Earth, deforest trees and pollute water systems, we damage all the membrane systems at all levels and we damage the inter-communication systems at all levels, including the wood-wide web. All these systems need to be healed. The communication process is vital for the Earth systems to work together to bring about healing. Instead of tearing systems apart humans need to act as good stewards by listening to nature, observing how systems work and supporting them.
Similarly, when humans damage individual and community boundaries (membranes) and disrupt healthy human communication processes similar damage happens. Healing is disrupted or blocked. At the community level damaged human relationships lead to fighting and greed-based actions, which damage natural systems as well as human communities.
At the body level, each human body has a gut system that is filled with a diverse, vast colony of wild helpful bacteria, especially probiotic bacteria, which fosters health of the whole person. That wild natural bacterial system in our own guts that has existed in humans for a million years is severely damaged by eating Roundup, a widespread herbicide containing glyphosate that is a biocide present in many non-organic foods, as well as other ingredients like preservatives. When that system is damaged it leads to gut dysfunction, disrupting the communication system between our gut bacterial colony and our nervous system fibers. Being deprived of essential probiotic organisms leads to unsettled nervous systems in people and troubled relationships.
There seems to be much similarity in all these processes, large scale, small scale, inside and out. There is a basic truth here. True at the macro level, true at the micro level. *See note below about probiotic foods
Inherent in this situation is the flip side: a wonderful win-win process. We know humans are greatly helped in healing by spending time in nature. As we heal in nature, sing and dance and pray our thanks, that in turn rejuvenates the natural systems and helps them restore their membranes and communication processes.
That goes alongside the other arenas like working to end deforestation and to repair damage to the Earth in physical ways. Spending time in nature helps us ground ourselves and gain a greater sense of purpose. We can come to identify as being stewards of the Earth. Developing that sense of purpose and identity makes our core, our “Mojo”, stronger, so we become more effective and joyful advocates for our fellow humans and for Nature. So too, internally caring for the earth system in our own body and gut, by eating of Earth’s natural bounty of healthy and probiotic foods we then enhance our stamina and the settled functioning of our nervous system. So it appears that healing is contagious, affecting us inside, outside and affecting the Earth simultaneously. What a blessed thing that is.
EXERCISES: I recommend you try this for 10 days.
First, go to my previous blog post on Some Resources for Grounding and Setting Our Purpose. Do those two exercises every morning. Then also do the exercise in my post titled More Resources for Grounding. . . After you do those ones I recommend sitting a while in nature and writing down what is significant to you from doing the exercises. Notice what you feel in your body. You can share that with a friend or loved one and even do the exercises together. When you have been doing these exercises for 10 days and are comfortable with them, then go to my next blog post titled, Membrane/Boundary Work Part Two.
© Jerry Allen 2016
About the author – I hold a masters in public health education from UC Berkeley and a masters in counseling psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies. I’ve been a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist since 1991, and am certified in Somatic Experiencing. I began my medicine man training in my first vision quest in 1973. I was initiated as a medicine man under the training and supervision of Theresa Dintino. I studied Aikido for 30 years and received 3 black belts. I live and practice in Oregon and Sebastopol, and enjoy playing music, tending our apple orchard, and spending time with my two wonderful children.
Jerry Allen, MFT, SEP, MPH, Anishinaabe Mashkikiiwinini (Medicine Man)
Gratitude Way Medicine Man Consulting – firstname.lastname@example.org
*Probiotic foods: examples are raw, fermented sauerkraut, kim chee, fermented drinks like kvaas and water kefir, other fermented foods like Bubbies pickle relish. Stay away from the pasteurized versions because the probiotic organisms are dead. Many markets have delicious versions of these foods. Some like kvaas and sauerkraut are cheap and easy to make yourself. Consult your health practitioner if you have a special diet.