Connecting to Nature in My Heart
Mark [0:00] I’d like to welcome Lotus Hackenberger to the World Heart of Connection podcast. I’m your host Mark Randall. I’ve known Lotus since she was knee-high to a grasshopper, spending many a weekend in his beautiful, natural setting at Shepherds Flat. Welcome, Lotus.
Lotus [0:20] Hello I’m very excited to be here. This is my first podcast.
Mark [0:25] So, can you tell the audience a little bit about yourself?
Lotus [0:30] So, I grew up in Shepherd’s Flat. And I have three beautiful brothers and two very alternative parents. And it’s been a very – I’ve had a very – I’m very grateful for my upbringing. And then about five years ago, I moved down to the city to study a Bachelor of Science. And I’ve just graduated. I feel like my childhood has definitely shaped my passions, and being on the land has really, I think shaped where I want to go with my life.
Nature is my Heart of Passion
Mark [1:13] When you ~ as it’s shaped your passions? Where do you connect to those passions? Where do you find that passion? If you were to scan your body? Where would you find that source of those passions, the energy of ~ where’s that coming from in your being?
Lotus [1:28] I think – like, I definitely feel it in my heart. Like I see things happening, and they make me feel quite upset. Like pollution or deforestation or things like that. They make me like, feel very upset. Because I feel very connected to nature, from like growing up in nature, I think I just feel like a very deep connection to it. And so when I see things happening, that negatively affecting it, I think I feel very angry, and then I feel very responsible.
Mark [2:06] Would that be echoed by a lot of your friends and people your age?
Growing Awareness of Nature for Younger Generations
Lotus [2:17] I think there’s a growing awareness, definitely in younger generations. But I do also think that living in the city allows you to be very separate, and to sort of continuing that like there’s society. And there’s nature and they’re two separate things. And people sort of don’t see the connection there is between the two of them.
Mark [2:42] What was it like for you to sort of disconnect from the land, and to then connect to the city?
Connecting to the Change of City Living
Lotus [2:54] I think when I first got to the city, it was a shock. I think it was quite confronting actually like being around so many people that just didn’t seem to be engaged at all with nature. And, like, it was obviously very fun and exciting. But it was also a very big shock to the system. And it also made me realise that the way I think, and the way I’ve been raised isn’t the norm. And that because of that – I can’t expect for everyone else to think the same way that I do. And I think, coming to terms with that – even my closest friends, like a lot of them, I wouldn’t say have the same value sets like me. But I still have really strong connections with them, even though we might not see things the same way. But no, it definitely is challenging. And sometimes I can feel quite isolated by having quite strong values around a lot of issues that other people don’t. I think it can be isolating. And it can make you feel almost hopeless that, no one else does think the same as you.
Mark [4:11] Yes, and that social connectedness to our like-minded ideologies and our like-minded causes is that collective passion makes it more powerful for us all to connect and make a change. In connecting to ~ when you notice that isolation and you start to connect to it ~ what do you do in that connection for that socialisation that you experience within yourself?
Connecting to my Values Validates Me
Lotus [4:46] Well, I think whenever I feel a bit isolated by it, I think I always remind myself why I feel this way and remind myself that by living by these values, even if they are isolating does make me feel validated in myself. Because, well, I am living a life that is fulfilling for me. And that is in accordance with what I think is right. So, I think I find it grounding in that sense that even if I’m alone, at least I’m in align with the person I want to be. And I think it, it always brings me back to why. And, yeah, I think it really helps me not feel as isolated.
Mark [5:32] I was wanting to respond to your story, just then ~ a sort of congratulations for the courage to stay connected to your values in that social isolation. That takes a lot of courage to stay true to your essence. When you disconnect from that, how do you reconnect?
Lotus [6:01] Well, I think that it is very easy to disconnect. I think social media definitely facilitates a disconnection. And also, the city definitely facilitates that. And I think how I do reconnect is one coming back home, every time I come back home, I always feel really like re-energised and really like reminded of why I’m doing this.
Mark [6:29] And does that re-energise, reenergize take place at a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual level?
Lotus [6:37] I think it’s definitely an emotional level. To be honest, sometimes when I come home, I do feel more tired. It can be intense that like, obviously, we all love each other, but it’s the high intensity at the house.
Mark [6:51] But I would also wonder to that, in the business of cities, our bodies get so consumed in the business and their minds, perhaps not fully connected to it. And when we come home to a slower pace and the body are thank you for this silence. And now we’re going to ~ oh here’s that fatigue? That the city living fatigue?
Lotus [7:15] Definitely. definitely.
Connecting to my Self-Care
Mark [7:17] Yep. When you connect to that, to bring loving-kindness to yourself and compassion in that space, and take some self-care?
Lotus [7:26] I feel like I’m very good at self-care. But I’m also very good at over-committing myself. So, I think I sort of over-commit a lot, but then, like, do a lot of things for myself. Like even if it’s just like, having a bath with a glass of wine, or like, going on a nice walk like I do a lot of things just for myself. I think also not being in a serious relationship with someone allows me the time for that, to really spend time with myself and reconnect with myself.
Mark [8:03] What do you experience? Once you’ve reconnected with yourself in that space?
Being Present to What Arises
Lotus [8:11] I feel like different things at different times. Sometimes, I might feel it, very at ease and very – like, ah, like a breath of fresh air. But other times, I think when you do have that time for yourself, you can – it can bring up other things. Because you’re not at work being consumed by your work. You’re on at university consumed by the reading – you’re just there with yourself. And sometimes it can actually bring up other stuff. I think having that self-time.
Mark [8:41] Yep, it can bring up some stuff from the rabbit holes, and we don’t want to be brought up.
Lotus [8:46] Like we’re constantly running so fast and then we stop and we’re like phew.
Mark [8:50] Bang, yeah, at that moment. And they say in the brain, in silence, our default mode network (DMN) kicks back in and then all the stuff coming up. I’m a just curious ~ you mentioned social media, and as a young person, you’ve grown up with it. Yeah, I’m not as young and yes, we are growing ~ we’ve got the best ~ I see it at my age I’ve got the best of both worlds. I haven’t had to grow up with it. There is a connection in social media. But I’m wondering where there’s a hell of a disconnect to the young people?
Our Connections to Social Media
Lotus [9:31] I think I think social media is one of those things where there’s so much good that has come from it. And it has allowed so many connections and allowed for so many people to that probably wouldn’t have had the choice otherwise to be able to share their experience. But I think that it has sort of distorted into something that maybe – like I don’t know anymore, whether I’d say it has more good or more bad on society. I think it’s very – you would have to be specific about what you’re like, is it good for this? Whereas I feel like it’s not something you can just blatantly say is bad or good. And I think that – I have really been trying to pull back from social media, like, I don’t have Snapchat anymore. I don’t go on Facebook much, Instagram, I’m a little bit hooked.
Social Media is Addictive
Mark [10:22] Hooked as in ~ is it addictive?
Lotus [10:25] It’s definitely addictive. Like you get your likes, and you feel good. People, like, say, hh, this looks so nice. And it definitely it’s like flat out – addictive. And I think most people would agree, especially the apps these days, and the way that they’re constructed to like, constantly be having notifications, and like people sending you things. Like even Bear and Gov like, sometimes – on like your phone, it has like how much time you spent on your phone. And they can have sometimes 11 hours of the day they’ve been on their phone.
Mark [11:02] And in that 11 hours how disconnected from themselves might have they become. And this is ~ it’s broad. An American I was listening to is something like, so many billions of hours are wasted. And in that year, where’s that connection to our self?
Connecting to our Online Version of Self
Lotus [11:26] Yeah, and even if you are like connecting to yourself, you’re really connecting to the online version of yourself that you’ve created.
Mark [11:37] Would it be fair to say ~ just check this out, just curious. That personality that they’ve created, have they ~ had a disconnect from their real personality to create that personality?
Lotus [11:52] I think that a lot of people’s online accounts are maybe the personality or the person that they want to be or the person that they are when they’re at their best. So, I don’t think it’s a very realistic representation of them entirely. But I think that – it’s like they are trying to share the best parts of themselves and the best parts of their lives. But I do think it is definitely disconnected. Like, you would never see someone posting a photo, where – like, I would never post a photo that I don’t like the way I look at it – or where I look unhappy, or where I look upset, really? Because that’s not really what you do.
Mark [12:37] Does that ~my immediate reaction to that internally, was pressure. Do you ~ is there more pressure on your generations to?
Social Media Pressure on our Generation
Lotus [12:49] Yeah, I think that I definitely feel a bit of pressure in the sense that, I’ve grown up, not like that wealthy. Whereas a lot of my friends and a lot of people that go to Melbourne University are like the top 1% of the wealth. So, sometimes I can look at their stories on their feeds. And it’s like, all these travelling pictures, they’ve been in Europe all week, and their parents are flying them over to Tokyo for the weekend. And, it can make me feel quite again, like isolated – in like that, I don’t have that same experience as them.
Mark [13:27] Yeah, there’s that fear of missing out. Yeah. Do you know what I mean? When I was a kid if ACDC ~ hate it admit this ~ ACDC, if, we’re going down to ACDC and I wasn’t allowed to go ~ well, I didn’t miss it. Whereas nowadays, I’d be seeing it on my phone because everybody is in there. And so I wonder what that intensifies that fear of missing out?
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) via Social Media
Lotus [13:52] Yeah, I think definitely with your friends as well. Like if you have work one day, and they’re all doing something nice that you didn’t get to go to. It’s like it’s not just you hear about it, but you actually can visually watch it. And you could watch it 10 times in a row. And then just sort of wallow in like the fact that you missed out.
Mark [14:13] Do you believe is that putting or facilitating more mental health issues for younger people?
Lotus [14:21] Yeah, I think I definitely think social media has a lot to, – needs to take a lot of ownership on, especially younger adolescents, and the effect it is having on them. Like I would say that I’m not someone who feels that competent, speaking about mental health because I feel like I haven’t necessarily experienced it to a very high degree compared to a lot of other young people. And I think it’s actually something that I struggle to relate to – that a lot of people do experience. Like a lot of my friends they like you know, they might have experienced depression in the past or have anxiety. And I wouldn’t really say that I’ve ever had either of those things. So, sometimes it can make me feel like grateful. But also, like I lack empathy around it because I don’t actually know what it’s like.
Access to Social Media ~ New Norm
Mark [15:17] Sure. One of the things I’ve watched and just, I’m really mindful if it comes across as just an old adult judgement. If I’m out having dinner somewhere, and you’ve got the younger generation on the table, they’re always on their phone. It’s ~ that’s just the done thing for them. And it’s their norm. Whereas, hang on a minute, well, where’s the connection? We’re here sitting here, but you were not sitting? Do younger people just ~ is it ~ has that become the norm?
Lotus [15:51] I think if you had to answer, black or white, I’d say yes, I think that I know that my friends and I were definitely beginning to pull ourselves – pull each other upon it. Because we – no one likes for them to be the one that they’re saying something and the other person didn’t hear it or didn’t respond – because they’re consumed by their phone. I also think that video games and my brothers and also having housemates that have played a lot of video games. Have really made me be able to see what it’s like to be the person who is – not ignored. But that is kind of sidelined to that screen. And I think that by experiencing that it’s made me try a lot harder to not do that to other people. But I definitely still think most people do it mine around my age.
Mark [16:46] Would it be fair to say, down the track, we’re going to see a lot of young men coming through with gaming addictions, caught in that virtual reality of?
Video Gamers had Connection Infrastructure during COVID19
Lotus [17:00] Yeah, I think, like, a lot of my male friends, and I wouldn’t say I necessarily have like gamer friends. But they would still clock like some days, I reckon 10 or more hours on the same game because they all play online. And they all have headsets and they – and what is actually a really interesting point that I was thinking about during COVID is that a lot of my friends that were gamers, I think, actually had the strongest connection with other people because they have the infrastructure already set up to facilitate connection on a very frequent basis. Whereas for me, who doesn’t do that, like I would have to organise a walk. And maybe we’d go for a half an hour walk every week or fortnight. Whereas my other housemate he was talking to 10 or 15 of his friends every night. And I actually thought, wow, that that kind of sounds is pretty fun. So, it’s interesting thinking about the connection in that sense that, is it enhancing their connection? Or is it not.
Mark [18:04] Yes, good conversation? At one level, that is how they are connecting. And it when I talk to a lot of young men about it ~ they do connect. Which is good for young men in some respects, too. But the other side of it is yeah ~ how much more heartfelt is connecting physically with the friends in the park and actually going for a walk?
Connection to Others
Lotus [18:36] Yeah, I think that sort of brings up like, well, what is a connection? How are you defining it? Or how are you discussing it? Or like, what sort of connection do you want? Because I personally wouldn’t want my own connection with someone to be like over a headset, watching a screen – in a different state of Australia. Like that, to me, I wouldn’t feel like that’s as adequate a connection or as intense as you would have, face to face. But I think that other people quite like that connection, in the sense that maybe it is less intense.
Mark [19:15] Could it also be safer for them?
Lotus [19:17] Yeah, I think it’s also they’re doing an activity. So they, they’re sharing their time, but they’re not actually having to discuss what’s going on for them or their lives. It’s like, they’re just doing an activity together. So they’re not alone. But they’re not – I don’t know, I wouldn’t really feel like – at the end of them playing games, even if it was for 10 hours. They would know how the other person’s going or what headspace they’re in or how their weeks been necessary. It’s more just like, a fun thing.
Heart Connection in Connection to Others
Mark [19:47] Yeah. And as you were sharing before about that, the different levels of the connection you’re talking about. It felt like to me that, yeah, meeting that person physically and going for that walk. It’s more of a heart ~ Yeah, there’s more of a heart connection?
Lotus [20:03] Definitely. And I think also the people that you would go on the walks with, you probably have like more of a connection with all ready to go to the effort to organise the walk. Whereas like, people that you might play games with on the TV, you might not actually have that much of a connection with them at all – besides the fact that you both like this game, you might not actually share other things.
Mark [20:30] It’s the game that brings the ~ it’s the point of contact is the game ~ is the material in the game. Is, from your experience being in the younger generation, can you describe what spiritual beliefs do younger people have? A more of connected spiritual beliefs than perhaps we might have had when we were your age?
Younger Generations Connection to Spiritual Beliefs
Lotus [20:58] This is actually quite an interesting question. I was speaking with my housemates the other day and their boyfriend was over. And he was like, do you consider me to be a spiritual person? And I was like, not really – I’ve never really thought of you like that. But he actually sorts of identified saying that, well, I wouldn’t say I’m religious, but I do consider myself to be spiritual in the sense that I do think that there’s more than just this. And in the sense, he was saying that, why wouldn’t you believe that? It sort of gives you a sense of hope. Whereas if you actually, if you don’t believe anything, don’t have to be God. But if you just think that you this is over, you die, and that’s the end. I think he’s his perspective was that that doesn’t bring me anything extra. But I do think that religion is very, I would say almost demonised amongst my friends. We have very, I think we’re very aware of the negative impacts, whether it’s about, their views on homosexuality, like child molesting like, we are very aware of all of those things. And I think that, because of that, most, this is obviously just my friends. But most people would say like, they hate religion. They hate the church, it’s caused a war, it’s caused a lot of unhappiness,
Mark [22:24] I’m wondering whether spirituality is becoming the new religiosity in a way, but it’s just different?
Connection of Science & Spirituality
Lotus [22:31] Yeah, I think. I mean, obviously, I wouldn’t say this is like a religion. But I would say that the science and knowledge amongst my friends is like, not a religion, but it’s like, what were we strive for? Well, we want to learn more, know more. And like, I think a lot of people see science as like the truth now. And they believed.
Mark [22:54] And I’m wondering whether science and spirituality are starting to meet?
Lotus [23:00] Yeah, I once had a teacher in the second year, and he was teaching about climate change. But he was also a Catholic. And I remember asking him like, oh, that’s, that’s really interesting. I always thought that science and religion kind of contradicted each other. And he said, well, it depends how you interpret the religion. Like it’s not, it’s not a black and white thing.
Mark [23:26] I’m really strong on obviously connecting to the heart. And one of the questions, as we progress in the conversation, is a connection to the ‘All That Is’, which is whatever that is to you. It could be a God, could be a religion, it could be ocean, nature. How do you notice and what do you experience when you’re able to connect to your ‘All That Is’ your spirituality, whatever that is to you?
Connection Between all Living Things
Lotus [23:53] Yeah, I would say that I wouldn’t say that – I wouldn’t say I’m very spiritual, I think. Although I’ve been exposed a bit with Dad, I wouldn’t have ever been very spiritual. But I think that I’m very concerned and, like, interested in the connection between all living things. In the sense that, like, I’m always thinking about how all of my decisions will impact other people in other places, or other animals or plants. And I’m very – trying to push this into other people’s thinking. Where it’s like, everything we do has repercussions. And even if it’s something little. Like every single time you buy something, you’re sort of casting a vote into the sort of world you want. And you need to be able to make those connections about how your decisions are affecting everything else and that there’s nothing – nothing goes without a like a reaction. Everything you do has a reaction and I think people aren’t very aware of that. And they’re not – they’re not making the connections between other places and other systems. And yeah, I think it’s something that’s really lacking in a lot of people is having that. I read this paper that calls it a biosphere consciousness. And it’s sort of pushing for like, not just for you to be concerned with yourself or your family or your friends, but having like an understanding in it, and empathy for the entire biosphere.
Mark [25:32] For Mother Earth and beyond. Do we need to do more work with ourselves to open that connection? To bring about more awareness and connection to Mother Earth?
Connection to Knowledge Deficit Model
Lotus [25:47] Yeah, I think what’s interesting about sort of trying to push for people to be connected to the earth, is that it often follows like, it’s called the knowledge deficit model. Which assumes that by providing knowledge to another person, they will then act in accordance with that knowledge. And, this literature sort of critiques that saying that, well, actually, we’ve done this time and time again, and this is what science always does, this is what – that sort of top-down approach does where it’s like, you provide information and then think a change will happen. But actually, people need to be connected to the issue. People need to feel like they’re a part of it, and that they’re a part of the process, and that they’re a part of the decision making. Which I think is a big issue within a lot of like resource management and climate change topics that I’m interested in. Is that we can’t like Western scientists or like, politicians come in, and they like, okay, this is what needs to be done, we need to change this. And it’ll have all these great impacts. But unless you engage the communities in a meaningful way, not just in a – have them along and explain it to them at a group community meeting, like, needs to be very – they need to feel like they’re making these choices for themselves. Otherwise, I don’t think the positive outcomes will actually be experienced,
Mark [27:18] When you’re talking about knowledge before, I wanted to ask a question around when you’re applying knowledge, and are we applying? Or are you applying heart knowledge to the information as well?
Connection to our Heart Knowledge
Lotus [27:34] I’m, when you say heart knowledge, like, I think, I’m not entirely sure what you mean. But my interpretation would be like, sort of like applying your beliefs, and your like, your morals, and your ethics, and how these things make you feel in your heart. And I think that’s definitely something that I’m thinking about all the time, not by choice. But more so – just that I’m a very emotional person. And I have very strong like – I could read a piece of paper talking about, the drying up of the Murray Darling Basin and how it’s disproportionately affected communities. And, and I’ll be crying, because I do feel really connected to these issues.
Mark [28:23] How much passion by having that connection to these issues? How much passion and purpose does that generate in your heart and mind?
Heartfelt Passion & Purpose
Lotus [28:33] A lot. I think it’s something that I’m incredibly grateful for. Because I do know a lot of people that really lack a drive because they don’t really know what they want to do. There’s not a specific issue that they feel really strongly about. So, they kind of just floating along, doing what everyone else does, like doing an arts degree or like doing a trade or whatever they think they should do. But I feel like their heart’s not really in it. And then they do it. They finish a degree, they start a job. And yeah, I think a lot of people, like I asked so many people at university, like, oh, what are you studying? They’re like, Oh, yeah, I’m doing an accounting degree. And I’m like, oh, like, do you like it? And, and most of the time, people say no. And I’ve asked them why they’re doing it. And like, their answer is like, oh, you know, I’ll get a good job. And like that, to me has never been enough. Like, I have never gone to university with the intent of having solely just to have a good job. It’s like, I’m going because I want to learn about these issues so that I can make a change and create a world that I guess that I feel more – is a reflection of me.
Mark [29:43] And the more and more that we do that, what impact do you think that’s going to have on Mother Earth?
Connection to Mother Earth goes in two Ways
Lotus [29:52] I feel like it can go two ways. Because I feel like a lot of people even when you do really try and form those connections, they still don’t care a lot of them. They still just care about themselves, and about making money and about being able to go overseas next year or buying a house. So, I feel like it almost has to come from somewhere deeper than that. Like, I don’t know, it’s something that I haven’t been scared about, actually. I’m scared about the fact that I think even if a lot of people did do a Bachelor of climate science or about – even if they did have an abundance of knowledge, I still think that something else has to change. And I don’t know how we’re going to achieve that.
Mark [30:42] I’d really like to, were talking last night about having some regular conversations because it’d be really wonderful to have your generations to be heard about that change. As I’m wondering if we could tap into that process about how do we facilitate, invite to create that change?
Hearing the Voice of our Younger Generation
Lotus [31:11] It’s definitely something that I lie in bed at night thinking about most of the time.
Lotus [31:15] I think, one strategy that I’ve found really positive, obviously, it’s at a much smaller scale, but is like, I think the influence that I’ve had on my close friends and family has been incredible. Like, you know, friends that have decided they’ll go vegan, or like just seeing the small little changes that you can help people make. And you can help them see that it is actually, it’s not that hard. And but I think that in terms of having that change at a societal level, it’s hard for me to see it happened without having sort of, well, I guess policy that’s going to enforce it. Because I do – I guess I don’t have that much faith in humanity to some extent.
Mark [32:05] Do we need to get more heart minded people into positions of power and politics?
A connection is a Lacking Empathy
Lotus [32:10] I definitely think like, the main thing that is lacking is empathy. And I think having people that are willing to sacrifice their own goals or their own affluence for the good of the people, I guess. Because I think when you have politicians that are in power, that are thinking about being re-elected next term, or that are thinking about how much the GDP of the country will increase, you’re never going to have policies that are going to be put in place that is going to be one for the environment and two for minority groups, and for people that maybe need it the most.
Mark [33:01] It does take a lot of consideration, doesn’t it? We’d have to do a lot of inner work, connected a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual level to have more of that alignment. So, as we all individually get that alignment, then, as a microcosm of our change, others will change around us through that connection to us ~ I’m optimistic.
Lotus [33:27] That’s good.
Connecting to Optimism for Change
Mark [33:27] Yeah, I am optimistic. I feel there is a groundswell of ~ just that felt sense that people do you want to change. And it’d be really lovely to have more conversations with younger people like yourself to see ~ yeah, what we can do the older generation to help. Listen to your experiences, because of the way you younger people, you think very differently, you’ve got very open-minded approaches to life. And yeah, can we open that door to have these collective conversations to make those changes? Lotus is there anything else in the first ~ on your first episode you need to close with today? It was lovely to be able to sit here and have this conversation.
Lotus [34:15] I think, I think the most important thing is you need to find a way to connect these broader issues to people at a very personal level. So, if you’re just talking about, the ocean, like the acidification of the ocean, or people don’t feel like that is their issue. But I think as soon as you find a way to really bring it home to them and bring it so that you know they feel it in their heart. However, you do that – that is how you will facilitate change.
Mark [34:46] And as people bring it into their hearts, though, we would have hoped and imagined and pray that they would then experience and share a lot more loving-kindness and compassion to self, others and Mother Earth.
Lotus [35:00] We can only hope.
Mark [35:01] Thank you so much for having the first conversation. I really appreciate you taking the time and the courage. And I look forward to having many more with you.
Lotus [35:12] Thank you. Thank you for having me Mark. It’s been it’s been great.
Mark [35:15] Its been fun. Thank you.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai