Connection to Nature’s Life of Love ~ an Eco-Philosopher’s Open Heart
“Gratitude is a state of being in which we feel connected to everything in the universe. It is a fullness of the heart that recognizes the blessings of Nature within and without. Gratitude is love for the goodness of life itself.” ~ Deepak Chopra
Mark [0:00] Caressa, welcome to the Heart of Connection podcast. I’m your host Mark Randall and it’s lovely to have an opportunity to have you as a guest. Just by way of introduction, would you mind giving a brief outline of who you are and what life means to you and all the rest of it? Wonderful to have an eco-philosopher of ECOllaborations – partnering with life on the Podcast.
Connections to Self are multi-dimensional
Caresse [0:15] Cheers Mark, it’s lovely to be here with you. Well, on many things, I’m aware, I’m a multi-dimensional being. I think one of the things that’s from what influences my sense of self in the world, is being an eco-philosopher. So my sense of connection to the earth, and the evolutionary process is pretty central to my sense of identity and my understanding of who we are as humans. I’m also trained in transpersonal and experiential psychotherapies (ATEP). That has really, both of those two things really informed my way of being in the world. What I discovered through my own experience, as well as my study was, how profoundly the world – how profoundly life is meeting us, how profoundly life is in conversation with us. In every moment of our lives. It’s just the most beautiful thing that I realized.
Life meets us in our Evolution
It’s challenging as well, that life meets us in our evolution and if we don’t meet it, we end up in breakdown and violence. So I’m really keen on supporting people to, meet the evolutionary challenges, the challenges to grow. It’s kind of, you know, for me the way my reading of nature is, is you grow, you die. We undergo little deaths all the time when we compromise, I’m not saying something to somebody, not speaking my truth. I’m killing off parts of myself, or a breakdown of a relationship, and I shut somebody out. We’re all in those kinds of little dying moments, right throughout our lives, unless we’re prepared to really engage with each of those. To see what the invitation is, you know, that there’s an actual invitation in there from life itself to become more.
Connecting through our ego death
The path of that becoming is often through our own ego death. Yes, so that’s, that’s the sorts of things I’m interested in curious about, and, now that I’m involved also in another project called ‘Wicked elephants.’ We’re interested in how we take ourselves on how do we actually step beyond ourselves and our own single views, and really heal one another, really connect deeply to one another or even shallowly? It doesn’t really matter? How do we step beyond our own perspective and hear, through hearing others in their differences? Then collaborate in order to generate solutions to some of the wicked problems, like climate change, that we’re facing climate change, domestic violence? I mean, those really big issues that just don’t have simple solutions.
Mark [3:38] Are we listening?
Caresse [3:40] Are we listening?
Connection with Nature is forcing us to listen
Mark [3:42] Or beginning to listen?
Caresse [3:44] I think we’re being forced into listening. I think it’s through the crises that we experience, through the flooding in Townsville, or the fires in Hobart or the drought. We start, have an interest in listening beyond our own separate, self, separate place where I’m where you invested in our creation, of our identity. I think it’s not often until we have those crises that we’re prepared to listen.
Mark [4:20] How do you connect to yourself? Do you do it through the environment? Do you do it through – how do you, what’s your process to connect to yourself?
Connecting to Myself
Caresse [4:31] Who is myself? (Laughter)
I suppose I’ve always been a curious person who really has taken on that question, who is myself? How do I connect? I practice open heart meditation every day. That’s one way of, well, just connecting me to my largest sense of self. I think that’s an important practice for me, to sort of shift out of my small separated sense of self, and the tightness that I have around me, into the fact that I’m really held profoundly by life – by the spirit in life.
Connection ~ being held in a field of nature’s love
To really and I see it as a field of love that holds us in being. So the practice is relaxing into that and really being held by life and being knowing that I’m more, than just my; Alan Watt’s, his quote “skin-encapsulated ego. I am much more than that. I guess, when I do, I’ve done enough, inner a journey work to notice those times where I do get stuck inside myself. Either in a somatic way or, in a reactive habit. That’s not really healthy for me, it’s not healthy for me in my body, or healthy for my relationships. Then I try and practice empathy and nonviolent communication and if I’m really stuck, I then I will undertake some exploration with other supportive people that can guide me in, stepping beyond, you know, what I can see and what I know,
Connecting to self through our Inner Journey-work
Mark [6:38] How important have you felt or experienced that inner journey to connecting to yourself, or improving or building the connection to yourself?
Caresse [6:52] Absolutely fundamental to being able to see how and where I get stuck and not blame somebody else. Which I think is our habituated tendency is to sort of if there’s something goes wrong, I’m really quick and ready to blame somebody, judge somebody else’s as the cause of the problem and try and solve it out there rather than solve it here.
The inner journey work has really helped me take responsibility. Open heart meditation practice has helped me kind of step away from a lot of reactivity. Just give some space so that I can appreciate the other as other in the difference, and that they actually have a perspective. This perspective might be different from my own. A simple example, the other day, I was crossing the road here in Hobart, and just to go and talk to Astrid, who was sitting in the van. I just walked along the street to talk to the driver’s window and those that fell on a bicycle. He came down, and he, he swore at me rather aggressively. I actually didn’t react, I kind of went, oh, okay, I felt it. I felt the. I felt it inside me. Then I very quickly went, ah-ok, so he was feeling unsafe. He was feeling some sense of threat having to move out into the traffic. So I just him and I didn’t have to stay in the ‘whatever-whatever drama of complaining about who he was and what he did to me.
Connections through open heart
Mark [8:46] How do you experience the open heart helping you with your connections to others?
Caresse [8:53] Well, the one big way I just mentioned was less reactivity. So, if something happens, I’m not – I just don’t just jump into a reactive response. I feel like I have more empathy and more compassion for other people and less need to defend myself. Feel like the practice itself is really, a really healing and cleansing.
I can feel, at times sometimes, it’s like a real dissolving of ways of thinking or ways of being in myself through the practice? It’s really quite significant.
Mark [9:49] When you’re connecting, in the open-hearted are you connecting to a source greater than yourself?
Connections through our Heart Chakra
Caresse [9:55] Yes. The practices is based on our heart chakra, which is at – not where actual physical heart is just a little higher on our chest. The experience is, it’s not just a belief, there is an experience, this is a connection to the source. I then for me, it’s almost like, a surrender into being loved. That’s the practice. That’s the real practice for me is like, instead of doing something actively actually allowing myself to feel like I’m being fully loved. So even just relaxing into the chair, enjoying the chair holding me, relaxing into my breath and the exchange of breath, with the trees and other beings. Just feeling like I’m totally held, but also totally held by the Source. It’s sort of like, the Heart of Divine spark and my connection to a knowledge, which is a truth, which is greater than I possess within my personality.
Connections beyond Self
Mark [11:14] Does it take you beyond your Self, that source?
Caresse [11:17] I have had those experiences in the meditation. Most of the time, I am still kind of stuck in tracking me. There have been times where I have really experienced – something else is actually moving in. with, and through and beyond me and holding me.
Mark [11:45] That’s a pretty powerful connection to be held, like that?
Caresse [11:49] It’s incredibly beautiful. I had between over 20 & 30 years, where I was severely impacted by chronic fatigue syndrome. I felt me through a lot of that time, like a blanket being pulled over me and I and dampening my enjoyment of the world and life. I always was able to seek out beauty as a way of sustaining my spirit. I felt like through the practice my sense of joy, I have a greater and deepest sense of joy and it’s more present to me in the early days. In the practice and teachers would say, you feeling joy? Mmmm no, I’m peaceful. The joy has come and even in a very embodied way at times I have felt bubbling up from my whole being.
Connections deepen with practice
Mark [12:50] Are you able to connect to it? Not necessarily automatically, but can you connect to it, switch it on, switch it off? Or, is there a process to connect into it? With more practice does it get better?
Caresse [13:07] Yeah, absolutely. More practice it becomes easier. The initial stages are a real cleansing. A cleansing of your system. It’s a whole process touching your heart, smiling to your heart and smiling actually activates the heart chakra.
Smiling at your heart and letting go really. In the initial stages, sort of following the feeling that you having. Not the sensation, which is my disposition – is to follow sensation. It’s really about following feelings, so peacefulness, joyfulness, a sense of expansion. So I was following those things and you’re quietening your whole being, your whole system. To just learn how to drop more into the heart. There is actually a whole kind of prayer really to cleanse. Recognizing the negative emotions of anger, arrogance, greediness, selfishness and letting them be cleansed. So you just do this is pray, to cleanse and I have felt a real difference in myself through doing that practice for nearly 10 years now.
Then you’re doing it as an instrument for all beings. Knowing that we’re all connected in the one heart.
Connections of the Source flow through me
Mark [14:43] When you’re doing it for all beings, what happened? Can you describe what happens to your energy as you are manifesting it for all beings? What’s it like in your body? What’s your energy?
Caresse [14:54] Well I’m not manifesting it? it?
Mark [14:56] It’s like manifesting through you?
Caresse [14:58] It’s moving through. The more I can allow myself to be loved, and this is still constantly learning, and the more I’m able to be an instrument. So it’s like, taking ‘the doing’ out of it. It is not about me, it’s about me, surrendering to love, so that love can move through.
Mark [15:25] If we all do that, each and every one of us – that’s on this earth, what impact do you believe that would have on Mother Earth?
Surrendering to Love
Caresse [15:39] I think it would have a huge impact. Part of the practice I do, as well as a walking practice, and about correcting my spine or our whole bio-physical self, to allow love to move more freely through us. I think I’m making that connection, and the energies of the earth to flow more freely through us. I think, if we were doing that, we would be a much deeper connection. It’s like, the perceptions of the left and right brain, on the instrumental and relational mind. The instrumental mind actually can’t apprehend, it apprehensive reality in terms of objects.
Whereas the relational mind has much more, as I have heard it explained by neuro-scientist as points not knowing, where the boundary is between us. I’ve been lucky to have experienced once in my life to have felt that. I deeply believe that, profound interconnectedness of all us. We are not separate from anything or any moment. It really helps me live more in a sense of connection to that.
A desire serve that. I serve it simply by the quality of my being, and the quality of my relationships. The quality of my communication, and how authentic I can be in myself and how openly I can meet, and encounter others.
Disconnection experiences I touch my heart
Mark [17:46] When you feel disconnected, how do you reconnect back to that?
Caresse [17:55] Well, I will all sit and, if I’m really disconnected, I’ll touch my heart. I just ask for some help from the source really.
Mark [18:11] Is there a heart of nature?
Caresse [18:14] I think so. Yeah, absolutely. I learned recently that trees have got a heartbeat. It’s like, it’s a pulse of an event for 4 or 6 hours or something that. I think that there is a beating pulse at the heart of life. We each have a different rhythm in that in that symphony.
Our interconnected field of Life
I just perceive the interconnected field of life, as a field of love. I see that our bodies are a communion of 50 trillion cells and learn how to live together. We as humans can do the same. We can live that way with other beings as well. We’ve got to step beyond our egos. To see through ourselves really, and not defend, not being a defensive relationship to ourselves or one another. It’s not be run over either, not be walked over the top of. Just to be really grounded and solid in our being and in our knowledge that we are significant in our every unique expression of me. I don’t have to be precious about that, I don’t have to be held and I don’t have to be defending that either.
Mark [19:58] And how much does nature help you to stay centered and grounded and connected to the source?
Connection to Nature centres & Grounds me
Caresse [20:08] Immensely. I’m a surfer. So being in the ocean, and being connected to the ocean is one of my most profound sources of joy. I’ve always been very lucky, I think to have been given the gift of being able to see the beauty in the smallness of things.
Always sort of looking for it. Looking for the patterns in things. Looking you know, just walking down the beach here. The patterns that crabs make. The patterns on the sand. I just find enormous sustenance for myself through an encounter with the natural world. I think it’s only natural because we evolved out of this. We evolved in relationship to it.
Mark [21:15] What’s your belief? We have we evolved out of nature but we seem to be so disconnected or becoming more and more disconnected to nature? Where’s that coming from your belief?
Our disconnection to Nature
Caresse [21:30] Well, I think if you know, it started way back with agriculture and then the settling down and cities and, and then warfare and, me and my tribe. Part of it, I think it’s part of the learning to understand our humaneness and understanding our drives that have underpinned our developmental journey as humans. So I think there’s a long history. It’s the 3 brain system in us as humans, the reptilian brain and that response. Learning about that response and learning how to ‘be’ with that response. There is then the mammalian brain and whole social engagement system and how that works. How our identities are built around emotion and story and feeling and more story.
Being able to see through that is really critical. The frontal brain is also part of that. It’s the way that they interact together and learning skillful. I think, to understand our humaneness, brings us back to nature. I think as we’ve kind of isolated ourselves and separated ourselves in cities, and then in our homes, now in our computers – there is a lot of separation. A lot of identity stuff, a lot of ego-based stuff. Now our society champions the ego and celebrates our achievements as if that’s who we are, and we know the hollowness of that our selves.
Becoming so separated from Nature
I think all of those things have increasingly separated us from nature. There has been a trend in our religious traditions as well, that we’ve been the masters and possessors of nature, or the stewards of nature and somehow humans are more special and everything else. I think he was a student of Thomas Berry for a while, and Thomas use to say, ‘humans are a special mode of conscious self- awareness.’
Create and invoke those deeper relationships with nature
The birds are a special mode celebration in the air and the whales are a special mode of interacting with water and song. So it’s sort of, being able to de-center us. We all need to take ourselves seriously and the humans need to take ourselves seriously. Our creative potential and our potential to actually create a different world. To create and invoke those deeper relationships with nature. I don’t think we know the potential really. There is so much potential there and if we were able to see how profoundly connected we were, and operate from that – what might be possible. Channeling the plants, channeling daily animals, all those sorts of things. I think the world is far more mysterious than our scientific rational minds and our economically rational minds – know it to be.
Mark [25:13] The word as you’re sharing that – the word sitting in my consciousnesses, you just shared that was infinite. Just infinity? How do we help come back to that interconnection?
Through the journey, the more I have healed myself – by healing myself, I’m healing Mother Earth. The greater the connection we have, we are connected to Mother Earth, we are connected. It’s how do we come back to that space? How do we reconnect? Do we really need to be connecting with ourselves, inwardly first, not first or second but how much of that is a process?
Healing Ourselves ~ Healing Mother Earth
Caresse [26:08] I think it’s integral because it’s being able to say through our ego. Being able to see that our personalities are limited. It actually has this experience, but the world is our largest self. This relationship, this talk I’m having with you, is creating me at this moment, is creating you, is creating the people who are listening to it. We are in a continual creation process at every moment. How am I engaging in that – the creative act, at this moment, just by my quality of attention, my quality of engagement?
Mark [26:28] Just that presence, just then was just beautiful, wow. In terms of the future generations that are coming through that will follow in our footsteps. What advice would you have for young women and young men coming through following your footsteps?
Connections to Communities of Practice
Caresse [27:17] I think to seek out a community of practice who can help you challenge your view of truth. See your view of truth is partial. It is a part of the picture that is not the whole picture. Help you take the journeys you need to take, to become more alive, more authentically connected. To see actually that where the breakdown happens. It’s just life’s invitation for you to step into a new doorway, a bigger version of yourself. I really feel like, if we bought an evolutionary view to our lives, to actually see the moments where we’re really up against it, – are moments of gold. They are moments of opportunity. There moments, so radical opening to possibility – to the more of ourselves. If we can find companions to assist us in to really be present to us and enable us in that journey and that inquiry, we can step through into that – that felt experience of being more of stepping into a larger version of ourselves, more whole version of ourselves. That’s not overly inflated but is really grounded and solid and connected and, and open-hearted.
World Heart of Connection Day & Loving-Kindness
Mark [29:00] One of the things that have been really standing out, or just flowing from the conversations is how important that connection is. I’ve been asking people, I’d like to do a World Heart of Connection Day. It reminds me of the Boxing Day tsunami, we don’t need to have a tragedy for loving-kindness and compassion. How would that loving-kindness, to have a World Heart of Connection Day where we give back? Are we starting to do that? Is it or is it? Or do we need to do it quicker? Are we in – from your perspective, where are we?
Caresse [29:48] From my perspective, I see the suffering increasing as well as the responses. So it’s – I’m optimistic and I don’t want to say pessimistic. In grief, over what I perceived to be happening on the planet at the moment – just the species loss and the needless destruction of one another, that we’re still engaging in. The destruction of ourselves, and destruction of the earth, I have, such enormous grief about that, because I think we’re able to do so much more is possible. I have an enormous hope and I belong to a community of open-heart hard practitioners and, I know it makes a difference when I sit in a group of 400 people practicing open-heart meditation. The place is just singing, hearts are singing. I know it makes a difference, I do know it makes a difference on the earth. I know the Institute of Heart Maths have been doing those coherence studies and seeing energetic shifts and recording energetic shifts on the planet when people do that intentionally.
Mark [31:15] Thank you for sharing your open-heartedness with me on this podcast. I really appreciate and honor the space in the presence you shared with me.
Caresse [31:25] Beautiful.
Mark [31:26] Thank you ~ Namaste
Caresse [31:26] Thank you ~ Namaste.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai