Reconnect with nature's internet
Digital detoxing is just the first step
When is the last time you gave yourself a digital detox? I had a go last weekend and learned a couple of things. First, that it’s hard: devices are addictive and there’s always something requiring my attention. Second – and this is the important part – disconnecting from digital devices is only half the story.
We disconnect from the digital so that we can reconnect with the real: our own bodies, our loved ones, the physical world around us. This is where the gold lies and it is my view that our collective healing starts with prioritising the real over the synthetic. Even though World Council for Health is an international organisation, we prioritise being together in person as much as we can. Today, I leave for our exciting Better Way Conference in Vienna, Austria and I am so looking forward to seeing my wonderful colleagues, meeting new people and learning new things. When I’m not at an event or travelling, I always come into the office to be with the people I work with, because nothing matches the spirit of togetherness that comes from sharing the same space.
I was particularly delighted that my next Tess Talks interviewee was able to come to the office in person for our conversation. Professor Robyn Cosford lives in Australia but she happened to be in the UK; after many months of being in touch online, it was just wonderful to be able to give her a hug and breathe the same air for a couple of hours. Robyn is a medical doctor, professor of nutrition and environmental medicine, naturopath and a deeply wise woman and I am so excited to share our conversation with you all this Sunday.
Robyn spoke about the extent to which the artificial is replacing the real in our lives. We spend a lot of time in artificial light, breathing conditioned air, eating processed food and absorbing digital data. The result is that we become increasingly isolated. I think many of you will already be au fait with this. But what she said next really struck me: she explained that once we are isolated, we become incapable of reading any signals – whether from our own bodies or from other people.
Have you found this? It rings true to me. So much of the information we glean from our world is unspoken: nature’s internet, as it were. Our bodies are constantly communicating with us, telling us what they like or don’t like, what needs our attention and what doesn’t – but how often do we listen? I think the same is true for our wider environment: we are part of nature and nature is always whispering in our ear, one way or the other.
It was just such a whisper I heard, when I took my shoes off a few weeks ago and spent some quiet time in the garden. The Earth, through its proud but forlorn trees and fields whispered to me as a light breeze rustled the nearby leaves on that sunny afternoon:
We are a scruffy contingent now
Cropped and regimented by a lost tribe
But we are the Heart of men
And Together we shall Rise.
The message flowed into me without effort, and so I remembered it and wrote it down.
When I was next in the office and told my colleagues of the Earth’s words, they kindly suggested publishing them on the back of our 7 Principles flyer. There seems to be no coincidence that the word Earth is an anagram of Heart.
Robyn gave some wonderful ideas about how we can rediscover that connection with ourselves and each other. One I particularly loved was simply to move. I personally spend a lot of time either sitting or standing at my desk and I need to move my body regularly just to feel well.
It is somewhat challenging to write about such matters without it sounding like a trite list of well-being tips. I feel strongly that our power and sovereignty lie in making the effort to remain connected to ourselves, our communities and with nature.
The artificial, digital world can be taken from us at the drop of a hat but no one can dictate how you breathe, feel, see, think, hear, taste and connect with the physical world around you. Not unless we hand that power over.
This is why we must exercise our freedom and ability to be physical, multidimensional flesh-and-blood creatures with private lives unplumbed by data-harvesting technocrats.
For a conversation about the need and joy of being real people in the real world, do tune into this Sunday’s Tess Talks with Professor Robyn Cosford. In the meantime, I warmly invite you to get off this Substack and feel the air in your lungs and the blood in your veins, and experience the full, multifaceted wonderment of having a physical body.
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