Note: I’m so excited to share a guest post by Chara Armon today. I discovered Chara via the Healing Earth, Healing Self online summit that she founded and run at the beginning of November this year. Both the summit and Chara’s own work resonates deeply with me, so I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share her wild voice with you all. Enjoy!
Healing Autoimmunity Against Ourselves and the Earth
Chara Armon 2014©
What a pleasure to write here on Jodi’s site! I love the work she is sharing. It’s inspired me to think in a new way about a topic I’ve been considering lately.
I’m passionate about restoring the human relationship to the Earth. For me, the work involves rebuilding the connection between my own wellness and my relationship to the natural world, and helping others remember the connections between their wellness and the natural world’s wellness. I believe that our move into sustainable and flourishing ways of life on this planet requires renewed awareness that human well-being is deeply interwoven with the natural world’s well-being. To put that in another way, I believe we need to connect our self-help/self-care movement to our environmental movement. More people will treat the Earth with care when we remember more fully that our own wellness relies almost completely on the healthy functioning of the natural world.
The darker side of the close relationship between our health and the Earth’s is that we seem to become less well the more we separate from the natural world. Both mental and physical illnesses seem to be increasing in the developed world as we emit increasing amounts of environmental pollution, live indoors more, stay at our desks, and spend hours a day in the virtual world of computers. I’m not against technology, and I myself work at a desk and use a computer, but I see a need for a re-balancing: a rebalancing of our civilized selves with our wild, natural selves. Our wild selves are the parts of us that know intuitively that the Earth is our mother, plants and animals are our siblings, we depend on the natural world for survival, and we have an unchangeable spiritual and emotional need for loving connection to the natural world.
One way to understand how our well-being is interwoven with the Earth’s is by looking at our current problems with autoimmune illnesses, which I believe reflect our relationship to the Earth. As someone who has suffered from several autoimmune problems, I’ve become aware that the mounting rates of autoimmune illnesses in developed countries seem to be mirroring our mounting environmental problems. The multiple auto-immune health problems that became common at the end of the 20th century are reflecting, and are metaphors for, the larger human struggle to stop abusing our planet. Currently auto-immune illnesses are common in the western world, and I think they are occurring in the image of our relationship to the natural world. Auto-immune illnesses range from asthma and allergies to endometriosis, fibromyalgia, some thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis, and more. One of their causes is stress. Mona Lisa Schulz, MD, PhD, and esteemed medical intuitive, describes autoimmune health problems as “immune panic disorders.”
In our immune systems, auto-immunity occurs when the body fails to recognize itself as ‘self’ and instead attacks its own tissues. It has seemed to me that this is precisely what we are doing to the Earth. We have spent several centuries failing to recognize that this planet and its ecosystems are the siblings—and the life supports–of our own human bodies. Plants, animals, minerals, and all things on this planet are nearly the same as our own selves in their chemical make-up. Like us, all beings in the natural world are made from carbon and originated millennia ago from hydrogen. Like us, other living beings need water, clean air, clean food and beneficial co-species to survive. Although we pride ourselves on our differences from animals and plants, in our earliest origins and our dependency on the Earth, we are far more alike than different.
We have forgotten, also, in a spiritual sense, that one creative force—whether you call it a big bang or a god–made not only humans but caterpillars and waters, mountains and forests. We have forgotten that we are related because we are created: related to the mountains we are blowing up for coal, related to the air we are polluting in order to drive wherever we please, related to the dear sibling species who are becoming extinct because we’ve overstepped our boundaries in the life system.
Environmental problems on planet Earth are so very similar to auto-immune problems in a human body. As human selves fail to recognize their larger selves—be they winds, waters, or walnut trees—our consumption-based cultures are like confused immune systems that are attacking their own home place, polluting our air and waters and soil, harvesting minerals to depletion and fish to extinction, and annihilating wild places if we deem them good locations for shopping malls. The end result is not only destruction for lakes, frogs, polar bears, and honeybees, but mounting problems in the human body, ranging from the cancers and endocrine disorders now being linked to environmental pollution, to the obesity crisis that is being linked to eating processed, chemical food rather than the real fruits of the Earth.
Interestingly, many of the treatment recommendations for auto-immune and other health disorders in the human body are just as applicable to human-Earth relations. Whether or not they choose to use medications, people with auto-immune health problems are told to reduce stress, slow frenetic lifestyles, stop seeing life as an emergency, practice meditation, eat clean diets, exercise, treat themselves kindly, and cultivate loving relationships and gratitude.
Many of us now know that slowing our frenetic human pace will reduce our carbon emissions, reduce our voracious harvesting of natural resources, and give us the mental space to really see the environmental chaos we have created on our planet. Cultivating loving relationships with other species and ecosystems can enable us to stop harming and start healing. Just as human auto-immune illnesses reveal an inner need for balance and serenity, our environmental crisis reveals the need for a new kind of treatment of our natural world: it’s time to stop attacking, to see the natural world as our larger Self, and heal human bodies as we heal the Earth’s body.
Our wild inner voices are better guides than we have realized during the past few centuries of industrialization. They tell us to spend time outdoors, to place our feet on the ground, to listen to trees and birds, and to tend the natural world. These acts of slowing down and reconnecting heal our bodies and our minds, and remind us to live harmlessly on this planet. Our wild, original inner voices tell us, as soon as we remember how to listen, that any human system that harms the natural world harms people, too, and that the way forward to health for people and planet involves seeing human wellness and Earth’s wellness as completely inter-dependent.
About The Author
“My work ignites attention to the opportunity to heal human and Earth health as the same endeavor, for mutual flourishing.”
Interested in my contribution to this work of re-connecting people to the Earth?Sign up for my newsletter at http://mutualflourishing.org, and show your support by Liking my Facebook Page. On Twitter, I’m @ArmonChara and I would love to see you there!