The first principle in Permaculture is “To Observe”.
It’s not to fix things, it’s not to research… it’s to observe. To see what is happening. What are the behaviours of the insects?, what are the interactions of humans? where does the sun shine? And so on…
Once again, from the micro level to the macro global level this can apply. From what is happening in your garden… to what is nature telling us right now with this pandemic?
Join me in today’s episode where I share what I am observing both in my own backyard, right up to the situation the world finds it in right now.
Remember to subscribe to the Podcast and share what you are observing right now by clicking the link below and commenting on the podcast show notes.
FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Episode 13: The Power of Observation
Welcome to Thriving with Nature, a podcast that gives you the tools you need to live a modern lifestyle that helps regenerate our planet. And now your host, Hayley Weatherburn.
Hello Thrivers! It’s so exciting to have you here today. I am going to be talking about the Power of Observation in today’s podcast.
The first principle of permaculture is to observe. What it means by that or my interpretation, my understanding of that is that ideally you have time to sit and just watch what is going on in the area you’re in. Where is the sun hitting? Where is the shade? Which way does the water go? What direction is there wind or is there wind at all? What are the bugs (or) the insects doing? What does the soil look like? What kind of weeds are growing? What animals turn up?
The power of observation is truly powerful. Observation gives you so much information. Nature is always talking to you. She’s always communicating and she’s always sharing what is needed. And from a small scale, I’ll just share for you what happens.
I imagine it’s what farmers do often in the mornings or in the afternoons. But when I get up in the morning, after I’ve done my meditation and my thought download, I often go downstairs and I have a walk around my garden. I have a look at my plants. And I walk around to the seedlings and have a look at what’s growing (and) what’s not growing. I remember having an observation that they’re all leaning very, very harsh to one direction. I knew they were following the sun and it made me think the placement of where I had put the seedlings wasn’t great. And so, from that observation I moved them and they all straightened up.
Looking at the herbs, I could see that the coriander is not doing too well. And after more research, I feel that there’s too much water hitting it and I haven’t put it with a great plant because the plant next to it needs water twice a day whereas the coriander doesn’t need as much watering. And I can see that. I can see that it’s struggling a bit.
If I have a look at my vegetable garden at the moment, my veggie box that I built, I’m starting to notice that the middle wood is staying wet and it makes me concerned about what’s going on inside. Have I drilled enough drainage holes at the bottom? Was there too much mushroom compost? We’re still at the tipping point or the end of the rainy season and we’re still getting a little bit of rain. Is there too much water being absorbed there? But I look at the plants that are growing and they’re growing fine at the moment, but it’s something that I’ve just noted.
Another observation is I have (a plant that) I want to call philodendrons but I don’t think that’s the correct word. Now, there’s two other plants there. And they have what looks like sunburn on their leaves. And I wonder at the placement, are they not being covered enough? So, I’ll have to do some more research on those plants.
The power of observation. She’s always talking. The other thing I’ve noticed is that there’s these little black sort of millipede looking things. They’ve got yellow on them as well. And I’m really curious. There’s a lot of them. And I’m curious as to what their task, responsibility, and what they’re doing. And I’m hoping to interview the bug check soon and I want to send them a photo of this insect to say, ‘what is being told to me here? Why are there so many of these at the moment?
There’s a beautiful documentary which I’ve referred to before called The Biggest Little Farm. And in that, it’s illustrated so well and I don’t want to give away too much of it because the documentary is fantastic when you just watch it for the first time without knowing some things. But throughout that film, the biggest lesson was about sitting back and observing. We’re very reactive as a human race often. ‘Oh, this doesn’t work, let’s fix it.’ And maybe it’s telling us something else that we’re not seeing. If we just sit back and go, ‘Oh, that’s what needs to happen and connect dots.’
And so sitting, I always have an imagination. I imagine farmers sitting there on their back deck looking out and just sitting and thinking and watching and a lot of that is where a lot of the work is done. When we’re listening, there’s a lot of research into nature and how it flows naturally. And as guardians of this planet, I feel that we need to come back to observing her and asking, ‘what is she telling us?’
So if we go back, if we jump out at the moment on a global scale, what is the planet telling us right now? We have a virus that spread like a wildfire. A virus that is spread like wildfire. Something is out of balance here. What is it? And the immediate fear reaction in my opinion is that the fear reaction is, ‘this is horrible. We’re all going to die. This is just where we’re headed in society.’
Whereas from the knowledge that I know that I’ve been learning throughout my life about human health, about nature, is that when nature is out of balance, a few episodes ago, I talked about the force of nature. And if you haven’t listened to that episode, I’d recommend it. Because of that, I talk about how if we align and we walk the path of nature, when you are aligned in the force of nature, your health thrives. You thrive. The nature around you thrives. When you’re walking that path that is the force of nature, you thrive. When you start to step away from that, you start to eat processed food or you start to throw plastic and you actually have a lot of waste that isn’t part of the regenerative cycle, we move further and further away. And nature fixes itself by having diseases and famines.
If we look at an example of the wolves from Yellowstone, taking the wolves out of Yellowstone, the herbivores that used to have been the predator, they could start to flourish. But what happened was the vegetation started to really suffer because there was so much of it. And what happens if we fast forward through a cycle that if the animals got this lushness (that) they don’t have to worry about the predator, they can reproduce. They can grow bigger. But the gardens, nature starts to suffer. Like the vegetation starts to suffer because there’s so many of them. And then, famine happens because there’s not enough vegetation. We overate. We killed it. It becomes a desert and then famine kills off the animals slowly. They can’t survive. They die. Disease happens. And slowly but surely that wilt us down to a manageable level. And then eventually the vegetation can come back and then the animals can thrive again.
But without that predator that keeps the numbers in a sort of a balance level, it will keep going through a cycle of thriving and popular and then dying because of the disease. Without the predator, the disease and famine, it turns up. But with the predator, it keeps it all in balance.
So, let’s look at this virus right now and the fact that so many humans are perishing. In my opinion, this is my opinion. I haven’t done scientific research. This is just my thoughts. It’s that as humans have stepped away from the force of nature, our immune systems are not as strong as they used to be. Antibiotics which are not anti antibiotics, I think humans are pumping them way far too often than they need to. There are times and places that sometimes, yes, antibiotics are what is needed in that moment.
But if you think about it, anti means no and bio means life. So, (it’s) anti-life. These are killing off the microbiomes inside our gut. And not only are they killing the bad stuff, but they’re killing the good stuff that actually helps build your immune system.
As a child, and I don’t know where this innate intelligence came from in myself because I was against what my mom and dad would say often. I would fight. I’d be very stubborn. I’m like, ‘I don’t want to take antibiotics yet.’ And there was a time at one stage where I had to, cause my throat was about to close up. But I had allowed my body to build the immune systems so hugely that I never got sick in that way again because I allowed it to start to fight. The only reason I had to stop was because my throat was going to close up due to the swelling and that I couldn’t breathe. And so I took some of the antibiotics then, which allowed me just to start to heal. But I was really proud because most of the time, 99% of the time, I don’t take (it). If I get inflammation, if I get headaches, I’m listening to my body. I’m observing, ‘what is my body saying?’ Yesterday I had a headache throughout the day and I observed that I had not had anywhere near enough water. And so, that is where I could see that I could heal myself through water and sleep. And today, I feel amazing.
Coming back to this global pandemic, I feel that what nature’s telling us right now is, yes, we don’t have a predecessor. As humans, we don’t really have predators. But we’re coming to the point where we have eliminated the normal fear of a predator of a lion, a tiger, and that, in some areas, they still exists. But we are now hitting viruses, diseases because we’ve stepped out of the force of nature. Our immune systems are compromised because we’re not eating healthy food. We’re not having that normal amount of exercise. Being out in the sun. Breathing oxygen that’s clean. And so, what’s naturally happening? Mother nature is wiping out a big part of the population which is devastating, absolutely devastating.
But what I feel is if we observe that we can make a change. We can shift. And this is our opportunity for all of us that are sitting at home right now in a semi-lockdown or full lockdown. This is the time to go, okay, when we come out, it’s not going to be the same. We’ve listened. Mother nature has shared what’s going on. How do we shift this? We need to come back to nature. Start to eat more of the light energy plant based, 80-20 plant-based. Start to not be as stressed because stress actually affects the immune system. Connect with our families. Interesting that nature is now thriving and we’re connecting with our families. What a beautiful (observation). That looks like what happened here in this observation.
The power of the observation is powerful. I’m sure there’s many other words I could be using. My mom who’s an English teacher’s cringing. But all I want to articulate here is that sometimes we need to stop and observe and start to process, to make notes. ‘Oh, that’s interesting. That’s happening. I wonder why that is.’ And allow yourself to subconsciously answer that over time. You don’t need to sit and work out every problem then and there. But I just go in and I make notes and go, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. That’s interesting.’ And then over time, over a week, I go, ‘you know what? That water in that veggie box is not dissipating. I might need to do something about that. I might need to drill some holes on the side or something.’
In permaculture, they often say, the ideal time to sit and observe before you actually do anything in a garden is 12 months. It’s not realistic. We all know that. And often we can’t. But what that would do is you’d get to see the full 12-month cycle of where water goes, what’s happens every month, before you start to try and make some plans and build a permaculture garden.
And so, I managed for five months before I built my veggie garden because I wanted to see where the sun was and what’s happening. I’ve noticed that the sun isn’t as strong where it is now six months later. Because obviously, I haven’t seen a full cycle because the sun moves over time. But it is still the best bought because I had enough time to observe where the sun goes for the veggies.
There you go. That’s the power of observation. I invite you to start to observe in your life. What are you being told? What are the subtle messages you’re getting from nature? About your health? Maybe, there’s something that’s been niggling for a bit and what is it trying to tell you? Your body is talking to you. Why am I out of breath a little bit more than I usually am? Why is my right knees or maybe my left hip is out of alignment? It’s often the issue that’s obvious. The pain or the thing that seems to be out of balance is not the thing that’s the trouble. It’s just the messenger. The answer is behind that, further up the chain or whatever that is. It’s now time. You’ve got plenty of time in your semi-lockdown to observe and listen
and I’m curious to see what you learned from stepping back and observing.
Thank you so much for listening. I look forward to hearing from you. You have a beautiful day.
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