You’ve heard the saying before:
“Just love yourself. If you can’t love yourself then…”
But where do you start, or how do you pick yourself back up, when healing from something that feels larger than life?
When things feel too big, sometimes we retreat and secretly hope it will get smaller or just go away. Or, we may feel helpless, and believe
that our efforts won’t make a real difference.
I’m talking about recovery and the big love it takes.
Personally, I didn’t first learn about love from humans. I learned about love from the shady trees, the wind on the sand dunes and the dew drops weighing down the petals. The earth does everything from love and leaves nothing undone.
The great teacher of mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hahn tells the story of the leaf and the tree. It goes like this:
"One autumn day, sitting on a bench, he asked the leaf as it fell to the earth if it was sad leaving its mother. The leaf rejoiced in its gratitude to become soil and nourish its mother the tree."
The lesson here is that we are all interconnected. Love is a continuation.
Love is a daily practice, not something that we can just will ourselves to do and wake up forever changed, finding ourselves in a big shift.
With the recent Paris Talks on global climate change, Thich Nhat Hahn wrote a book called “Love Letter to Earth” to encourage ecological mindfulness and changing our relationship to the earth. In it he says,
“We can see that the Earth is truly alive. We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet. Knowing this we can transform our relationship to the Earth…We will fall completely in love with the Earth…That is the relationship each of us must have with the Earth if the Earth is to survive, and if we are to survive as well”.
Our love of the earth can teach us how to love ourselves. Loving the earth is a mutual relationship. The practice feels laboring at first, then slowly it changes the way we live. That’s a shift in the relationship to something, which is the pathway to big change.
For example, we can choose to walk softly on the earth, making daily changes like buying fewer plastic bottles, sharing cars, planting vegetables in the front lawn, turning off lights, and running less water.
Our recovery, and our relationship to ourselves, is inextricably tied to the healing of our earth. See yourself as an important part of this fabric and that your actions, thoughts and speech, no matter how great or small, ripple through all of life.
Here is my love letter to you: allow the beauty of the earth to inspire you to help you fall in love with yourself. See the love that the earth has for all of creation, and take the great risk of letting that love permeate your heart.
Dare to walk softly on the earth, one step at a time.
Livia Budrys, LCSW, is the Director of Trauma Services and Evanston Site Director for Insight Behavioral Health Centers and Eating Recovery Center.
Livia Budrys recently downsized and traded her car in for two wheels. She is committed to supporting the healing of the earth, one pedal at a time. Livia will be cycling 200 miles in March from Vietnam to Cambodia to raise funds for climate change education, awareness efforts and sustainability projects.
Visit Livia’s page to learn more about her climate change fund-raising journey or to donate a mile.