As I’ve worked to distill down what my message is to the world, the phrase that keeps popping into my mind is “remembering what it is to be human”. This might sound strange – of course we are all human, here having a human experience. When I think about this phrase, however, it evokes something deeper, something foundational, ancestral and maybe even ancient. This phrase drops me into earth-consciousness. When I hold it in my mind, I can almost feel my roots going into the ground and hear the voices sharing story around the fire. For me, remembering what it is to be human means connecting to more traditional and ancestral ways of knowing and being that provide meaning and help us feel our place within the physical and spiritual world. These kinds of practices have the power to give us a profound sense of connection, and with that, allow us a true sense of self and our humanity. By participating in life in this way, we receive the antidote for the emotional and spiritual malaise that plagues modern life and find our way back to our roots, grounding into meaning, value, gratitude and joyful fulfillment.
So, what are these practices that help us remember how to be human? Some are so incredibly simple, yet have been rooted out of our daily experience, often because we are just so busy, in both body and mind. Consider the simple act of connecting to the natural world. In so doing, you open up to so many things. First, you give yourself a moment of stillness and presence in a life that is likely constantly in motion. Second, you feel your connection to the world around you – a connection that often goes unacknowledged and unappreciated, but one in which you are inextricably enmeshed everyday of your life. Third, you are likely to notice and appreciate what is around you, giving yourself the deeply nourishing and, literally, mind and body altering experience of gratitude, and maybe even reverence, awe or wonder. And fourth, if you are even a little bit open, you may begin to tune into the spiritual– both your own knowing, wisdom and guidance and the more etheric and spiritual aspects of the nature you are observing. And then, bam!, your consciousness expands and perspective shifts. All of this can happen in a moment.
Other practices that connect us to our humanness may take a bit more time, but still do not have to be complicated. I recently learned that the simple act of sitting around and gazing at a fire at night causes a chain of biochemical reactions in the body that triggers restoration and healing on many levels. Not kidding. Sharing food and singing with others can both lead to a release of oxytocin, the happy bonding hormone also released during orgasm. Walking barefoot on the earth, being around trees in a forest and exposing yourself to natural sunlight also all have profound effects on our neuro-chemistry, hormones and emotional and physical well-being.
Other ways of tapping in are slightly more involved. One of my favorites is ceremony. This is an ancient and deeply human practice that affects us on many levels. It brings us into presence. It allows us to feel seen, appreciated and connected. It gives us space to relate to and be in the spiritual. It offers a container for healing, transformation and a sense of the significance of life. It also expands our perspective and helps us see the big picture.
Many kinds of gatherings and celebrations are similarly significant in their ability to bring us together, create connections and change our perspective. Potlucks, celebrations, and seasonal festivities and gatherings, all hold us within the cycles of life and nature, giving us a sense of our place and the support that surrounds us. This is hugely important to our well-being on all levels. In addition, as we feel held and supported, we are then free to be authentic, open up and offer ourselves to others. We can do the work we are here to do and share our unique and healing light, without the need for fear, shame or hiding.
One last practice I think deserves mentioning here is the long-standing human tradition of initiation and rites-of-passage. In a world where we often feel insignificant and unseen, where we nearly always lack confidence in ourselves and our abilities, this seemingly simple yet very powerful practice offers us the opportunity to be recognized and honored, held within the container of elders and community, and hopefully challenged just enough to engender a true sense of pride and accomplishment. As we as a culture have let important transition points go by unheeded and failed to recognize each other at significant moments, we have left each other adrift in life, unclear on who or where we are. This has led to some serious ramifications as we attempt to self-initiate through unhealthy means, substituting community-supported experiences with drugs, alcohol, violence, sex and consumerism. Reconnecting with practices that challenge, value and recognize us as we move through the phases of life, holding us within the container of community, allows us to reorient to our own value and connect us to the meaning inherent in each of our lives.
Remembering what it is to be human is essentially the story of reweaving ourselves into each other and the earth, and finding a deeper and more meaningful experience of life. As we root into these practices and this process, we remember who we are, and gain an expansive perspective on what life is really all about. In so doing, being here on earth becomes a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience, which is my wish for us all. Let’s tap into the wisdom of our humanness to find new levels of richness, joy and light as we create a better world together.
Hi! My name is Ashley and I'm a transformational healer, writer and artist. Here you will find articles on a variety of topics related to health and healing, conscious living and self-growth. Hope you enjoy!