Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is earth…home.
~Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut (cited: Thich Nhát Hanh, Love Letter to the Earth)
The foundation of all mindfulness practice is awareness of the breath. There is no mindfulness without awareness of our in-breath and out-breath. Mindful breathing unites the body and mind and helps us to become aware of what is going on inside us and around us. In our daily life, we often forget that mind and body are connected. Our bodies are here but our minds are not. Sometimes we lose ourselves in a book, a film, the internet or an electronic game, and we’re carried off, far away from our body and the reality of where we are. Then, when we lift our head out of the book or look up from the screen, we may be confronted with feelings of anxiety, guilt, fear, or irritation. We rarely go back to our inner peace, to our inner island of calm and clarity, to be in touch with Mother Earth.
We can get so caught up in our plans, fears, agitations, and dreams that we aren’t living in our bodies anymore and we’re not in touch with our real mother, the Earth, either. We can’t see the miraculous beauty and magnificence that our planet offers to us. We are living more and more in the world of our minds and becoming increasingly alienated from the physical world. Returning to our breathing brings body and mind back together and reminds us of the miracle of the present moment. Our planet is rich here, powerful, generous, and supportive at every moment. Once we recognize these qualities in the Earth, we can take refuge in her in our difficult moments, making it easier for us to embrace our fear and suffering and to transform it.
Awareness of the in-breath and out-breath first of all calms us down. By paying attention to your breathing, without judgment, you bring peace back to your body, and release the pain and tension. …
When our minds and bodies have calmed down, we begin to see more clearly. When we see more clearly, we feel more connected to ourselves and to the Earth and we have more understanding. When there is clarity and understanding, love can bloom because true love is based on understanding.
…Each breath contains nitrogen, oxygen, and water vapor as well as other trace elements, so each breath that we inhale contains the Earth. With each breath, we’re reminded that we are part of this beautiful life-giving planet.
After reading the below except from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Being Peace,
“…The human species is a very young species–we appeared on the Earth only recently. Before that, we were rock, we were gas, we were minerals, we were single-celled beings. We were plants, we were trees, and now we have become humans…”
I found myself pondering, “is life today the outcome of a recycling process of matter within a closed system?”
In a quick Goggle search (The earth a closed system) I found OERu, an amazing open educational site which offers a course, The Inspiring Challenge of Sustainable Development. One of the lesson plans,CSF101, notes:
The Earth is a closed system for matter
The Earth is made up of chemical elements – think of the periodic table. That is a list of all basic elemental materials on our planet. Because of gravity, matter (comprising all solids, liquids and gases) does not leave the system. It is a closed box. And, the laws of thermodynamics, long agreed by scientists, tell us that it’s impossible to destroy matter. So the chemical matter we have on Earth will always be here. The important question is, how are those chemicals organised?
The Earth is an open system for energy
It is accepted science that the Earth is an open system for energy. Energy radiates into the Earth’s system, mainly from the sun. Energy is then radiated back into space from the Earth, with the flows being regulated by the Earth’s atmosphere and ozone layer. This delicate balanced transfer of energy maintains the surface temperature at a level that is suited to the forms of life that have evolved and currently exist.
While the course CSF101’s discussion centers on global warming and climate change it seems to correspond with Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings that at one time I was a tree, a rain drop, a cloud, a dandelion.