Guest post by Michelle Grambeau, Wellness Designer, Consultant and Founder, World Wide Well.
Taking a few weeks off from teaching yoga and mindfulness to Silicon Valley tech stars, I went on assignment to New Zealand.
I was there attending a multidisciplinary event called ‘New Frontiers’. The gathering was held to explore our collective wellbeing and the ‘big’ realities of our changing global environment. I did not know what to expect from this South Pacific island and this experience; what was unearthed was a deep awareness of the connectedness between our personal wellbeing and our global ecological story.
I slowly stepped foot into the wild of the native forest. Here at the edge of Middle Earth, the land itself seemed to sigh in limerick and in song.
Every cell in my body was on high alert as if at any moment a golden secret were to be whispered to my soul. As I walked deeper down this steep valley, pathless and thick with vines, each step brought me closer to the so called ‘wild’ from whence I came.
My time here in Aotearoa (the Māori name for the islands of New Zealand) was spent diving deep. This deep dive did not take me from one beautifully protected park to the next, but rather into the depths of the ecological situation we are facing as a planet.
Over the course of six days a selected group of specialists and system thinkers from around the world came together to explore the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ frontiers of our collective wellbeing. Through the various avenues of Digital Media, AgTech, Entrepreneurship, Education, New Zealand Culture and Investment we got down to the nitty gritty science and art of our current systems—From top-down and bottom-up we explored solutions to channel intellectual, educational, financial and technical capital toward creating regenerative economies.
On the softer side, the container of the New Frontiers event made ample space for embodied awareness and ritualized self-care. Based upon the understanding, that collective change comes from first stepping within. There was a great emphasis placed upon the transformative power of art, music, yoga, sustainable plant-based food and the healing arts.
Imagine a room full of leaders who hold the keys to creating equitable change and policy to heal our planet. These individuals must be properly rested, fed, hydrated and in a state to make grounded, clear headed and integrated decisions.
Each morning New Frontiers participants started strong with professionally led yoga or crossfit sessions, with the optional post-workout infrared sauna session. Massages were made available to attendees and team members to ensure that all onboard were re-charged and in a place to give their best. Wheatgrass shots, superfood smoothies and fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices were available 24-hours a day.
Our meals featured food prepared by a brilliant chef David Futter who specializes in incredibly delicious, plant-based, high nutrient eats. Mealtime was a large part of the magic of this event, deep nourishment also came through the electric conversation that took place in-between bites.
A few easy-to-digest tips for mindful eating: At each meal take a moment to pause. Use your food as an access point to understand our interconnection to the greater natural world—start close in. With each bite remember our connection to the “earthly elements” that make us whole. Give yourself the spaciousness to assimilate new ways of being, new ways of seeing and new ways of eating. The very fabrics of our neural pathways have an ancient need for space, quietude and the time to grow. Use your presence and your breath to calm any inflammation in your mind and body. Fill your soul.
Throughout our time here it became increasingly evident that our individual wellbeing plays a role in the greater story. As Kenny Ausubel, Founder of Bioneers, so graciously reminded me:
When we choose to stand in the face of unprecedented global environmental degradation it is easy to disconnect, to run from the alarming truths of our current reality. My hope for our future comes from a place that embraces technology’s role in reconnecting us to ourselves, to one another and (in the next stage) to the natural world. It is easy to see that what we need on an individual level is “same-same” as what the earth is calling for—clean water, clean air and fertile soil.
When the fire of inequality pours toxins into my waterways and blazes through the forest lungs of our home, it strikes me at my core. In these moments of forgetting, I am tempted to numb-out and shutdown. Tears, strength and hope swirl together as I remember how connected we truly are. Moving further into the depth of our ecological story I travel back down the valley and into the heart of the forest—whispering gently she says to me:
Michelle Grambeau is a yoga and mindfulness teacher, wellness designer and consultant based in Santa Cruz, CA. She is the founder of World Wide Well, an organization that provides custom-designed wellness, nutrition, creativity and productivity training to companies and individuals. As illustrated here, she is also a rather talented photographer!