Over the last few years, I’ve come to view myself and my life as an ecosystem amongst all the ecosystems of the world and it’s profoundly changed how I approach decision-making for the better. Bringing awareness to this idea means we can learn to treat the ecology of those systems with love and care and attempt to live in a harmonious relationship with all the parts.
If you look at an ecosystem in a forest, all it takes is changing one thing and it can shift the entire ecology of the system into a whole bunch of unintended consequences. A great example of this is the introduction of non-native species that become invasive. This is not to say that all change has negative repercussions, but if we don’t look at what the impact will be when we change an ecosystem, it’s more likely the impact will be negative,
Growth Practices & Disrupting Our Ecosystems
One of the first ways to look at this is our own individual growth—in taking on new ways of being, new practices, new projects, shifting perspectives, and the impact these have on our lives. We all know we should drink more water, journal and meditate more often, have a gratitude practice, do new and full moon rituals, stop eating sugar, exercise more, stop the Netflix binges, etc. But if done unconsciously, implementing these things would profoundly abrupt the ecosystem of our lives. Even things that might seem very simple, like doing morning pages each morning, can have large impacts on our life ecosystem.
It’s common to do a workshop or training, read a book and want to implement a practice every day, and to forget to recognize that although it might be valuable, our life already has an established ecology, which is why one of my favorite things to say to the people I work with is: “While these practices are best when done daily, they are even better when we actually do them.”This requires honoring the ecology of our lives and setting ourselves up, not just to ‘succeed’, but to flourish.
For example, I live with my two children and my partner doesn’t live with us, so doing something early in the morning like writing would not fit well into the ecosystem of our lives. I would be interrupted every few minutes, I would get irritated, we’d get in a fight and our morning wouldn’t go great. Given all that, it’s probably not the best practice for me to take on every day.
Alternatively, a few years ago, I wanted to restart my daily yoga practice for one month. I decided my commitment was to unroll my yoga mat and be on it for 5 minutes every day. I could do whatever I wanted on my mat, lay in savasana, only do forward folds, do sun salutations, etc, but I had to unroll my mat and be on it for 5 minutes in order to complete my agreement with myself. I could do this while my kids were eating breakfast and it fitted nicely into the ecosystem of our lives. So nicely, in fact, it often evolved into anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes each day, and I ended up continuing in this way for a full year.
Not Keeping Commitments
If I make a commitment to myself and I’m not keeping it, I bring a lot of curiosity. The common assumption, or personal growth rallying cry, is that ‘you’re just not committed’ or ‘you’re lazy’ or ‘you’re avoiding something’, etc. Sometimes this is true and being supported to look at what might be holding you back, or keeping you from fulfilling on what you say you want to be doing can be valuable. But, sometimes it just wasn’t the right commitment to make in the first place.
Discerning between the two requires a willingness to look, without shame, blame, or judgement and get curious: What if I shifted this commitment just slightly this way? Or shifted the time-frame? Or asked for help? Or: Did I make this commitment for external validation? Is this something I think I should do vs something I truly want for myself? Am I ready for this particular commitment right now? This kind of honesty with ourselves takes courage.
Working in Harmony With The Ecosystems of Others
Most of us need to take into consideration other people—partners, children, pets, etc—and not just because they are in our space, but also because we need to work with their ecosystems as well. None of us are islands unto ourselves – nor should we attempt to be! Simply bringing awareness around this is the place to start. It’s not to attempt to not have an impact on each other but to make that impact harmonious and beautiful.
In nature, we don’t want to massively disrupt ecosystems. They’re fine-tuned and it has far-reaching in impact. In our lives, sometimes disrupting the ecosystem serves – and I believe we need to be aware when and how we are doing it. Conscious disruption can create extraordinary beauty; unconscious disruption can be devastating.
If you’re interested in learning more about these concepts, join us for my upcoming retreat, Return to Source, where you’ll immerse yourself in nature, observe ecosystems in action, and understand for yourself that you and your life are an ecosystem too.