Read these short blog posts to explore the Conventional and Natural Paradigms, and what it might mean to you to Re-Align with Nature.
No matter who you are or what you believe, it can feel almost impossible to avoid getting sucked into the dominant cultural paradigm, what I’m calling the Conventional Paradigm. For many of us, it starts with a trigger first thing in the morning, You read the news. You look at your email. You complain about what you’ll be facing at work. You begin your day by expressing and reinforcing the Conventional Paradigm. And so the day goes.
Does that happen to you? Are you more angry, reactive, victimized, stressed, or competitive most days than you’d like to be, than who you really are? If so, I invite you to take 15 minutes to re-ground yourself in your Natural Paradigm — your core and fundamental belief in abundance (rather than scarcity), systems (rather than individuality), synergies (rather than competition), trust (rather than greed), resilience (rather than resistance), and curiosity (rather than fear).
It’s called a BCI session, where B is for Be, C is for Contemplate, and I is for Imagine. Here’s how it works:
FInd a place to sit outside in Nature, or a spot inside looking out at Nature, where you won’t be disturbed for 15 minutes. Set your phone timer to 5 minutes. When you’re settled, hit start.
Be: Just be. Relax. Breathe. Gaze at Nature. If you’re outside, enjoy using all of your senses. Slowly observe Nature’s abundance, systems, synergies, trust, resilience, and curiosity. Notice how they are expressed. Let yourself feel it, feel part of it. Relax into it. Enjoy it. Be it. When your timer goes off, hit repeat.
Contemplate: Keep enjoying this moment with Nature. Contemplate the presence and feeling of abundance, systems, synergies, trust, resilience, and curiosity in your body, in your life, in your work. Explore each one, slowly. What does it feel like to you, in your body, in your soul? When your timer goes off, hit repeat.
Imagine: Continue to enjoy this feeling, this being with Nature, of Nature. Now imagine what a specific upcoming task, project, or meeting might feel like if you approached it with this deep sense of abundance, systems, synergies, trust, resilience, and curiosity. How might you show up? How might it play out? What might emerge? What outcomes might result? Enjoy this. When your timer goes off, hit stop.
Take a nice deep breath. Commit to taking this feeling forward into the day ahead, your innate Natural Paradigm. If you have time, take a few minutes to journal about the experience and what emerged for you.
That’s it! The more often you practice being, contemplating, and imagining your Natural Paradigm, the more natural it will become for you.
If you’d like to learn more about shifting from the Conventional to your Natural Paradigm, please request the [free] Tiny Transformation Workbook. While you're there, enjoy the other resources available on the Wild Hazel website.
A paradigm is what you believe to be true about the world, how it works, and your role in it. One of the most self-perpetuating elements of the Conventional Paradigm is a sense of scarcity of time. We feel we never have enough of it. The sense of lack of time both triggers and is reinforced by the other elements of this paradigm.
The sense of Individuality — that ultimately everything rests on you, you have to do everything, follow-up on everything, fix everything. The sense of Competition — that you have to keep up with, or beat, everyone else, all the time. The sense of Greed — that you’ve got to relentlessly drive to be more, have more, and do more than is needed, than is enough. The sense of Resistance — that things are changing too fast, that you have to constantly be on the lookout and on the defense. And a sense of Fear — that you’re going to fail, going to lose, going to miss out, going to fall behind, going to run out of time.
To succeed in the “real world” we’re supposed to be fast-paced, driven, tough, relentless, winning, climbing. But of course we end up stressed and paranoid, self-absorbed and self-important, more distracted and less reflective, regardless of our externally measured level of success. And regardless of the fact that (for practical purposes) the Earth always rotates and spins at the same rates, all the time.
In Nature, time just is. Organisms and ecosystems have evolved, together, so that things happen when and at the speed that makes sense, in response to appropriate needs and triggers, in cascades, in concert. In Nature, there’s just enough time, all the time.
Your nerve impulses reach speeds over 100 meters per second. Hair grows at a rate of about six inches per year. Kept dry, your hair can last indefinitely. Blood can travel through your whole body in one minute. Your blood plasma is replaced every couple of days, while your red blood cells are replaced every month or two. Your skin renews itself in about 4 weeks. Your heartbeat and breathing speed up when needed and slow to a resting pace whenever possible.
All this is happening in your body at the same time, at the right time, over time, and at the right speed. That idea of “never enough time” doesn’t even make sense. That is how your body — and the rest of Nature — is designed. Nature is designed to do what it needs to do in the time available. This can happen because Nature relies on and values abundance (rather than scarcity) as well as systems, synergies, trust, curiosity, and resilience.
If you’ve always felt that you’ve never had enough time, pause and reflect if that even makes sense. Have you never completed anything? Have you never made it where you needed to go? How are you even here, now?
A paradigm is what you believe to be true about the world, how it works, and your role in it. Your paradigm, and the current dominant cultural paradigm, are constructs, perceptions — they are made up. You can live believing that you never have enough time or that you always have just enough time. It’s up to you.
If you’re curious how you might shift your paradigm, I invite you to request the [free] Tiny Transformation Workbook and explore the other free resources offered through Wild Hazel.
I learned a new word today from Vincent Skyers, a student in my class Leading for Regenerative Sustainability: Asé
I learned that Asé has different meanings. It can be used like “Amen” or “Right On”. It can refer to your Life Force or Life Energy. And it can refer to the power to create that which you speak, that you are adding life force onto every word that comes out of your mouth.
As I continue to explore the meanings of our individual and collective reflections and reinforcements of the Conventional and Natural Paradigms the tiny word Asé resonates deeply. How about you?
If you reflect on your day-to-day decisions and behaviors, would you have felt compelled to say Asé? What did you do today? Did you buy a new outfit that will make you look great? Did you nail that product proposal? Did you whip around in traffic in order to get that sweet parking spot? Did you hug your child or partner or friend with deep unconditional love? Did you breathe the morning air and feel deep gratitude for the abundance of Nature?
If you reflect on your day-to-day decisions and behaviors, are you increasing or decreasing your Life Energy — and Earth’s Life Energy? Are you expressing, engaging in, and contributing to abundance, systems, synergies, trust, curiosity, and resilience? Or are you reflecting and reinforcing your, and our collective, devotion to scarcity, individuality, competition, greed, resistance, and fear?
If you reflect on what you said out loud today, as well as your inner monologue, what are you doing to your Life Force — and to Earth’s Life Force? What do you think you’ll say tomorrow? How will you say it? What is your intention? How might that impact your Life Force, their Life Force, our Life Force?
Given that most of us live and work in a world driven by the Conventional Paradigm — the “real world” — it can be hard to reflect and express our Natural Paradigm. But it can be done. It must be done. Perhaps pondering the word Asé might give you a new perspective, a new reason, to begin re-aligning with Nature.
We’re all familiar with the expression “Fight or Flight”, which refers to the strategies that animals employ when faced with danger — they can stay and fight, or they can fly (or run or swim or slither) away. When learning about how people are experiencing their tiny transformation from the Conventional Paradigm to the Natural Paradigm, another interpretation of that expression comes to mind.
When exploring how they express and experience the Conventional Paradigm, the sense of fighting comes up often. They feel like they have to fight for limited resources, fight to maintain their power or position, fight everyone they engage with, fight to get more, fight what is unfamiliar, and fight their fears. It’s so stressful!
But when they explore how they express the Natural Paradigm, the sense of flight seems to permeate their descriptions. When they let go of scarcity, individualism, competition, greed, resistance and fear, they feel like a bird being released from a cage, free to fly. Their words are uplifting, compelling, inspiring. Hearts soar, including mine.
I often talk about how critical it is for sustainability advocates and leaders to operate from the Natural Paradigm if we are to achieve any of our sustainability goals. What might be even more profound is how incredibly wonderful it is — perhaps even critical — to operate from our Natural Paradigms on a personal level. And it can be so easy to start, and to start feeling the benefits.
Often when we want a distraction or need a break, we reach for our phones and scroll through the news, social media, or shopping sites. In doing so, we reflect our devotion to the Conventional Paradigm, and reinforce the power it has over our lives and our minds. What if instead, you took that few minutes to doodle, to work on a gratitude list, to write a quick note to reinforce a relationship, to go for a walk, to watch how the steam rises off of our coffee or tea, to ponder the unique beauty of a knot of wood, to touch a tree.
That’s all it takes to begin to reflect and reinforce our Natural Paradigm, but it does take a bit of awareness and intention. The key to continuing this practice is to notice the value that it brings to your life, even in small moments. Did your blood pressure come down? Did you smile? Did your mind relax and expand? Did you recognize that you are part of a much bigger and beautiful world?
Next time you get that sense of fight or flight, imagine another way to fly. If you do, please share your experience and insights!
When I ask people how they feel when they are experiencing or expressing the Conventional Paradigm [https://www.wildhazel.net/blog/how-are-you-expressing-the-conventional-paradigm], they respond with words like: suspicious, inauthentic, victimized, stressed, anxious, greedy, ashamed, unsupportive, selfish, paranoid, annoyed, angry, lonely, unhealthy, myopic, cynical, rude, frantic. Of course when a collection of us feel this way, it is continuously reflected and reinforced, reverberating through all parts of our lives and society. How can you be thoughtful with your partner or kids when you get home when you’ve been cynical, selfish, and inauthentic all day?
Most of us working in sustainability focus on solving the problems of the world, perhaps striving to achieve the UN SDGs. This is crucial work; however, how can we possibly “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” (Goal 3), or any of the other SDGs, when we’re feeling paranoid, myopic, and lonely?
Before we can save the world, we need to save ourselves. This is not only necessary, it is wonderful.
When I ask people how they feel when they are experiencing or expressing the Natural Paradigm [https://www.wildhazel.net/blog/what-is-natures-paradigm], they respond with word like: accepted, aware, present, authentic, honest, compassionate, fun, supportive, inspired, playful, collaborative, creative, joyful, caring, excited, safe, curious, healthy, open, heard, myself, trust, expansive, generous. This way of being, individually and collectively, is exactly what we need to imagine, design, and create the world that we all want to live in, a world where all can flourish. And it isn’t limited to working on sustainability. When we feel and engage this way at work, we bring it home with us. Our personal relationships, as well as our sense of self, are stronger, healthier, happier.
How do you feel day in and day out when doing your work in the world? How do you feel when you get home at the end of the day? Is that how you want to feel? Is that how you want to be in the world?
Current cultural, societal, and economic paradigms are human constructs that are self-serving, self-reinforcing, and damaging to people and the planet. They do not reflect, support, or reinforce basic human values or nature’s principles. We need as many of us as possible to recognize the damaging Conventional Paradigm and that there's an alternative — the Natural Paradigm. When you understand and engage in your world from your own Natural Paradigm, it makes you and your world — our world — a better place.
If you’re curious, I invite you to request the [free] Tiny Transformation Workbook which will give you a tiny experience of intentionally living from your Natural Paradigm.
Resilience is the ability to recover from disturbance. In Nature, resilience is achieved through diversity, decentralization, and redundancy. Nature makes sure there is more than one way to accomplish the same function, especially critical functions. Over the long term, life on Earth has lasted and biodiversity has increased because of life’s drive to try new things, test out new ideas, explore the unknown, work together, and learn from others. This is why resilience is a core element of both Life’s Principles and Nature’s Paradigm.
We all recognize the need for resilience, especially now as we’re increasingly feeling the impacts of climate change. Some have even argued that the term sustainability should be replaced with resilience. So if you’re a sustainability leader or biomimicry practitioner, you probably believe in, and believe you’re driven by, resilience.
I’m sure you’re also aware that polarization is detrimental to democracy as well as social and environmental sustainability. You know that compromise, collaboration, and co-creation are needed for us to successfully address the many interconnected challenges we face.
But in practice, how often have you really listened to the other side, to “them”? How often do you simply and totally resist “their” perspectives, their ideas, their proposals? You might go beyond resisting and add name-calling and insulting, if only at the radio.
We all know the importance of resilience, but more than likely our day-to-day actions and decisions are driven by resistance. We resist change, we resist ideas that we don’t understand, we resist following someone else’s process, we resist “them”.
Resistance is not all bad, of course, but it is a core element of our current dominant cultural paradigm — the Conventional Paradigm —that has led to the sustainability challenges we need to fix. Resistance feeds and is fed by the other elements of this paradigm: scarcity, individuality, competition, greed, and fear. It is not only keeping “them” from making the changes that “they” need to make, it is inhibiting our own ability to co-creatively imagine unknown alternative futures and the pathways that will get us there.
In Nature’s Paradigm — your Natural Paradigm — resilience feeds and is fed by other elements: abundance, systems, synergies, trust, and curiosity. If you find yourself driven by resistance, try pausing and reflecting for a moment, then try being curious about that which you’re resisting. Trust that there are good reasons that “they” may be thinking and acting the way they do. Know that you’re not alone, you’re not a victim, and that we — which includes “them” — can only imagine and create the resilient future that we want if we do it together.