Meredith Garmon: Self-Nurture IS Nurturing Nature


This week I interviewed one of One Earth Conservation’s founding Board Members, the Rev. Dr. Meredith Garmon. Meredith loves education - both learning and educating. He holds Masters’ degrees in communication studies and philosophy, and a PhD. in government from the University of Virginia. He completed his theological studies at the Meadville-Lombard Theological Seminary in 2003 and was ordained a Unitarian Universalist minister in 2004. Since 2013, Meredith has served as the senior minister at the Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains, NY. He is also a Zen practitioner in the Soto tradition. Meredith is pleased to be married to Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner, where their goals of a shared life together include intentional community households, teaching multispecies courses at the university level, and dedicating all they can to the growth and flourishing of this one earth.

Below are Meredith’s answers to the questions we’ve been exploring the past three weeks, which are:

1. Do you have a practice of nurturing yourself?

2. How are you nurtured by nature?

3. What do you do to nurture nature?

1. Do you have a practice of nurturing yourself?

I've thought a lot about spiritual -- i.e. self-nurturing -- practices. They fall into four categories:

1. The basics. These include basic health practices: get enough sleep (I do OK on that one, usually), exercise (some weeks better than others, but, yes, many weeks I get to the gym several times), and diet (I'm big on green smoothies, but otherwise not particularly health conscious on my diet). The basics also includes these three daily practices:

a. Journal

b. Study (of wisdom literature)

c. Meditation

I recommend 10-15 minutes of each -- every day or at least every other day.

2. "Keep in mind" practices. These are reminders to carry around with you throughout the day. Things like: be patient; enjoy humility; say yes; take pleasure; slow down.

3. "Worth a try" practices. Try these once, and if you find them fun, stick with them. If not, it was still beneficial to do just once. Examples include things like: create a home altar; the mirror exercise; simplify; make a pleasure and pain list.

4. "Might be your thing." These practices aren't for everyone, but one of them may be just the thing for you. Examples would be gardening or playing a musical instrument. These aren't necessarily spiritual practices, but if engaged with the intention of cultivating presence, then they can be.

For a list of all these practices, with links to full descriptions of each, see:

http://www.voicesofliberalfaith.org/p/spiritual-practice.html

My own morning practice begins with Zen practice in a dedicated space in my home. This includes bowing and an incense-lighting ritual, a 25-minute sit, about 5 minutes of chanting aloud one of the basic readings/sutras in my tradition, about 25 minutes of Zen study, and a closing 10-minute sit. So I go well beyond the 10-15 minutes on the "meditation" and "study" basics. I also journal almost daily -- and here I'm pretty much right at the 10-15 min recommendation. I also occasionally engage in some other practice -- the kind that would be on the "worth a try" list -- and these, collectively, enrich my life and my presence.

Between my regular basics and occasional forays into various other practices, I have a good foundation for developing the habits of the "keep in mind" practices. This is still a work in progress, of course. Always will be.

2. How are you nurtured by nature?

The great works of photography and painting I've had the chance to see haven't made me a visual artist, but they do teach me new ways to see my world -- and I don't mean just new ways to see the objects depicted, but new ways of looking at whatever I might happen to be looking at. In the same way, walks in the woods or along a beach teach me about the richness, diversity, and interdependence of all things, so that I bring that to my experience of buildings and interiors. It's ALL nature. The challenge is to look at it that way. Time spent in "natural" settings helps teach me that way of looking.

3. What do you do to nurture nature?

Support One Earth Conservation. Compost. Support legislation that curbs carbon emissions. Keep the thermostat at 66 (lower at night) through the winter. Hug trees (consensually -- to the best of my ability to tell). Get all my outerwear clothing second-hand. Live within walking distance of work. And mostly, as per answers to the first two questions, understand that I am not separate from nature, and that self-nurture therefore IS nurturing nature.

#nurture #selfhelp #nature #spiritualpractices #meditation #Zen

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