Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide (excerpts)

“Our attitudes inform our actions; the way we think affects what we do. One prominent view in Western Culture is that nature is a “thing”, an object with utilitarian value to be bought and to be sold. With this consumerist focus, we may consider the empty field, the lake, or the mountaintop to be property, a storehouse of resources, or a challenging landscape to conquer or control.

Another view offers a radical alternative: that nature has intrinsic value in and of itself. We can experience the world around us as an organic living thing. It is not object but subject. It has interiority, subjectivity. It has something to teach us, and it inspires respect. When we have this attitude, the natural world can evoke awe and astonishment, stimulating connection to the sacred, integrative forces of life.

The same attitudinal values are prevalent about the body. One predominant view, perpetuated by our educational and medical habits, is that the body is an object, a machine to be repaired when it breaks down. It is our property to do with as we please. It is a resource to get us from here to there, a commodity to help us get what we want, a storehouse of resources, a challenge to control, to conquer or overcome.

The radical alternative in body attitude would be that the body has intrinsic value in itself. It has interiority, subjectivity. It has much to teach us if we learn to listen. We can consider that we are part of a vast interconnected system, rather than separate from the world around us. We are nature too.”

– excerpts from Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide by Andrea Olsen