Well-being Wednesday: let’s talk permaculture’s ethical practice of fair share. Appropriate perhaps for the current pandemic situation when grocery shelves were empty for weeks of, all things, toilet paper.
What does ‘fair share’ mean to you?
Economics of Gratitude
In permaculture, ‘fair share’ is reflective of our inherent, overall abundance, and that, during times of surplus, we share what we don’t need. This ethic is reiterated, indirectly, in the permaculture principle of self-regulation and feedback – how much of something do you actually need?, did you take more than you needed?, what can you do differently next time?, in what ways do you experience abundance?, and how can you redistribute or share that abundance with others?
To me, this specific ethic and principle are related to community care and basic kindness. We are interdependent and rely on others in many (often subtle) ways, much like an ecosystem. We are called to give thanks for our excess by way of offering, and when we are a recipient, give gratitude as well. A mutuality and reciprocity that results in an economy of gratitude by both giver and receiver.
We should be expected to vacillate between givers and receivers depending on context. When we align more typically as one, there’s an imbalance. Further, when one party doesn’t complete their part in expected exchange, we feel annoyed at the least, bereft and wounded at worst. For example, this ethic and principle should not be conflated and confused with societal expectations of relentless, bone-scraping giving often expected of caregivers, and women in particular. In alignment with permaculture, we give from abundance, not from our own sustenance. Or as commonly stated at my home yoga ashram (Kashi Atlanta): “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.
An imbalance in taking might exist as well, such as hoarding out of fear or a lack of energetic exchange, for example in payment (stealing) or demonstrated gratitude. Simplistic but far from insignificant, acknowledgement (“thank you” to giver or even the earth) of the gift can be enough to complete the cycle of exchange as well as validating one another via kindness. Practices of gratitude are critical to many spiritual traditions and are even related to resilience and coping following adversity (for more about practices of mutuality and an ethic of gratitude, I recommend Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer)
Collective Soul Loss
“The pursuit of progress is our only religion; unending consumption is our primary motivation. No wonder our psyches are wounded” (-Sharon Blackie, The Enchanted Life)
Earlier this week, I instructed graduate level, healthcare students at a local college (via Zoom) in shamanic practice. We reviewed the basics of shamanism, including its etiology of dis-ease. As I lectured about illness through a spiritual lens, parallels poetically and tragically aligned – we are collectively experiencing a soul loss, through the trauma and fallout of the pandemic.
Soul loss is a survival mechanism – part of the soul flees out of necessity, from typically from some kind of trauma. This is similar to what we in western medicie call dissociation. Symptoms of soul loss include addiction, not feeling fully present, suicidal tendencies, depression, PTSD, devaluing the life of others, and/or seeking wholeness through overconsumption and materialism.
The telling symptom of our collective soul loss?, the valuation of production over people and earth (and spirit) and the taking of more than necessary, abnegating fair share while trying to distract ourselves and/or fill an impossibly-sized hole with consumerism……..
We were experiencing this excess of taking prior to the virus to be sure, and I am guilty too, but the slow down has forced many, including myself, to reconsider what is truly important, necessary, and needed (is a grocery cart full of toilet paper necessary?), as well as we wish to carry over into our new lives once we reconfigure our normal.
What would your new normal look like? What cultural scripts, normatives, and expectations are worth reconsidering to you?
We are a wounded collective and perhaps the virus will give us an opportunity to explore our current lifestyles, our disconnect from what is meaningful, our cultural impairments and afflictions, and cultivate change, including an ethic and economy of gratitude and reconnection to community and earth, for healing.
Wishing you all healing and wellness during this challenging time.
Questions for the reader:
- What do you hope to manifest for yourself once we have returned to more typical activity?
- Are there lifestyle changes that you hope to incorporate that reflect ‘fair share’?
- How has the pandemic forced you to consider what needs/’fair share’ verses over-consumption?
- In what ways have you shared or received abundance from community?
- How do you experience ‘soul loss’?
- What would our new normal of ‘fair share’ look like?
- How can we begin to heal impaired priorities and collective soul loss?
- How can you repay individuals or organizations for free services you might have utilized during the slow down? (ex. free workout videos from your local gym?)
Permaculture principles and ethics:
Shamanic Practice and Soul Loss, see Sandra Ingerman’s book Soul Retrieval or her website: www.sandraingerman.com/
Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT), shamanic practitioner, RYT 500, and reiki master. Written content is copyright protected. Picture is from Pexels.
For more information on working with Allison, as a client or collaborator, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This post was originally posted as a blog on 4/27/20.