The word “sympoiesis” derives from the ancient Greek sún (“with, together”) and poíēsis (“creation, production”), meaning “becoming-with.” And so, we live, create and become who we are together with everything in our living environment.
“Thinking like ecosystems creates a shift from fragmented and linear thinking to a more integrated and holistic perspective. Developing a systems thinking mindset enables us to better understand and address complex problems. “ - Rūta Žemčugovaitė, Sympoiesis
Thinking like an ecosystem means considering all of the different moving, evolving and interdependent parts of ourselves, as an individual ecosystem and as an individual within a larger ecosystem. Boundaries exist, they are essential for life, and yet the contents they hold are more ‘we’ than ‘me’.
“It is no simple task to determine where an organism ends, and the outside world begins.” - Brian Lovett, Holobiont
A holobiont can be thought of as a complex and interconnected system of organisms living in close association with each other. You may have read that we are something like 1 part human to 10 parts microbiome, another way to put it is that each of us is 10% human cells and 90% microbial cells. We are more than one specie, we are an ecosystem of species living in sympoiesis.
"Do you understand that your quality of life and your survival are tied to how authentic and generous the connections are between you and the people and place you live with and in?" - Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy
The place we live and the people we share spaces with are part of our own individual ecosystem. Our environment influences our holobiont and our holobiont influences our mood, cognition and behaviour. Rewilding the holobiont is a movement that seeks to encourage the flourishing of our microbiome, which in turn, supports our flourishing.
“Rewilding is not about abandoning civilization but about enhancing it. It is to ‘love not man the less, but Nature more’.” ― George Monbiot, Feral
Just as Lichen is a holobiont of fungi and algae, we have evolved to live in sympoiesis with other life forms. Mitochondria are intercellular bacterium structures that produce our energy, Bifidobacterium in our colon produce B vitamins and support digestion of fibre, Staphylococcus epidermidis is a skin bacterium that prevents water loss and protects against infection from other pathogenic microbes. Living in sympoiesis is vital for surviving and thriving.
"Rites and rituals broke down the barriers between people and other species, allowed people to flow spiritually into nature and for nature's rhythms to permeate their own being." – Geoff Park, Ngā Uruora
There is a cultural ferment happening, a movement that seeks to revolt against the lifeless cold concrete jungle and recreate a world that understands interdependent ecosystems. Rewilding the holobiont and living in sympoiesis are phrases that speak to our desperate desire to live in a living world, not a dying one.
What are the rites and rituals that we need to soften the barriers between us, other species, nature and natural rhythms?
Rewild Your Holobiont…
use plant-based cleaners in your home
use non-abrasive plant-based skin cleansers
purchase organic spray-free food where possible
enjoy at least one fermented food item every day
follow the Goldilocks Principle - everything in moderation
hygiene is good but a sterile environment is not
less sugar, more fibre & intermittent fasting
Rewild Your Mind...
Meditation is an essential mental health hygiene habit, not to rid the mind of wild weedy thoughts but to build the muscle of awareness and acceptance. Your mind will run wild like the untamed creature that it is. This is normal, this re-wilding your mind. There is a misconception that during meditation you should be able to switch off your mind and come to a place of silence... This is a discouraging concept because the reality is that our minds are wild and cannot be tamed. The purpose of meditation is to acknowledge the 'monkey-mind' and return your awareness to your breath, or whatever it is you are focusing on. It is like building a muscle; meditation is strengthening your capacity to choose where your attention goes. Where attention goes, energy flows. How often do you get caught up in dramatic thoughts, catastrophizing about the future or spiralling in anxiety about the past? Meditation is the tool to give you the power to choose how you use the creative, colourful, wild capacity of your mind.
If you struggle to get started or maintain a daily meditation practise, follows these simple steps:
- set a reminder on your phone for the same time each day, preferably first thing in the morning before you start your day, or after your coffee if that makes it easier
- set a timer for just 5 minutes (or 10 or 20 if you're keen)
- set a comfortable, warm place to sit, or even lie down if sitting is uncomfortable
- set the scene by play some soothing music to demarcate your meditation time from your regular life, or just allow the sounds of life around you to be as they are
The aim is to maintain your awareness on your breath, accepting that your mind will run wild like the untameable creature that it is.
This is normal, this rewilding your mind.
Listen to our latest SYMPOIESIS meditation to sense into your physical edges, noticing the space where your inner world ends and the outer world begins.