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Your Body is Your Earth Observing Instrument

How do you interact with the Earth? Humans have an intimate connection with the Earth, all plant and animal Earthlings do - we evolved to survive on this planet. But humans can consciously hone our connection to our planet by developing our observational and experiential skills. As a geologist, a yoga teacher, and a fitness instructor, I have chosen paths of knowledge that hone my body & mind for Earth observation, which has served to deepen my appreciation for our planet.

How do you sense your location on Earth? Consider how you know that you are moving up or down hill, or that you are walking into a headwind. Our bodies are tuned to living on Earth, interacting with its surface, heat, light, air, chemistry, and gravity. The human body is well adapted to survive on Earth, the only planet that provides all the resources and nutrients we require to live. We can develop our bodies & senses to better interact with and observe the Earth. I received scientific field & laboratory training to take detailed visual observations, use smell and taste as identification tools, and use my body as a tool to understand where I am in space. As a geologist I am always orienting myself to where I am on Earth. The way my legs respond to gravity tells me if I am going up or down hill, and I can use the awareness of the sun warming my back and the shape of my shadow to determine my orientation relative to north. When I am far enough north of the equator and the sun is at my back near mid-day, I know I am facing generally northward. If I am in the California Coastal Ranges, I know that if I align my body to look parallel to the lengths of the mountains and valleys with the sun at my back, I can refine my physical orientation to face northwest as I navigate the topography. When I travel across latitudes, I know what climate changes to expect & how the weather will affect my body. Our bodies are observation instruments, and there are instruction manuals in the sciences & movement practices that help us become more aware of our place on Earth.

How do you enhance your body's ability to move on Earth? I have extensively studied how bodies move through the alignment of bones, the engagement of muscles, and the support of ligaments and fascia. Through alignment and focused engagement one can learn to improve balance, refine posture, and train the body to support the movements we want to use to explore the world we live in. By fine tuning my sense of balance, postural awareness, and movement patterns, I have further honed my physical body so that when I am still or in motion, I am aware of subtle shifts in the atmosphere, movements of the ground, my physical orientation, my muscles supporting me, and my bones shifting. My sense of sight & position reinforce the picture that forms in my mind as I equilibrate with my surroundings. I am an observational instrument, honed by time, focus, repetition, and education.

How can you enhance your sensory abilities? I’ve refined my physical senses to observe the world around me in a wide array of scales. Visually I can use instruments to observe microscopic creatures and features at my feet, and massive objects in outer space. When we learn how patterns develop in nature, we gain the ability to observe the processes of Earth formation. The alignment of minerals, the layering of rocks, the rocks that fossils are found within, and faults that form mountains are all patterns that reflect Earth history. The Earth has evolved through the movement of continents, the formation of oceans, the uplift of mountains, the eruptions of volcanos, and shifts in climate. My knowledge of the how the Earth has formed through tectonic collisions, faulting, and biological evolution provides a spatial structure to apply my physical orientation upon as I continue to explore and appreciate our home planet, Earth. Everywhere I go I observe & experience the patterns in nature, the reflections of Earth evolution.

How do you use your body to appreciate Earth? Everything we use to support our bodies and our civilization is made of resources from Earth. Everything in and around us is of the Earth. The more we appreciate our own bodies, our sustenance, and the materials we use, the more we are able to appreciate Earth. As humans strive to better understand how to realize a balanced environment that will continue to support the ecosystem that we rely upon, our ability appreciate Earth with our own honed observational instruments will help us find ways to better live on & with our Earth.

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