young man meditating in front of a straw shelter
Image by Benjamin Balazs 

If you go into a forest and look at the trees, they are all different, and they are all beautiful, and they all have their own place on the land. When two trees grow too close to each other, they often end up entwining themselves and growing together.

In the highest alpine valleys, there are tiny little flowers that grow out of rocks, testament to the fact that nourishment and life is everywhere. The sun does not discriminate on whom it shines.

It is high time that we also stopped discriminating against ourselves or others. We are all children of the aether. We are all worthy of our particular place on this planet, worthy of that life-giving sunlight, worthy of love.

Resilience and Regeneration

Resilience and regeneration are the lessons we glean simply by paying attention to the natural world.

We see that in the way ecosystems regulate themselves. When there are too many rabbits, the fox and wolf populations increase, and when the rabbits decrease, so too do the foxes and the wolves.

We also see that if the toxins or the dams or the buildings are taken away, the earth will very quickly heal and revert back to the pristine abundance and diversity that are her hallmark.

We are the same. If we remove adversity, we can heal and thrive. If you can remember that you, too, are made up of the very same things as the earth and that you are a part of the earth, it makes it easier to come back to that center. To come back to the place of deep nourishment, of deep love and self-regard. This is the place where you get grounded again, centered, and peaceful and can build the reserves to inhabit your life fully. You are built of the same resilient essence as the earth, and sometimes you just need to remember that.

innerself subscribe graphic

Healing the Self; Healing the World

Paul Stamets had a debilitating stutter. For as long as he could remember, he couldn’t get through a single sentence. Whenever someone tried to engage with him in any way, he would look down at the ground to avoid eye contact and humiliation. Staring at the ground for most of his life, he noticed things others didn’t. He found mushrooms and fossils.

Instead of going to an Ivy League university like his two brothers, he got his bachelor’s degree from a state college and then retreated to the woods, where his handicap would go unnoticed. He became a logger.

One day his brother John came to visit him and brought a book on hunting wild mushrooms. By the end of the day, Paul was hooked. He began to tirelessly study the strange and otherworldly phenomenon of mycelium, which are the roots of the mushroom, its fruiting body.

Early in his mushroom studies, Paul found a book on psilocybin mushrooms, which had been used in this country to help alcoholics and severe mental health disturbances, with astonishing results. Their use had fallen out of favor due to the culture wars and political maneuvering, but Paul was intrigued and, illegality aside, tried them.

He took what is known as a “heroic dose” and climbed to the top of an oak tree, the better to watch the beauty of the gathering clouds. As he started to feel the effects of the mystical experience of his mushroom trip, the clouds became a massive storm, with thunder, pouring rain, and lightning dancing all around him. He held onto his tree for dear life, while experiencing one of the most profound awakenings.

To his utter amazement, when he climbed down from that tree, his stutter was gone!

Mushrooms and Healing

Paul has devoted his life to the scientific studies of mycelium and made discoveries that have major real-world consequences. He has even been contracted by the U.S. government to help find solutions to health crises. Mycelium have a wide range of uses, many of which Paul has studied and proven out. They are the remediators and regenerators of the earth. The oldest living structure, and the most varied.

They can be used to remove toxins and poisons on the earth. They can do the same in our bodies, having properties that run from healing cancer, mitigating the effects of Alzheimer’s, and reversing the effects of aging.

They can be used to make biodegradable products. They sequester carbon. They support the health of bees, helping overcome colony collapse disorder.

Over his lifetime of research, Paul has discovered the way mycelium interconnects the entire planet, communicating in ways that mimic computer networks and our own minds. They might even hold the secret to consciousness itself. [Fantastic Fungi, documentary film]

Paul took his disability to the earth, literally. First when staring at it nonstop as a survival mechanism, and then when holding on to a tree for dear life while essentially reprograming his brain with a substance that came from the deepest interconnections of the earth itself. The earth is the moderating factor of all the elements, and Paul’s story illustrates just that.

If there is one substance that has the possibility of overcoming nearly all of the problems currently facing the planet today, mycelium would be a front-runner, and Paul the leader who could take us into a cycle of true healing and rebirth.

His life is now devoted to helping the earth heal, with the very powers of the earth herself. He has balanced all of the elements around the center of the Earth element—the ability to love, and hold dear and precious your “self” as your own center, and the earth herself, which nourishes and heals everything.

Practice: Go Out into Nature

Take off your shoes. Walk barefoot. Find a quiet, beautiful place and sit down on the earth. Lean up against a tree and hear its heartbeat. Allow yourself to listen. Listen to the sounds outside yourself. Listen to the sounds inside yourself. Just listen.

Even if you live in a city and don’t have the ability to go off into the wild, you can find a tree and lean against its trunk and press your nose into its skin and your hands into its bark. I often find myself in New York City or Denver, and I go up to the one tree in its square of bare earth, take my shoes off, and stand there, drinking in the healing.

If you’re a new parent who can barely make it through the day, or you work three jobs to make ends meet, or you work the night shift and keep challenging hours, it can be enough to simply touch a flower, gaze at a tree from your window, or look up at the night sky.

You are not separate from nature, even if you live in a tall apartment building. You can even bring up a little clump of grass into your apartment and put your bare feet on it to ground you.

Finding Safety in Nature

If some part of a traumatic experience happened in nature, you may need more support to find the grace of it again. Nature can be cataclysmic and unforgiving, even as it is awe inspiring. Every year people die on the mountain where I ski, doing what they love. You may have been involved in a flood or a wildfire or a tornado, and the idea of the outside world does not feel safe or rejuvenating.

If that is the case for you, try spending time in more defined and tended spaces that still give you the healing vibration, sounds, smells, and clean air without the overwhelmingness of a huge landscape. Gardens and parks can serve this purpose very well. So can doing something like planting some seeds indoors and watching them sprout on a windowsill. Even watching a nature documentary can bring you that sense of awe while still allowing you to feel safe and cozy on your own couch.

The Bottom of Temporal Pond

In the early autumn, when it’s still nice out and the angles of the sun start to get lower in the sky, I like to do my EMYoga practice outside, in the bottom of the temporal pond. In my yard I have a small creek that spills into a large pond that rages with water in the early spring. By midsummer it is usually gone, dried up from a long, hot summer and the end of the snowmelt from the mountains.

At the bottom of this empty pond, there is still a sense of moisture, even after the longest fire season. There are shoots of grass and wildflowers and long-stemmed doilies of lace from the white yarrow that drink in the moist earth beneath the bottom. The earth is soft clay, and there are hoofprints pressed in all around from the deer who came to drink the last bits of water before it dried up, and from those who still search for it after it’s gone.

Down here, ten feet below the rest of the land, in this little bowl, I am held by the earth. It is a perfect place to practice EMYoga. I put my feet on the warm ground; I press my face into the sweet-smelling clay; I grip handfuls of soft moss when I do my downward-facing dog.

My practice becomes full of self-massage, and when I feel the clay of my body right next to the clay of the earth, I feel awe at the miracle of them both.

© 2022 Lauren Walker. Used by permission from
Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.,

Article Source:

BOOK: The Energy to Heal

The Energy to Heal: Find Lasting Freedom from Stress and Trauma through Energy Medicine Yoga
by Lauren Walker.

book cover of The Energy to Heal: Find Lasting Freedom from Stress and Trauma through Energy Medicine Yoga by Lauren Walker.Clear your energetic pathways and calm the storm of your stressful modern life with this unique healing system. Perfected over years of study, Energy Medicine Yoga is a customizable program with step-by-step practices that help you recover from trauma and gain resilience.

Combining yoga and energy work with the five elements, this book teaches you how to respond, rather than react, to triggers and ultimately diminish their effect on you.

For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of Lauren WalkerLauren Walker has taught yoga and meditation since 1997 and created Energy Medicine Yoga while teaching at Norwich University, the oldest private military college in the country. She now teaches EMYoga across the US and internationally. She is frequently quoted in Yoga JournalMantra Magazine, and Yoga Digest, and her yoga work was featured in the New York Times. In 2016, she was named one of the top 100 most influential yoga teachers in America.

Her two previous books, The Energy Medicine Yoga Prescription (2017) and Energy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice (2014), both won the Nautilus Silver Award for Best Mind/Body publication. Her new book is The Energy to Heal: Find Lasting Freedom from Stress and Trauma through Energy Medicine Yoga (Llewellyn Publications, May 20, 2022).

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