It takes time to find your “groove” as a health coach. After I finished my certification, I was excited to begin working with clients and helping them achieve their health and wellness goals. However, I could feel like something was missing in the way I wanted to operate my practice, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I didn’t want to just help people “lose weight,” but instead, really help them uncover purpose, passion, vitality, and vision for their lives.
At the start of the year, however, I also began training in Ancestral Lineage Healing work and indigenous psychology, and it has completely altered the way I see the world and our state of wellness as humans. These new insights began to fill in some of the gaps I realized I needed in my own personal life, as well as my practice.
Then, a couple of months ago, I was inspired with the idea to focus my coaching practice on helping people reconnect to what I believe are four primary connections our ancient indigenous ancestors had that contributed to their holistic state of wellness—a state western culture has not really known for thousands of years.
Each of these connections lead to vibrant physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, which I find most wellness experts and practitioners focus on. However, in my own personal study and experience, I have come to realize that the aforementioned parts of wholeness (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) more easily align and activate when we focus on reconnecting ourselves to what I call the 4 Sacred Connections.
The Basic Premise
I believe nature's default state is one of health, growth, and vitality. Humans are a part of nature and we are no exception to this rule.
But we experience so many mental, physical, emotional, and social health problems. It seems as if nature's default state is one of degeneration, chaos, and disharmony.
But this is just a story we’ve just been telling ourselves for many generations! And sadly, it’s the story we have built our entire modern civilization around. And as a result, I believe most of the personal and societal challenges we face today are unnatural because they are byproducts of the path of separation humans have progressively followed for the last several thousand years.
The good news? I believe we can heal and restore health, vitality, harmony, and balance in our lives, nature, and our society by reclaiming our natural connections to these four ancient, sacred connection points.
The 4 Sacred Connections
Our physical bodies are the conduit through which the Divine/Universe seeks to express a part of itself through our unique soul. All of our sensory factors are key in allowing our inner self (spirit/soul) to connect with and experience the world, and all beings within it (both human and non-human, both seen and unseen).
Our bodies are directly connected to nature, and they are only as healthy as the things we put into them. The body relies on nutrients, enzymes, amino acids, movement, etc., to create and signal all of the hormones (think of them as inner message carriers) to assist each part of the body in carrying out their proper functions and communicating with all of the other parts of the body to manifest a whole, perfect, vibrant, and healthy being.
Our body constantly sends us messages about our state of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Yet, most of us live in what is called our "headspace." We’re constantly only dwelling on the past and/or worrying about the future; and as a result we can't hear and discern the messages different parts of the body are trying to send us. Hence, reconnecting to our bodies is key to restoring intuition so we can learn to hear and understand the beautiful things our bodies can teach us!
Reconnecting to the body is comprised several things, but the primary ones include:
Incorporating a diet that closely mirrors that of our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors. This is a diet built upon whole, organic, and regeneratively-grown foods; and one that holds nourishing animal fats and proteins as a foundational component.
Regularly moving our bodies in dynamic and natural ways. We all know we should exercise, but what does that really look like? Well, it actually doesn’t involve hours of daily gruesome gym workouts and 5-mile runs. Instead, healthy movement means to incorporate simple, basic, full-body exercise practices on a daily basis. Our ancient ancestors were very mobile and active. They had to climb, periodically sprint, walk a lot, lift and carry heavy things, etc. These kinds of activities are easy to learn how to incorporate into our daily routines.
Eliminating less-obvious sources of physical stressors. These include getting more sleep, decreasing our exposure to blue lights from our digital environment, getting more sunlight, and giving our bodies more exposure to the outdoor world.
Learning basic (or even advanced) meditation and mindfulness practices. Doing this helps us learn to quiet the mind, tune into the different parts of the body and to strengthen the intuition. There are many effective modalities (like yoga, for instance) for being able to teach the mind and body to more effectively work together and talk to one another.
Indigenous (or animist) ways of seeing the world teach us that all things are permeated with life and spirit; and that all things are interconnected. Learning there is no hierarchy of beings, and that we humans are only one type of being on the planet is important to seeing, connecting with, and honoring all of the other many forms of life—and learning from them!
One of the key things that result from strengthening our intuition (by reconnecting to the body) is the fact that as the intuition is unburied and given permission to show itself, we come to a place where we tune into the earth and the other non-human beings in it. Seeing the interconnectedness of all beings is more obvious when we recognize the “beingness” of the myriad of other-than-humans we share the planet with.
Our actions as they relate to earth, the environment, local ecosystems, etc., matter because they affect the other forms of life and the smaller systems that serve a larger framework of balance and sustainability. In the end, all of the damage our actions may cause to our local ecosystems and overall planetary health come back to impact our own health as a human species.
Community encompasses all of our relationships—familial, non-familial; romantic, platonic; human, non-human. Our ancient ancestors lived and thrived in tribes and extended family groups. We are not isolated beings, nor were we intended to be single, isolated family units.
When we foster the idea of ancient, indigenous community, we acknowledge that the health of the community thrives when all members are healthy and fully contributing their unique gifts, talents, and perspectives. Full, vibrant human health is a byproduct of interdependence with others. We grow and thrive by offering our unique gifts and talents, but we cannot do that in a vacuum. We need community to serve and to be served by!
One concept I love (and that I cannot fully do justice to in this post) is that all things can be identified as a “one”, but are also then part of a “many”. In other words, everything we may see and identity in the universe as a single entity is actually made up of smaller, multiple parts. Then, each of those parts can be identified as their own single entity but are then comprised of even smaller parts themselves. The easiest example to illustrate this concept is your own physical body, which is a single “body”, then made up of individual “organs”, which are comprised of tissues, which are made up on individual cells, which are then each a universe of their own, etc.
All beings and systems operate in their most healthy and vibrant state when all of the parts work together to manifest the “whole” they are working to express. Then, the “whole” is actually a “part” of an even larger, interconnected relationship or system.
Not only does community apply to our human relationships, but from an indigenous (or animist) perspective, community extends to the other-than-human beings that share our planet and local ecosystems (such as the plant lives, insect lives, animal lives, rivers, mountains, meadows, wetlands, etc.). Whether we recognize it or not, the health of these other beings impacts human health; and as we make decisions, we must consider their potential impact on these “others”. The failure to consider these other-than-human beings and systems has led to the climate and ecological crisis in which we currently find ourselves.
The western psyche is built on the concept of separation—separation of spirit and matter, separation of human and non-human, separation of human and earth/nature, etc. From separation spawned various religious and political dogmas and ideologies that perpetuated the dissolution of traditional communities and relationship with non-human beings. Later, these concepts led to the paradigm of toxic individualism that gave birth to European colonialism, racism, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, genocide of indigenous peoples, industrialism, capitalism, nationalism, communism, fascism, and the list goes on... All of these have had devastating and compounding effects on the health of the planet and we as a human species. Reconnecting to community can heal many mental and emotional health challenges and restore health to our cultures and communities.
An important common thread among indigenous cultures and ways of knowing was honoring and connecting to the spirits/energy/wisdom of the ancestors. In this way of seeing the world, consciousness does not end at death. The ancestral lineage of our blood and body plays a role in who we are as a person, including the gifts and talents we carry, the traumas and their impacts on the body and nervous system, the belief patterns, etc. We carry more in our genes than just hair and eye color; but we also have what I like to think of as “spiritual genes.”
Understanding our ancestral lineages is an important component of spiritual health and well-being because of the way in which we can tap into the wisdom and experiences of our ancestors that reside in our DNA. By learning to tap into that power, we draw great strength, love, and wisdom from those who have gone before, but who are also still a part of us.
Because our modern western culture is founded on separation, we do not have the same kind of teachings and rituals our ancient ancestors had in regards to ancestral reverence and earth-honoring practices. For most of us of European descent, it has been at least 1,500 years or more (in most cases) since our people were connected to land, ancestors, community, and the cultures that developed from those connections. Ancient and indigenous cultures were, for the most part, very spiritually focused, sacred, and rooted in all of the Sacred Connections.
The dominant Eurocentric culture of today and our more recent ancestors is shallow and void of deep and meaningful connections. Hence, one of the important reasons for understanding our lineage is to learn the general history of our people. What traumas did your ancestors of the last 50-500 years experience that ultimately led to where you are now? Then, what would the deeper, more historical history of your people have looked like? When was the last time you had ancestors who enjoyed a time of intactness and wholeness of culture—culture that would have thrived through connection to community, earth, body, and ancestors?
For me, a person completely made up of Western European lineages, the last time my people would have lived with intact and interconnected culture would have been during the pre-Christian and pre-Roman times. From there, generations of war, forced conversions, desecration of culture, ecological devastation, ensuing poverty, etc., dominated the lives of my ancestors for probably about 1,800 to 2,000 years or so. Such trauma begat people who, in their state of intense disconnection and brokenness, did not hesitate to then inflict harm on other peoples (and the earth) by participating in colonialism, slavery, displacement and genocide of indigenous peoples, harmful agricultural and land management practices, etc. Yes, my lineage carries all of the baggage of “whiteness”, but when I can better understand the deeper historical context, I can find space for compassion to accompany the grief I also feel for the harms my ancestors (and their beliefs) have caused to others. In reality, we ALL come from lineages comprised of both ancestors who were harmed and those who inflicted harm. Knowing that gives us a place to begin a beautiful healing and reconnecting process.
By connecting to our ancestral lineage, we don’t have to necessarily engage in intense genealogical research. Yes, a little is useful and necessary, but for many cultures and countries, extant records only go back so far that provide actual names of our ancestors. Instead, knowing the general regions where your different lineages originated is important so you can then learn more about the general history of those regions and peoples. (A DNA test can provide some great, simple insights as a place to start!) From here, I suggest we begin learning whatever we can about the more ancient cultures and practices of our indigenous ancestors. How did they honor and connect with the earth? What were some of their traditional foods, music, and art? How did they view life, spirituality, etc.? What were their spiritual and religious practices? Then, what pieces of that ancient culture can you reclaim in your own life that may help provide a deeper sense of identity and connectedness to the world?
It’s well understood that culture is important to our identity, but yet, what we would consider the dominant culture of today—namely that of white, Judeo-Christian, European origin—is really not the kind of culture that provides the level of depth and connectedness our souls yearn for. When it all comes down to it, white people of European descent—especially white Americans—have no real culture. Sorry, but it’s true. Instead, this lack of meaningful culture, I believe, is a key cause of our increasing consumptive and materialistic obsessions, which lead to the unhealthy levels of nationalism, toxic individualism, ecological destruction, and all of the other modern maladies we experience. Basically, we’re trying desperately to fill voids by accumulating “things” and causing harm to the very planet and ecological systems that sustain our lives.
What I find most beautiful about the 4 Sacred Connections is the way in which they all integrate and interconnect to one another. For instance, if I focus on reconnecting to my body by eating pure, wholesome foods, I will at the same time be connecting to earth because those foods will be produced in ways that honor the earth and they will provide more nutrients from the healthy soils, etc. Then, if I support local small farmers and producers, I’m connecting to community—building and fostering meaningful relationships that support mental and emotional well-being.
In summary, the main idea behind the 4 Sacred Connections is to reclaim our vibrant state of human-beingness. I believe the Universe seeks to express itself through all forms of life, and we each have unique gifts that, if fully developed and offered, lead to the growth and creation of a more beautiful, whole planet where all beings thrive and live in real love, peace, and abundance.
Want to learn more? Schedule a free Discovery Call with me to learn more about my health & wellness coaching services.