Art of Life/Donna Parker

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It can be hard to feel your roots as a Westerner.

Many of us live in countries built on relatively recent colonization by Europeans, so our ancestral connection to the land only goes back a few generations. Our spirituality is generally expressed in religions which originated thousands of years ago in a geographical and historical context that we have no real relationship with, or in the borrowing from other traditions we are even more distant from. And all of us are continually slammed in the face every day by a mainstream culture that is phony and shallow, from top to bottom.

This often leads to feelings of disconnection, alienation, and a deep yearning that feels so tender and vulnerable we do not even like talking about it. It is a deep yearning for depth, for groundedness in something ancient and much bigger than ourselves. We feel it when observing the colonialism-ravaged remnants of indigenous cultures, or even made-up indigenous cultures like in the movie Avatar; this longing to belong to a cultural framework for connecting to the land and to other people in a way that is guided by ancient wisdom, and which we do not have to make up as we go along.

However, it is possible to find that deep connection we long for, and we do not even have to appropriate indigenous spirituality or co-op eastern religions in order to get there. Right now, without trying to get anywhere, you are already fully unified with something unfathomably vast and incomprehensibly ancient. And I am not speaking spiritually or philosophically here. I am speaking scientifically.

Scientists have recently determined that the water on our planet is 4.5 billion years old. This is the water we drink, bathe in and swim in; the water that falls from our sky; the water with which we nourish the plants we eat and the plants we grow around us. The water that makes up 60 percent of our bodies and 90 percent of our blood.

4.5 billion years is also the approximate age of the planet we live on and all the other elements which make up our bodies are approximately the same age as well.

Those elements, including water, were birthed from the swirling stardust of the universe which eventually cooled and gave rise to them, and that stardust was in turn birthed by the Great Whatever at the beginning of time that started this whole adventure called life.

You are not separate from the universe. How could you be? The whole thing worked together to give rise to you through an unbroken chain of occurrences over billions of years, and that which you are made of comes from the same Great Whatever as everything else. Since the dawn of life on this planet, organisms have been exchanging water and other elements back and forth through eating, drinking, reproducing and dying, and you are inseparably one with that dance.

And your own elements will not die. When your incredible heart stops beating and the stuff your amazing body is made of begins to come apart, your own molecules will simply continue the dance of the elements that has been going on for billions of years.

You do not need to think about the words I am saying to experience this for yourself from moment to moment; it is not a narrative or a belief system, it is what you are. You can feel it in the aliveness of your body, in the thrum of consciousness, in the experience of everything. You can touch in with this reality whenever you want, and in fact you can learn to embody it continuously.