The Key to Healing Ourselves — and Our Planet
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By Gayle Madeleine Randall, MD
Never in my 40 plus years career in medicine has it been more crucial for us to understand the connection between our own health and the health of the planet. Today, we find ourselves at a crisis point in both areas, the human health crisis, not just in this country but globally, and planetary health – climate change crisis – facing the sixth mass extinction.
When I initially wrote Soul Doctoring: Heal Yourself, Heal the Planet, I saw the book as a combination of my life experiences as a young woman, doctor and healer and a powerful tool for self-healing. It was the blending of treatments and practices from more than 20 traditional and integrative modalities that affirmed for me how the connections between self-healing and planet are critical for all of us. Not only to move medicine into the future but to see the continuity between the health of humanity and the health of the planet. Soul Doctoring evolved into exactly what we need now to restore full balance: Healing ourselves, and in so doing, contributing to the healing and regeneration of all humanity and the planet. Nothing could be more important!
I have been attuned to the relationship between our bodies and planetary regeneration for years. Thankfully, now others are taking notice. At the recent Sustainable Brands ’21 conference in San Diego, an event for companies engaging in sustainable business practices, Nestle CEO Aude Gandon coined the term “Generation Regeneration”. I love this! Robust restoration and regeneration of the larger world requires focus on self-healing ¬¬– mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. That’s where it all begins for most, with self-healing. It can, and hopefully will, take a more simultaneous dynamic going forward – self and planet. Through regenerative self-healing practices, we will see a wave of awakening and movement toward the one humanity one planet path.
So, how do we go about this? How do I, as your host on the Soul Doctoring journey, further empower you to bring your health and that of the planet into full integrated focus? By starting with the answer: “We are the solution.” The true regenerative lifestyle takes regeneration into account with every living choice we make. I want to emphasize that small steps by each of us can result in great changes on our planet — and our own health. From self, to family, to community, all humanity can be healed with these regenerative lifestyle practices. Yes science is great, but we do not need to wait for “them”, the government, or scientists, to fix it for us when we are already the solution to the problem. “We” caused it. We can resolve it.
How do we bring regenerative practices into our own lives and make them central to our daily routines? And what does “regeneration” even mean? How do we get people to “look up” when they feel overwhelmed and disengaged? We need to help people understand that all regenerative actions are helpful no matter how small or big. We need to show people that doing these things is easy and we can collectively bring about big changes. That way when people choose well and start doing things like growing their own food, buying local food, composting, buying sustainable clothes, repurposing clothes, or giving back to nature or community it is positive effect personally and planetarily. It feels good, you become healthier and happier.
Paul Hawken’s book, Regeneration Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generations, is an amazingly inclusive book covering all aspects of climate change and the spread of regeneration globally. It also has a very specific section addressing what to do and how to start addressing climate change in every way. Brilliant, inspiring, necessary guide in dealing with climate change crisis.
First, let’s examine our food choices. Changing the food system is, without a doubt one of the biggest game changers that we can become involved in to to slow down the health and the planetary climate change crisis. I always tell my patients “vote with your dollar” when talking to them about organic, now regenerative food. Eat foods that benefit us, our land, and the planet at the same time.
If we are to regenerate ourselves and the planet we need a fully regenerative food system. This is the single greatest healing action that can restore our environment and climate, while reversing the chronic disease epidemic and provide additional benefits to the economy. The current food system is one of the largest contributors to global warming, destruction of the rainforest, poisoning and desertification of the land (removes all microorganisms organisms from the soil), and destruction of the oceans. It is also the cause of inflammatory based diseases including; diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, autoimmune disease, some forms of cancer) due to contamination with glyphosates, other toxins, hormones, unhealthy animal fats and generalized lack of nutrients in foods grown in soil devoid of microorganisms and nutrients.
We need to further consider regeneratively grown food and meats. Measures need to be taken to completely eliminate growing poisonous glyphosate tainted grain to feed our livestock. The CO2 from tilling the soil to grow the crops to feed the livestock contributes as much carbon to the atmosphere as all the combustion engines on the planet combined. This poisonous meat is fed to our families, children, and most of the people in lower economic strata. In my view, this is equivalent to a slow genocide, and should be outlawed. Also, we need to move people away from meat packing plant practices, fast foods and reliance on our sick food supply system and Standard American Diet (SAD diet), which is killing our people and our planet. And to reduce the chance of pandemic inception and spread. Regenerative practices help avoid the run of pandemics by eliminating the need for conventional meat packing practices
Regeneratively raised livestock is another subject. Livestock are raised on grass alone are healthier and happier. They are allowed to graze in one area for a limited period of time before ranchers mimic the predator prey relationship and move them to another hector of land before the grass is eaten halfway down. This strengthens the grass and makes it more phytonutrient rich. These animals are completely toxin hormone free and healthier from phytonutrient dense grass. The grasses also cool the earth, and the regenerative ranching process keeps the soil probiotic rich, reduces carbon emission and provides clean, hormone and toxin-free food. This is also true of regeneratively raised food crops and vegetables. The no-till method of regenerative gardening and farming eliminates massive releases of carbon from the land. Any regenerative planting draws down carbon, fixes nitrogen and releases oxygen. Thus, combats and helps reverse global warming.
Another big carbon consideration is how we receive our food — usually trucked or sent by train from farms hundreds or thousands of miles away. That’s a lot of road miles, and concomitant carbon emission. Source regenerative foods near you. Buying foods locally from Farmer’s markets or growing your own are good choices. The fewer miles your food travels from ground to table, the better for the planet and you. Look in your community for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) plot, which supports your food and the community.
If you live in an apartment or urban home without available ground you can grow inside and raise sprouts, which are 10-50 times more nutrient dense than the grown vegetable or lettuce trees. If you have a deck – plants love planters and pots. You can grow tomatoes and cucumbers from hanging pots in or around your home!
One final thought on food: can you imagine how much we can contribute to regenerating our planet, and whole plant-based food sources, by teaching our children or grandchildren to garden? There is a growing movement in school districts across the country to replace an elective class with a one-semester home gardening. If we teach children now, they may avoid chronic inflammatory diseases that currently plague the majority of people in our nation. Can you think of a better gift and legacy?! Gardening gives us good exercise, clean air, improves our microbiome, re-establishes the relationship with the earth our ancestors had and emulates the regenerative lifestyle of indigenous peoples.
We need to take other types of shopping into account when looking at how we can actively participate in regenerating ourselves and our planet. Clothing is a big one. The so-called “fast fashion” industry knockoffs of the latest styles put out by high fashion moguls. Companies copy these styles within days, fly the products to more than 5,000 stores around the globe, and sell them for cut rate prices.
Our clothing consumption is egregious. The average American buys nearly 68 new outfits a year today; back in the 1970s, it was 12 per year. Many of these garments are never worn and the average American disposes of 80 pounds of clothing per year. It is tremendously wasteful — not to mention the consumption of water, fuel and other resources to produce and transport these clothes.
We need to buy more durable clothes, repurposed items — or shop in our own closets! Also, take some extra time to research the growing number of high-quality sustainable fashion companies. These manufacturers take sourcing, available resources, transportation, materials and impact on climate and environment into consideration with everything they do.
For example, nearly three-quarters of Patagonia’s clothing line, which brings the company more than $800 million in annual revenue, is made from recycled materials. All of the virgin cotton is either grown organically or recycled and they will accept returns at any stage.
To think regeneratively, you need to research and source anything you want to buy. Look for the miles on your product, the source materials, how they were transported, where they came from, and interaction of company with suppliers and employees.
When considering transportation, reduce high fuel consumption plane flights and drive whenever possible. Carpooling is a good old-fashioned way to save fuel and reduce carbon footprint. Also choose a low-energy consumption automobile, and if feasible consider hybrids and electric. Mass transport on trains, buses and subways is best.
We need to come up with new outside-the-box regenerative lifestyle practices. For instance, I live near the ocean and watch the container ships go out with clock like regularity. During 2020 all around the globe species were going extinct and miracles of their return and even evolution were documented. Watch David Attenborough’s astounding beautiful documentary The Year Earth Changed. Whales began to communicate with each other in whole new languages because they could hear each other in absence of any human generated and ship noise. Baby turtles were able to make their dash for the ocean for the first time in decades and because people were not obstructing their path which resulted in an increased young turtle population. What if a law was passed to close the beaches and surrounding waters to accommodate animals and give them a chance to feed, communicate and breed? Also, what if laws were passed to keep ships to a certain schedule, such as sending them out in batches, giving animals and sea creatures a chance to interact, breed and feed. Would that hurt us? Quite the contrary I believe. These are small differences that could bring about large transformations for our planet and her animals.
We need to remember we are one humanity one planet! We are all in this together no matter color, sex, religion, country of origin, ethnicity! Just like farming more diversity brings more unity! What is good for us is good for the planet!
Soul Doctoring: Heal Yourself, Heal the Planet (presales March 1, 2022 and available in print May 31, 2022) by Transformation Media Books, available on Amazon.com, and most online and in store booksellers.