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Living Your Respect by Rachel Astarte Piccione

We Indians…know that everything has power. Stones have power. A blade of grass has power. Trees and clouds and all our relatives in the insect and animal world have power. We believe we must respect that power by acknowledging its presence. By honoring the power of the spirits in that way, it becomes our power as well. It protects us. —Russell Means

On Earth Day, we celebrate the gifts that this planet offers us: the sun that sustains us, the water that purifies us, the animal kingdom that provides us companionship, the plants that bring us beauty and nourishment, the winds that move us. As we—the beings who share the earth—came from the same source, so we are connected to each other like siblings. When we recognize the connection we have to all living and non-living things, our very lives become an offering. We live our respect. We make choices that honor our planetary family.

Living our respect does not have to mean making tremendous changes in our daily lives. Just being aware of our interconnectedness with all beings is a start. Here are a few ways to live your respect, both inwardly and outwardly.

Practice gratitude. When you’re outdoors, say a quiet thank you to the sun or the river or a tree. Take a moment to think of them as your family. Notice how that feels.

Recycle. While most of us already do this, consider taking it a step further by eliminating the use of plastic bags and bottles in your daily life. Get a BPA-free water bottle that you can refill. If you have kids, empower them by inviting them to choose their own. Keep a few fabric shopping bags in your car so you’ll always be prepared. There also are plenty of collapsible bags that fit perfectly in a purse or workbag.

Compost. Composting allows us to return nourishment to the land that fed us. You can use either use a composting bin or create a safe area in your yard or garden.

Collect. On a morning walk, or whenever you are out, pick up and discard any scraps of garbage that you come across.

Create a sacred space. This is a wonderful way to honor nature that also makes an excellent family project. Go out into nature and have everyone collect an item that speaks to them. Perhaps it’s a leaf, a rock, a feather or a piece of driftwood. Just make sure that removing the item will not disrupt the area from which it comes. Have everyone share why their choice spoke to them, and then place the item in a sacred space you have created, such as a special mantel or shelf. Refresh the space every season, being sure to return the found items to nature with thanks.

By living our respect for all beings around us, we develop a natural flow with them. We know that when we protect the earth, she protects us. We can delight in the glint of light on the river, the call of a sparrow, the delicate arch of a tulip or even the crisp wind that stings our cheek, knowing that we are connected to all of them. Over time, we come to realize that Earth Day is every day, and there is no need for the celebration to end.

Rachel Astarte Piccione is a transpersonal hypnotherapist and spiritual counselor. She is trained in a number of healing modalities including shamanism, creative writing and flower essences. Her mind-body wellness practice, Healing Arts New York, has offices in New York City and Nyack. Visit HealingArtsNewYork.com or email rap@healingartsnewyork.com.

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