Imagine for a moment you’re on a woodland walk; the sun’s rays are streaming through the trees and light is glinting your eyes, the sound of a woodpecker rattles in the distance, and undergrowth crunches as you walk down the woodland path as you smell the aromas of pine and soil after the recent rain. Your body is energised and relaxed. You breathe deeply and smile with a sense of peaceful contentment. When we walk in nature it’s relatively easy to feel peaceful, connected, and whole. In contrast, when we’re in other environments, rather than experiencing wholeness, we spend many of the precious moments of our lives feeling fragmented, limited, and separate.
The word “whole” comes from the Old English “hool” meaning healthy and entire and in modern use, means undivided and complete. So, what does it mean to experience wholeness and what keeps us from not experiencing it?
Let’s start with some important facts about what it is to be human that we tend to forget or ignore in our culture. Our body has over 100 trillion cells that work together in interdependent systems that keep us alive and healthy. Our brain has around 100 billion nerve cells that connect thoughts into conscious awareness, with, as far as we know, an unlimited mind. And we have over six senses to bring the world to life. We’re social animals, so are happier when we feel connected with others and belong to a social group.
We’re also connected with wider society and the whole of the animal kingdom. For instance, we share 96% of the same DNA as chimpanzees and bonobos. Science tells us that humans evolved as part of our planet’s development and that we are as much a part of the earth as any other living organism.