“You will be your best self when you take time to understand what you really need, feel and want.”
― Deborah Day, Author
Food. Water. Shelter.
These are recognised as the three of the most basic human needs. They appear so simple, so obvious, it’s easy to overlook the importance of how we approach these essentials.
How do these needs affect our daily living, and what significance does this have?
I sat down with Vinita, the beautiful mother of Bhumi Organic Cotton, to question and examine the place of food, water and shelter in our lives.
Where does it come from, and how did it get here?
How was it created?
Who made it / is impacted by it?
While consciously contemplating these factors isn’t part of our natural evolution, we have now reached a stage of globalisation so complex that it is essential to ask these big questions - because honestly, how many of us know the stories behind our food, water, and shelter?
Our conversation led to many things, all unified by one main theme: the interconnectedness of all living things, and the power of informed choices to bring us back to this connection.
The modern urban lifestyles we share are saturated with ‘food’ that is more confectionary than nutrition, ways of treating water that disrespects its cyclical flow, and shelter that is often unwittingly polluted with elements harmful to our health.
Without asking these important questions, seeing through a wider lens of connection, and shifting course accordingly, our path will veer towards a future where natural resources, and thus our basic human needs, will not be sustainable - or even available.
Perhaps you will read these reflections and agree. Perhaps you have more to add. Solutions only arise when the questions are asked, loud and clear. So let us know your comments below, and let’s keep the conversation going!
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Food is a form of information for the trillions of cells that make up our bodies. It is a way of connecting individual consciousness to our environment and state of wellbeing. What we eat, and how well we digest it, is key component of good health.
What we absorb, we literally become.
In our current urban lifestyles, it is no longer the norm to harvest food directly from the earth and into our kitchens. Many of us associate fresh food with mass distribution via supermarkets. Here there is a huge gap between food production, and food consumption.
The nutrition we receive is directly linked to the health of the food we intake. Therefore it is essential to ask: how is this food grown, processed and transported to reach the supermarket shelves?
Without being in direct contact to growing our own food, and consciously following the seasons, we can become numb to the wisdom of our bodies; we become less able to decipher what nutrients we really need.
Do you know where the bread you eat is baked, or where the coffee you drink each morning is grown, roasted and ground? How are the vegetables you eat cultivated? Are toxic pesticides used in the process? What food additives might you be eating without knowing it? Who are the people involved in bringing these edibles to your table? How is the earth that grows your food being looked after to keep it sustainable and productive?
Fortunately, the yearning for connecting to the Earth is built into us.
A growing number of us now enjoy weekly trips to farmer’s markets and local growers, which is a beautiful way to encourage the success of local produce, and to personally know the community. It is also a way to narrow that distance between production and consumption.
To respond to these questions, we can also delve deeper; we can start to grow our own food. It may seem a daunting task especially if you live in a smaller inner-city home; but there are smart solutions our human imaginations have crafted. Nature does not require chemical interference or complex processing to thrive - and nor do we. There is immense joy in sinking bare hands into the soil, to plant, cultivate, and a few magic weeks later, harvest the first fresh crunchy leaves of lettuce, or the round ripe tomatoes that pop straight off the vine.
We have a basic need for food, but also a basic right to know where the food comes from. To reconnect, we can start by asking questions, and making choices that help us understand where we draw our energy from, literally.
Even in our busy lifestyles, it is something we should all invest the time in contemplating - because the information we feed ourselves will filter into ever fibre of our bodies, and affect every other part of our lives.
How connected are you to your food?
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We are made up of around 70% water, so it goes without saying that clean water is non-negotiable to our livelihood.
Yet in an urban world where fresh water is so accessible (how close is your nearest tap?), we can easily forget how difficult it is for many others to reach this vital resource.
Anything becomes more precious when we develop a deeper appreciation for what life is like without it. Despite the appearance of abundance, only 1% of the world’s total water resources are available for human use; nearly 1 billion people, many in the developing world, do not currently have access to drinking water (1).
When it comes to preserving body-mind health, we can make the most of available water by ensuring we drink purified water wherever possible. A wide range of affordable and more comprehensive water filter options are now available, and are an easy way to further distill tap water to reduce traces of pesticides, nitrates, chlorine and other impurities that remain after water treatment.
Fresh water is a privilege we have grown accustomed to, from making hot tea, to having refreshing showers at any temperature we please. Let’s not forget how special this is. For the wellness of the planet, conserve water, and savour it each time you have the chance to enjoy it so conveniently.
To find out more about the state of water in our world, check out The Water Project, where you can learn about and support the incredible work they do in promoting a future where fresh clean water is available to all.
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Shelter is a sense of safety, and includes both shelter of our physical bodies (clothes) as well as the environment we call home.
'Home is a sanctuary we can come back to, for rejuvenation, and reflection.’ Vinita's belief in the sanctity of home is a big part of the inspiration behind Bhumi Organic Cotton. ‘The space we inhabit affects us on many levels, including on a cellular level that we might not even be conscious of’.
As always, it begins with asking the questions. Being conscientious of your shelter means reflecting on what you bring into your home space, physically, and energetically.
Whether it’s your bedsheets, a fragrance, a piece of furniture or new items for your wardrobe: who made this, how was it created, and what impact has it and will it have?
Additionally, simple practices can enhance our connection to space. Opening the windows to circulate fresh air, bringing plants into your living and sleeping spaces, and inviting in scents that ground and soothe you, are all ways to reconnect to nature, and to the experience of this particular space and moment.
Our ability to rest and restore in a safe, comfortable space is a basic need for any living creature to thrive. To see more about cultivating awareness of shelter for your body and surroundings, you can revisit our recent explorations into the building your organic bedroom, the importance of protecting our skin, and the essentials of ethical style.
COMING BACK TO ESSENTIALS
Wellbeing is made up of so many factors. Through the choices we make, we have enormous power to impact not just our own minds and bodies, but the health of those we love, and the world we inhabit. Food, water and shelter are basics we can appreciate, but they are also pathways to greater awareness.
However you choose to address your everyday essentials, break it down to what really matters to you. Ask questions, and employ svadhyaya, or self-study, to understand why and how your routines became the way they are. Keep what counts, and forget the rest.
By acting from deeper, truer intentions, we take responsibility for our actions, and for our future.
Simply said: come back to the essentials.
We can choose how to approach our lives each day with clarity, courage and compassion. We can choose to appreciate the simplicity of what we really need to be present, and to thrive.
If you haven’t already, sign up to the Earth Life Balance blog by entering your email below, and discover how you can bring more understanding, compassion and contentment to your choices.
About the Author: Lucy Lawes is an advocate for mindful living.