Permaculture: Optimizing the Edge – Series One
Permaculture: Optimizing the Edge – Series One
by Stacey Lyn
There is a profound resonance that I feel with Permaculture as a way of understanding the meta-system of the world in which we are all living and trying to comprehend. Permaculture is a practice that was developed initially by Bill Mollison and his student David Holmgren, in 1978, and is generally expressed as a set of 12 principles and 3 guiding ethics.
My intension in this series of articles is to open up each of those 12 ‘boxes’ or principles and try to really unpack them in a slightly different way than they are usually unpacked. One of the ongoing challenges with Permaculture practice is that it is not a set of prescriptions for something as much as it is a lens through which to observe whatever it is you are trying to see or prescribe a solution or remedy for. So it’s not the object, it’s the lens through which you see any object.
At the highest level perspective, I would say that the understandings of permaculture give life to the emerging intuition about how we should do things. It tells us that the emerging streams of thought coming down into and out from the evolutionaries in the collective are in fact grounded in something besides a languageless, slippery, feel-good conceptualization that we are often afraid to express because the prevailing thought systems of domination and zero-sum games are so familiar and still such a prominent part of the larger culture.
We are trying to transition from a behavioral approach and a perspective, that is well known and languaged inside and out in our world culture, into a behavioral approach and a perspective that often has no language, is awkwardly expressed in hyphenated made up words, or simply left disengaged because there are no linguistic handles for us to grasp onto.
I believe that our observations in nature give us a framework that feels significantly more solid and therefore helpful in bridging people from something that they well understand, even if they don’t like it—our dominant cultural mindset—to something they don’t think they understand or can explain, but feel some kinship toward, even if they think it can’t possibly work. Nature says ‘it does work and here’s how!’
I had a long history of noticing that the way not just ’nature’ did things, but the way things in the physical world functioned in all respects, mirrored things in my internal world. And then when I discovered Permaculture it was like someone already wrote that book and here it was!
I personally have come to this ‘design roundabout’ that is permaculture from a set of roads that have included organizational training and development consulting, artistic woodworking and remodeling, wild bird rescue work, and owning and operating a business working with an advanced neuro-callibration technology allowing the human brain to see itself in an auditory mirror and bring its own self back into balance. In that order. And then Permaculture dropped into my lap as a well-developed view finder through which to see more clearly what I had observed and experienced in both the background and foreground of my life, in different ways, and as a set of design principles with which to advance the narrative of my life into whatever wanted to emerge next.
We are collectively experiencing a huge shift in essentially all the systems in our world rather simultaneously. Which could be extremely scary or, without the mind’s fear stories of potential threat to survival, it could just be an amazing and exciting ride! Since we don’t KNOW what will happen, we get to choose whether to believe the imaginings of our minds or not. What I hope to do in this series of articles is give your awareness some intellectual or political cover to suspend the fear stories and see what else is present in this moment.
I have come to see the way forward as a co-creative process between us as intelligent designers and observers with the rules and laws of nature and the physical universe such that the ‘design constraints’ of those rules and laws can serve as inspiration to our creativity. But only if we get out of our egoic resistance toward the existence of those laws. Denial of reality, it turns out, is ‘wrought with problems’, shall we say. Much of the wake we’ve left behind us in getting to this point demonstrates that when we observe and interact with the laws of nature we can understand them and work creatively and abundantly within them. When we seek only to control or change them, we don’t fair so well, especially in the long run. ‘Nature bats last’, as they say.
Well, there now, we’ve already broached our first design principle as applied to life: Observe and Interact! In management consulting we used to tell people that a more fruitful allocation of energy when solving problems is to spend 80% of your time defining the problem (observing and interacting with reality) and 20% of your time designing the solution.
It’s fun to just notice that the egoic mind wants to jump to solution as soon as it has some inkling of the problem, often resulting in solving the wrong problem or imposing a solution that causes more problems than it ever solves. Old linear-sequential, directive, yang-centric energy tends to want to name and define things rather than experience them, to ‘own’ mysteries rather than make love to them, and to control the world by extending the self into the world, a sort of egoic terrafirma practice.
Just like gardeners are advised to observe an area of land for a full year in order to see the patterns of the sun, the wind, the rainfall, the wildlife, the entire ecosystem into which one expects to insert oneself helpfully or productively, this principle would advise all humans to take a longer, more protracted observational approach to their life situations. We’ve all had the experience of believing some impending task to be a monstrous pain in the butt. Then we pulled ourselves together and did it, only to find that ‘actually it wasn’t that bad!’ Or we think someone is this way or that, and we manage to suspend that belief long enough to experience how they actually are, and discover that we were totally mistaken! Or we think some situation that is unfolding is going to turn out catastrophically bad and then, you know, mysteriously, it doesn’t. Maybe we find that the situation’s challenges offered us blessings and gifts from others or the environment it took place in that we would now not trade for the world!
What if we could learn to suspend our mind’s judgment about absolutely everything and observe it ‘literally’ instead of seeing what we think we will see and mistaking it for objective observation? What if we could interact with the circumstances of our lives from a place of curiosity the way a kitten explores a bug, or a child investigates a flower? What if we could experience things on a daily basis without the labels of the mind—the names, the judgments, the preconceived ideas that shove it into a tiny box and cram it onto the crowded shelves of our ‘I-know-mind’ closet and move on?
Terrence McKenna discusses language as a sort of ‘license to lie’ in that it consists of words like tiny tiles that we tile over our entire mental landscape, so that no bird has a larger wing span than the size of the tile we wrote the species name on, which we gave him. If a bird flew into a baby’s room, the degree of wonder and amazement that the bird holds for the baby can never be contained on the worded tile the mom helpfully hands him in that moment. “It’s a bird, baby. A ‘bird’.”
What the tiny tile does not contain can not be measured or described. It must be experienced. It must be lived. It must be loved. It must be allowed. It must be freed!
What if we could live our daily life experience the way an animal saw the world? Or the way a plant smiled at the sun? Or the way a leaf gratefully catches the rain? Or the way a bird stretches out its tail and wing feathers to radiate the sun through the hollow shafts of its feathers to its body? Or the way a group of starlings bathe in a puddle?
What if the only thing standing between us and the way nature experienced itself was our own belief that we are not held as securely inside the palm of nature, within her guidance and protection, within her paternal care and teaching?
- Observe and interact with your life like it’s not here to hurt you!
- Observe and interact with your life situations like they are just wrapping on gifts you have yet to uncover!
- Observe and interact with your life story like you aren’t writing it and see what blessings and lessons the Author of Life left for you in its pages!
About Stacey Lyn
Stacey has been engaged in brain science and the study of consciousness in one way or another for her entire adult life. She is the owner of Optimize Me, Brainwave Optimization, a holistic, natural way to help the brain see itself, find its ‘home room’ resonant frequency and return to balance. “For me the connection between our collective brain’s current state of imbalance and how it got that way points directly to our disconnect with the systems and processes of the earth and our ecosystem, as does our collective way home!”
Stacey has been invited to write a series of permaculture articles for the newsletter. We hope to have her out to present on this topic and share her insights around her field of neuroplasticity.