Permaculture: Optimizing the Edge – Series Three

Permaculture: Optimizing the Edge – Series Three

by Stacey Lyn

As our human minds investigate and explore things we tend to focus on the ‘things’—the objects of investigation, as the points of interest—and we tend to miss the connections, the associations, the relationships across space between the objects. Nature or Gaian Mind, of course, has been at this wholereality thing much longer than us and has some of those perception problems worked out, shall we say.

This month’s permaculture principle that we’re going to unpack is described in Toby Hemenway’s list as to ‘Catch and store energy and materials. To identify, collect, and hold useful flows. Every cycle is an opportunity for yield, every gradient (in slope, charge, heat, etc.) can produce energy. Re-investing resources builds capacity to capture yet more resources.’

In the garden, of course, this might be as simple as capturing water that runs too quickly down a slope and creating bioswales, or indentions in the land to allow the water to pool and absorb slowly into the land. This might be collecting leaf litter for composting or better yet, doing so inside a larger intensional pile with a water hose wound around through it multiple times through which to run cold water and allow the process of decomposition to heat the water—very effectively, I might add!

In one respect, when we move from the nature context to the modern society context, we notice that in many ways, technology has created a multitude of very steep slopes down which a torrent of various things flow entirely too fast to ever capture more than a fleeting glimpse of.

And the temptation, of course, is to try and capture everything that goes by through the technology stream. How many times a day do you see some version of the meme ‘you should click this or you’ll miss out on a product, a list of the top 10 stupid opinions you can’t live without, or the next secret cure for death’. And honestly, trying to keep up with the modern equivalent of technology monsoon season every single day is not something that’s going to end well for your brain or your life-balance.

As the designer in permaculture, we are co-creative with the various elements that we’re working with but that doesn’t mean we have to design for everything. We get to decide if we’re going to design for trying to not miss a single opportunity for useless trivia to go rushing through our mental garden or build some diversion berms to just let that stuff pass us by! I hear my husband growl often from having clicked on something that taunted him afterward, “made you look!” when he had regrettably believed the headline indicating some actual relevant information might be hidden inside this or that cleverly disguised advertisement masquerading as a news story.

Normally, I might unpack this particular permaculture principle in terms of us capturing the energy flows that are going by us, which is absolutely appropriate as a focus for this—and in a different mood, I would do exactly that. But I just want to notice what we see when we turn the focus around and analyze our own energy flows in the mix. Where do we not capture, store and utilize our own energy flows better? Especially those energy flows going outward!

Where dose our financial energy leak out of our design intension? Cash that just leaks out of our pockets because it’s so easy once the larger bill is broken. Where does our time energy get absorbed somewhere we might not have wished it to pool? How long do we spend with our face in a book called Facebook? Where does our emotional energy get siphoned off to on a regular basis? Are we renting rooms to ‘crazy people’ inside our heads until we feel like the crazy ones? How do we engage with information data from the outside world in terms of its effect on us, does it feed our soul or rob us of hope? Do we have sources of good news that we visit regularly or just stop watching the bad news?

One easy way to sort of boil this principle down, at least in the context in which we’re discussing it, is to parse out the difference between a form and a function. Forms would be those things, those elements that we are co-creating with and in our context of life outside the garden, they might be our home, specific friends, family members, our work, our hobbies, etc. those things which make up the physical actuality of our life circumstance. The function would then be the purposes those serve for us, the associations they are for us, the connections they complete for us, the relationships they make possible for us.

In the garden we love to look at all of the relationships and connections between the various elements that are trading various resources and supporting each other in all kinds of ways. But in our life, we can do that too, to great benefit, by simply focusing on the functions, the ‘space between the things’, the transfers of information, the humor that this one brings, the wisdom that that one brings. Our job might not be designed for fulfillment as a purpose in our life, it might just be for income, so don’t go there expecting the cow to lay golden eggs. It won’t, just know that. Cows give milk, chickens lay eggs.

Very often more important things are going on below the soil that you can’t see in a well-designed garden than anything you see on the surface. What emotional, financial, or psychological ‘nutrient exchanges’ are happening below the surface of your relationships, connections and associations?

It’s interesting sometimes to back away from the like or the dislike of the various forms that are present in our life-garden and to focus on why those elements are in there rather than what we wish to change about them. What we think of as literary devices when reading a novel can be useful tools when ‘reading’ our life from a higher perspective, getting our nose up off our own page a little bit.

In what ways has your story been woven together with the story of another in such a way that you are apparently here together for some reason—even if it’s not the one your mind might think it wants to be the reason. Figure out what it really is. Ask Reality, she will show you!

If your life were a novel and you a character, what literary associations exist between you and the other characters? How has an author mysteriously named one thing to remind the reader of another? How does this one or that one resonate with another? What coincidences draw your attention and make you question our ‘change universe’?

What does an event point to in your life that could be a helpful way to look at something else? What lesson could be tucked in between two bookends of similar experiences pointing your attention to look at something you might otherwise miss?

We can have much less attachment to the things in our life if we know why they are here and their function and purpose. Likewise, we can have much less resistance to things if we know their function and purpose. Using elements in our life garden that we ‘don’t like’ or have resistance toward can be a wonderful focus point of meditation to discover what still needs to be cleaned up in our shadow space rather than just something to be gotten rid of.

If the function of our house is a place to live rather than our egoic offering to the Universe of Perfection and a gauntlet tossed down to The Jonses, it’s amazing how much energy—in all its forms—that our house does not have to cost us. People who’ve downsized into the “Tiny House Movement” for instance have given testament to this fact many times over.

Just like in the garden, it’s not the number of elements in the garden that are important, but the relationships, connections, and associations between those elements that are important. So it is in our financial, emotional, social, and larger life as well. Investigate whether those functions and purposes are engaging with your energy income and outgo constructively, according to an intensional design or plan. Or is energy leaking, rusting, wasting or draining away because of poor design or wrong focus on the things rather than the space between the things.

To access Stacey’s first articles, click Permaculture: Optimizing the Edge – Series One and Series Two.

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.