One of the most anticipated experiences for our group was the opportunity to learn about Andean healing from an indigenous herbalist.
On a sunny Andean morning, Juan (not his real name to protect his privacy) arrived at the renovated monastery where we were acclimating to the high-altitude environment. Along with his wife and two children, he set up an extensive display of living plants, herbs, vines, flowers and native grasses, as well as concentrated elixirs, soaps and salves made from extracts of the living pharmacy that was in front of us.
After a 30-minute presentation describing his family history and how the herbs are grown and prepared, the group was encouraged to sample lotions, taste the elixirs and ask questions regarding the traditional healing of everything from common colds, coughs, headaches and rashes to specific conditions that included diverticulitis, diabetes and even cancers.
Not surprisingly, however, he also emphasized the role of personal responsibility when it comes to choices of diet and especially our “inner” pharmacy of thoughts and emotions. I think it’s fair to say that everyone who took the opportunity to immerse themselves in the experience came away with an even deeper respect for the indigenous wisdom that Juan shared with us that day.
Women Running The Show
Following a late-afternoon drive over up the winding switchback road that leads to the Chincero Valley, our group arrived at one of the most inspiring destinations of our entire journey—the high-altitude Quechuan women’s co-op in the town of Chincero.
As the sun set over the towering peaks that surround the valley, the temperatures quickly dropped and we welcomed the local tradition of hot coca-leaf tea that greeted us as we arrived at the communal compound that is home to the women’s co-op.
In the rich light of the late-day sun, Quechuan elders, mothers and children—all women—greeted us warmly with a demonstration of how Andean wool begins with the shearing of local alpacas (no animals are harmed in the process) and is then cleaned, dyed using local insects, plants and minerals, and then spun into the yarn that is woven into intricate patterns of traditional Quechuan scarves, table runners, ponchos, gloves, warm head coverings and some of the finest textiles available in the world today.
The co-op is a beautiful model of cooperation between men and women, as well as community members in a uniquely Andean way. In this particular co-op, the women run the details of the business and creating the products, while the men work for the women in a variety of ways to sustain the business.
In 2015 I invited a friend from a United Nations NGO to join me for a visit to this particular co-op. I wanted her to meet Marlene, the woman and visionary that organized the community.
Since I met her in 1989, Marlene has worked to preserve the Quechua traditions of weaving in the modern world of machine-generated textiles.
As a result of the 2015 meeting, Marlene was invited to the UN in New York to participate in a meeting of indigenous people from throughout the world struggling with the same issues. Marlene’s warmth, language skills and heartfelt desire to help her people inspired each of us and demonstrate the power of localized living in a world where centralized communities are becoming unsustainable in the emerging world of extremes.
A Step Back In Time
Lake Titicaca is one of the most mysterious lakes in the world. At 12,500 feet above sea level and covering over 3,200 square miles that overlap the border between Peru and Bolivia (the border runs through the middle of the lake) Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world.
Before his death in 1997, the explorer Jacques Cousteau, and the crew of the famous research vessel Calypso, explored the lake and documented life forms such as the giant toad, measuring approximately 24 inches in length, and mysterious archaeological sites under the water that had never been known in the past.
From our hotel on the Peruvian side of the lake, the new-ish catamarans have cut the travel time from the shore to the ancient islands of the lake nearly in half from 3 hours to just over 90 minutes.
Our destination on the most recent trip was the mysterious island of Taquile, and a visit with the families that have developed a way of life based upon a uniquely Peruvian code of living known in the Quechuan language as ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla, (“do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy”).
The island rises from the floor of the lake to 12,900 feet above sea level and covers an area measuring 3-miles long and 1-mile wide. There are about 2,000 people living in the community that is governed as 6-geographic sectors that determine everything from land ownership to crop rotation and ultimately influence dating and marriage practices.
The inhabitants lead meditative, yet productive lives based upon terraced farming and the weaving of unique textiles. Legend states that the inhabitants of this island maintain a close relationship to a greater family in the cosmos—one that continues to influence their traditions of longevity and healing.
The Power to Thrive in A World of Extremes
Today we find ourselves living in a world of extremes. And because the world is changing, it makes perfect sense that the way we live and the way we think must change as well. It makes perfect sense to live resiliently and adapt to the world that’s emerging rather than to impose the obsolete thinking and unsustainable solutions of the past onto the problems that we face.
If we have the wisdom to recognize the reservoir of knowledge preserved among the world’s indigenous traditions—some of the most resilient people on Earth today— we have at our fingertips the time-tested principles that we can apply in our lives today.
Clearly, I’m not suggesting that we need to live primitive lives. I am suggesting that the principles of natural healing and localized community— localized sources of food, localized economies and the sharing of local resources, are the key to sustaining us today.
As we allow ourselves to recognize the wisdom of our past as a global resource of time-tested knowledge, something wonderful awaits us all—we discover that we have the power to thrive in the chaos of a changing world. And it all begins with our willingness to accept our role of continuity as a vital link in the ancient chain of human experience.
Hello and welcome to the Summer 2017 edition of “Bridging Science, Spirituality, and the Real Word,” my one and only official Gregg Braden newsletter!
Just as we were going to press with this newsletter, the winners of the 2016 Nautilus Book Awards were published. The winners learn that their books have been selected at the same time the rest of the world does, and I’m happy, proud and totally thrilled to announce that our 2016 book, “Resilience From The Heart: The Power To Thrive In Life’s Extremes” has received the Gold Award in the category of Social Change! For 19 years the Nautilus book award program has worked to acknowledge “exceptional literary contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living & green values, high-level wellness, responsible leadership and positive social change as well as to the worlds of art, creativity and inspirational reading for children, teens and young adults” from authors representing over 40 different categories. This year I was blessed to be one of those authors. Thank you Nautilus Book Awards for honoring the work of so many people in such a beautiful way, and to my community for your continued and loving support of my message of possibility, potential and discovery!
As I thought about our second quarter newsletter, I felt that I wanted to offer you something a bit different in this edition—some of the science that’s defining the new human story. Continue Reading
[This is] something I rarely talk about in public. I [wrote] about this 20 years ago in one of my books, and I have not talked about this very much. I had two near-death experiences, both of them in the same year of my life, when I was five years old.
One of them was with electricity, and I remember very consciously taking a wire, with scissors I scraped the insulation, so this bare copper wire, and I walked to an electrical outlet and I plugged both in the outlet and I was severely burned. Even today, I have scars. It’s black. My face was burned. My eyelashes were gone. My eyebrows were burned. And it was in the middle of the day, like this, when it happened. Continue Reading
While personal resilience is clearly an important first step to embrace change in our lives, it’s just that—a first step toward thinking and living in a way that reflects the extremes of our transforming world.
Our resilience when it comes to the physical necessities of everyday life is just as important. And that’s why Continue Reading
We’ve all experienced a belief that just seems to “happen” and comes out of nowhere. Maybe you’ve felt the inner conviction that you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While there may be no obvious reasons for it, we just know that feeling is definitely there. And it’s usually in our best interest to honor our beliefs in the moment we have them.
Later, in a safe environment, we can look back and explore what may have caused our “inner alarm” to sound. When we do, it’s not uncommon to find that our beliefs have been sparked by something beyond the emotions of love or fear that create our typical feelings. That something is the power of what many people simply call the vibes of body truth, body resonance, or just plain resonance. Continue Reading
Why does the maximum human age seem to hover around the 100-year mark? Why not 200 or even 500 years? If we’re to believe accounts in the Torah and Old Testament texts, many ancient people measured their lives in terms of centuries, rather than the decades that we use today. Adam, for example, is documented as having lived for 930 years, Metheselah for 969 years, and Noah for 950 years.
According to the texts, these men were not simply shriveled husks of their former selves, meagerly surviving and hanging on to the frail thread of life. At advanced ages, they were active and vital, enjoying their families and even starting new ones!
And why not? We clearly live in bodies that are built to last. The Torah states that Noah lived for Continue Reading
In the 1940s Konrad Zuse (pronounced zoo-s˘uh), the man credited with developing the first computers, had a flash of insight into the way the universe may work. When he did so, he also gave us a new way of thinking about our role in creation. While he was developing the programs to run his early computers, he asked a question that sounds more like something out of the plot of a novel than an idea meant to be taken as a serious scientific possibility.
Zuse’s question was simply this: Is it possible that the entire universe operates as a big computer, with a code that makes whatever is possible, possible? Or, perhaps even more bizarre, he wondered if a form of cosmic computing machinery is continually creating the universe and everything in it. In other words, are we living a virtual reality running on a really big computer made of quantum energy itself? Continue Reading
This meditation is a powerful technique that will allow you to shift from stressed-out to instant inner peace and calm. The technique cultivates heart-brain coherence — what athletes call being in “the zone” — and is appropriately called the Quick Coherence® Technique and has been refined into two simple steps that you can do right now — wherever you are.
Independently, each of the following steps sends a signal to your body that a specific shift to peace and calm has been put into motion. Combined, the steps create an experience that takes us back to a natural inner harmony that existed in our bodies earlier in life, before we began to separate our heart-brain network through our conditioning. Continue Reading
The last thing I expected to see on a late October afternoon hiking in a remote canyon of the Four Corners area in northwestern New Mexico was a Native American wisdom keeper walking toward me on the same trail. Yet there he was, standing at the top of the small incline that separated us as our paths converged that day. I’m not sure how long he’d been there. By the time I saw him, he was just waiting, watching me as I stepped carefully among the loose stones on the path. The low sun created a glow that cast a deep shadow across the man’s body. As I held my hand up to block the light from my eyes, I could see Continue Reading
I remember a conversation I had a few years ago that beautifully illustrates what I mean by waiting for life to “get back to normal.” I was talking to a gas-station attendant in a small mountain town about the weak economy and how people in the area were coping.
“How are things in this part of the world?” I asked. “Has business been good here?” With a shrug, the woman behind the counter stopped counting the change in the cash register and looked at me. “Do you really want to know?” she asked.
“Absolutely,” I said with a smile as I handed her my credit card. “I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t.” Continue Reading
Although the revolution in the way we think of ourselves began nearly 100 years ago, it may not have been recognized by average people going about their daily routine. The change that it brings to our fast-paced lives of day planners, Internet relationships, and reality TV is happening on such a subtle level that few people may have even noticed that it’s begun.
You probably haven’t read about it in the morning newspaper, for example. It’s unlikely that the question of “reality” has been the topic of conversation in your weekly staff meetings or at the office water cooler . . . that is, unless you’re a scientist working to understand the nature of that reality.
For these people, the revolution is akin to a huge earthquake that registers “off the scale”—while leveling some of the most sacred beliefs of science. Its effects are thundering through their laboratories, classrooms, and textbooks like a never-ending sonic boom.
In its wake, it’s leaving a wide swath of outdated teachings, along with the painful reevaluation of long-held beliefs and even entire careers.
We’ve all experienced turning points in our lives, although some are more memorable than others. In the summer of 1969, I experienced two turning points that changed my life, and they both happened within less than a month of each other! I was on break from school that summer and working on a ranch in southern Missouri. The near-100°F temperature, combined with the near–100 percent humidity that’s typical at that time of year in this region, pretty much assured that every outdoor activity would be a miserable experience. This was especially true for my main job of “bucking” wire-bound bales of hay onto the back of a slow-moving truck.
Walking alongside the vehicle, I was tasked with lifting each 60-pound bale from the ground and catapulting it into the truck to be stacked just as the truck arrived at the next bale, where my co-workers and I would repeat the sequence. This went on for hours at a time. Continue Reading