Connecting to Country
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How can Connecting to Country nourish you?
Community, Culture and Country are the three pillars that support deep healing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples. Health and wellbeing imply connection to traditional lands and the health and wellbeing of those lands. There is a deep understanding across the more than 200 nations in Australia, that life involves accepting the cycles of nature, listening to the land and moving within its seasonal rhythm.
Those of us without Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Cultural heritage are increasingly being invited to connect with Country in an act of reciprocity which can bring about true healing for ourselves and our natural world. Country means many things to different people.
Perhaps the best known traditional mindfulness practice in Australia is that championed by Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, Australian of the Year 2021. ‘Dadirri’ is a word, concept and way of life that originated from the Ngan’gikurunggurr and Ngen’giwumirri languages of the Aboriginal peoples of the Daly River region in the Northern Territory.
Dadirri comes from an Aboriginal word with the meaning ‘deep listening and silent awareness’. It is sometimes termed Aboriginal meditation, and contains elements of stillness and contemplation similar to that of mindfulness and meditation. However, Dadirri is distinct with its added invitation to connect deep inside oneself and to experience belonging to all things in order to be made whole.
The values, practices and cultural obligations of each Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community are distinct and a rich field of learning for those seeking to connect to Country. Fundamental to the healing that comes from this practice is slowing down from the hurried culture of instant gratification prevalent in Western society today. Trust, integrity and sustained relationship with Country and those members of community willing to share their knowledge takes time and requires an understanding that each step of the journey is moving towards a state of reconnection with Country and the self.
Dr Miriam Rose’s description of Dadirri is a beautiful explanation of this from her Cultural perspective. She says getting to the point is not the point and teaches that patiently watching, listening from the heart and waiting in nature brings stillness, which can promote internal peace and understanding. Through this practice, perhaps via Dadirri Connection Tours, people will learn to awaken their spirit, grow their connection to the world and develop a greater understanding of their uniqueness and purpose in the world.
Benefits of Connecting to Country
Connecting to Country is not intended to be a one-time activity, but one that is engaged in consistently and becomes a practice or a way of seeing. In doing so, this contemplative way is known to allow people to feel renewed, at peace and whole.
Its focus on waiting and listening has also seen this practice used in group settings to help encourage sharing and healing from trauma. With the space and silence that comes along with deep, contemplative, heart-based listening, it has encouraged people to share stories of trauma and pain in group settings, and allowed them to receive acceptance.
The practice has also been used to help non-Indigenous peoples to build trust and connection with communities while investigating complex cultural and personal issues. Connecting to Country is about building knowledge through sensitivity and developing understanding by contemplation. Engaging in this practice is a way to regain self-respect in the context of our role as custodians in the natural world and respect for the custodianship provided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for millennia.
Connecting to Country may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
What to expect from a Connect to Country session
If you are experiencing Connect to Country through a facilitated session or tour, expect to experience long periods of sitting in silence, as you learn to feel comfortable with the waiting and listening. There is also likely to be a period of sharing and listening to other people’s stories. People who have been led in Connecting to Country and had a glimpse of what is traditionally part and parcel of life, have found it to be greatly enriching, and have left more grounded and with a greater awareness of their place in the world.
Connecting to Country may also be cultivated as a self-led practice, and can be engaged in at any time, preferably in nature. To practice it, start by either letting your attention be drawn by something, or focusing your attention on something specific such as a cloud in the sky, or a blade of grass. Sit or lie down, and allow yourself to feel the ground, your heartbeat and your breath. Allow yourself to be aware of your focus and listen to what your soul and spirit is saying to you. Following this, you may wish to express your experiences by journaling it, singing or drawing, or simply embracing the feeling you felt.
Connecting to Country is not a hurried practice, so for an optimal experience it is recommended to put your mobile phone or other technological devices aside.
As a complementary wellness practice that involves you being still and contemplative, there are unlikely to be risks associated with Connecting to Country. However, it is advisable to consult with your medical practitioner before heading outside to Connect to Country, especially if you have any concerns or existing health conditions. Do also speak to the person who is leading you through Connection to Country, who will be happy to address these and explore the option of tailoring the experience to your individual requirements.
- Principle 3: Culture, country and community are embedded in healing | Victorian Government
- Acknowledging Country | Ngungwulah Aboriginal Corporation
- Meet our Senior Australian of the Year - Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann | abc.net.au
- Dadirri | Miriam-Rose Foundation
- Dadirri - Deep Listening | bremershs.eq.edu.au
- Cultural Perspectives on Learning | Child Australia
- Engaging with Indigenous Australia | Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
- Deep listening explained | Creative Spirits
- Cultural Connection Tours to Nauiyu Community | Cultural-Connection-Tours
- Mindfulness and Aboriginal Culture by Levi McKenzie Kirkbright | Koorie Youth Council
- We Al-li l Dadirri : Ancient Aboriginal Mindfulness Traditions
- Connecting locally with Indigenous communities | Australians Together
- Deep listening (dadirri) | Creative Spirits
- Cultural Connections in the Northern Territory | Living in the Future
- Dadirri - A Reflection By Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr- Baumann | dadirri.org