How can Dadirri nourish your soul?
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.
‘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. Aboriginal peoples are able to find a depth of connection with culture, country, others and self through the understanding that life involves accepting the cycles of nature, ‘listening to the land [and] being in rhythm with it’.
This acceptance of nature’s rhythms flows into the practice of Dadirri, which embraces being still and aware as a means to nourish one’s soul. This is in direct contrast to the hurried culture of instant gratification prevalent in Western society today. In order to gain knowledge at a deep level, Dadirri does not rely on the asking of questions, or requiring people to get to the point, but patiently watching, listening and waiting. Dadirri understands that listening from the heart and waiting in nature brings stillness, which can promote internal peace and understanding.
According to Aboriginal elder, Dadirri teacher and 2020 Northern Territory Senior Australian of the Year Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr AM, many people have not learnt to connect to their spirit, “that special thing that we have that [is] in the pit of our stomach”. Dadirri hopes that through the practice of conscious awareness, 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.
The concept of deep listening and waiting has been practised in some form by Aboriginal people for centuries, but since 2015 Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr and members of her community have been facilitating Dadirri Connection Tours to allow all people the chance to immerse themselves in Dadirri and learn to connect to Country, culture and community.
Benefits of Dadirri
Dadirri is not intended to be a one-time activity, but one that is engaged in consistently and becomes a practice. In doing so, the contemplative way of Dadirri is known to allow people to feel renewed, at peace and whole.
Its focus on waiting and listening has also seen Dadirri be used in group settings to help encourage sharing and healing from trauma. With the space and silence that comes along with Dadirri’s ‘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 researchers build trust and connection with Indigenous people while investigating complex cultural and personal issues. Dadirri’s person-centered approach of not plying people with questions, but building knowledge through sensitivity and developing understanding by contemplation have allowed Indigenous Australians to share their rich experiences and non-Indigenous Australians to benefit from this sharing.
Dadirri may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Brain fog and clarity
- Concentration, focus and problem solving
- Grief, bereavement and loss
- Pain relief
- PTSD and trauma
- Stress and tension
What to expect from a Dadirri session
If you are experiencing Dadirri 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 participated in Dadirri retreats led by Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr have found them to be greatly enriching, and have left more grounded and with a greater awareness of their place in the world.
Dadirri 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.
It is important that Dadirri 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 Dadirri. However, it is advisable to consult with your medical practitioner before practising Dadirri especially if you have any concerns or existing health conditions. Do also speak to your Dadirri instructor, who will be happy to address these and explore the option of tailoring the experience to your individual requirements.