Recently my son received the latest LEGO magazine in the mail. And in it, there were several games and puzzles for young readers to try (of course themed to different LEGO worlds and products to stimulate desire).* But what caught my eye was that each puzzle had a difficulty score: 1, 2, or 3 LEGO bricks. Somehow it got me thinking that different Gaian practices also have 1, 2, or 3 levels (or Gaian Crosses) of difficulty. Some are easy, some hard but not too hard, and some are really quite challenging.
Of course, you could say the same with other faiths. Praying before dinner is probably a Level-1 Christian practice, going to church each week a Level-2, while fasting (no food or water during sunlight hours) during Ramadan is definitely a Level-3 Muslim practice.
While I’m not actually advocating the true gamification of Gaianism—I am ambivalent about smartphones and deeply dislike the artificial appification of life—the exercise did get me thinking about the different difficulty levels of Gaian practices, and I thought I’d share my analysis. Of course, some practitioners might disagree—seeing some as easier or harder—but either way, it’s a reminder that many Gaian practices are simple to engage with, while others take a serious commitment. But I’m sorry to report that even if you do take these actions regularly, you don’t rack up living planet points that you can convert into free smoothies or trees planted in a far off land, just the satisfaction that you’re living more fully as a servant of Gaia and part of a global community of Gaians.**
Though if one were to get points, rarer efforts—like getting married or buried sustainably, or ideally both, would certainly gain you more than meditating daily—though over a lifetime, daily meditation points would surely add up to far more if you practiced consistently!
Below is a listing of Gaian practices divided by frequency rather than difficulty (as many activities can be done with a varying degree of difficulty).
As these are the most frequent, it’s worth starting with, and mastering, these. These could also be subdivided in many ways, but I’ll just focus on two broad ones:
- Daily Meditation: Spending some minutes outside each day—observing nature’s rhythms, reflecting on how you are serving and can better serve Gaia, trying one of the many Gaian meditations, or simply offering gratitude for being alive and part of this awesome living Earth—is an essential Gaian practice. Once a day when one wakes is as easy a practice as it gets, adding a second and third time (at solar noon and sunset) makes this harder (adding a second and third Gaian Cross).
- Daily Gaian Habits: I could write a whole essay on how we consume (food, energy, clothing), spend our waking hours, and so on, but fortunately Krista Hiser already has with her excellent essay exploring Gaian practices. If that’s overwhelming, try focusing on a few simple behaviors, such as: eating less meat, driving less and walking and biking more, and getting used to more variation in temperatures (cold winters, warm summers) thus reducing energy usage.
- Most important is to do a weekly nature meditation—in a forest, local park, by the sea or riverside, wherever makes sense in the biome you live in. Ideally that’s with other Gaians, but those don’t have to be human!
- Lead a weekly nature meditation. If you’re ready for a 3-Gaian Cross activity, don’t just join a regular nature meditation, organize one! This is a serious commitment as it’s not just about organizing the time and place but cultivating a community to join you. You can learn more about this here.
- Engage with the Gaian community, either locally and/or globally. We have a listserv and regular opportunities to connect or you can work on sharing these practices locally, even organizing Gaians in your community. These activities range anywhere from Level 1 (sharing an occasional thought on email), Level 2, such as organizing an online or local event, to Level 3, organizing a local Gaian Guild.
- Gaian Moon Fasting. You can try this at Level 1: just full moons, just breakfast and lunch, Level 2: Three meals once a month or two meals twice a month (New and Full Moon); or Level 3: Three meals twice a month. And add in the Gaian Moon Fasting Prayer for a bonus star.
- Deepen your understanding about Gaia. This pedagogical engagement with Gaia helps to truly deepen our understanding and relationship with the living Earth, as Bart Everson explained so well. We try to facilitate this, having monthly book and film discussions, etc., which you can learn about here.
- Take Action to Heal Gaia and Our Relationship with Gaia. Again, these can be local or globally oriented and can range from Level 1 (like our new 30ECO initiative) to Level 2, such as caring for land or teaching others, to way beyond Level 3, in the case of difficult forms of planetary healing and defense.
- Follow the Wheel of the Year. Again some of these are easy, Level-1 activities—like celebrating Yuletide! And enjoying Bart Everson’s Wheel of the Year meditations. But others are harder. Staying silent the day before Summer Solstice is a two-cross activity, and the Spring Germination Fast is three—being one of the hardest Gaian ritual so far developed!
- Celebrate Annual Holidays/Commemoration Days like Earth Day, World Environment Day, and Earth Overshoot Day. Sometimes that means taking action, whether through a demonstration or a local clean-up, other times, as with #DoNothingForTheClimateDay, it means slowing down and doing a bit more nothing.
- Tithing. This one actually hasn’t come up yet (in part as it can come across as self-serving). But I do love the Mormon idea of giving a significant, almost painful amount of resources to the community. The Mormons do 10% and specifically to the church, but I think the tithe could go to any good organization doing world-healing activities. And the tithe could as equally be time as much as money—if one works less and earns less in order to give more of one’s life force to these activities, that is as good as, if not better than, giving one’s resources. And this is also a varying level of difficulty—depending if you give 1%, 5%, or 10% (or more) of your time and money. Of course, those numbers might not be right but you can set your own goals.
- Rites of Passage punctuate and define life’s flow. Reaching adulthood, getting married, having a child, eventually dying—these rituals shape our lives (and not just ours but others who are part of our lives). No three days have been more significant than the day I lost my father, married my wife, and had a son (in order of chronology not significance). Two of those I experienced with Gaia—hosting a deep green wedding, and supporting my wife give birth naturally, and thus more healthily and sustainably. My father’s death—in its sudden and consumer-manipulistic execution—reinforced the beauty and importance of returning to Earth in a way that heals some of the hurts we’ve done over our lives.***
So that’s the list. Please no one create an app to track these! But I do hope you’ll try to integrate many of these practices into your day, week, month, year and lifetime as we attempt to make our moment of differentiation from Earth meaningful before our eventual and inevitable (and natural) return to the larger Gaian being.
Go with Gaia,
*A critique of LEGO could be a whole essay of its own, as the company is excellent at stimulating consumeristic desires—but not today.
**Like this Ant Forest app from Chinese bank AntFinancial, which allows you to plant and care for a virtual tree if you take green daily actions (and they plant real trees as well). Sounds good, other than that you’re spending even more time with your phone instead of the natural world, and are replacing intrinsic motivation with extrinsic motivation.
***The Gaian Way, being still young, hopefully will develop other life rites: I’ve been thinking a lot about coming to age, having to achieve a feat from each element: water, fire, earth, and air. That might be making a fire with a bow drill, building a survival shelter, purifying water in the wilderness, and fasting a few days in the wild (these could be done separately or together). Probably not for everyone, but if children knew this was part of their adulthood process, that’d get them studying their connection with and role in nature! I also think having a Gaian baptism of sorts is something important to develop as well.