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When so much of the planet is in need of our attention, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start: 'How can I, as one little person out of billions, make a difference?', we wonder. Dr Mahdi Mason believes you can. After years of not fully connecting to the environment and animals around her, she found that, like so many others, she was getting sucked into a corporate cycle of work and burnout: she had lost her connection with the earth. Through reconnecting to her roots, she discovered a way we can all heal ourselves, and heal our planet in the process. She shares her thoughts on how we can all start this journey, with Amy Taylor-Kabbaz.

How did your new book, Earth Healing, come to be? It might sound harsh, but I think we’re on the path to extinction, and I believe it’s all because we’re not connected to the earth any more. People have lost this connection, we’ve forgotten how to look after it; and because we don’t have that connection and sense of caring for the earth, we’re dragging it along with us towards this path of extinction, where it can no longer sustain us. The truth is, we’re just taking from the environment, and we’re not giving anything back. We’re living this very unsustainable lifestyle, and I believe this comes from the fact that we’re all so disconnected from the environment.

Which came first – the disconnection from self and then from the earth, or the other way around? I think it’s more that our society has got very caught up with consumerism and technology, and who’s-beating-who in capitalism. We've forgotten what is really fulfilling and good for our health, and that is spending time in nature. We have become too concerned with making more money, getting a bigger house, going on holidays, owning more things … it’s just this never-ending rush to get as much and to do as much as you can – which you can never actually fulfil.

For you, how did this connection with the earth begin? I always had it as a child – I was simply obsessed with animals! And I still feel as though I have got this deep connection with animals, and this understanding that they’re innocent creatures which get taken advantage of and disrespected by people. As a child, I felt that I needed to be a voice for animals, and to protect them. This meant that I spent a lot of time outdoors, and I began to understand that if I truly wanted to help and care for animals, I needed to protect the land that they live in. That led me to study Environmental Science and Environmental Management, and that in turn gave me the understanding and knowledge to start putting things in place to encourage people to look after the environment more.
However, in the process, I jumped on the same path as everybody else does: I embarked upon a corporate career, doing an environmental management job, where I got caught up in the system and got really stressed out. I was always trying to get more done than I ever humanly could, and I lost connection. In my endeavour to try and reconnect and live a more fulfilling life, I came back to nature. I found that spending simply 20 minutes a day in nature turned my whole life around, and made me a much calmer, happier person.
That insight is where all my work comes from now. I want everyone to know how beneficial it is to spend time in nature, because the more people understand what nature does for the mind, body, and spirit, the more people want to protect it themselves. It’s not about trying to make people selfless or to 'do the right thing' to help the environment; it’s more helping them to appreciate what it does for them, so that they understand first-hand and naturally want to do all they possibly can to protect it. You don’t need people like me preaching about how important it is to look after the environment. You need to witness yourself how life-changing and life-affirming it is, so you want to work to protect it yourself.

There's your idea of connection again: to heal yourself, you need to heal the earth. Yes. We’re certainly not separate from the environment: if it’s unhealthy, we’re unhealthy. We’re very much part of the earth's cycles – food, water, carbon, the ecosystems … the human body itself is a complete ecosystem! We’re part of nature, and we’re interacting with our environment all the time, there is no separation. If we’re not looking after ourselves, we’re not looking after the environment; the reverse is also true - if we’re not looking after the environment, we’re not looking after ourselves.

Let’s get really practical - what did you do to restart the connection? I ensured I made a commitment to physically connect with the earth, every single day, either sitting in nature, or standing in nature, and always barefoot. The things that worked for me were walking my dogs barefoot – I have a lovely area near my house where I can walk barefoot, so I was able to fit that easily into my daily schedule. Depending on where you live, you could commit to going for a walk along a beach, around a lake, or in bushland, or to reading a book lying on the earth, or playing outdoors with your kids in bare feet. If you’re in an office all day, go and sit in your local park. You can always find a green area somewhere, even in the city, so go and spend your lunch-break sitting on the earth. Even if you have no time during daylight hours, you can spend time outdoors standing on the bare earth and looking at the stars at night-time. My recommendation is 20 minutes a day, to physically connect with the earth.

What results have you seen from this? The biggest thing I notice in clients is how calm they become - that’s the most noticeable thing, and it can happen in the space of a mere 20 minutes. I used to come home from work feeling terribly stressed, and I would go down the end of the street to this beautiful green spot to sit - and it would change me completely. I would go down there being a complete bitch, and really angry, and I’d come back a different person. It was like I had this split personality! Spending time barefoot in nature balances you out; it puts everything into perspective again. You might be feeling all caught up in a continuous loop of worry in your head, fretting about bills and all the things you’ve got to do, but as soon as you connect with nature, all that caught-up energy spreads out and disseminates – you quite literally become more grounded. You start to see that you really don’t need to worry about these things. There are more important things in life, and actually there are a whole lot of things to be happy about right this second.

How does being physically connected to nature change our stress response? There are quite a few reasons. When we’re in that stressed state, not connecting with the earth, certain parts of the brain, which are responsible for making us feel calm and happy, are actually switched off. Then, when we go back into nature, that experience switches those parts of the brain back on, to remind us that we’re not in this fight-or-flight state. We evolved in nature, so it’s no surprise that, in order to function at optimum capacity, we need to be interacting with nature, taking in all the cues – the sights, the sounds, the smells – which help us to function the best we can. If we’re not spending time in nature and we’re not connected, we’re not getting that information, which shuts down those parts of the brain, sends cortisol levels through the roof, and keeps stress signals going the whole time.
Another reason is that, when we spend too much time indoors, and we’ve got shoes on all the time and we’re connected to electrical things - like our computers and phones, or watching TV on our many different screens – our bodies actually build up a positive electromagnetic charge. The earth naturally has a negative charge, because it has negative ions, and when we physically connect with it, this negative charge is able to come through our body and neutralise our systems. Think of it as being like an antioxidant, being able to neutralise free radicals that damage cells; a negative ion charge similarly neutralises and takes away charges that act like toxins in the body. By connecting with the earth, we’re able to get rid of some of that positive charge that can make us feel anxious.

That makes so much sense! Now - tell us about property healing: I’m an energetic healer; I grew up learning about reiki and shamanism, and I have done energetic healing, where I channel healing energy, for a long time. What people may not realise is that there are a lot of places on the earth, and probably in your home or workspace, that carry a denser energy. Everybody has experienced this energy, when they’ve walked into a house or a building and it just doesn't feel right or safe or comfortable. They can't figure out why it feels that way, but there's definitely something that’s off, and the place has a denser, heavier energy. Property healings remove and dissipate those denser pockets of energy, and raise the vibration of a place so it starts to feel happier and lighter again.
Two things that can often cause the negative energy that I work to heal are underground ley lines and electromagnetic radiation (EMFs). There can also be a problem with underground water channels, because they can carry emotional energy - it silently flows under most people’s houses, and they don’t even know. Then there’s built-up psychic energy - anyone who has ever been in your house in a bad mood, any arguments or trauma that has occurred there, it all leaves denser energy behind. Property healing is the process of healing all of those things and clearing them away, so that the property - and everything and everyone in or near it - can thrive. So on a simple level, yes, it will feel better and probably seem physically cleaner and clearer after a healing, but it's not just that, it frees and rebalances the property's energy - you can even see plants being able to grow better! I have also had clients say that they feel healthier and sleep better after a property healing has been done, because they have been impacted by these negative unseen influences without even knowing it. Property healing can shift all sorts of things that you might think are unrelated; for example, I have had clients say that they had been having trouble finding work, but after the healing, they found a job. Spending time in a place with dense, heavy energy has a profound impact on us.

I hadn't realised the effects of what’s underneath or what runs through a property: You are not alone. When people talk about cleansing their homes, they're usually referring to the psychic level – practices like smudging, clapping bells, sprinkling or sprinkling to purify and counter negative energy, for example. But there can be all these other factors underneath the property - from the land itself, and from the water that flows underneath the land - that actually have an even bigger impact. So, my property healings are a bit of a deeper cleanse than most people would be aware of.

Do you feel positive about the way we’re headed? Yes, I actually do, because we’re at a point now where people can see for themselves how much things need to change. Climate change data means that we can see icebergs that are the size of entire countries melting; we have killed 50 percent of our ocean life in just the last 40 years; and then there's the heat - so many of us in Australia are seeing more days over 40-degrees. Now that people are learning about and experiencing these events for themselves, they are starting to take it seriously. I am optimistic that people are wanting to take action, and that makes me very positive for our future.

It’s all about believing that you can make a difference … Yes, that’s absolutely right. No matter how small an action or a behaviour or a purchasing decision may be, it all does actually make a difference. Little changes, over time, equal big changes. As soon as you start doing one thing and make that one thing a habit, you’re ready to move onto another thing, and to then lock that in as a habit. It’s not like you have to do everything, and make every change, all at once. Just pick one thing, take it slowly, and, before you know it you’re doing a million things to help the environment.

What ideas can you share on how we can all help to heal the earth? The first thing to understand is that the sort of things that we 'eco warriors' are presently doing to help the earth are all focused on reducing our impact on the environment. Yes, we're using reusable coffee cups and reusable shopping bags, and investigating sources of renewable energy, and buying Fairtrade clothing, and recycling our paper and plastic. And yes, all those actions and habits that reduce our eco-footprints are important, but we need to realise that they are only slowing down our rate of destruction of the earth – we are still destroying the earth, but just doing it at a slower rate.

Instead, what we need to do is to continue do those eco-supportive actions – but then to take things a step further to actually reverse our impact as well. That’s the definition of an Earth Healer: it is somebody who gives back to the earth, someone who reverses their impact, not just minimises it. This giving back can be as spiritual, or as practical and scientific, or as physical in orientation as you like. For example, some simple ideas that you can do to give back physically are to start composting: to give some of your food waste and all of its nutrients, back to the earth, instead of sending it to landfill. Or, you can also join a local green landcare or bushcare group, where you can offer time and energy to restore entire ecosystems. Or, gift a piece of land on your property back to the earth. Instead of maintaining it artificially - mowing it, pruning it, or whatever – allow it to be a space where Mother Earth can do whatever she might like to; let whatever wants to grow there, grow there, rather than imposing this human idea of what a healthy environment should look like.

Put habitat boxes in your backyard, so that birds and animals can start coming back and using your place, because they used to live there before the houses were all built. Leave water out for animals, birds, and insects. Have habitat-friendly yards and fences, so that animals can cross between remnant bits of vegetation. Start up a miniature permaculture system, which basically means you include yourself in your own food cycle: you grow your own food, and you send your waste out as well, so it’s a cycle where you’re very much part of it.

Metaphysically, there are many things you can do to give back energetically to the earth as well. You can do things like have a property healing. Or, you can place crystals around your place and activate them, because this will raise the property's vibration. Fire is an important tool – of course I don't mean a giant bonfire, but a small contained ceremonial fire is a great way to cleanse and transmute energy, and to lift the property's atmospheric vibration. Educate other people on the importance of reversing - not just reducing - our impact on the environment; education is, in itself, an energetic transfer. Have a ceremony where you honour the earth and give thanks for all it has provided you with over all these years. There are so many different things we can all do in order to act as Earth Healers.