Dr. Darcia Narvaez on Restoring Connective Tissue

Dr. Darcia Narvaez on Restoring Connective Tissue

Professor Darcia Narvaez and co-founder Tom VandeStadt have a wide-ranging discussion on the importance of "Nesting", "Kinship" to our social/psychological-identity development, cognitive abilities, and overall happiness.

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This interview comes from our Summer 2022 Edition, "Restoring Connective Tissue."
Check out the whole issue here: http://www.allcreation.org/home/summer-2022
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INTERVIEWER: Tom VandeStadt 0:00
Hello, everybody, and welcome to this all Creation Podcast. I'm Tom VandeStadt, one of the cofounders of allcreation.org. And the topic for this edition of all creation is restoring connective tissue. In this podcast, I'll be speaking to Dr. Darcia Narvaez.

Dr. Narvaez is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association. She has numerous publications, including more than 20 books. Her book, neurobiology and the development of the human won the William James Book Award. Darcia has academic passion is to investigate moral development and human flourishing from an interdisciplinary perspective, integrating anthropology, neuroscience, and clinical developmental and educational sciences. Her current research explores how early life experience influences well being and moral character in children and adults. The focus of that research is her work on what she calls the evolved nest, which consists of the web of nurturing social and natural relationships that are necessary for humans to flourish in healthy ways, not only on Mother Earth, but with Mother Earth. We'll hear more about the evolved nest in a bit. More recently, she has co authored with four arrows, a book entitled, restoring the kinship worldview. indigenous voices introduce 28 precepts for rebalancing life on planet Earth. In this book, Dasha and four arrows draw on indigenous voices to illustrate how the indigenous way of being human on Earth is very different from our dominant cultures way of being human. And in doing so, they provide a deep and powerful diagnosis of the unhealthy outcomes our dominant worldview produces. Besides your academic accomplishments, Darcia has a wealth of life experience, having been a professional musician, music teacher, Spanish teacher in business owner, she was also a seminarian for a while. She grew up living half of her childhood in Puerto Rico, but she calls Earth her home. So Darcia, Welcome to our AllCreation podcast. It's a pleasure to have you join us.

GUEST: Darcia Narvaez 2:46
I'm so happy to be here with you. Thank you for having me.

Tom VandeStadt 2:49
Great, excellent, excellent. You know, to have this conversation about the kinship worldview, and how it relates to what you so beautifully call the Evolve nest, I feel there are a few things to unpack first, because you use some terms that are quite rich in their meaning. And to fully appreciate what you're seeking to accomplish with your work. It's important to understand how you're using those terms. So first off, when you talk about the kinship worldview, tell us first of all, what you mean by the term worldview, we hear people talk a lot about the need for a paradigm change. And some people may assume that a worldview is the same thing as a paradigm. But in your work, you indicate that a worldview is something far deeper and more expansive than a paradigm. So share with us what you mean by worldview.

So it's really how we experience ourselves as humans and how we experience reality and come to live in that reality that we experience. But there are very different types of worldviews so that we can experience ourselves as human in very different ways. So share with us what you mean by kinship worldview. And I've heard you also refer to this as the indigenous worldview and also the maternal gift economy and worldview. So share with us now what a kinship worldview is.

Darcia Narvaez 5:05
Yes, the kinship worldview is one that understands that we're deeply connected to nature to other people to other than humans to the spiritual realm, that's not manifest, you can't see it or touch it. But you have a sense is about it. If you're well raised in the evolved NAS, you grow this kind of receptive intelligence to really feel connected and feel peaceful on the earth. So the kinship worldview is, the way we talked about it in the book is it's this whole set of assumptions again, subliminal subconscious, most of the time, that guide your behavior that guide your attitudes. And for me, that kinship worldview is like, I'm a spider on a web. Everything I do, every time I move, every time, I think, feel it's reverberating out to the rest of the world, the rest of my kinship, which is everything else that you can see, and then things you can't see. So in a way, I'm responsible then for how I act, how I feel, how I think, what I do in my life, and what I project because I'm always projecting them in my energy, we're energy bodies, right? So we're always putting out our energy, for better for worse. So I think we forget that we're connected, no matter whether we're aware of it or not, that everything we do is reverberating. And the kinship worldview makes it in the practices of indigenous peoples make it more apparent, more conscious, through ceremony through practices of gratitude, and honoring or respecting all those kin relations.

Tom VandeStadt 6:56
In your book, you and four arrows argue that there are basically two fundamental worldviews in the world today, one that sees the world in the way that you just described as alive, intelligent, interconnected, full of spiritual energy. And another one, which is our dominant worldview, that sees the nonhuman world as just a collection of separate objects with no intelligence, or spiritual energy, and one in which we see our own bodies as machines. And so this is really the contrast that you're trying to make in your book, and also, your use of indigenous. You don't just mean Native American, or First Nation, you mean indigenous to humanity. Talk a little bit about that.

Darcia Narvaez 7:47
Sure, there's three ways to think about indigeneity to indigenous SNESs. One is that we're all indigenous to the Earth. We're born here. And we're part of the Earth and Earth Systems and relationships. Another way to think about it is the traditional practices that a people have evolved from observing the natural world from learning how to get along, and to enhance the bio community where they are, without its traditional ecological knowledge. It's a very integrated art, science, philosophy, practices that you have to grow up with. And you have to be mentored, you know, as a child through all all ages of life by elders. And then the one that we're focused on in this book is the worldview aspect, those basic assumptions, because we were not raised to be in a particular native community cannot take up traditional ecological knowledge in the way that native peoples know it. We can support them really critical to support them. But what we can do is take up the indigenous worldview, which is getting back to connection for the last few 100 years, in particular, the Western world. And now it's kind of pushed on to all over the world that's disconnected us from our bodies or our hearts, our intuitions, our sense of connection to nature, from our sense of connection to the spiritual. And so it's that kind of disconnection we have to repair because our disconnection is driving us to just destroy the planet, essentially. put it bluntly.

Tom VandeStadt 9:30
Yeah, absolutely. Well, that's a great segue to your work on the evolved nest. You know, many people are familiar with the phrase, it takes a village to raise a child, but you use the image of the nest, which is an image taken directly from nature. And you go into some detail regarding what a child needs in order to mature and flourish throughout childhood and into adulthood in such a way as they'll feel is felt connection to other people into nature very deeply. So if you would share with us these characteristics of what you're calling the evolved nest and why they're so important,

Darcia Narvaez 10:15
So, the evolved nest comes out of anthropology. Anthropologists observed nomadic foraging communities all over the world, nomadic foragers represent 99% of our history as a human genus. We've been around for 6 million years as a genus, 2 million years as a as a species. And during all that time, except for the last 10,000 years or so, we were nomadic foragers and, and even in the last 10,000 years there, most people lived in these kinds of communities. And in those communities, we can see the same practices all over the world independently about raising kids, children that evolved over millions of years, even before humans arrived. So it's something that evolution has already tested. These things work to help people survive, thrive, reproduce, and exist across generations. So these are things that we now have neuroscience to tell us are really important for proper optimal healthy development.

nine components that we examine my lab studies, the right theory and review papers, but also studying them with moms and children. Soothing perinatal experiences. So that means the mother, during gestation during pregnancy, is pretty calm, socially supported, so that the biochemistry that the child is receiving from the mother's body as a positive one that promotes growth, and, you know, we need the biochemistry to be right in order for our especially in early life for the good stuff to grow. Because when when there's too much stress, which releases cortisol, the mobilizing hormone, that actually impairs growth, and actually at high levels can destroy neurons. So you don't want to have a lot of stress. So you've got a lot of support, and then at birth, it's soothing. It's not in positional pain, no separation of baby from mother, or mother from baby, they both need that they have their setup to glom on to each other magnetically right after birth and natural birth. And no painful procedures like circumcision, which engraves the brain everything that baby's going to experience in the next three years and craves the brain for life. So you want to make sure you don't distress the baby because then you're shifting the trajectory away from wellness, towards illness or ill being or adversity. So soothing perinatal experience. That's number one. Number two is breastfeeding. Our species is one that has thin milk, which is intended to be ingested frequently. So in early in the early days, it's several times an hour, and the mother's body is ready to produce exactly what their baby needs. When they're gonna have a growth spurt, there'll be more fat in the milk. When there's an infectious agent in the region, there'll be an antibody, milk for boys and milk for girls is different. So the it's a magical laboratory, mother's breasts. And for our species, which is going to be a shocker, our average age of weaning should be between four and six years, we should be breastfeeding that long for optimal brain development and optimal psyche development. Now, of course, we don't do that these days. And so when there are studies that are done to compare formula artificial foods versus breast milk, they usually look at three months, three months difference, not four years. So what we can see though, and people who are nested in these nomadic foraging communities, they're peaceful, they're generous, they're calm, they're very social. And many other characteristics I can talk about, that are part of our nature as a human species that we forgot Oh, really, we can be that way instead of violent and angry and upset easily, you know, triggered so easily. Alright, that was number two. Number three is lots of affectionate touch, and no negative touch. So no spanking, no harsh physical interactions, because that again shifts the trajectory away from optimal development. And we have evidence now that spanking is like physical abuse over long term, it has the same negative effects on child makes them more aggressive for example, less cooperative. Positive touch is going to foster the well functioning vagus nerve, which integrates all the major systems of the body. So respiration Heart digestion, immune system, brain function, and when that's when you get a lot of caring, so babies should be carried a lot most of the time, that's our heritage and moving and rocking, a lot of physical contact that's going to grow the brain and body well, then number, where are we three or four, a welcoming social climate. The mother feels supported. The baby's wanted community is delighted with having the baby around, and the baby feels like they belong, that they can make a difference help make other people smile and laugh as they're made to smile and laugh as well. Part of this is multiple Aloe parents, other mothers ello mothers who helped care for the baby 24/7 Because their baby is like a fetus until about 18 months of age, or two years old. That baby resembles a fetus of other animals. Because we have to be born so immature because the brain gets too big. Otherwise, we have a big social brain. That big social brain needs lots of calories, and needs a lot of help getting those calories. And that's what other mothers help moms with, as well as all the caring and responsiveness.

So that's soothing perinatal experiences, breastfeeding, affectionate touch, welcoming climate, Allo, parents, who are responsive, so responsive relationships from the mother and others means that you keep the baby in optimal arousal. Because if they get too distressed, then the brain stops growing properly, and they might grow the wrong things, you know, stress reactivity. And then you don't want the baby to be to to Dahlan on interactive either. So the mother is there to be effectively attuned, effectively attune to the baby's emotional systems to keep maintaining them in this optimal arousal condition, the best biochemistry for growth, right? Then there is self directed play. We are mammals, mammals play, when we feel good and well and safe. We play young people, young mammals play. And that's self directed play. So that's Chase, tag, running around wrestling, climbing trees, doing and feeling exploring the natural world around you and feeling comfortable, all animals do that, right. They want to know where they are and, and you want to let children have that experience when they're young. So that they build a self confidence that they can make their way in the world. Instead of having you know, no, don't do that that's made you Oh, no, oh, if you do that a lot, the child's self confidence just gets deflated. And when you don't provide the nest in general, you're deflating that individual, you're undermining their spiritual, unique development from they're going to be their gifts. Let's see to more nature connection. So nature immersion, children need to be out and about and know where they are on the planet, and have time to be connecting to the trees, to the animals to have a sense of peacefulness in place. Not the scary Oh, don't, don't climb over there, ah, parents need to stand back and let the child they have inner intelligence about how to get along on the planet, you know, with things that's all animals do, you don't go run around, the animal parents don't say, Oh, don't go near that hole you'll fall in. be silly. Of course, the child knows how to manage their body, right? They're learning that you have to let them you know, learn it, their skills, build their skills. So self directed play with multiple age playmates, not the same age only that's not conducive to learning. It's conducive to risk taking. So our natural pedagogies to learn from people who are slightly older, older than us, are very motivated to learn that way. And the, the elders, our elders, are very interested in guiding the younger. So that's how we evolved to be in multi age communities. And they then breed cooperation. And the lastly is routine healing experiences. These are things that we find for example, in the sun Bushman of southern Africa. We all share genes with them. They've been around for 150 to 200,000 years. We all came from them, essentially, our ancestors did. And they are so wise and they're so happy and they thrive, even though they're in very what looked to us like impossible, harsh physical conditions. So routine healing, when they're asked about what they do, oh, three times a week, we'll have a grieving ceremony, to drumming, dancing, singing, trance, and there's different things you can do but we being animals who can make choices, and sometimes we make bad choices. And then we also Have this left brain capacity to the ego consciousness that we think is the only important thing about humans these days from the Western philosophical traditions, that little ego gets upset and you know gets inflated. And in these nomadic foraging communities, they don't allow the egos get inflated, they tease, tease, tease down any successful home Hunter, for example. But we, we can get caught up in you know, ruminations and all because of this left brain, especially for work raised in a nurturing way, will have obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, worried anxious, all the stuff that goes on when we're unrested. So we need healing practices to get back into centeredness into relational connection with others, and with the natural world back into gratitude, humility, and being in our bodies. Right. So embodiment is really critical part of the nest to remember where our neurobiology is CO constructed by our experiences.

Our biology, then becomes what undergirds our sociality, how well we get along with others. So if our oxytocin system is isn't well developed, or a vagus nerve isn't, it's going to be hard for us to relate to other people. It undermines attachment, or undermines our capacity for intimacy. So we are embodied creatures are biology shaped by our social experience, we're bio social, and our sociality then relies on a good biology. So it's all interconnected, right? So the interconnectedness of our minds bodies and our reasoning, our heart and our gut, all that has to be well shaped, as Aristotle suggested, but never spelled out what that meant, do you have to, you know, guide the sensibilities so that they're actually virtuous. And for us, if we're raised in these nested communities, virtue is a byproduct is a result, you would not survive in a community lives, very much dependent on others, if you were vicious, you would not survive. So virtue is part of our heritage as well.

Tom VandeStadt 22:16
Wow, there's a lot there. I heard you say more than once that we are social mammals, that we are animals. And Melanie challenger has a book called How to Be animal in the opening sentences in that book, say, the world is now dominated by an animal that doesn't think it is an animal in the future is being imagined by an animal that doesn't want to be an animal. This matters. And this is what you're saying, you know, it seems that we have this conception in our dominant culture that the further we distance ourselves from the animals, the more human we are. But you're saying, the more we recognize that we're social mammals that we are animals, the more human we can become again?

Darcia Narvaez 23:07
Yes, you know, one of the differences in my neurobiology and the development of human morality book, I contrast, Western wisdom traditions, which come out of the Christian worldview, with what I call primal wisdom, which is the kinship worldview. And the Western wisdom traditions, they actually match up quite well, you have. Wisdom is a state of being, you have to overcome fear, you have to let go of ego, those kinds of things they agree on. But there's two things they disagree on. One is the Western wisdom traditions are scared of their animal nature, oh, no, not that, ah, avoid that. And the primal wisdom or indigenous or kinship worldview, is you have to honor your animal nature, you have to raise it well, right. And you have to nourish it, so that it functions properly. And then the other thing they differ on is the Western tradition is it's all about people, you know, whereas in the primal wisdom, the kinship worldview, its relationships with everything with all our relation, animals, plants, spirits, etc.

Tom VandeStadt 24:18
That's why I like your image of the nest. More than I like the image of the village. Because the villages want to human beings, the nest, is all of nature. Like that. And, you know, that's, that's really what we're talking about in this whole theme of restoring connective tissue. It's everything that connects us to everything else in nature as part of nature. So that's such a great image. I love the the baldness image. So that's the Kindred kinship worldview and the evolved nests. So let's talk now specifically about the book that you just co authored with four arrows risk During the kinship worldview, clearly, in our culture, we do not have the kinship worldview because we're so profoundly on nested, we have such a profoundly degraded nest. And as you said, a nested environment just organically produces that kinship worldview, children grow into adults that go on to provide the nest and live that nest. Whereas we're so disconnected throughout our entire lifecycle that we just create a vicious circle of disconnection. So tell us about what you're trying to convey in the book using these kinship worldview precepts?

Darcia Narvaez 25:42
Well, really, if I think about what the overarching kind of themes are, beyond the precepts themselves, is we're trying to get back like, like you are to connection to understanding that we are already connected, and to be aware of that, at every level. And that part of being connected properly is to be present, to be emotionally, cognitively physically present, to the ones you're with, right? To honor the spider, the tree, the earth, wherever you are, the house, the computer, you know, this is all these are all things that are we're relating to, and to then use ceremony to remember to remind yourself on a daily basis of that connection. Another part of this is that we are embodied, we just were talking about that we're embodied creatures, we're bio social. And then another piece is holism, that the way to be human isn't just to be in this thinking mind that left brain ego consciousness that's actually quite distressing to be there. So the emphasis these days on teaching young children school readiness, right to get them at three and four, to sit and do worksheets, or to learn their alphabet, you know, that's insane. The right hemisphere is scheduled to grow more rapidly, especially in the first years of life, but also throughout childhood, and the right hemisphere is gathering all this experience, you know, from being immersed in whatever it is, you want lots of different experiences. And the left brain, you know, it thinks it knows everything, it's this, if you've read the master in his emissary by Ian McGilchrist and other books he's written, you know, he shows us all the research about that. This ego consciousness, you know, kind of poo poo, poo poo is the, you know, the right hemisphere, at least in the last few 100 years. And it thinks it knows everything and make stuff up when it doesn't know anything when you have a split brain patient, for example. But what it normally does in good Healthy People is it's grabbing the information from the right hemispheres experiences, analyzing them, and then drawing some generalizations sending it back to the right hemisphere for final approval, and then acting or believing or whatever it is. But in a person who is underdeveloped, there's not a lot going on in their right hemisphere, they've been sitting in front of a screen or with an iPhone or in a crib, alone in a stroller instead of running around. And so they don't have a lot of experiences to go on, then they're going to have to pull from somewhere. That's where the danger comes. They're going to pull from an ideology, somebody told them this thing. You know, green people are scary to watch out there's a green person. And and you're going to be because you're also underdeveloped. Because your your guts, your survival systems have been enhanced if you were left to cry as a baby, or if you're left alone a lot. Your survival systems have to kick in to keep you alive, because you're not supposed to be alone. No, we're social creatures, right? Our bodies need other people. So if your survival systems are overdeveloped, and you're easily triggered, the authoritarian, authoritarian stories, your authoritarian con man is going to be easily able to pull you in because you don't have much on that right hemisphere experience to go on. Right? You don't know any better. But God this person sounds great. Oh, yeah. So and I feel unsafe all the time. And they're gonna make me feel safe. This belief system, right? So all this gets us the holism. Right, we forgot that we need to nurture the heart, heart centeredness, our intuitions about how to be connected and what works. And you have to be immersed in relationships to build the empathy and the sensitivity and the understanding and the willingness to forgive and being generous, all that is part of the indigenous way you're immersed in that kind of social, loving community. And this then allows you to grow your human potential, which is another thing that we aren't doing. We suppress children, we, you know, try to control them, you know, scheduled feedings, scheduled sleeping This and that. And, you know, you want baby independence, which is ridiculous. Because babies will be more dependent. If you treat them that way. There'll be forever dependent because they'll have a big hole in their heart because you didn't nourish their heart. So part of the an understanding our nature as human species is to understand what thriving looks like. And I could talk about that too.

Tom VandeStadt 30:27
Why don't you? Yeah.

Darcia Narvaez 30:29
Oh, I thought I was talking too much.

Tom VandeStadt 30:31
No, no, no, no, no. That's why we have you here.

Darcia Narvaez 30:34
All right, so thriving, and if you look at the communities where they provide a nest, wow, they're really they're happy, they're calm, they have quiet minds, but they're also childlike, gleeful. And they have a sense of humor that's not hostile, they laugh a lot. They sit next to each other all the time, even though there's a big savanna, where they will hold hands to the forest, you know, they're always connected. And they enjoy being with one another. It's just enhancing experience being together, you try to, you know, make the other person laugh or make them feel safe if depending on the circumstance, and there's no, there's no big ego, it's us, it's we together. And in that community, then there's a sense of connection to the broader unmanifest and respect for the ancestors for future generations. And for the natural world around you. You're part of the bile community, why would you do things to destroy anything? You know, you're cautious about it. Native Americans are particularly good at providing language based guidance for how to to act. Many indigenous communities do not have it written down, right? You don't have things written down. But luckily for us, Native Americans have their speeches in their writings have been elected. And I'd like to read actually something from the book. Is that right? Yeah, please do. Yeah. Okay, so Robin wall Kimmerer, Robin wall. Kimmerer, who's wrote the book braiding. sweetgrass has written out some of the things that are just understood as part of the kinship worldview. And I like her list about the honorable harvest. So we have this in her book on page 8990. Collectively, the indigenous canon of principles and practices that govern the exchange of Life for life is known as the honorable harvest. So remember that life feeds on life. And there's nothing we can do about that. But we need to respect them the lives that we take in, that's what this is about. And this is about plants, relationships, primarily, but it applies to animal as well. There are rules of sorts that govern our taking, shape our relationships with the natural world, and rein in our tendency to consume, so that the world might be as rich for the seventh generation as it is for our own. The details are highly specific to different cultures and ecosystems. But the fundamental principles are nearly universal among peoples who live close to the land. So here are some of them. She says, the guidelines for the honorable harvest are not written down or even consistently spoken of as a whole. They are reinforced in small acts of daily life. But if you were to list them, they might look something like this. Know the ways are the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them. Introduce yourself, be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking, abide by the answer. Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need. Take only that which is given. Never take more than half, leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm. Use it respectfully, never waste what you have taken. Share. Give thanks for what you have been given. Give a gift in reciprocity for what you have taken. Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the earth will last forever. Imagine if we lived our lives that way. Now. Whatever food we take animal plants, if we honored their lives as we took their life and actually ask them permission.

Tom VandeStadt 34:52
You know, in the Old Testament, there's the command to have the law written on the heart. And yet what you're saying is for the indigenous people, these, these laws of nature truly are written on the heart. And that the heart knowledge enables them to just know innately that this is the way life operates. And this is how we operate as part of life. And that's, that's so beautiful. And when I look around at the state of our society, the state of our world, how much just how unhealthy people are in what we're doing to the world, it fills me with so much sadness, that we're so out of touch with that, that heart knowledge. And I feel like so much of my own journey has been trying to just get back in touch with that. One of the quotes that just hit me so powerfully, was in the preceptive ceremony, Linda Hogan, from the Chickasaw Nation. And she writes, I'll share my one of my favorites. Now, the intention of a ceremony is to put a person back together by restructuring the human mind, we make whole are broken off pieces of self and world. within ourselves, we bring together the fragments of our lives in a sacred act of renewal and reestablish our connection with others. The ceremony is a point of return, it takes us toward the place of balance our place in the community of all things. And that struck me so powerfully, because I just know in my own life, I've longed for these types of ceremonies that would restructure me and bring bring me back and return me. And I've had some experiences like that some very powerful ceremonies. So I know what that healing medicine actually feels like. And yet we have so few of those types of ceremonies in our dominant culture. And just another reason why we're so unnecessary and so disconnected and hurting so much and creating so much harm, right?

Darcia Narvaez 37:04
Yeah, so we have a lot of unhealed, grief, unhealed trauma, and we carry it forward and pass it on, actually, to the next generations to each other. Instead of taking the time to actually have ceremonies where you can grieve where you can dance together where you can listen, you know,

Tom VandeStadt 37:28
Talk a bit about the sacred feminine, another terribly repressed part of our lives. What is the relationship between the sacred feminine and the maternal gift economy?

Darcia Narvaez 37:41
Yes, the maternal gift economy is Genevieve Vons view of how the world actually normally works. Prior to capitalism, essentially and before, hierarchical civilization. It's rooted in the nature's gift economy, we've got all these gifts nature gives us sunshine, air, oxygen, water, food, all these gifts of analysts, generosity. And the maternal gift economy is rooted than in that same kind of notion that mothers initially are unilateral gift givers to their offspring. So they're giving their body over to the fetus, and then to the baby with breastfeeding, caring, and all Vanessa adness. And actually, then it's the community that provides the that's generous to the baby. In our ancestral context, nomadic foragers is not just mom that provides a mess, it's a whole community. And then that child learns then to give back to be a reciprocal gift giver without keeping track. You know, it's it's just generosity is part of who you are as a human being. What capitalism has done in the occurred in the gift economy has stopped that flow and allowed people to hoard resources and to gather and force others to not have any resources to starve. Or, if they don't work, if they don't do the right thing, or if they're the wrong kind of thing like a termite. You exterminate them, instead of learning to live with all the animals reminds me of a story I think David Abrams had in one of his books, perhaps spell of the sensuous where he talks about visiting a temple where they would every day put out a bowl of rice for the gods. And then overnight, it would be gone in the morning. And you wonder, well, how is that possible? So he stayed up and watched. And it turns out that all night army of ants came by and pulled off one race kernel at a time. It's okay, it's great. So there's communion. There's respect. There is connection and awareness, right that you are part of this web of law. I want you to deny all the other animals their life, their lives, their life ways, their agency, their sentience. So that that's the kind of thing we've forgotten that many indigenous peoples retained before they were genocide actually treated. But I'm forgetting where I was going. What was your question? Sorry?

Tom VandeStadt 40:23
No, no, that's okay. No, you answered my question. You know, and that makes me think of the Christian sacrament of Holy Communion. I mean, which means holy union with literally, but we, we tend to narrow that down to holy union with Jesus or holy union with God, not holy union with all that exists on this earth with us, are we think of ourselves as CO creators with God, humans are co creators with God, we don't think of ourselves as CO creators with every animal and plant species on this earth. Right. And so you're asking us to really, again, get in touch with that sense of our interconnection with with the entire Earth with the entire biosphere.

Darcia Narvaez 41:08
We did an experiment a few years ago that was published with undergraduates. And we had randomly assigned them to a group and the experimental group was one to build nature connection or ecological attachment, we called it and they came in and did a pre post test. And they read some stuff poema essay facts about their focus. This was about the importance of getting connected to nature. And then they got to select from about 40 options, 21 activities that they took along with them in an envelope, and each day, they pull one out. And they were to do that one all day, which is I could pay attention to the clouds today. So there, these are undergraduates walking across campus all the time, right? I acknowledge the trees as you walk by today, that kind of thing. And then three weeks later, they came back and did a post test. And that experimental group did increase in ecological attachment, unlike the control group. And they also increased in ecological empathy, and mindfulness. So we were pleased with that. And we created an evolve nest, we took 28 of those things and have a 28 days of eco attachment. People can do just little nudges, you know, to get back in your body back here now connecting to the natural world.

Tom VandeStadt 42:35
Another one of my favorite quotes is from Jack Forbes, in your chapter on mutual dependence. And he writes, We are not autonomous, self sufficient beings as European mythology teaches, we are rooted just like trees, but our roots come out of our nose, in mouth, like an umbilical cord, forever connected with the rest of the world. Our roots also extend out from our skin, and from our other body cavities. And that is such a powerful image of, you know, our connectedness and how we need to restore all of that connective tissue. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

Darcia Narvaez 43:17
And we have more science now showing us the microbiome, you know that we are populated, mostly, 90 to 99% of the genes each carry are not human genes, that microbiomes genes, viruses, and bacteria and fungi and protozoa, all that keep us alive. So we are communities, each of us so to talk about competition, or you know, genes to be so focused on genetic competition, it's kind of ridiculous. People don't even know what genes are anymore. It's just so complicated. We're so we're sharing things all the time. viruses and bacteria shift from one body to another and it's just the way the world works. symbiosis.

Tom VandeStadt 44:01
You know, talk for a bit about your whole passion for this issue, you know, clearly the Evolve nest and the kinship worldview is not just academic for you, it's a real personal passion. So talk about how you were drawn to this personally and academically and how you have cultivated this wisdom and develop this wisdom and now how you're teaching this wisdom.

Darcia Narvaez 44:29
Well, my first memory in childhood was of a child being unjustly punished, and not me. But that just shocked me to what's going on. And then I spent half my childhood in Spanish speaking countries where kids my age were on the corner selling peanuts or cheaply or something, you know, in rags, and they're, you know, trying to earn money just to live and then coming back to the states and seeing the overabundance and the wastefulness and materialism there's something wrong The world I felt from the beginning. And it just took me a while to get to the PhD in psychology, that's my seventh career. And I started my PhD studying moral development. And the focus in those days probably still is on reasoning, you know, in thinking, you know, if you just make the right reasoning, the you know, more sophisticated reasoning, like a philosopher and then apply that make your willfully apply it, your intention is all that matters. Doesn't matter what happens, really, but just so you intended something good, then you're a good person. And it just became obvious to me because I read widely that there's something wrong with that picture, especially when I start started read anthropological accounts of other societies of 99% of our history in this kind of community, and this kind of child raising? Well, I like Melvin Connor, who pointed that out. To begin with the components of the nests, more or less, you say, Well, you know, this is universal. It's been around for millions of years. And, you know, maybe we should be looking into it. So that was inspiring to me. Finding neuroscience then to Jaak Panksepp and James Prescott's work on early experience, and how it shapes the brain and Allan Schore, the American Bowlby, he pointed out then how attachment is actually neurobiological. It's not just a working model, a cognitive thing you carry around, no, it's in your, your whole body is set up to be attached, one way or another securely, and you know, in a cooperative, egalitarian flexible way, or insecure attachments to keep people braced against the world in some fashion, either anxiously trying to manipulate them, or, you know, just going into the ivory tower thinking, you know, that's cool. You just think about stuff, and make plans and models and all that. And professors are probably highly avoidant attachment. Because they learn to shut down their emotions, to not grow them, but grow their cognitions because that's what their family rewarded or expected. So it's been a journey for me to knit all these things together. And then the book, neurobiology in the development of human morality, I had a particular book proposal, which was just to knit together anthropology, evolutionary science, developmental science, clinical science, neuroscience, and the book had a mind of its own. It brought me to the realization that the indigenous wisdom, the kinship worldview, is our heritage. It is what comes about when we honor our physicality, our embodied newness, our species wisdom, and it's what will save us, if we're going to be saved as a species and other species that we're taking carrying with us, whatever we do.

Tom VandeStadt 48:10
Do you have any advice as to what we can do in our own lives to restore that nest to restore that connective tissue? Because without doing so we have no hope whatsoever in addressing the biosphere crisis, the ecological crisis, because that is the fundamental foundation upon which everything else follows. So what should we be doing to restore that nest, restore that vital connective tissue?

Darcia Narvaez 48:39
Well, as a psychologist, I tend to focus on individuals and relationships, personal relationships. So that's what I'll talk about first. And that is to make sure that you yourself are centered, that you are feeling in your body. There's healing practices to do, right. If you feel traumatized, or were traumatized, and you feel that in your body and can't calm down, right? So, nature connection is one of the best ways to heal. I always say there's three things, one, you need to calm yourself, because it's the triggering that gets you in the mindset, the blood flow shifts, and you can't be open hearted or open minded or flexible or tuned. If you're in the stress response, the body just doesn't work that way. So you need to learn to not get into the stress response. And so I work with my students on belly breathing. They could look at other practices Chi Gong, as you know, that can help you calm and get back in your body in a calm state. That's number one. But we have a lot of people who don't how to get along with other people now with COVID That kind of undermine that further. So you have to learn to get back to social joy. That's part of our heritage. It's like That's the glue that kept our species going. And it's so missing in the western world in particular in different ways. So what I do with my students is we would learn folks on games, I was a music teacher, so And folks songs games are like,,,

"A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go, we'll go catch a little fox and put him in a box, and then we'll let him go"

You keep catching more people in your circle gets bigger. And then everyone's the last ones are trying not to get caught, and everyone's touching, laughing, looking. And they're in the moment. And when you're in the moment, your right brain can grow your right hemisphere that's been underdeveloped from our child raising practices can grow and you can become more self regulated, more connected, more empathic. And so then the third aspect, the other part that we have to remember, this is part of my training ethics theory is to not, it's easy to get into those self protective bracing modes, either from the bottom up, because we get triggered from something, some pattern or some person that reminded us subliminally, if something bad, you know, but we can also get into self protection by the top down by what we think about, or attention is, what stories we listen to, and believe in narratives. So it's really important to then guide the conscious mind, the ego consciousness, the the thinking, mind, the intellect into connection. So to read about Native peoples, to experience connection to build empathy for people who are different from you, it's really important to build in the communal imagination that we're all in this together. So what you're doing, you know, having this conversation, so that's helpful to build communal imagination and realize doesn't have to be this way. In fact, it's better the other way.

Tom VandeStadt 52:04
Exactly. I mean, that's how that's how we see this is just having this conversation is restoring connective tissue. As well as our unedited dominant culture heaps ever more damage on people in the earth, what is sustaining your spirit right now?

Darcia Narvaez 52:23
Well, I have my own little rituals, I sing for directions, or the six directions every day. The land, we have a quarter acre upon which we live, the land gave me a song to sing to it. When I'm there outside as a form of connecting, and my communal imagine, well, I spent a lot of time my husband. So for self calming, then I do well, we have an earthing blanket for winter, but otherwise lying on the earth, or leaning against a tree, right? So the self calming my husband and I huggle that's a combination of hugging and cuddling, to build the oxytocin flow, right? And then the social stuff he's talking about. So there's the calming, then there's the social relational, he and I tease each other, we try to make each other laugh who can make the other person belly laugh, you know, that's the Wow. I'm we sing and dance together silly ways, you know. And then the communal to keep aware for me, that I'm part of the earth, and I will always be part of the Earth or the universe, and maybe not in this form, but in another form, right? So we all die and get transformed into other creatures and other beings and other ways of being. And so it'd be fine about that. It's easier, I think, when you're older to think that way than when you're younger, because you're still building your identity, but to realize that we are, we're not going anywhere. We're here. And I'll be say, you know, we're kind of messing up the fourth world. And now is that we have this moment of opportunity, depending on which native tradition you look at, it's the lighting of the seven fires, the white people going to come back to the nature connection. In our Shinobi worldview, this is the choice point. The natives have been guarding the knowledge in different parts of the world. The knowledge has been guarded, and we're able to come back. Wow. Yeah. Thank you.

Tom VandeStadt 54:31
As we draw this to a close, do you have any final indigenous words you'd like to share from your book, someone else that was just so powerful to you that you may want to quote to leave us on that note?

Darcia Narvaez 54:46
Well, I didn't pick anything. But I think our first precept was the recognition of spiritual energies and nature. And the quote is about the practice of assigning A young child who go out at night to hunt for guardian spirit. Now, I think our parents are too anxious these days to do things like that. But there are other ways to help your child or yourself find that guardian spirit. So a little contemplative time, quiet time observing nature in nature, to focus your attention on beautiful things. And then to ask for guidance and and write it down. It takes a while to develop your intuitions if you haven't been doing that. My students and I would practice some of the games that John Young in a coyotes guide from eight shields, and also Tamarack song, they have games you can do to develop your intuition. So I would encourage people to do that. For example, easy one is who's calling me that phone is ringing? Who would that be? Don't look and try to guess. So you're trying to build you're tuning in to the higher energies. David Bohm, the physicist said, we get caught up in our own minds, thinking that's intelligence, this loop of the culture, the left brain thinking knows everything and coming up with these things that aren't really necessarily related to the earth. He said, the real intelligence is inside intelligence, and it comes in from the outside, so that we are part of this dynamic universe, right. And when people have these great ideas, it's Eureka insight is coming in from the outside. So somehow, you need to as a Western wisdom, tradition, say, clear your heart, clear out fear, clear out ego, and then be open to divine energies. Now, this is something that didn't sound very scientific. But it really is from a native science perspective, which is inclusive, all inclusive of every experience, and has been verified by many people. It's just not done in a lab with an experimental design. Right.

Tom VandeStadt 57:01
Okay. Well, I'd like to draw to a close with, I think this was my favorite, quote, very powerful to me. And it's from the precept, community welfare. Don't yet Enriqueta Contreras. And she said, I believe each and every one of us has within our hearts, a hidden feeling. And that this feeling is moving us to find a channel of energy, light and hope. A hope that someday will touch us deeply in our hearts, so that we may see life from another perspective. Beautiful. Beautiful. And I want to thank you, and for Errol's for bringing that quote to me and for all of your work. It has been such a pleasure having this time with you today. I want to thank you so much for taking this time. So again, we've been speaking to Dr. Dasha nervous, and the title of her recent book, restoring the kinship worldview. indigenous voices introduced 28 precepts for rebalancing life on planet earth. Go out and read that book. Thank you.

Darcia Narvaez 58:21
Thank you so much!

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