About the project

Change is a principle connecting all life. There is cyclical change, repeating a seasonal pattern; there is formulaic change, following a predictable chain of events; and then there is unexpected change, leading us to the unknown with surprising turns of events. Often change is all of this at once. Sometimes we long for change in our lives, even look for it, whereas other times we find ourselves fighting against it. When experiencing a change that is difficult to face and accept, where can we find security, support and wisdom to live through that experience gracefully?

Together as individuals

Changing With Nature consists of the stories of six women, all of whom have lived through some kind of a personal crisis. They all share the experience of having found peace, comfort, wisdom and encouragement from their relationship with nature while going through a difficult time. Personal crises and change are always individual experiences, yet there is also something collectively humane, even universal, present in such transitions. Changing With Nature was born out of nature’s invitation to observe whether these personal stories could offer valuable insight to this collective change we are currently living in. Could these stories provide us with tools, understanding and possibly solace in the era of climate crisis?

The interviews were conducted out in nature, in a location chosen by the interviewee. Each interview session began in stillness while the interviewee built a mandala with materials found on the spot. A mandala is a symbol appearing in several cultures around the world, visually consisting of an orbicular, symmetrical pattern arising from its center. The mandala is an appropriate symbol for nature, as it simultaneously holds in itself both the eternal transformation of a multitude of forms and the great silence, the emptiness, from which everything arises and to which everything eventually returns. The ritual of mandala-building at the opening of each session served a double purpose – to lead us into deeper presence and to evoke nature’s guidance and support to join us. At the end of each session the interviewee and their relationship to nature was photographed in the way they themselves wanted it to be seen.

Facing personal and global change

Each story is different and each experience of connecting to nature unique, yet a few common themes emerge in all of the stories. Witnessing the change ever present in nature, the eternal cycle of life, helps in accepting personal change and letting go of the need for complete control. By observing the richness of natural phenomena, different aspects of humanity are easier to face and accept as a natural part of life, too.

Quiet time spent in nature had strengthened the sense of belonging to the whole in all of the interviewees. A human is not separate or alone, in nature everyone is interdependent. The experience of belonging to the whole fosters a genuine, inner sense of safety, and evokes a willingness to participate in protecting our shared life. The sense of peace experienced in nature provides space for thoughts and emotions to clear up so that new, more authentic ways of being can emerge.

Thinking about the climate crisis, how could the aforementioned factors serve us as a collective in finding ways to live through this change gracefully, holistically and sustainably? A crisis is always a call to transform. In to what kind of a transformation is the climate crisis calling us humans? While reading these stories, I invite you to reflect upon the different changes and times of transformation in your personal life as well as the collective, ongoing change. Can you discover any common factors? We can’t always choose when or what kind of a change occurs on our way, but we can always be sure that whatever it is, the time is ripe for it.

My warmest gratitude to all of the courageous women sharing their story with us – Emma N., Liina, Christiana, Maija, Emma P. and Raila. All of the sessions were delicate and beautiful, full of wisdom, humour and vitality. I also thank photographer Päivi Mattila for creative co-operation, her insights and sensitive presence, Mandala and Vastedes associations for supporting the project financially, and my beautiful friend Braden Alexander for proofreading the English translations.

You can read the interviews by clicking here.

Photo: Paula Mattila

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