connecting to nature

connecting to nature

Living a busy life in modern suburbia, it can sometimes feel like nature is distant from us, almost abstract. Working and socialising online, we have moved into virtual worlds, away from the reassuring rhythms of the world outside. The frenetic pace of screen spaces has replaced green places in our lives, and we often feel pressured and distracted. Finding time to sit quietly in a natural place that’s special to you will help you find calm and stability. Doing this regularly, you will notice the plants and animals of your place and grow roots of connection. First Peoples, who have lived on Country for thousands of generations, have much to teach non-Indigenous folk about this deep feeling.

Dadirri (da-did-ee) is a word from the Ngan’gikurunggurr and Ngen’giwumirri languages of the peoples of the Daly River region in northern Australia. It means ‘deep water sounds’ and describes their way of being on Country. It is focused on quiet, still awareness; inner, deep listening and feeling nature. This way of being contrasts with the way we non-Indigenous people are often quickly moving through the world, either walking, running or driving. We also tend to talk more and ask lots of questions.

Elder, Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, in her reflection on dadirri writes, “in our Aboriginal way, we learnt to listen from our earliest days. We could not live good and useful lives unless we listened. This was the normal way for us to learn – not by asking questions. We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting. Our people have passed on this way of listening for over 40,000 years. … My people are not threatened by silence. They are completely at home in it. They have lived for thousands of years with Nature’s quietness.”

She goes on to explain the quiet stillness and waiting part of dadirri. “Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course, like the seasons. … To be still brings peace – and it brings understanding.”

The practice of deep listening to Country is widespread in Australia, although the language shifts depending on where you are. Given the new understanding we have of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, perhaps non-Indigenous Australians are beginning to sense this old way. Maybe we can pause and learn from the First Peoples of our ancient land and celebrate their knowledge of how best to be in this place.

To find out more check out the resources below or buy Nature, Our Medicine.


Miriam Rose Foundation 


Treading Lightly by Tex Sculthorpe and Karl-Erik Svelby
Braiding Sweetgrass and other books by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Salt by Bruce Pascoe
Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta
Tell Me Why by Archie Roach
Becoming Indigenous to the Universe by Kerry Arabena

Photo credits:
Photographs by Dr Dimity Williams