The Little Reset: The Necessity of the Small in Challenging Times

When the world feels too big, problems too overwhelming, complexities too tangled, chaos too pervasive, small spaces bring comfort.

When a child is scared, they will retreat under their covers, crawl under their bed, or hide out in a fort. These small spaces shrink the world to a comprehensible size. We can make our bed, and tidy our room. We can put our own house in order. We can create order out of chaos in a small space. We can light a candle, put on soothing music, and clean. In small spaces we have agency.

In my practice, this was one of the appeals of child’s pose. I always felt a sense of retreat in that posture, like I was a turtle drawing inside my shell. I felt safe in there. These days, my child’s pose is the sanctuary of my little backyard. In a small backyard, I can put a little garden. I can get to know who lives there. I can know the robins nesting in the playground, perching in the crab apple tree. In a small yard, I can know every tree and stone. In a small enough space, most people can have a positive impact and see it deepen. We can comprehend the web of relationships that penetrate us and bind us with our sense of place.

In difficult times, when problems are huge and complex, small homes, small communities, and local solutions have a great appeal. If you shrink your world enough, it is possible to know what is real and true. When your world is available directly through your senses, rather than through an intermediary, you can have a much clearer sense of reality.

Times like these can cause us to feel powerless, but we are not. We are very powerful. Each of us has the ability to control ourselves, to select our thoughts, and to choose our actions. We can exert a huge influence over our immediate lives. Our power radiates out of us in ripples that intersect with everything, infinitely.  It is true that through technology we can be easily manipulated. Our perceptions, our opinions, and our sense of things can be influenced by algorithms.

But when we log off the “world wide web” and log onto “the wood wide web”, and we touch the earth, when we ground ourselves in the immediate contact between our body and “the more than human world”, we can touch truth. From here, we can begin again. We can touch reality and trust our own connection with life, rather than someone else’s interpretation of events that may or may not even be relevant to us. If we reset to the immediate; our body, our breath, the earth beneath our feet, the sunlight on our skin, and our local environment, we can ground ourselves into a digestible, humane, comprehensible sense of reality. From this place of connection and steadfast, anchored being, we can gradually expand our awareness in wide and wider circles of awareness. But in order to raise our awareness to truly expand it, we need to do this gradually and from a place of being grounded in our own embodied truth.

When we are grounded, attuned to our own sense of ourselves and our connection to life, we have a compass, a knowing, a north star. From here we can navigate a large and complex world.

Micah Mortali is lead Kripalu faculty, the Founder of the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership and author of Rewilding.

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