The four environments is a unique take by Reach on what constitutes the environment. Generally when one thinks of this term, it’s about our relationship with the planet and how we can repair the damage we’ve caused and best use Mother Earth’s resources. This, however, is only one dimension of this vast topic. Below is a summary of all four dimensions and we will soon be producing a more expansive document on this subject, so please look out for that.
Firstly, there is the environment of the self (our inner landscape – thoughts, beliefs, feelings and perception). Secondly, the environment of the body, whose 60 trillion cells form our various organs and systems that collectively drive and sustain our physical health.
Thirdly, there is the environment outside of ourselves, which includes our families, relationships and wider communities – this also includes our physical space. Finally, there’s the environment of the planet, with its vastness and complexity. This is the wonderful stage on which the drama of life is played out.
Once we understand these four different environments, we can begin to see that meeting the needs in each area will require different things. It’s interesting to note that although these four environments do require different activities and resources, there is an intimate relationship between them as each underpins and supports the other.
For example, the hormones and neurochemicals that are essential to brain health are produced out of the water, essential fats, vitamins and minerals that we imbibe. Without these it’s difficult to maintain a positive outlook because the raw materials that enable positive thoughts are in short supply. Willpower alone is not enough. We need those raw materials to create that positive change within the brain and the mind.
Also, creating a space for silent reflection, helps to develop feelings of love and kindness. This is incredibly beneficial for the body as the brain produces a cacophony of neurochemicals that wash through our cells, organs and systems, maintaining homeostasis and promoting health. These feelings of love and kindness and our greater physical well-being increase our inclination to be benevolent members of society and more proactive in the world. Here we can see the connection between spirit, body, mind and environment, as all four are involved in these transactions.
The need for a life of meaning and purpose is another powerful illustration of how the four environments are connected. The need to find value in something that we believe in and are passionate about is crucial to the spirit (our sense of self). When this is absent our mental health (emotional and psychological) can collapse, as we struggle to find meaning. When the mind finds itself in this place everything else suffers, first and foremost our bodies, as they struggle to endure our stress and despair. Our relationships also suffer as a result of our perception, personality and performance all going awry.
The connections between these four environments are endless and to speak of one environment without understanding the impact on the other members of this community is dangerously short sighted.
When looking at meeting the needs of your environments, we would recommend you begin by focusing on your physical space. Bringing order in that dimension of your life has proven to have enormous consequences on the environment of the self (thoughts, feelings and perception), your body’s health and the quality of your relationships.
Here are some things to consider about meeting the needs of your environments
Where possible, create a physical sanctuary, a space for reflection and self-nurture. This will lead to an improved self-image and enhanced physical well-being.
Developing a social conscience is vital. Start by creating a culture around you where all are equally valued and respected. Begin with your family, friends and colleagues and then seek, through random acts of kindness, to spread that atmosphere wherever you go.
Order creates peace, chaos creates peacelessness. Whether at home or at work, it’s important to organise your physical space in a way that’s uncluttered, ensuring that everything is accessible. Our inability to let go of things that are no longer useful holds us back.
Avoid waste in all its forms. This is because waste blocks the pathways within the body, preventing it from healing. It undermines the mind, cutting off our supply of positive thoughts and creative intelligence. Waste lays the spirit bare as our good energy drains away, and with it feelings of peace and joy. Waste is suffocating the planet, undermining its expression and beauty, and also threatening our very existence. We need to become vigilant in attending to all of these aspects of waste.
We need to learn to conserve energy and to make the most of the resources available to us. This requires awareness, a conscience and creativity.
When we really understand these four environments, we are compelled to offer each of them our attention and respect.