#17: Coming Back to Our Senses with Nicole Schwab

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Meet NICOLE SCHWAB, who will reveal how our health and the health of our planet are inextricably linked, and what we can do to look after both.   The founding director of the forum of young global leaders, Nicole is actively involved in creating a ‘restoration generation’.


Watch a special video version of this episode’s message:


  • Ecopreneurs
  • Restoration Generation
  • Diversity
  • Durability
  • Adaptability
  • Biodiversity
  • Balance of Nature
  • Health of our Planet
  • Flow


Poems by the Persian Poet Hafiz


The Whale Rider – story by Witi Ihimaera directed by Niki Caro.


Diversity of life is everywhere. It is within us, it is around us, it is part of life and that is what makes life so rich and so beautiful.’ ~ Nicole Schwab


Read Full Transcript


Nicole Schwab: How many times when we breath, do we think about the fact that the Oxygen we need to live is produced by plants. How many times do we become aware of the inter-relationship between us breathing in and a tree breathing out? We have been living on the outbreath – it’s always GO – GO - GO, there are no pauses, it is not cyclical like the rhythm of nature. You have the winter, you have the pauses, and just like on the in breath and the out breath you have a pause between the two. It is a rhythm. The way we have been living has not been in harmony with that rhythm that is inside of us through our breath and through everything else in the natural world. And if we can just get back in touch with that, then I think we can start to harmonise

Tania Cotton: How are we responsible? Never before have we been so aware of how our health and the health of our planet are inextricably linked. Do you think disease or dis-ease is caused by a loss of connection to ourselves and to nature?

Nicole Schwab: Yes, I think we can say that. I do think we have lost connection with the natural world. Most of us live in cities, we live in highly urbanised environments that are far away from the natural world, so we are no longer in touch. And that also means that we don’t realise anymore that everything that we receive from the natural world, like our healthy food, like the air that we breath, like the water we drink, that all of this is what keeps us healthy, and if the planet is not healthy how could we be? And this breakdown in this relationship with the natural world is something that has come to the fore now and that we are starting to realise and understand better. And it was also something that was at the heart of the way indigenous people have been living and caretaking the planet with the understanding that we are all intricately linked with all species.

The mountains, and particularly the high mountains, there is a stillness there and there is a vastness that is very beautiful and very peculiar and that it just opens up a space, it’s like a surrendering into something so big that we connect into the fact that we are one little being on the planet and that there is so much more that is so vast and so powerful.

We humans are now, through our activities, altering our environment to such an extent that it has an impact on the future of ecosystems and on the future of the natural world and its delicate balance. The core economic paradigm on which our societies have been built for the last 50 to 100 years are based on economic growth, to put money and wealth at the centre and this is a paradigm that has to change and we need to put health and wellbeing at the centre. And not just our health but the health of the planet, of all species of this very complex, intricate and beautiful system that we are part of.

Tania Cotton: For young people who don’t yet know what they want to do in their lives, yet they know they want to do something meaningful; how can they get involved in looking after the planet and in so doing look after their own health? I feel that so many young people haven’t had the opportunity to connect with nature, and to protect our planet first we need to appreciate it.

Nicole Schwab: Yes, and I think the starting point is for young people not to let anyone limit their choices. The world is changing, everything is changing, and the well-trodden path doesn’t exist anymore. So the first thing, is not to think that they have to follow a career pathway, make money, like all these beliefs that we can now let go of. And then that opens up a whole range of possibilities. And the second thing I would say is for them to look at existing solutions and organisations, because there are so many of them. We know what to do, we just have to scale up these solutions. And the third thing I would say to them is to find youth networks in their area, there are more and more youth networks that are working to unleash the restoration generation. And if they feel an entrepreneurial drive, then why not become an ecopreneur. Why not have an idea, a vision, and create something. And that is the ultimate way to follow your passion.

Tania Cotton: It seems that we are suffering from Analysis Paralysis.

Nicole Schwab: We have been relying so much on our brains and analysis and wanting everything to be proven as opposed to all these other assets we have within us – our intuition, our senses, and which provide a direct link. We don’t necessarily need to go through our minds and by that I mean our rational minds and our intellect. That aspect of the human experience needs to be valued much, much more. There is also a lot of focus on presence and mindfulness, but it’s all related because it’s really about being present in the moment, to nature and to what is. If we pay attention, we can hear the sounds of nature; the birds, the wind, we can observe nature through all our senses.

As we start to realise that our thoughts have an impact on our own wellbeing, we will also start to realise what truly matters to us and what wellbeing means to us in terms of the thought patterns. That actually, it’s not about more consumption, about getting more stuff, it’s more about a state of being and that can connect us more deeply with the natural world and then it’s a virtuous loop.

Tania Cotton: What a stunning day!

Nicole Schwab: Beautiful!

Tania Cotton: We are so lucky.

Nicole Schwab: How can we shift the whole system to a new system and a new way of thinking where we prioritise our happiness and the wellbeing of other species. What if we turned it on its head and realised that we could have everything we wanted in terms of happiness and health and wellbeing, by restoring and regenerating so that our actions towards nature would not be negative but would be additive. Every time we do something we regenerate. Instead of being an entrepreneur who is trying to create wealth; what about being an ecopreneur who is creating natural wealth and wellbeing, and regeneration and restoration.

So that the decisions we make now are going to have an impact way beyond our individual lives. And I think there is a growing realisation that if we are going to make a change. It’s now.

Meet Tania Cotton

Tania Cotton avatar

Tania Cotton is a Movement Analyst and Chartered Physiotherapist with over 25 years' experience helping people overcome pain, injury and disease to lead a happy and fulfilling life. After 12 years as a consultant for the Swiss Olympic Medical Centre in Geneva, Tania began making films on health and human performance to show people what is possible and to inspire them to take action.

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