Belonging to the Earth, With Yuria…

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Indigenous scholar Yuria Celidwen guides us in a meditation to strengthen our sense of belonging and connection to the earth.

This Happiness Break is part of our special series, Climate, Hope & Science. In it, we explore the intersection of environmental well-being and our own well-being, where taking care of ourselves and the planet are one in the same and feeling good is not only possible, it’s helpful. Listen to the rest of the series, which was released in our feed April 22–May 18, 2023.
How to Do This Practice:
Today’s Happiness Break host:

  1. Find a comfortable position wherever you are located.

  2. Direct your attention to your feet and the surface below them. Try to cultivate a sense of belonging in that space under your feet.

  3. Let your breath guide your attention back to your feet and upwards to your heart and head.

  4. Feel a sense of openness as you welcome the warmth of the sun into your heart.

  5. Acknowledge the transformative power of the earth and your role within it.

Dr. Yuria Celidwen is an Indigenous scholar whose work focuses on Indigenous contemplative traditions and advocating for the rights of Indigenous peoples and lands. She is a senior fellow at the Othering and Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley and has worked with numerous organizations including the United Nations.

Learn more about Yuria:

Find out more about Yuria’s work at the Othering and Belonging Institute:

More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative:

What Happens When We Reconnect With Nature:

How to Protect Kids from Nature-Deficit Disorder:

How Nature Helps Us Heal:

Why is Nature So Good for Your Mental Health?

Five Ways to Develop “Ecoliteracy”:

Green With Empathy:

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We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
The Science of Happiness would like to extend a special thanks to Eva Frye for their support of this series.


Dacker Keltner I’m Dacher Kelnter, welcome to Happiness Break, a series by The Science of Happiness where we take a short break to reconnect with ourselves, our communities, and the earth.

The past few weeks we’ve been focusing on the environment in our series Climate, Hope and Science.

If you haven’t heard the previous episodes, check them out, and maybe share them with someone who you think could use more hope about our climate’s future.

Today we’re tapping into a sense of belonging and hope, by thinking about interconnection with Earth.

Hundreds of studies have shown that feeling connected with nature has a profound impact on our brains, bodies, our nervous systems, our feelings, and even our relationships.

And according to today’s Happiness Break guide, Dr. Yuria Celidwen wherever you are right now, you’re in nature.

Because everything came from the natural world.

Yuria is a pioneer in the study of contemplative practices of Indigenous cultures, and works with the United Nations on issues of indigenous rights and climate justice. She’s also a senior fellow at UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute.

Here’s Yuria.

Yuria Celidwen [Speaking Tzeltal] That’s my indigenous Maya Tzeltal language. I am introducing myself saying hello to all of you, sending you a big hug. Bowing to the elders past. Present and emerging and celebrating spirit. My name is Yuria Celidwen and I’d like to share with you today a practice of reflection, in a way that we can embrace the whole of being human within a larger system.

This is a Mother Earth heart opening for hope and belonging. And may you find that sowing the seeds of community within your heart.

And so for this practice to settle in your presence. Wherever you are, you’re fine. You don’t have to find a perfect space or be outside. Rather, just be where you are in the raw space where you are, whatever it may be.

And from there, just bring your attention to the soles of your feet, and allow yourself to be held and welcomed into Mother Earth.

Feel the softness of the floor beneath your feet. And then feel yourself really being embraced by Mother Earth. Just softly being.

Being safe, being and belonging. Being and breathing. Being and sharing with a whole of mothers. And then return from that depth back into the soles of your feet and bring that breath and belonging and being, and safety into your heart.

And from your heart go up into the crown of your head and then upwards even until you catch the thread of light coming from the sun. Feel the warmth and the openness. And expanding that bright, vast space within the skies. Feel yourself open. And now you are welcoming the whole of the space around bringing the warmth of the sun back into your heart, the coolness of the earth into your heart. And from your heart now you pay attention.

And while all we hear is urgency, we see the challenges that are innumerable, but we also see the infinite opportunities rising. While our grief is daunting, also heartening is our compassion. We listen to the whole of Mother Earth’s humming, her calling her heartbeat throbbing. We hear her pain, but it is her one voice that guides fear to safety, anger to action. Grief to meaning, despair, to transformation.

And then bridges open because our beings home open and trust emerges. Now life, she ripples, she hums, pulses, queers, she sighs, murmurs under the skies.

[Speaking Tzeltal]

Gracias, and thank you.

Dacker Keltner That was Dr. Yuria Celidwen, a scholar of contemplative practices of Indigenous cultures. And also a senior fellow at UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute.

I’m Dacher Keltner, and thank you for taking the time to take this Happiness Break. And if you’re like me, there’s at least one person in your life who could really use more hope – whether it’s for the climate, or any of the collective struggles we’re facing today. We’d love for you to share this meditation with them. And check out the rest of our Climate, Hope, and Science series if you haven’t already. We have links in our show notes, wherever you’re listening.

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