Reconnecting with nature

A new “conversation/contemplation” series proposes to examine conundrums of human nature in a setting that encourages contemplation-the Malibu Nature Preserve’s streams and forests.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

Ann Buxie, whose story-telling series “Tales by the Sea” has uplifted and enlightened Malibu residents for more than 10 years, is taking her conversation to the outside. In a new “conversation/contemplation” series, Buxie proposes to reestablish a relationship with Mother Nature, starting at the Malibu Nature Preserve in the Santa Monica Mountains every second and fourth Monday this summer.

“The Tibetan Buddhists look at life in nature as being comprised of five different elements,” Buxie said in an interview with The Malibu Times. “Water, earth, fire, air and space. They identify these natural elements as forms of energy that influence different aspects of human emotion. So my idea is to lead a conversation in these natural settings to help us reconnect with nature, as a way of reconnecting with other relationships in our lives.”

Buxie, who holds a doctorate of philosophy in Mythological Studies with emphasis in Depth Psychology, relates that Tibetan Buddhist scripture first arrived in Tibet in the 5th century and is now practiced worldwide. The temporal leader of one of Tibetan Buddhism’s four main traditions is the Dalai Lama.

In Buddhist scripture, the influence of the five elements can provide an enlightening antidote to harmful human emotions such as confusion, anger and violence.

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“Water represents mirror-like wisdom,” Buxie said. “A calm and uncritical look at conflicted aspects of our life can be very pacifying.

“I’m not a Buddhist, just a student of its precepts,” Buxie continued. “And it just made sense to me when I considered Buddhist principals of filtering our emotions through nature. The sun doesn’t get [angry] because clouds pass in front of it and refuse to come up the next day. You begin to see how pointless some of our emotions can be.”

Buxie’s conversation series proposes to examine these conundrums of human nature in a setting that encourages contemplation-the Nature Trust’s streams and forests. Her work on her doctoral dissertation, “Logo Synthesis-Remembering a Relationship With Nature,” prompted her to think about what she calls “logolating,” or letting natural elements percolate through human emotions to understand them.

“I see this series not only as having a conversation about nature but about promoting questions about nature,” Buxie said. “We’ll read some poems and I’ll encourage others to bring relative writings as well. There’s a rhythm in nature that we lose in today’s world. We almost live in a state of unnatural disease and this is a way to override that loss of connection with the earth.”

That loss of connection leads to a loss of self, Buxie believes. The loss of self affects every relationship in one’s life, and one action has a multiple affect-personally, financially and environmentally-in domino fashion.

“If you don’t think your relationship with air is vital to who you are today, try not breathing for 10 minutes,” Buxie said.

Participants in the series will explore all settings of the Nature Trust, including the Nicholas Canyon Creek and cliffs overlooking the Pacific.

The preserve came into being about eight years ago, thanks to Peter Ireland, former executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Preservation Trust.

“We created the preserve to save Nicholas Canyon,” Ireland said. “Back in the boom real estate days, it was slated to become the largest condominium development in Southern California. We stopped that.”

The California Department of Parks and Recreation purchased a large portion of Nicholas Canyon, which was home to the earliest native Chumash 10,000 years ago. One hundred acres below Nicholas Flat Pond were earmarked for the Nature Trust and the Malibu Riding and Tennis Club, “the largest private recreation club in coastal California,” Ireland said.

A watershed management program was implemented for Nicholas Canyon Creek. “It seems to be keeping things pretty clean,” Ireland said. “We hope Ann’s program finds a voice and a home. Well, with Ann, we’ve got a voice. Now we hope the home appeals not just to Malibu, but [also] to a broader community. The power of nature is pretty awesome. It’s nice to know that you don’t have to travel for hours to experience it. [It’s] right here.”

Buxie highlights the importance of reconnecting with nature: “You drive down the freeway everyday and forget about nature,” she said. “This series is for anyone who thinks we are denying nature because of the lives we lead and wants to really experience the elements that connect us to the earth.”

Buxie’s program will take place June 22, July 13 and 27, and Aug. 10 and 24, at 7 p.m., at the Malibu Nature Preserve, 33905 Pacific Coast Highway, starting at the Sycamore Lodge. It is advised to bring warm clothing and a cushion to sit on. More information and reservations may be made by contacting Ann Buxie at 310.457.2385 or 520.647.3620.

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