Allowing Wellness to Take Root - People and Permaculture

Looby Macnamara
Friday, 7th March 2014

'People and Permaculture' author Looby Macnamara, explores how important the edge is between illness and health, and how taking time to rest benefits our lives from all angles.

Around this time of year, and through the winter, there are generally many colds and bugs doing the rounds. Over the last few months I have had chronic RSI (repetitive strain injury) in my right arm. I have been managing symptoms, and dealing with causes, and it is slowly improving. The other day this question came to mind - how do I allow wellness to take root in my body? This immediately led me to thinking about how I let illness take root in my body.

I was thinking what principles could be of help here. The two that came to mind are, use edge and value marginal and observe and interact. There is an edge space between being ill and well, both when we are coming down with an illness, and when we are recovering. There are times when it serves a function to be ill; we get the rest we want, we are given attention, and it can be a great excuse to procrastinate and put off unwanted tasks, and it can be for these reasons that our bodies succumb more to illness. This is where the principle observe and interact is useful. Can we listen to ourselves closely enough to know what we need? And then, are we able to find a way of meeting those needs without becoming ill. Can we find ways to relax and nurture ourselves without our bodies forcing us to bed for the day or week? It is not just about listening to the odd twinge and aches and pains, but also interacting with these observations and making changes. We can also observe our internal self-talk; which way is it encouraging us and where is our focus?

I was curious about the term ‘taking root’, it is an interesting metaphor to use. When we are wanting a plant to take root we need to nurture the soil, we need to provide the right nutrients. Taking root is a deepening process, when we are recovering from an illness, we need health to permeate deeper into our being. Roots have a stabilising effect. We can see this as an opportunity to find balance between outward and inward growth.

When we are in the edge between illness and health, and on the road to recovery, we can use our wellness to create more wellness. Roots bring up nutrients; developing our ‘roots’ can be an opportunity to access more of our strength, stamina and vitality. There is a familiar pattern of trying to step out of the edge too quickly and thinking we are well again, doing too much and then relapsing. This edge period needs to contain a balance of relaxation and activity. There are advantages of staying in the edge, it is a good place to take time to reassess and create new patterns, and to make sure that wellness can really take root in our lives.

Further resources

Looby Macnamara is the author of People and Permaculture, looking specifically at the application of permaculture in a social and relationship context (permaculture's people care principle). It is available here. Visit her website at

An extract from People and Permaculture: Putting the 'permanent culture' into permaculture

More from Looby Macnamara: Empowering permaculture: How to make a difference

Becoming a permaculture parent - 4 steps to improve family communication 

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