Connect to Country with Jamie Marloo Thomas
It’s an honour to introduce this podcast series with a conversation with Jamie Marloo Thomas, a proud Aboriginal Australian and the co-founder of Wayapa - the first formalised wellness and connection practice based on Indigenous Australian knowledge.
Wayapa is also known as Wayapa Wurrk, which means connect to country. It focuses on taking care of the Earth as a starting point for healing ourselves. It’s a physical practice and an earth meditation, that has been likened to eastern practices such as yoga and tai chi.
In our conversation, Jamie shares some of the rich storytelling and traditional knowledge that has been shared with him by Elders and Community, including more about the energy connection to earth that has sustained Australian Aboriginal people to be the world’s oldest, continuous living culture – for over 80,000 years.
In this episode you'll discover ancient Aboriginal Australian practices that you can introduce into your own life to root down to earth, and to re-establish your relationship with the natural world.
Below you can find just a few highlights from the conversation.
Wellness has supported Aboriginal Australians to be one of the oldest living cultures in the world.
“One of the things about our Aboriginal Australian history is that the whole story hasn’t been told about our mob. There’s a great movement happening at the moment where some of these stories are now coming to light, such as the knowledge of connectivity and sustainability that Aboriginal people held and practiced for upwards of 80,000 years in this country. It’s great that we’re going through that process, because the old cliche of the nomadic savage roaming around indiscriminately getting a feed, banging a few rocks together couldn’t be further from the truth. Our mob's one of the most intelligent species on the earth. To me, the true measurement of intelligence is to live within your environment without destroying it for a long period of time. We are one of the longest continuing cultures on the planet. Our connection to the earth was established for a long period of time, which is why we were healthy for such a long time pre-invasion.”
For Aboriginal Australians, wellbeing doesn’t just combine mind, body and spirit but mind, body, spirit and earth.
“Commonly, wellbeing is seen as mind, body and spirit - but for Indigenous people the key word in all of that isn’t those three things, it’s actually land or environment. Without a healthy environment you can’t have a healthy body, mind or spirit. That won’t exist, because they’re all interconnected. So it’s four things for us - earth, mind, body and spirit to create wellness.”
Human beings can connect with earth in a way that science cannot explain.
“Aboriginal Australians have an understanding and an awareness of a bigger energetic picture of what’s out there. There’s cultures all over the world that have that ability, and I also know non-Aboriginal that have that ability too. But sometimes we shut this knowledge off because we’re told by the system that this doesn’t exist, that it’s all made-up. I know what I’ve experienced when I can connect to my environment and no one can explain it, not even scientists. It’s just the way it is.”
The practice of Wayapa focuses on translating Aboriginal Australians’ connection to earth and the elements into a mindfulness practice that can be shared.
“Many people in societies feel disconnected from the planet. As a global village, it’s even more important that we’re mindful of our resource use - not taking more than we need, not over-consuming, and being mindful of our consumption. Wayapa gives people a sense of that connection and that nothing lives in isolation. For instance, we always talk about a rainforest and a city like they’re separate entities - but they’re not. The rainforest is providing oxygen for us to breathe and the city is providing smog that makes its way back to that rainforest. They’re one and the same. And what we do every day, whether you’re in the city or the rainforest, should be the same. Wayapa asks people, after being connected to the planet through the practice, to action that knowledge by being connected with your daily environment. It’s joining two industries - the wellness industry and the environmental sustainable industry - to say that they’re one and the same.”
Wayapa translates across all cultures and connects us as people.
“Wayapa features 14 elements that focus on connecting ourselves as humans to the planet. It’s a meditation and a visualisation that people can practice anywhere. If you’re stuck in an office all day you can stop and do a 20 minute meditation and see yourself standing at a beach with the elements happening around you. Science has said - and we know it as Aboriginal people - that if you can think it you can be it. Using quantum physics and being in that space through visualisation is very powerful.
It begins with a two minute grounding exercise, closing your eyes and focusing on an environmental place that means something to you - a beach, a park, a desert, a rainforest, whatever it is.
We then go through the 14 elements and the movements that correlate with those elements to explain the story of how the earth works. For example, the second element is the sun and the movement is about the cycle of the sun and the equinoxes and the solstices. It shares how we’re interconnected with that. We move through a 20 minute practice that’s based on these elements.
Finally, there’s a three minute meditation recounting those movements in your mind.”
Wayapa’s real work begins when you finish the practice.
“Wayapa is not just a practice, it’s a lifestyle. Wayapa really starts when you finish the activity, because you’ll be connected to your environment and it will then influence your decisions. For instance, when you want some orange juice you decide to squeeze some oranges rather than going to a store and buying juice full of artificial stuff or from Boost Juice where they use single-use disposable cups.
It’s also about connecting to people as individuals. In a world of technology and fast pace, we don’t stop and have the face-to-face conversations, and share energy and stories of what we’ve experienced. Wayapa is all of these things in a one hour session.”
Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:
Receive a free Wayapa connection practice when you sign up to our new e-newsletter, Mindful Mail
Learn the Wayapa lifestyle through the Wayapa online course - Disconnect to Reconnect
Connect with Wayapa - Website
Connect with Wayapa - Facebook
Connect with Wayapa - Instagram
Indigenous Australian writer Bruce Pascoe