Appreciating Mama Earth - An Isolation Reflection with Ursula Griffen

A reflection on our covid-19 isolation by Ursula Griffen - deep ecologist and found and facilitator of ‘For You Workshops’. This blog is the first of a two-part series, exploring the importance of connecting to nature in these unknown times - whether it’s a daily walk, growing your own veges or climbing your favourite tree.

Ursula Griffen


This time for reflection and stillness, in our entire society, has the potential to create a massive shift in the way we think and exist as a species. We have experienced a rapid and uncontrollable change in all of our lives. We were so quickly isolated into our bubbles and told to stay in our neighbourhood. Just having finished level 4 here in New Zealand, can you reflect on how the natural world has served you throughout this time?

Personally, I have found isolation (iso) fascinating. I have welcomed the calm mornings on Karangahape Road, where I can hear birds rather than trucks. My daily walks around my neighbourhood are enlightening as I discover historic houses and feijoa trees, and might I say I am very proud of our emergency COVID-19 herb garden which is now flourishing. As much as this has been a social experiment and mental struggle, our collective humanity is taking a seriously deep breath and I feel good about it. Let alone the break that Mama Earth is having from all of our polluting systems.

One of Greta’s latest tweets: “There is a lot of talk about returning to ‘normal’ after the COVID-19 outbreak. But normal was a crisis”. She is so right, we were already fighting a crisis before COVID-19. The climate crisis. Last year, 170,000 kiwis marched the streets in a fight to reduce carbon emissions, the sort of gathering we can only dream of in iso. Now, 4 million kiwis stay home in an act to fight this pandemic. If we have true leadership and collective agreement on our climate goals, New New Zealand is possible, we have proven this from our amazing response to COVID-19.

Climate advocates have been fighting arduously for a reduction of fossil fueled air travel, and who could have predicted that it would take a virus to make it a success. It is all well in the short term, but Mama Nature needs some long term regenerative system design. Maybe Air NZ can take this time off flying to develop their electric plane fleet and build a tree planting army for the coming winter season.

This time has given all of us space to reflect on what truly matters. It also has allowed us to more deeply connect to our place and our environment. For most people, staying inside all day has been a struggle, the cabin fever kicks in and you just have to get outside. Even if you weren't much of a walker, COVID-19 has most likely made you one. For me, it was straight into the park, even if it's just to climb my favourite Pohutukawa, get some fresh air and let Mama Nature tell me, ‘Everything is going to be okay’. I often get that feeling in Nature, like there are bigger forces at play and my mind's problems dissolve away as I watch in awe.

I feel grateful for the Auckland Council for preserving our parks and native forests in the middle of our biggest city. It also makes me notice all the fruit trees planted in my suburb, and I do wish there were more, but it is so satisfying to forage food in your area. Local food production has been a topic that has been brought up multiple times over dinner in iso. This crisis has highlighted how reliant we are on supermarkets and centralised food systems, especially in cities. All the seedlings were sold out at gardening stores before iso started. People freaked out and realised their shortcomings, one being that they don't grow their own food. OMG garden at the top of Symonds Street is providing one solution for this and the veggies don't get this month off. This urban farm grows and sells CSA boxes to their local community and local restaurants. The first of its kind in Auckland, OMG is showing how effective urban farms can be, especially for community and climate resilience.

So, how has this time in iso positively affected your relationship with nature? Perhaps you found a feijoa tree down the road, or maybe you planned an edible garden, or maybe your walks to the park are all that are keeping you sane. Nature is a great support in uneasy times. There are a lot of unknowns and this can cause a lot of anxiety. It is essential to use your well-being tools during this time to stay grounded and able to keep working towards a regenerative society. My suggested well-being tools are; daily meditation, exercise, drinking water, taking your B vitamins, eating fresh whole foods and engaging with anything that makes you laugh!

Mama Nature has our back and she is thanking us for this time for rest. I would love to hear of your nature stories from iso. Please email me at

This is the first blog of a two-part series from Ursula - keep an eye out for another coming soon!