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The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

4.7 3
by David Suzuki, Amanda McConnell, Adrienne Mason

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In this extensively revised and enlarged edition of his best-selling book, David Suzuki reflects on the increasingly radical changes in nature and science — from global warming to the science behind mother/baby interactions — and examines what they mean for humankind’s place in the world. The book begins by presenting the concept of people as


In this extensively revised and enlarged edition of his best-selling book, David Suzuki reflects on the increasingly radical changes in nature and science — from global warming to the science behind mother/baby interactions — and examines what they mean for humankind’s place in the world. The book begins by presenting the concept of people as creatures of the Earth who depend on its gifts of air, water, soil, and sun energy. The author explains how people are genetically programmed to crave the company of other species, and how people suffer enormously when they fail to live in harmony with them. Suzuki analyzes those deep spiritual needs, rooted in nature, that are a crucial component of a loving world. Drawing on his own experiences and those of others who have put their beliefs into action, The Sacred Balance is a powerful, passionate book with concrete suggestions for creating an ecologically sustainable, satisfying, and fair future by rediscovering and addressing humanity’s basic needs.

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Greystone Books
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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 7 THe Law of Love

The Power of Touch

With the first kiss of a mother’s lips, the first gentle whisper from a father, a tentative snuggle from a sibling, love works its way into our central core. Within a newborn’s tiny brain, neural chemistry is afire, forging new neural pathways as the infant’s senses of sound and smell and touch.relay a flood of information from its new world.
The brain grows at an astonishing rate when we are young. We know, for instance, that young children can learn languages much more readily than adults. The rational brain is learning and absorbing, but so is the emotional brain. Developing infants need to bond with others, to feel security, compassion and love. The role of touch is paramount in human development. Without it, we lack the emotional nourishment we need to thrive, and perhaps, even to survive.
Our body’s largest organ—our skin—is primed for touch. Skin is riddled with nerves, touch receptors with which we feel hot and cold, pain and pleasure, tingles and tickles. We know from studies of primates and other animals that touch is central to proper emotional, psychological and physical development. In one study with monkeys, mothers were separated from their infants by a glass partition. In one group, the mother and child could still see, smell and hear one another, but they could not touch. The conditions were the same for a second group except that the pair could touch one another through holes cut in the partition. The babies who could not touch their mothers cried and paced, whereas the babies who could touch did not show serious behavioural problems. When reunited, the babies that had been deprived of touch clung obsessively to their mothers and failed to develop the level of independence and confidence shown by the other monkeys.
A parent’s touch may not only comfort and please its offspring, but new studies show that touch actually modifies brain development. Like human parents, rat parents have different parenting styles, with some being more attentive than others. Michael Meaney of McGill University demonstrated that differences in maternal care can make physical changes in the brain and determine how rats cope with stressful situations.
Meaney found the offspring of rats that spent more time licking and grooming their pups were better able to deal with stress later in life. The higher the incidence of grooming, the lower the levels of stress hormones produced by the pups. This meant that pups raised by particularly attentive mothers were calmer during stressful times later in life, and they also showed a greater capacity for learning. Overall health improved as well, since long-term exposure to high levels of stress hormones can contribute to chronic problems such as heart disease or diabetes.
The stimulation provided by licking actually triggered a change in the DNA chemistry in certain genes in the baby rats. As the mother licked and groomed her pups, she essentially “flipped a switch,” turning on genes that reduced the amount of hormones released during periods of stress. More licking resulted in more receptors in the pups brains that regulate the production of stress hormones.

Meet the Author

David Suzuki is an acclaimed geneticist and environmentalist, the host of The Nature of Things, and the founder and chair of the David Suzuki Foundation . He is the author of more than forty books, including Good News for a Change, From Naked Ape to Superspecies (both co-authored with Holly Dressel), The Sacred Balance (co-authored with Amanda McConnell and Adrienne Mason), and David Suzuki: The Autobiography. He is the recipient of the Unesco Kalinga Prize for Science, the United Nations Environmental Medal, the UNEP’s Global 500 award, and has been named a Companion of the Order of Canada. In addition, he holds eighteen honorary degrees and he has been adopted into three First Nations clans. Suzuki lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Amanda McConnell has written more than 100 documentary films, many of them for The Nature of Things. She has a Ph.D. in English Literature, and she writes and gardens in Toronto, Ontario.

Adrienne Mason has lived on Vancouver Island all her life and spent twenty years on the west coast, first in Bamfield and then Tofino. As well as writing a local history column for Tofino Time, she is the author of numerous books and magazine articles about science, nature, and west coast history. Her most recent titles include West Coast Adventures, The Green Classroom, and The Nature of Spiders. In the course of writing Long Beach: A Storied Stretch of Sand, Mason searched for cougar tracks with her children, found the remains of old trails and homesteads in the area, and spent many hours interviewing the people who arrived at Long Beach and never left.

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The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This explains why we love national parks, zoos etc. We naturally feel better when we are a part of where we have always lived; until recently. No matter what your political or religious beliefs this book's discoveries can simply teach you how to be a happier person - without self-help books or pills.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent and enlightening world about the general state of the planet, humanity as a species, where we belong on the planet and what it means to us in terms of sustaining us as a species for the long run. Well-written and divided into chapters which could be summarized as humanity, air, earth, water, fire, community, love, spirituality and balance, this book paints an accurate state of the world picture with facts as well as metaphors, always with concern about the greater picture but never losing sight of the details. A great balance of general science and spirituality, with just enough facts and personal stories of many to make the points convincing, this book also is threaded with impacting and eye-opening quotes and poetry from a variety of sources and people. A superb book, overall, from someone who has seen a lot of what he wrote about, this book should be on the curriculum for senior year high school so that the future generations can get a good grasp of the world as they become contributing adults in that world which they will own and determine, more impacting than ever, for future generations. No matter how much or how little they will get from it, every bit helps at a time when that is truer than ever in the past from every one of us living today. Don't get me wrong, though, it's not the book that's profound. It's what you do with what you learn from it which will be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago