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  • Resilient Practice

The Three Sisters

"Feed the people, feed the land, and feed our imaginations, telling us how we might live”

– Robin Wall Kimmerer


We regularly talk about the perils of giving away our power to the external environment. We have discussed many times, the benefits in terms of personal resilience, of prioritising internal validation over external validation. If we rely solely on praise and messages of approval from others to feel ok, we give them responsibility for our wellbeing. If we are crushed by negative feedback or disappointed when our efforts are not recognised by others, the power to keep us from being crushed lies with them.


It can be suggested then that practising a level of detachment from what others think of us is wise in terms of wellbeing. After all – what others think of us is actually a reflection of their psyche – but we take notice of it because we see it as a mark of our acceptability into the tribe. Remember that since childhood, to the psyche, abandonment and rejection is synonymous with death – and if we are not liked, we are more likely to be rejected. We are wise if we practise our ability to approve of our Self, since we are the one who is solely responsible for getting the Self through this Earthly journey. In fact, no-one is responsible for our wellbeing other than us, and we are responsible for no-one. Even our own children are gifted with the tools to master their own journey. It is when we become attached to the opinions of others that we come up against obstacles.


Most of us are not Swami or Masters of Zen however, looking for immediate transcendence. We are human and this is an experience rich with storms to weather and fertile compost in which to grow. Most of us are not ready to become detached from our fellow humans – in fact, forced detachment from all could incur the risk of us becoming divorced from the profound nourishment that being part of a community or tribe can bring. There is a big difference between stumbling over the need to have our work praised or recognised, and the enjoying feeling of fulfilment that we gain from using our gifts for the good of others. There is a subtle difference between needing to be appreciated and celebrating the positive emotions that arise when we are. There is camaraderie felt in difficult situations when a reassuring hand squeezes our own or when we catch the eye of a trusted ally and exchange a knowing smile that tells us that they see what we see. This is connection.


As much as detachment is often seen as something to aim for to gain sovereignty over our lives, there are relationships within the community which can equally nourish, sustain and teach us – and most of us are not ready to fly solo, with only Self- regard as our compass.


We are wise not to sacrifice our connections for the illusion of being entirely and only reliant on Self. There may be a line that we can walk where we can foster vibrant connections with others whilst still knowing that we would be perfectly fine if we suddenly found ourselves alone.


Last week our article was about Imbolc. It is the time for planting seeds and setting intentions. To this end, at our Drum Circle this week we gifted each of our tribe with three seeds. These were the three sisters who we first read about in the beautiful book ‘Braiding the Sweetgrass’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer.


The three sisters (or Milpa System) represent the core of Indigenous agriculture and could be found across the continent from Mexico to Montana for millennia before colonization in the seventeenth century. The three sisters are corn, bean, and squash, and they were planted together. Scientific studies have shown that when planted together the three sisters have more success and abundance in growth than when planted solely amongst their own kind. This is because the corn supplies the bean with a cane to climb up towards the light, the bean draws nitrogen into the soil to nourish the other two, and the squash, with her broad leaves protects the soil from the invasion of weeds who may come and steal nutrients. We will never know how the indigenous people knew this, but they knew. There is much to be gained from tuning into ancestral intuitive practices that have been overridden by logic. Sometimes we do not know how we know, but we know.


Through mutual reciprocity, every sister will flourish. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. This is reflected within the tribe and results from our connections. We are all different and each of us has a unique set of gifts which when combined with those of our immediate community and used for the good of all, creates abundance and growth for all. The bean, corn and squash do not compare themselves to each other, or judge one another – they serve each other and as a direct result of being connected, their own wellbeing is bolstered.


Try this:

You will need:

  • Seeds

  • Compost or soil

  • The ground or a pot or plant container

  • A space with shelter, water, and light

Source some seeds – the bean (runner bean is best,) corn, and squash (any kind is fine but choose a smaller variety if you are growing in a pot or a small space.

Set the intention to plant your seeds mindfully.

Wake up all five of your senses

Come fully into the present moment.

Choose a place to plant your seeds.

Begin with a smaller pot for germination.

Fill the pot with soil

Take time


Push some soil into the pot

Notice the scent of it

How does it feel when you press it into the container?

Is it springy? Warm? Soft? Moist?

Allow the seeds to run through your fingers

How do they feel? Smooth? Warm? Light? Dry?

Do they have a scent?

Listen to them rattling

Gently push them into the soil

Moisten the pot

Place it in its chosen place with love

Let it rest while your seeds gently wake

Set the intention to move your plants to the soil or a larger container and outside when appropriate

Breathe deeply, let go, and rest yourself knowing that the stirrings of life are beginning anew – simply because you planted a seed


For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your human experience see our book:



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