Wayapa Wuurrk: Connect to the earth through this Indigenous mindfulness exercise

JamieThomas and Sara Jones, founders of Wayapa Wuurrk Source: Shelly Hood

Wayapa Wurrrk, a mindfulness practice steeped in ancient Indigenous wisdom, combines movement and meditation to encourage participants to feel a connection to the earth.

If you sometimes feel distracted or disconnected, you are not alone.

This episode of the SBS Great Minds podcast introduces a technique known as Wayapa Wuurrk, which may be able to help.


Highlights

  • Wayapa Wuurrk translates to “connect to the earth" in the languages of the Maara and GunaiKurnai peoples
  • The practice combines ancient Aboriginal knowledge of connection to country, earth mindfulness, narrative meditation and physical movement
  • It aims to give participants a tool for using nature to find stillness and quiet their mind

The practice originated in 2014 when Jamie Marloo Thomas, a GunaiKurnai man and Maara descendant, was teaching a group of distracted and unfocused Indigenous teenagers.

An uncle recommended meditation to calm them and Jamie decided to add some slow traditional moves to the breathing exercises.

The results were amazing, and inspired Jamie and his partner Sara Jones to create Wayapa Wuurrk with the consultation of Elders.

Australian beautiful nature
We can't be well if our planet isn't: Wayapa Wurrk teaches us connection and care for Country
Getty Images/Feliz Cesare

Ancient earth mindfulness

Wayapa Wuurrk may be a fairly new mindfulness method, but its roots are ancient: Australia's Aboriginal cultures are among the oldest living cultures on earth.

The words Wayapa Wuurrk mean “connect to the earth” in the language of the Maara and GunaiKurnai peoples, while the practice draws on Aboriginal knowledge of connection to country, earth mindfulness and narrative meditation. 

Led by Jamie, this episode of Great Minds asks participants to begin with simple breathing exercises and to feel their connection to the ground.

Wayapa Wuurrk meditation 1: Your special place
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Participants are led through poses that represent all the elements of nature, accompanied by beautiful Indigenous storytelling. 

As well as promoting mental wellbeing, the practice also reminds participants of their responsibilities of caring for the planet and having respect for all living beings.

Jamie Marloo Thomas, the founder of Wayapa Wuurrk

Jamie understands the pain of disconnection from country. For him, Wayapa Wuurrk is a lifestyle rather than just a practice, and involves taking care of the environment as the starting point for true wellbeing.

He is able to draw on his extensive experience in the areas of wellness, men’s health, drug and alcohol support, family violence prevention, youth mentoring, cultural heritage and ancestral remains repatriation, as well as Aboriginal dance and ceremony.

He says that Wayapa Wurrrk is a way of “honouring and respecting and creating a world which can be passed from generation to generation”.

 

Wayapa Wuurrk practitioners
Wayapa Wuurk at Thrive
Victoria Judge