In an unspoiled natural ecosystem (surely there are some left in remoter parts of our planet) species coexist in a finely tuned balance. Change happens—species may migrate away, die out, evolve—but usually this happens slowly, giving the ecosystem time to adjust to the new conditions. You might say that a kind of inherent wisdom arises as part of the complexity of such a system, which allows it to absorb a certain amount of impact from changing conditions without significant damage.
A different kind of wisdom—one that arises from the intellectual power of a conscious brain—allows humans to harness aspects of an ecosystem for their own purposes. Our species has figured out to an unprecedented degree how to extract food, shelter, and energy from our environment.
Occasionally, our conscious wisdom conflicts with the inherent natural wisdom of ecosystems we inhabit, causing irreversible destruction, because our wisdom is not able to take into account the innumerable subtle interrelations in the system when effecting change. Our gross attempts at management—the introduction of new, incompatible species, the over-farming of resources, the recourse to toxic means of eradicating what we consider pests—destroy the natural balance and jeopardize every organism in the ecosystem, including ourselves.
Some people who have put their conscious wisdom to work in a different way are suggesting that it would benefit our planet and ourselves to honor the inherent wisdom of Nature when we interact with her.
A singer’s body is another kind of natural system of incomprehensible complexity, in which a kind of inherent wisdom preserves balance. Our conscious brains will never be able to fully understand all the interactions in this system, but we can use our brainpower to help us avoid gross mismanagement of our resources.
Micromanaging Nature by trying to “do” the movements of singing consciously—trying to raise the soft palate, or open the throat, or take a deep breath, for example—is the vocal equivalent to spraying the forest with DDT. You might solve some problems, but at what eventual cost? Directly doing the movements we associate with good singing throws off the delicate balance of our bodies, usually creating unwanted tension somewhere.
What is the “green” alternative. . .the one that honors the inherent wisdom of Nature? It’s the one in which we allow the mind-body connection to act as an interface between our intentions and the response of our bodies. We must learn to clearly conceptualize the sounds we wish to produce (this is the appropriate task of our conscious brains), and then trust our brains (the non-conscious parts, mostly) to best organize our bodies to achieve them. The wisdom of our systems figures out how to carry out our intentions while maintaining ease and balance throughout.
It sounds like magic, and when it happens in a voice lesson the results do seem magical, but that’s only because the complexity of the system puts it beyond the ken of our conscious brains. We could paraphrase Arthur C. Clark’s famous Third Law: Any sufficiently complex natural system is indistinguishable from magic.