Dadirri is a word and concept from the Ngan'gikurunggurr and Ngen'giwumirri languages of the Aboriginal peoples of the Daly River region in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Ngen'giwumirri Elder Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr describes Dadirri as their most unique gift; “It is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to our fellow Australians. In our language this quality is called dadirri. It is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call "contemplation". [i]
This concept resonates with me in many ways.
On a personal level I have always felt a strong connection to the natural environment and the animals we share it with. Whenever I need some space to heal, I head out to the bush, either alone, with a dog companion or on the back of a horse. Indigenous knowledge encourages us to engage with the stillness and silent awareness of nature as a way of healing.
As a social work professional I observe the effects of our modern world with systems of inequality, feelings of constant ‘busyness’, materialism, and expectations to adhere and aspire to societal norms. Dadirri teaches us to slow down, be still, connect with nature and suspend our judgements. It also encourages us to deeply listen to the Indigenous people of Australia and engage in genuine open conversation.
In my work as a counsellor I strive to use deep listening as a process of “listening to learn”[ii] about the person I am with. I encourage them to be still within themselves and be willing to receive new information in this supportive, non-judgemental space. Not being afraid of silence allows us to really hear.
In the words of Miriam-Rose, “When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again”
i Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr (1988) https://www.miriamrosefoundation.org.au/images/Dadirri_Handout.pdf
ii Jonathon Davis https://www.theartofhealing.com.au/news_dadirri.html