Or, we can call it Environmental Melancholia or despair or an increase in anxiety. Whichever name or phrase we want to give this new phenomenon the important thing is: We recognize it's real. Our world is changing and it is the most profound process with respect to our life on this planet that any of us have experienced and it's only normal, and healthy, yes healthy, that we might find ourselves experiencing some very powerful emotions. It's not just the impact of the truth of the science, it's also the speed with which things are changing that is terrifying. On the other hand, we may find we just feel 'low' or 'hopeless' or 'flat' or 'numb'. Any feelings or lack of feelings that we might be experiencing when we read another UN released report on the state of the planet are going to hit us deep and hard. We are in "terra incognita" or unknown territory with respect to the psychological impact of this scientific truth on our well-being, our sense of resiliency and most of all, our transforming relationship towards the notion of hope. The first job on this path of turning towards the truth of climate change is to feel the impact in our body; to work to come into relationship with ourself and our feelings as the planet changes. And to process the deep feelings of grief and fear that are inevitably surfacing at this time for all of us. Most importantly is being able to feel mobilized to act. To engage with others to push for change from governments and corporations to ensure our pain and fear is not simply a personal experience. Working with the emotional impact of the climate emergency must not be our final stop. We must make good use of what our feelings are communicating to us. We can then become actors motivated by the love we have for our planet and for our natural world, we can connect with others in community and mobilize to push for change.
A huge component of healing is about cultivating a state of kindness towards ourself. When we really think about it, there is no greater salve for a wounded heart than extending kindness towards ourselves. So many of us have tried so hard to be the perfect wife, or mother, or daughter or friend or employee. We’ve worked our fingers to the bone trying to make up for something, some deficit somewhere, that we are convinced we are somehow responsible for fixing. It might be our parents’ unhappy marriage, thinking somehow their unhappiness was our fault. Or it might be thinking we are responsible for so much of our childrens’ lives that we turn our-self inside out trying to keep their world perfect, or safe. Or trying to give them the life we never had. As life moves along, it is like we collect a thousand little hits daily to our sense of feeling at home within ourselves. The phone call we didn’t return, the surge of anger at a messy house, the feeling of being somehow not quite up to the task of living life in some perfect way. And sure enough, just when we get it “all together”, life does its’ own thing; the car breaks down, or the basement floods, or a good friend gets cancer, or our child gets ill. And we are once again thrust into that state of thinking we just haven’t tried hard enough. Well, I have news for you, you have tried hard enough, more than hard enough. The task now, is to heal your heart by practicing self-kindness. By this point in the journey, we are “all in our head”, thinking, planning and plotting to figure out how to get life nailed down. The mind is sharp and brittle, towards our-self, and others. When we are in the head so much, we feel anxious and speedy, like we don’t know how to rest, or stop, or even breathe. Kindness towards oneself is cultivated by moving into the heart. It involves stopping long enough to notice just how exiled from ourself we have become. Then, we can visualize our heart and all the healing contained within it. As a dear friend once said, “The mind creates the abyss, the heart heals it”. This is so true. When we move into our heart center, time seems to slow down, we are more present and stable. The heart calms us and is the container for everything; our wounds, our judgements, our sorrows, our self-hatred. If we tune into the heart and find it stone cold and brittle, we acknowledge that, and we send well wishes to our heart, that it might thaw, that it might trust life again. To be in a state of self-exile is the greatest pain there is. Because life is so unpredictable, and because so much of it is outside of our control, kindness towards ourself isn’t a nice idea, it is an absolute necessity. May we all grow in the practice of extending kindness
"Midway though our life's journey, I went astray from the path and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood" -Dante. There is, in each of us, a knowing that ‘something’ could be different, better, or at the very least, less confusing. This wisdom is often what leads us to reach out to a counsellor. We may have had ‘the number’ for months, in our wallet, or on the desk, and to date, we haven’t felt the need, the readiness or a strong enough desire to reach out. Perhaps we had already been struggling with certain aspects of our lives, and friend gave us a number, or we googled ‘counsellor’ and made some notes, or book marked a site. And then we go on with our lives, coping as best we can, working hard on our own behalf to ‘keep going.’ And then often, something happens, the final straw, or a major rupture in our life, or a devastating loss or unexpected turn of events that can leave us reeling. And this quiet wisdom says, ‘now, now is the time to reach out.’ It takes an enormous amount of courage to make a call. We are flooded with feelings and thoughts; ‘what if they think I’m ‘crazy’? What if they’ve never met someone with my problems? ‘What if they judge me, or even more scary, what if they confirm my worst fears about myself?” With these very common and very human thoughts we can recognize; we are already on the path to healing. The very fact that we are ready to reach out in spite of these mind-created obstacles, in spite of our fears, or our sense of unworthiness, the act of reaching out tells us that we value ourselves. Reaching out tells us that we have hope, and no matter how small that flicker is, even if we don’t even recognize it within ourselves, that flicker is hope and hope supports us in moving forward. It would be a privilege for me to support you on your journey of healing. Namaste