The Earth Needs us Calm and Unafraid

The Earth Needs us Calm and Unafraid

The Earth Needs us Calm and Unafraid

I recently read an article about “climate despair” and how it’s becoming our newest mental health crisis. The title was “Climate despair is causing people to give up on life” [Mike Pearl, in Vice]. It covered a number of related issues, but one of the most important topics in the article, for me, was the acknowledgement that when we feel hopeless and overwhelmed, we are LESS likely to act in ways that might improve the situation. This quote sums it up: “In other words, if you tell people something must be done or we’re all gonna die, they tend to take door number two, however irrational that impulse may seem.”

This, to me, is clearly linked to our polyvagal system and the built-in protective mechanism that causes us to “freeze” when fighting and fleeing hasn’t worked. We go numb, we check out, we dissociate; some cultures believe our soul leaves our body at the point of freezing. It’s Nature’s kindest grace in a world where some beings are hunted and eaten by others.

But as with most aspects of anxiety, this bio-intelligent emergency system is misfiring because of digital cues we haven’t evolved quickly enough to process.

We see the dire news, devastating images, alarming headlines, and various takes on “we’re doomed by 20–” and our fight/flight/freeze system is automatically activated. It’s an exquisitely perfect system in a new, unfamiliar digital world. And most of this shit is so enormously overwhelming it makes sense for us to switch right into freeze mode. What’s the use in fighting or fleeing when we don’t feel like we have any control or options?

So here’s my point. I think all of this actually points to a really important part of the solution. You and I, the wee individual humans at the micro-level of this problem, we can do a lot to prevent this phenomenon where humans all just go limp in the face of what we see as our impending extinction.  We can acknowledge that we all have this very intelligent defense system and we can acknowledge that it is out-of-element in the digital world in which we find ourselves; and then we can use that knowledge for good.


Because here’s the other side of the sword…

When we feel calmer and more hopeful, when we feel like there is still something we can do, we are much MORE LIKELY TO DO IT. We become much more likely to do what it will take to turn things around. We know that Nature will heal quickly just given the chance. It’s not all up to us. We just have to get out of the way, trust, and watch as the world comes back to life all around us. Certainly there is much to do and huge changes to be made, but my point is the more hope and less fear we have running through our systems, the better able we will be to participate.

So what can YOU do? It would help for us all to contribute to a collective calming of the human nervous system. We all need to act as loving mamas of our fellow humans… soothing the panic and instilling hope, knowing this will empower people to take action. In simple, practical terms, we can raise awareness about the urgent needs of the environment by sharing the articles that tell of someone who made a difference. The beach that was cleaned up; the ocean ecosystem that completely recovered when boat traffic and fishing was eliminated around the reef; the former miners being retrained as beekeepers; etcetera. We can share the images of greenery re-growing where a concrete building has been abandoned. This kind of sharing is much more likely to motivate us all to DO SOMETHING because our nervous system feels calm and capable.

We can all raise awareness of the plight of the natural world by focusing on what has worked. We can do this knowing it will help others to relax out of that freeze response and respond in a productive way.

As a shadow worker I’m the last person to tell anyone to “think positively”. But calming all the nervous systems around me is a significant and important part of my work, and it’s work that you can do, too. It’s what mama Gaia wants, and needs.

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Consistency… Are We Doing it Wrong?

Consistency… Are We Doing it Wrong?

Spring has sprung in the Northern Hemisphere. Where I live the rain has been soaking the streets and parks occasionally, and the sun has been blazing increasingly longer into the the evening. We’re at that point in the year where anyone who is paying attention has that moment of realization: “wow, it’s still light out”. And, significantly for Beltane and May Day, the dew is accumulating heavily in the mornings. Have you noticed?

This is a time when it becomes easier to be productive, easier to feel inspired, and many of us start to feel a resolve to make some good healthy changes. We probably last felt that way around January 1 when everyone was talking about New Year’s resolutions! And for anyone feeling unproductive and uninspired, this time of year seems to make that just a little more painful and laden with judgments. I usually get a dose of both of these at this time of year! Whether you’re inspired or uninspired right now, you’re no stranger to seeking balance. A consistent workout, a consistent routine, a consistent practice. Why is it that we seem to always be striving for this instead of relaxing into it? Why is it so hard to be consistent?

One of the big reasons it is so difficult for us to stay consistent is that our expectations are misaligned. We are all taught “consistency” in terms of linear, day-to-day “identical” habits instead of seeing our practice, and our world, as the naturally spiraling phenomena that they are. We live in an undulating, spiraling reality, and this is often responsible for the failure of any rigidly linear practice. Because it just isn’t natural. So what do I mean by this, exactly?

Nature, Spirit, and our existence here on mama Gaia is all about cycles. But not just an identical loop like a circle… it is better described as a spiral. Let’s unpack this a bit. The days cycle from dark to light to dark, each the same but yet so different. The moon cycles from dark to full to dark again in that same spiral pattern. Same moon phase, different month. And the seasons move in exactly the same pattern, coming back around again and again, same but different. Even your breath, and your next breath, follows this spiral law of Nature. Here you are at your fullest inhale again, yet it’s a new moment.

So we can look to Nature’s calendar, often referred to as the Wheel of the Year, for guidance about how to be consistent in a sustainable way. For example, rest has somehow become a ‘four-letter-word’ in this linear, industrialized culture, but it is natural to rest more in the fall and winter, just as we do (or should do) in the evening and night. We are biological beings that resonate with the natural world around us in this way, and trying to deny or ‘overcome’ it is making us sick. When we start to understand Nature’s calendar and the spiral nature of existence, it becomes easier to understand our own rhythms, fluctuations, and needs. This broadens our perspective, allowing us to see our own consistent practice as a maple tree instead of a concrete pillar. The maple tree is always growing and adapting, yet it is cycling repeatedly through stages of glory, and glorious rest.

I help my clients build what they are building (whether it’s self-care practices, relationships, creating a business, or overcoming anxiety) in this sustainably consistent way. We work with the Wheel of the Year paradigm to build a practice that has the resilience to ebb and flow with their own energetic seasons. You can do this too by learning your own high and low energy cycles and listening to the wisdom of Nature… there is so much guidance available to anyone willing to re-learn how to listen, the way our ancestors did.

A good place to start is with the moon and the maple tree.

If you are ready to get sustainably consistent, consider working with me in the Live Your Practice program. Nine new spots are now open and the super low introductory rate is still available. Learn more here: Live Your Practice

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Image: The Handbook of Practical Magic. Physis Wellness