Tag: Eco-Spirituality

The Way Home

The Way Home

The other day I reflected on survival resources. Not outer ones that address our physical needs but inner ‘resources’ that help us find our way back…home, to balance, to sanity.

We live in a time of global Unknown where our health, careers, food, money, and even toilet paper can be sources of stress and anxiety. Things we took for granted are quite suddenly not as dependable.

For the most part I’m handling this time with calm, groundedness. There are moments where tears come for the suffering of the world, where I take a journey down the bumpy ‘what-if’ road but I find my way back. So I questioned myself…how do I find my way back to that place of calm, grounded, peace?

 As I asked the question I started seeing scenes from underwater caves…of my first dive into a high-flow cave system, of a dive in Mexico when one of our team members had light failure in all three lights, when a guy leading our group out of a cave took a wrong turn (but we quickly steered him back to the correct line)…of one of my first open water dives as a newly certified diver diving with two guys I didn’t know and coming up in a maelstrom and them leaving me to my own devices underwater to find my way back to the boat or the shark dive that had the entire hungry shark cast coming to me as I struggled against the current (also a newish diver and left by my dive buddy).

Those scary times and more all gave me experiences in problem-solving, working together, learning to remain calm when things around me were stressful. Those times prepared me for this time we are all experiencing now. I have successfully navigated situations that required me to momentarily suspend the fear and make a plan to make it through to completion of the experience.

These steps can be applied to any situation in life. And I credit PADI, the dive training agency for my open water diver and eventually my instructor training, with the simple solution: STOP, BREATHE, THINK, ACT.

As that newly certified diver surfacing in six foot seas and lightning popping all around, the first thing I thought was, OH SHIT! The next thing I thought was…Stop, breathe, think, act.I stopped, looked around. A boat was close enough to swim to even though it wasn’t the boat I was a guest on. I took some deep breaths and then decided to swim to that boat to rest. Even though they didn’t want me to board their boat because I wasn’t a paying guest, I not-so-politely told them to get out of my way and let me board to rest. I rested, calmed myself even more and then made a plan with their dive master and the boat crew which I had to swim back to. I got my compass out, took a heading, dropped back down underneath the six foot seas and made that lonely, hard, against-the-current swim back to the boat.

That dive stands out because things happened that were unexpected…the current changed from a slight current to a raging current coming from the other direction. The surface changed from a slight chop to six foot seas. Clear skies changed to lightning-filled raging heavens. I took the conditions at the beginning of the dive for granted. Was paired with two guys I didn’t know who were there until they decided to leave me while I was doing a visual check at the surface. What I expected to remain the same didn’t…in any way. So I had to adapt and remain calm to find my way back to the boat…to home base.

During this current time, the Unknown is really all we can be sure of so I offer the PADI dive reminder….Stop….Breathe….Think….Act.

Remember how you have successfully navigated past stress and trauma with healthy coping strategies. If you haven’t used life-enhancing methods, now you are being given the opportunity to develop them.

Stop….whatever you are doing when you start to spin-out or get anxious about the future just pause your thoughts and actions. Sit down and then….

Breathe….take some nice clearing breaths focusing on your body.

Think….you are in a temporary state of heightened anxiety. Until you are calm and grounded, abstain from decision-making. Spend some time breathing and thinking about ways you can navigate this moment….not the month or the year….this moment. Make a plan for the next half hour, hour, half-day, day.

Act…once you have a well-thought plan, then take action.

When we find ourselves spinning with anxiety we can practice good self-care by developing strategies that will lead us back home to our self. Call upon all of who you are and all the past experiences where you learned vital life skills and coping mechanisms….and if you never learned them celebrate the opportunity to learn them now.

 

The Great Pause

The Great Pause

The other day as I was walking up the mountain in my solitary reverie, the idea of time arose as I wondered what day it was. Many humorous comments have been recently made by individuals suddenly removed from daily schedules about not knowing what day it is. I found myself not caring whether it was Monday or Thursday, April or March or May. I have never liked schedules or boxes as I call them. If I am free to follow the sun and stars, the weather, the chill or warmth of the air, I am most happy. Following the ebb and flow of tides, the changing of seasons seems a more natural way to be in the world. Plug me into a schedule that defies natural rhythm and I begin to get weird and jittery.

I understand that many do not appreciate that kind of relationship with time. Humans have so constrained most everything to fit into days, hours, minutes that when those structures are removed a sort of ‘lost in space’ occurs. Even time off from work is tightly orchestrated and kids have teams and lessons after school that keep them and their parents in a constant frenzy of scheduled time.

Joanna Macy wrote, “People of today relate to time in a way that is surely unique in history. The technologies and economic forces unleashed by the Industrial Growth Society radically alter our experience of time, subjecting us to frenetic speeds and severing our felt connection with past and future generations….the technologies require decisions made at lightning speed for short-term goals, cutting us off from nature’s rhythms.”

During my walking contemplation, I felt my body attune to the rhythm of Nature–spring…morning light…blooms…moving water…cool air…unfurling leaves. During this experience where the entire world has slowed down, I find myself relieved and hopeful. Perhaps we, as a collective, will remember the rhythms of Nature and open to the truth that we are part of the whole and will be happier and healthier by paying closer attention to these sacred rhythms.

Joanna writes, “This peculiar relation to time is inherently destructive of the quality and value of our lives, and of the living body of Earth. And it will intensify because the Industrial Growth Society is accelerating toward its own collapse.” But the good news is this is a time of great potential that she calls The Great Turning.

We are the ancestors of future generations that can, at this moment, steer a saner course for our planet. The Great Turning, as Joanna calls it, has three parts including slowing damage to Earth and all life, transforming foundations of common life and a fundamental shift in values and world view. Isn’t this where we find ourselves these days?

This is what gives me hope.

For as long as I can remember in this life I have known there would be something that would stop the world and make us face the path of destruction we have been on with industrialization. It is my deep hope that we will make a collective effort during this time of pause to reconnect with natural rhythms of life and recognize what is truly valuable and important and what isn’t.

To all the children

To the children who swim beneath

The waves of the sea, to those who live in

The soils of the Earth, to the children of the flowers

In the meadows and the trees in the forest, to

All those children who roam over the land

And the winged ones who fly with the winds,

To the human children too, that all the children

May go together into the future…

–Thomas Berry

 

 

Soft Edges

Soft Edges

Curves, circles, spirals. Ambling here and there, led by a turkey track, an elk rub, an otter track. No longer a slave to goals and distances.

How many turkeys? That’s not important.

How far did we walk? Who cares?

Did you see the vine hug the tree or the beaver gnaw?

The elk rub was fresh, the little hemlock victim to raging hormones of the bull.

As I drop into inner stillness I find more curves, less straight lines. Soft edges rather than razors where one slip and I am mortally wounded.

Time is non-existent in the place of soft edges Why do tears flow when I feel this truth?

And Finally, Peace Came

And Finally, Peace Came

I was working downstairs, finishing up painting started before Christmas. I took a break and went upstairs to get water and a snack and saw beautiful, fluffy snowflakes drifting gently to the ground. Finally, it’s snowing.

I grabbed my snow pants, jacket and snow boots and after quickly dressing asked Buddy if he wanted to go outside. What a silly question, right?

It was 27 degrees and snowing heavily. I couldn’t see the ridge of the Smoky Mountain National Park or any of the ridges in front of my home. We were in a complete whiteout. The only thing visible was the area around my home.

It was so quiet, especially given the strong winds that blew through after the floods two days ago. Everything stopped and was silent.

So I stopped and became silent. Not just for those few moments but from the past two years. Everything stood still inside me and I finally took a deep breath.

Two years ago I was in Ireland enjoying my most favorite place on the planet, besides the Smoky Mountains where I now live. But a lot of stuff…no, a lot of shit…has gone down between those precious days in Ireland and today on the mountain where I live, move and have my being.

Finding balance has been challenging as I feel somewhat stuck in a trauma loop. But the snow, the silence, the softness drew me inward like only the magic of winter can. Suddenly, and without warning, peace unfolded from deep within my core.

 

 

The Sky Said Yes

The Sky Said Yes

The sky said yes this morning.

Before first light clouds gathered in the east. Predawn rays kissed their bellies with brilliant orange and slowly–oh, so slowly–light came and illuminated all those gathered in the cathedral of dawn.

The sky said yes to color, clouds….to awe.