Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

More potent than the most virulent tirades from flaming climate deniers, are the silent thoughts that circle in our minds and negate even our greenest intentions. It takes trained attention to catch these thoughts. Right now, for instance, I am about to go grocery shopping at Whole Foods. Only a few miles away. No objective reasons for why I can’t bike. Still, my mind is already made up:

I am going to drive. Don’t ask me to be good. Don’t ask me to be green. I don’t feel up to it. Need to be pampered. Out of sight, out of mind. Plus I am angry about stuff. Can’t deal with all that other shit. I fall back on what’s familiar, what I know best. Can’t, don’t want to make the extra effort. Right now, it is just me, me. Could care less about the planet, and what’s going to happen in ten, even a few years from now. It is too much work. I want simple. No room for other considerations. 

See what I mean?

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Someone very dear to me has been reminding me that nature’s got its ways, and that we, humans better listen. Someone very dear to me is suffering from a weakened heart, as a result of too much exercise and not enough food. She was in the hospital two weeks ago, and got out, barely out of the danger zone. Forgot the doctors’ orders, and started walking, and biking all over town, like before. A visit to the doctor yesterday brought some sobering news. My loved one’s heart is showing signs of weakening again, and a second hospitalization is on the horizon. That, she does not want. The memory of her first stay in the hospital, and how horrendous that felt, is still very fresh. Finally, she is hearing what her heart has been trying to tell her, and she is taking steps to heal. It’s taken that much for her behavior to change. 

My point is we can only ignore nature’s callings for so long. Our planet is heating up, sending us distress signals all over the place. Many of us are listening, but not really. It is business as usual. Driving, flying, whenever we feel like it. Firing up new coal plants to power our consumption habits. Building new and bigger homes. Drilling for more oil. Eating daily Happy Meals. Like my loved one, we need an experience akin to her first hospital stay. Something extremely unpleasant, that makes clear, the connection between our old behavior and the inevitability of personal disaster if we do not change. 

Of course, this begs the question of, can anything be done to change such a course of events? Can humans be reasoned into a wiser course of action, sooner, and without having to pay the unnecessary costs of  their foolishness? Psychology teaches us that the first step is to become conscious of our thoughts and our actions. There needs to be a public discourse around the personal dimension of climate denial. I have spent many posts in this blog, exploring that aspect, using myself as subject for such self-exploration. That is just a start. Other psychologists, journalists, bloggers, meditators, need to jump in and expose further, the various mental blocks of the climate denying mind.

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Talking about ‘I’ versus ‘Us’, Gabriel Halpern, my yoga teacher from way back, used to have us meditate on the fact that we are all breathing the same air. I remember my first reaction to be one of disgust. You mean, I am actually taking in some of the air exhaled by the stinky homeless at the other end of the park! There was also something strangely comforting about the idea, to do with the realization that we are all bathing in the same communal ether. How is that for sharing? The illusion of being separate, and having our own space is just that, an illusion. Yet, it is how I feel. There is ‘I’, and there is the rest of the world. It’s called boundaries. It is necessary to retain a healthy sense of self. And it stops being useful, when it turns the world into a collection of closed individual systems. This mistaken reality is directly at odds with what we know from biology, that we are all interrelated and part of a series of related ecosystems, made up of other humans, animals, plants, and nature in general. I am left wondering, how come I feel so disconnected, then. What happened?

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In the Clouds, Sitting Watch Over Paradise‘, the front page article in yesterday’s New York Times, introduced me to the fascinating world of Mike Gates, one of the remaining 800 lookouts in the United States. Mr. Gates lives high up in a shack atop the mountain. His job is to spend most of his waking hours, scanning the Lake Tahoe landscape for possible fire smoke. Like him, I have been spending a lot of my time lately, scanning the landscape, and looking out for evidence. The only difference is, I am looking inside, trying to stay mindful of all the thoughts, feelings, that keep me in a state of Green Girl Wannabe.

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