“The Cure for Pain is in the Pain.” ~ Rumi
The process of nourishing the seeds of acceptance that have been planted in our heart by the recognition of the wisdom of grief in our mind will lead us into a deeper understanding of climate grieving. That deep understanding is what the acceptance stage ‘looks’ like, and at the feeling-level, this acceptance manifests as a kind of spiritual awakening. Since collectively we are at stage four of climate grief, the process of nourishing the seeds of acceptance necessarily involves immersing ourselves in what we need to think of as ‘healthy depression.’
Of course, we know on some level that grieving is a healthy response to loss. Once we get past the denial that has prevented us from acknowledging our own and our society’s loss of an intimate connection to the natural world, to the world soul, and once we begin to see what has resulted from this unnatural state of affairs, it is naturally depressing. It is only through the grieving process that we will be able to release these natural feelings of depression. In turn, it is this release that then opens the psychological and heart space necessary for us to restore a proper relationship – to recover our own human nature.
The first step in forging the kind of spiritual cauldron that we will each require to contain, process, and release the grief we have accumulated while we’ve been asleep as a culture, and to transform ourselves into cultural healers and caregivers for the Earth, is to make room for the sacred in our hearts and in our homes, carving out a place where we can quietly work with our own precious minds for the purpose of reconnecting with something we’ve lost, or forgotten, but which has never really gone away – our own true (human) nature .
It’s like planting seeds in a garden. There is some effort in preparing the soil and choosing the seeds. But once they are in the fertile soil, we don’t ‘make’ them grow. We simply tend the garden, returning to it daily, perhaps watering it if it seems dry, and we allow the seeds to sprout, take root, grow, and bear fruit. This is much the same way we cultivate the spiritual field in our heart – by planting seeds of intention , watering those seeds with pure motivation, and nourishing them with the light of noble silence.
Establishing a meditation practice is especially useful because of the culture that we happen to be immersed in at this critical time in our social history. Modern American (now global) culture actively works to undermine spiritual contentment, since contentment undermines the kind of needy sense of inadequacy that our consumer culture depends upon. And it does this very effectively by seducing us with myriad distractions. Quiet contemplative practices are the antidote to all this cultural turmoil, and they allow us to become our own therapists, as well.
We all carry the latent suffering and psychological blockage of developmental trauma in our implicit memory, including the rupture of the nuclear age that severed us from the natural world. By allowing ourselves sacred space through mindful spiritual practice, such implicit memories will suddenly or gradually surface from the depths of our psyche. As the psychotherapist Mark Epstein points out, “the mind, by its very nature, is capable of holding trauma much the way a mother naturally relates to a baby.” The payoff is not just freeing up these blockages to relational experience and loving, but just as significantly, getting in touch with our own true nature, described by psychoanalyst Michael Eigen as follows:
“If you penetrate to the core of your aloneness you will not only find yourself, there will also be this [previously] unknown, boundless presence… at the core of your aloneness. No matter how deep you go, you’ll find it there.”
That is our true nature. It is here, in quiet moments and luminous glimpses, that we come into a kind of pure awareness which puts us in true relation with ourselves and with all that is other, with human nature and with nature herself – with the very soul of the world. In healing our psyche (lit., ‘soul’), we become whole.
(c) 2015 Zhiwa Woodbury: No reproduction of this and related pieces without express authorization from the author