I had this realization about five years ago, whilst trekking in the Cairngorn mountains in Scotland. Many times I have found spending days and days out in nature without contact with people brings about great insights, and this was one of them. It was reinforced by the experience of yesterday evening.
I am on a year long Work that Reconnects facilitation programme, learning a particular technique to reconnect people to the Earth. By voicing our pain for what we see happening in our world, we go on to feel empowered and motivated to take action. Knowledge of what is happening to our ecosystems as they are being destroyed, species wiped out and children dying from starvation is not enough. Knowledge does not change behavior – in fact it can have the opposite impact by overwhelming us so much we close down. To change, we need to connect in with our feelings.
For us British folk, the thought of connecting in with our feelings can be really daunting. Most people are coping with the current global crisis in one of two ways. They are either shutting down because its too difficult to bear – carrying on as if it’s business as usual and busying themselves in order to distract themselves. Others are so overwhelmed with all the destruction that they just don’t know where to turn, where best to focus their energies and, as a result, they don’t feel empowered to take action. Many of us are acting out both of these at the same time.
Both reactions are entirely understandable, but neither are going to help us help the Earth, reverse the devastation that we are causing on our planet and ensure the survival of our species.
Often people fear expressing their pain for the world, But when we bring our fears into the open, they lose their power to haunt us. The fear of suffering is far greater than the suffering itself.
Yesterday evening I led a practice for cultivating compassion. For the healing of our world we need to stay open, be present to our world and all that it is going through. This is a great necessity, a great secret and a great freedom. We honoured our pain for what we see happening around us, and then we journeyed to an animal spirit guide to seek guidance on how we can help in what is being heralded as ‘The Great Turning’.
In this time of great planetary destruction there is also great planetary communication. We are moving from a shift of worldwide views from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life Sustaining Society. Those that walk the Earth path have a great role to play in this shift, and we can connect in with our guides to learn how we can best serve in that role.
I was amazed by the insights that some of my friends shared. So often we can be tempted to look afar, and wonder how we can help solve big problems which are far away from us both physically and from our sphere of influence. But, when we open our eyes, we see immediately around us in our communities, there is huge work to be done.
This work is every bit as important as those big global issue we see, and directly in our control to change, if we work along side others in our community. And if everyone worked on their community, then just imagine what an extraordinary place we would live in. Now there is a dream us shamanic practitioners can dream into being.
For more information about the process I followed in this session I can thoroughly recommend the book ‘Active Hope’ co-authored by Joanna Macey and Chris Johnson. The book, packed with guidance on how to facilitate the Work that Reconnects, describes how to strengthen our capacity to respond to planetary crisis.