Please Note: Often times I do not include ‘the’ in front of Earth. This is a conscious choice for me. For many cultures and societies this is not a choice, but a worldview based on relationship with Earth. One reason for writing this way is to entice readers into a new language, therefore informing a different relationship and way of speaking about Earth. Instead of objectifying ‘the Earth’, I invite readers to consider Earth and all beings present on the planet as they are: living organisms in co-relationship with humans. Readers could try this on by considering a simple shift in language – Earth, Mother, Sister, Brother, Father. This is instead of the Earth, the Brother, the Sister etc that creates space and a separation between self and ‘the Sister’, a slight objectification and separation between myself and ‘the Earth’. This is a subtle action that requires either a degree of consciousness and connection, or a worldview that is inclusive and in relationship with all relations that make up this blue green planet. Try it on!
Earth is under a significant stress.
We all have a responsibility to address the environmental crisis, however – how does one begin to care for someone or something if there is no relationship or connection?
I include dialog about Earth, the natural environment, nature as part of this Living Yoga Blog because the health of our planet resides in our relationship with it and I think yoga could support people imbedded in Western society re-aquaint and foster relationship with Earth. The translation of the Sanskrit term Yoga is ‘to yoke, union’ – a practice that acknowledges the often fragmented parts of a complex web of interconnected and interrelated systems. Although a practice for human beings, all the major Yogic texts invite the yogi into a journey to one’s true self. When I think of union within yoga, I think of union with all relations.
Michael Stone (2009) states:
The existential integrity of humans and the natural world comes through Samadhi, the complete integration of subject and object, where we gain insight into the complete contingency of “nature” and “person”…We must look at the relationship between sustainability and idealistic ethical principles. They must bond. The necessities of nourishing our minds and bodies and living ethically must come together in a way that creates harmony and not discord. (p. 69)
Yoga is a practice that can support humans coming into closer connection with the planet. With the establishment of that connection, action needs to follow, new choices:
A movement that is inclusive of both human and planetary vision and sustainability.
The practice of yoga invites people to turn their gaze inward, to observe the breath, to notice subtle shifts and sensations. I consider this to be a way of listening. Below is a letter I wrote to Earth, inspired by the tragic floods that took place in Calgary, Alberta spring 2013. I invite you to read it and consider your responsibilities as a steward to this planet.
I am writing to acknowledge the tears you shed over the land and communities of Southern Alberta. We call it ‘climate change.’ You may call it your reaction to the trauma inflicted upon your skeleton, flesh, lungs, and vasculature. I notice that Your humbling tide of water flooded parts of the country where much of the natural wealth has been extracted for monetary gain. I want to speak to a Teaching I see You offering: water is strength in softness.
I modestly accept my responsibility to listen – as a woman, a steward of this planet, and a person who has the honour of deep connection to your moods and cycles – and I concede that listening involves hearing with more than my ears. Over the years in relationship, You have taught me the valuable pathway of intuitive knowledge and awareness, often not readily trusted in our ‘modern’ society.
Within your recent wave of water an opportunity arises to respond to gaps in the relationship between human society and Your biosphere – to stop denying the reality of the interconnections between these systems. You have taught me that nothing exists and no event occurs in isolation – everything is informed by the present moment.
The question is, are we paying attention and truly listening to the warning signs of the present moment? I recently read a saying that, “the environmental crisis facing this planet is like the canary in the mineshaft of modern society” (Coates, 2003, p. 1). Do You remember when canaries were used in early coalmines because the mines lacked ventilation systems? Miners brought the bird down into the mineshaft because canaries are especially sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide, which made them ideal for detecting life threatening gas build ups – as long as the canary kept singing, the air supply for miners was safe. If the canary died – an immediate evacuation was necessary. This is a powerful metaphor to apply to our modern day situation: Rachel Carson called it the ‘silent spring,’ but now we could call it a ‘wet spring’! As a ‘canary’, You are providing warning signs: the non-odorous, silent, and colourless gas in the mineshaft of human society is slowly suffocating the Planet. In Your own language, You have been asking us to respond and to change our ways – but it appears humans have dissociated from the language of the planet.
I hear You asking for humans to shift worldviews and consciousness! Presently, the most prominent worldview of the Earth comes from a culture obsessed with power, progress, and material accumulation – and all of these addictions come with a cost to You. These forces inform discourse and policies that undermine Your integrity and contribute to environmental injustices and violations, causing the pillage and demise of Your dignity – this must be traumatizing!
I see Your Teaching as an invitation to humans – embrace this opportunity to shift consciousness in order to support the emergence of new worldviews. Even Albert Einstein heard You and recognized the gift we have lost to listen to you. He quoted:
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
The way I see it, the gifts of consciousness and intuition are present to support us to trust in uncertainty, connection, engagement in creative process and possibilities, listening, and conscious action. These are the soft gifts that provide and support strength in challenging times, like water that is soft to the touch but often underestimated, holding power and strength beyond measure. The rational mind needs to make space for ‘the gift’ to play a stronger role in future choices humans make on Your behalf.
I take a stand in Your honour and it is time for this society do something radical – listen. Listen with heart; with sensation. Feel; observe. We need to listen to You and to one another, a deep visceral experience of listening beyond wavelengths of sound.
Within this Teaching, we need to slow down in order to return to the reality of life’s rhythms that support authentic observations of our surroundings.
To do this, I ask You Mother Earth to please have patience with our process as we hopefully learn to reside within uncertainty. And in return, I will invite others to generate relationship with You, to listen to Your voice, and to choose actions to take a stand on Your behalf.
Your resilience is the spirit of human potential –
To view additional posts inclusive of the natural environment and yogic values and philosophy, please go to the Home Page of this bloand within the Categories that can be seen in the lower right column of the page, click on the Natural Environment.