Step 7: Take Breaks & Rest When You Need To

Good Evening Grievers,

I’ll recap our Step 7 – but first, some updates.

1) Victoria, Aimee, & I are headed to California for the Ecopsychology Conference. There’s still room in the car to travel with us – do you want to come? It’s this next weekend and will be amazing, for sure. If you’re interested in purchasing a “Good Grief” T-shirt, they’re still for sale. We’ll use the money to help us get to and from Petaluma.

2) I’d love for you to participate in the conversation concerning the pilot program, please fill out this doodle poll and let me know what time/day works for you.

3) The website is coming along – still tons of work to do, but check it out if you have a second.

Good Grief Group

Join Kinde, of New Moon Rites of Passage, for her biannual Grief Tending Ritual.

It’s free. It’s a the Great Salt Lake. It’s on March 20 at 6pm. Move some of that stuffed grief in community.


Now, A Recap of Step 7’s Fruitful Discussion. There’s a lot here, so grab your cup of coffee or tea and find a comfy seat.

-Joanna Macy shares about “The Coming of the Kingdom of Shambala” and being a Shambala Warrior. It’s a Tibetan Prophecy that mirror’s the place our civilization is in now.
We need two tools to help us get through this time – Compassion and Insight (into the radical interconnectedness of life). We need both – and both tools are available to each of us. (The text version of this prophecy.)
It’s important to view our current circumstances as “they are what they are.” A fish, for example, doesn’t see the water that makes up the ocean as a circumstance – it just is. Our goal, our objective, is to deal with the current circumstances – it’s a part of our lives. We cannot pretend that the circumstances are our enemy, they are what they are. It’s what surrounds us, it’s the platform from which we operate. Can we find ways to not get so caught up that we forget to take a break and care for ourselves?

-The topic of death resurfaced time and time again during this step. How do we learn to accept our own death? The death of the air, the water, the soil? Of species? Can we come to terms with what death means – and not be held captive by our fear of mortality?

Note: Please read this publication about Death Anxiety and Climate Change “The People Paradox: Self-Esteem Striving, Immortality Ideologies, and Human Response to Climate Change”
It explains, it foresees demagogues like Trump.

Roy Scranton (Veteran, Author and Professor of English at Notre Dame University) has written about this subject a lot. I was first drawn to him by reading “Learning How To Die in the Anthropocene.” An exploration of how, as a solider, he told himself every morning that he was already dead. There wasn’t anything else to lose – and in doing so, freed himself of the fear of death. This is how we must operate during these times…
“The choice is a clear one. We can continue acting as if tomorrow will be just like yesterday, growing less and less prepared for each new disaster as it comes, and more and more desperately invested in a life we can’t sustain. Or we can learn to see each day as the death of what came before, freeing ourselves to deal with whatever problems the present offers without attachment or fear.
If we want to learn to live in the Anthropocene, we must first learn how to die.”

If you like this article, consider reading his book: Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization.

The book No Fear, No Death was also suggested.

Fear is an obstruction – from taking meaningful action, from being fully alive and connected. When have a healthy relationship with death, we are freer to live with integrity and to show up. It’s our decision: What will YOUR personal legacy be?

-Why do we, as individuals, take the blame for cultural problems? Why are we the scapegoat for a destructive culture? Why is it on us to protect our public lands – as if oil & gas exploration is a given, but preserving ecosystems and open space is not? As individuals, we hold the burdens of true conservation. It seems backwards.
We’re also great at putting people into boxes – of assigning roles to folks. If we cannot label people, it makes us uncomfortable. Why must we pigeon-hole each other?

We’re not practiced in sitting in silence. We must always be “doing” something. If we’re doing – it doesn’t allow us space/time to explore the powerlessness we sometimes feel. It’s a distraction. But, our bodies and souls react. They start to shut down. They scream at us to take care of ourselves.

How do we unplug? How do we take a break?
Can we limit our time on social media? Can we sleep without phones or screens in our bedroom? Can we get out of our heads and into our bodies? Take walks. Get into nature. Take a day of rest – observe the Sabbath. Take a day without technology – reduce our dependence on technology. Take breaks from the news. Find liberally-minded folks to decompress with.

A breakdown forces us into a break. Before this happens, can we pay attention to our bodies, our feelings? Can we be proactive so breakdowns don’t happen?
During these breaks, do not compare your action (or inaction) to others. We must learn when we are pushing ourselves too much – or not enough. We must learn to not give into the pressure from other activists. This requires self reflection – you know yourself best. As activist, we can be more productive if we’re selective and protective of our time.

Physical time in nature also allows silence and allows us to reconnect with the natural rhythms of the planet. All of the shit happening with Trump is noise, distraction. Reconnecting to the natural world also allows us to reconnect with ourselves. We can feel the connections and hope. A sense of peace – an ability to see the bigger picture.

There are authors trying to combine activism with spiritual practices. Folks like Andrew Harvey (The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism) are trying to teach us how to live in harmony – how to fight the good fight with resiliency. (He & Carolyn Baker have a book called Return To Joy, which is worth check out, too.)

Some think that the noise of this western world is reaching a fever pitch – the tide is changing. We’re at a breaking point where the culture (as a whole) needs to let more quiet in. We’re desperate for it.
We’re getting to a point where our hearts are breaking open. No longer is it just “bleeding liberals” experiencing this – all types of folks across the board are seeing animal cruelty, social justice, ICE deportations, mass violence, species extinction, weather catastrophes — and we’re feeling it. When our hearts break open, the light comes in.

Back to the benefits of nature: How can we make more time and put more energy into BEING? Into recognizing we’re a part of this world? Have you heard of the Shumann Resonance — It’s the pulse of the earth. Humans are in sync with this electrical impulse – or at least we can be. We have a few tools to help us reconnect or remember our connection to the natural world.
One tool that we learned while working with Andrea Bernstein, Shamanic Practitioner, is to take deep breaths. Imagine extending the base of your spine through the layers of the earth’s crust. Imagine that it reaches the molten lava at the core. Next, bring some of that molten lava up from your spine and into your body. Feel the pulse of the planet move through you. Feel grounded. When you feel recharged, imagine pulling your spine back up to it’s original position. The connection stays.

Another form of healing/connection can take place through sensory deprivation tanks. By removing stimulation, we can force our minds into a theta state. Years of meditation can also bring you here – but this is the place of creativity. Of calm and healing.

-It’s important to see the connection between our treatment of the environment and our systemic racial issues. When we position ourselves as superior to the natural world, to animals, to a certain type of folks, we severe the connection. We separate ourselves in an interconnected world. Have you seen “I Am Not Your Negro?” We give up so much of being alive and love, by creating “other.”

-I’m gonna say it – but Capitalism is a huge issue. It leads to disconnection – to a narrow-minded understanding of what our lives are supposed to be like. We can boycott products made by assholes (which helps), but we need to envision an economic system that is beyond capitalism. That is beyond exploitation – of both people and then natural world. It’s discouraging to balance personal choice with an economic system based on the oppression of some while others gain. (Check this article out: Conscious consumerism is a lie. Here’s a better way to help save the world)
(Also see Capitalism Must Die! A basic introduction to capitalism: what it is, why it sucks, and how to crush it by Stephanie McMillan)

It’s not difficult to see that if Clinton had made it into office, we would have continued business as usual. We would have had little to no progress on the climate change front. At least with Trump, he’s fucking things up so badly that it’s nearly impossible to look away. If each of us are not committed to change yet, we will be in a short while. He’s hastening our destruction. The illusions are gone – it’s ugly, but real.

It’s time for a change.

Pulitzer Prize winning Journalist Chris Hedges wrote a book about the power of illusion that this culture holds before it collapses. He also has a recent article worth delving into: “The Elites Won’t Save Us.
I heard him speak in 2014 at the “Earth At Risk” Conference. You can see the video here.

*In sum, Taking breaks is important – there is a lot going on. We must recognize when our bodies and minds are telling us to take breaks. We must be acquainted with death. We must envision that our economy, the western world, can be different. We must continue to build community.*

Okay – enough for today.

Thanks for reading.

With Gratitude,

-Laura

P.S. Here’s a Brainpickings article about Rebecca Solnit‘s book, Hope in the Dark (and social movements in general).

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