A Piece of the Solution
— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —
There is something new brewing and we can all contribute to it…
In our Conservation Conversations, we explore many aspects of how we connect to animals and nature, but this last conversation was an unusual one. We explored the idea that we humans are the source of environmental destruction, and the cause of our destructive behavior is trauma. Generations and generations of trauma. Trauma that closes us down and closes our minds to other options. Makes us compartmentalize our thinking to keep ourselves safe from the chaos of fear. Makes us focus on the present, and stops us from seeing the consequences of our actions. Because we don’t feel safe, we develop a need for control and certainty. This trauma began with the advent of agriculture and the “colonization” of the land as a commodity for our use rather than as the source of life. We were all indigenous peoples once.
The Good News: As we begin to understand the depth and consequences of trauma, we are finding new and creative ways to not just overcome it, but to thrive, in deep creativity and harmony with the natural order of things – with the power of our Earth, and Life, as support.
But first we have to feel safe. Only then can we unhook from the patterns we developed for our emotional survival that prevent us from being our full, heartfull selves. And as many of us have experienced, we feel safe in nature. Unjudged. Somehow supported. Nature can serve as a safe community, one made up of other living beings, as we begin to heal. When we reconnect with Mother Earth, something shifts in our compartmentalized and frozen energy and we can begin to flow. Many of us know this instinctively when we go to nature to restore ourselves, enhance our personal creativity, or find creative solutions to problems. We have what it takes – it is innate in all of us. Everything we need is already there.
As we tap into ancient knowledge, or the insights of great science, we tune to processes that are powerfully creative–and creativity is the essence of life. From there flows information and wisdom. From there, we can begin to create a new story; find startling new solutions. We begin to be energized, not by uncontrolled emotions but by spirituality. There is something new brewing and we can all contribute to it. We all carry a piece of the solution and as we share our truths, something bigger emerges. As we release the old–and our need for control–it creates space for new ideas to fill the space, and we flourish.
Another perspective from the conversation: when we go into nature we are usually only aware of what we see–the trees, plants, earth. But ancient and current wisdom says we are also being seen. Each living thing has its own awareness. Recognizing this, seeing and being seen, puts us into relationship–into an interchange. Then we can receive new types of information that we usually don’t access with our daily mind.
And one more wonderful way of seeing things: Usually we are in our abstract brain, busy busy. But nature is in its own time, one we evolved with. So it speaks directly to our old brain and our limbic system, that level of our emotions and instincts below our human intelligence; it speaks to a deeper, slower, life-based wisdom. A place where we can perceive things from many differing dimensions. Feeling safe, we can allow our heart and spirit to open and soar and connect. Life is, after all, a massive celebration and exploration and explosion of creativity. Let’s participate in it, wholeheartedly.
Many of these thoughts are the result of the work of John Thompson, who is both a trauma psychologist, and has worked extensively with the aborigines of Australia and taking people out on the land for healing. You can find out more about his thinking at www.neurotribe.com.
Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.