Mending the Web
Meeting your Deep Ecological Self
“…Our anthropocentric society has not yet learned that the prevailing ‘separate and not equal’ worldview is killing the planet and us along with it.” Nollman quoted by Cecile Pineda in her book: Apology to a Whale – Words to Mend a World.
When I first heard the words, Ecopsychology and Deep Ecology, I knew they described me. As a practicing psychotherapist in the 1980’s I had quickly identified symptoms common to many types and ages of people, including kids: loneliness, addiction, depression, rage, fear and insecurity – the worry that I am not good enough almost ubiquitous – a profound disconnection between the head and the heart, the mind and the belly, even outright disregard for the needs of the body and a devotion to materialism as the main route to happiness. These behaviors and perspectives mounted to a pervasive modern malaise among urbanized humans in the northern hemisphere which boiled down to this:
We have been sundered from the ground of our being.
So I took clients outside to “work” by the river or in a mountain meadow. I invited them to befriend their feelings by drawing, moving, singing, praying, making masks and writing poetry. I honored their dreaming, encouraged their remembering ancestral allies, helped them find significance in the animals who showed up in their lives and the cycles of the seasons, wind/rain, the sun/moon, supported their soul’s yearning and inspired ecstatic opportunities to meet the Great Mystery of being alive.
And no surprise to me, people felt better.
I wondered how it was possible for me to recognize this cultural malaise of alienation and not succumb to it myself. Though I was mildly depressed and insecure for the first forty years of my life growing up on the East coast of North America and in an era before women’s lib, many factors contributed to saving me from the depth and breadth of this dis-ease, for which I am deeply grateful. Here are several:
*the beingness with which I was born.
*the era in which my toddlerhood unfolded. Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the “wounded” battleship Normandy which cried out to me from the NYC harbor, air raids, rationing, and the worried, horrified and empathetic conversations between my parents on which I endlessly eavesdropped.
*the family circumstances in which I was born. An only child of intellectual, bitter, and argumentative parents – without extended family- we moved to the Philadelphia suburbs when I was three. I saved my soul by retreating to the backyard and the companionship of my dog. The wood beyond the gate of my Philadelphia suburban yard became my sanctuary where I found beauty, mystery and amazement, as well as devastating grief when I was thirteen. Then, with no warning, the wood was clear cut for building the first ticky-tacky neighborhood.
*the creative juice which flowed despite obstacles.
So when I first heard the terms Ecopsychology and Deep Ecology I realized they described my fundamental nature – yours too – and helped me understand why I had been drawn to work with clients in the ways I did.
Now, I invite you to join me, and a small team of others, for a day spent healing the rupture between us and everything else. Explore Deep Ecology for yourself.
Saturday, September 30th, 2017
Grace Church, 8595 NE Day Rd, Bainbridge Island
10 am – 5 pm
Fee: donation to local organizations
“When one thinks like a mountain,
one thinks also like the black bear,
so that honey dribbles down your fur
as you catch the bus to work.”
Robert Aitken Roshi, Zen Buddhist teacher (from Thinking Like a Mountain- Towards a Council of All Beings by Joanna Macy, John Seed, Pat Fleming and Arne Naess –
In this time of planetary need, we are being asked to mature as a species
by developing our deep ecological awareness,
or what theologian Thomas Berry calls, our “shamanic personality.”
This requires healing our relations with all other beings,
dispelling the illusion that we are separate from the rest of God’s creation, healing the splits within ourselves, and
making a commitment to preserve diversity, natural systems and beauty,
not out of moral duty,
but because it is our fundamental nature as humans
to honor and hold sacred the world that makes our lives possible
To mend the web, ( both inner and outer ) we will make masks of non-human beings,
could be rock, river, grasshopper, giraffe, dandelion or bear,
and then sit in council speaking from their perspectives, witnessing as caring humans and learning from the other in often surprising ways.
* deepen our appreciation of the evolutionary path that has brought us to this moment and explore the significance of the term “Gaia”,
* inspire our imaginations and honor intuition,
* experience the power of the natural world to help us connect with a non-human,
*make a mask to represent that other being,
*sit in council as we speak from the other’s perspective while learning to listen from the heart of the human.
*Probable outcomes: Receiving insight, deepening wisdom, experiencing the sacredness of all life and, supported by compassionate community, expanding our sense of a more whole and authentic Self-hood, thus strengthening our personal capacity to give voice to our unique truths.
All this contributes to our ability to re-story our current culture
as well as our identity as modern humans, thus
mending the web as we imagine new ways of being on earth.
.Contact Deborah Milton to register and for more information. firstname.lastname@example.org 206-780-9714
List of what to bring:
*Cash or check to contribute to one of these organizations. Suggested donation is $20 or more:
West Sound Wildlife Shelter
Bainbridge Island Land Trust
Friends of the Farm
*sack lunch and/or finger foods to share
*crafty items to share: beads, yarn, string, ribbon, feathers, small pebbles/shells, glue gun if you have one and/or masking tape, scissors, markers, crayons.
We will provide extras of everything AND the paper and basic shape templates.
*journal and pen
*wear comfortable old clothing and something appropriate for spending a bit of time outside.