• Haaweatea Bryson

Eco-Anxiety - Do you feel it?

With the intensity of 2010 in Haiti, Indonesia, Chile, Los Angeles, Tibet, and the volcanic eruption in Iceland we're experiencing drastic and dramatic feedback from the planet. We're confronted on a world-wide scale in quick succession. If the earth could speak a human language, what does a volcanic eruption say?

What's really happening, not solely in our surroundings, but within each of us?

In what way is the planet currently a mirror, yes for our collective, but importantly for you personally? You have an intimate connection with life, and you are natural and a deep requirement of the earths current system.

Ecopsychology speaks to our intimacy in our human-nature relationship,

This field of research delves into healing the human-nature relationship, starting with acknowledging 'the Big Lie' - that we are separate from nature. Our human-nature relationship greatly affects our mental and physical health. The earth isn't here for our sustenance and resources. It is part of everything we are; essential for our sense of self, peace, belonging, purpose, mental health and our fundamental aliveness.

We are so deeply a part of nature, that if we allow the experience of this reality, we're likely to encounter grief, pain, or despair in response to natures continuing destruction. The grief associated with the human-nature relationship has played a huge role in keeping ourselves separate.

Our fear is if we are to feel this intimacy, we would be overwhelmed with helplessness and despair. Deep ecologist Johanna Macey calls this "environmental grief". The process is similar to what happens experiencing a traumatic event.

Following trauma, the body's self-preserving mechanism is to dissociate, blocking associations from consciousness. Our subconscious holds the experience and nervous energy due to the freeze response. It doesn't disappear. It's displaced in our behaviour. i.e. avoidance and denial, and reactions of acute stress, i.e. anxiety, distress, and 'numbing out'.

Our grief keeps us withdrawn from our relationship with the earth. It keeps us mentally split from the interconnectedness of who we are as nature itself.

Trauma is essentially any experience which overwhelms an individual's ability to cope or integrate what happened. We avoid our intrinsic, human-nature relationship due to our inability to integrate what this would mean regarding our destruction of the planet (remembering destruction is only one polarity).

To save ourselves from feeling the grief associated with our connection, we create numerous ways and methods to separate, alienate and put great distance between us and nature.

Although we may 'succeed' with our alienation or avoidance, the subconscious still holds the displaced energy. Thus,we still experience anxiety and a range of seemingly 'uncontrollable' emotions. The term for this is Eco-anxiety.

Eco-anxiety may also be what many experience in response to the global natural disasters, and regarding the phenomenon of "2012", "the new earth", "the Mayan end of time", "the planetary shift" "the Aquarian Age" and more.

As the planet speaks, there is a deep subconscious fear elicited across humanity for what this means. We always feel the repercussion of what is happening in our environment on some level, even if it's dissociated. You may experience eco-anxiety as anxiousness, distress, fear, loss of safety, or increased need for control.

What is deeply needed for each one of us is a re-earthing. We need to come back into contact - into true relationship - with our surroundings, acknowledge the effect it has on us, and sense the reciprocal exchange and responsibility.

We can begin small; taking off our shoes, stepping into a garden, walking somewhere new, accepting and releasing a deep breath, looking at our pet with slightly larger eyes...

To re-earth is to reestablish the balance within our own bodies; the food we eat, what we drink, what we are made up of in our very cells, our blood and our hair. It is to realize, to remember that we are nature. We are intricately connected to everything in existence, and non-duality is expansive.

Every aspect of the natural world - even the cockroach - relates to us in some way, an archetype, an aspect. What we don't like in the cockroach, we also avoid in ourselves. We can relate to the natural landscape, its inhabitants and aspects in numerous ways. In effect, it's a mirror into your own psyche, your own lens, and your own heart. What we fear in the wild, we fear in our own wildness. What we admire in the wilderness, we have free reign to, simply in who we are.

Until we accept our natural world, we can't truly love and accept ourselves. So long as we ignore the elements, and our natural spaces, we alienate ourselves from our own living connection.

Re-membering isn't an "aha" moment. It becomes real in our very bodies again. Our connection brings a deep safety, a full acceptance, a belonging previously craved, a spaciousness, a relaxing, a feeling of being understood. Moving through grief and overwhelm to reach this doorway is worth it, as the pain of connection, guides us home, right to it's heart.

And if you're still not sure how to begin; The University of Essex in the UK found that connecting with nature, a simple walk in nature, was as powerful as anti-depressant medication in cases of mild to moderate depression.

"This may not sound really earth-shattering - but it really is for the field of psychotherapy, as so much medication is prescribed for mild and moderate depression. What if we could get the results we want without any of the side effects or expense of the medication, simply by helping people reconnect with nature in their areas."

~ PRI (Public Radio Internationals) Living on Earth Series, Feb 22, 2010.

Read the full article at http://www.pri.org/health/mental-health-through-nature1884.html

Joanna Macy outlines four stages to this in her Work That Reconnects;

1. Opening to gratitude,

2. Honouring and owning our pain for the world,

3. Seeing with new eyes,

4. Going forth

Access Joanna Macy's renowned work with personal and social change and our disconnection and awakening here.

#ecopsychology #ecoanxiety #anxiety #psychology #earth #joannamacey


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