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Ecopsychology – The Human Factor as Healing for Global Warming

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Global Warming Crisis and Ecopsychology

That the earth is in crisis is not new news. Issues of war, poverty, natural disasters, rainforest depletion, polar ice caps disappearing….is the stuff of front page news. Economically, politically, socially and environmentally we face monumental  challenges. Planetary malaise is evident in the quantity and magnitude of natural disasters experienced recently: tsunamis of mega proportions, massive hurricanes, raging forest fires and intense earthquakes that provide mounting evidence that something is out of balance.  There are viable scientific explanations for these crises – global warming as a result of ozone depletion being the prime reason. But that is one perspective only.  Human culpability in the plight of our ecosystem is another aspect of this destruction. It  is the realm of a relatively new discipline called Ecopsychology which investigates this human involvement and offers a way out of the complex maze in which  we find ourselves embedded.

The Human Factor – our disconnection from “the living planet that nurtures us”

The large human footprint of civilization has exacted a huge toll on nature and disrupted the harmonious balance between all beings on this planet. Our consuming compulsions escalate at alarming rates despite global economic downturns. We drive gas guzzling vehicles that deplete fossil fuels. We pollute our atmosphere, our rivers and streams with industrial and household waste from our bloated living. Through our disruption of the innate order of nature, the vital  diversity of numerous species of  animals and flora are ravaged to extinction.   Environmentalists have admonished such behavior and pointed out repeatedly our collective shameful conduct. Yet we act as if we are immune to and isolated from the consequences of our behavior and  that we are deaf to the warnings. What is at the bottom of such insanity? What is the compulsion  that drives our behavior to the brink of our own destruction?  Can we change in time to reverse the effects of our unconscious behavior? Is change the answer?

In his book, The Voice of the Earth, Theodore Roszak, founder of a new environmental discipline called Ecopsychology,  points to our disconnection from “the living planet that nurtured us” as the cause of our irrational conduct. Through the deifying of technology, science and materialism, we have become disconnected from our ecological unconscious which he defines as   “the living record of cosmic evolution, tracing  back to initial conditions in the history of time”.  He is referring to the very beginnings of our universal existence, our primordial connection to Gaia –a connection that our ancestral cultures intimately honored and respected for the vitality and harmonious existence  it provided.

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Power Over vs Co-operation

Our industrial-social heritage has embedded a pejorative view of nature in the human psyche which calls for a stance of ‘dominance over’ in our relationship with the natural world. Such a frame of reference allows little room for  any meaningful, respectful and equal interaction with the cosmos and invites conflictual, anxiety-driven interface with nature, Gaia and in fact, with God.  We are closed to “the true ‘doors of perception’, [and] there is so very much we can no longer ‘see’”.   Roszak offers that “Our sense of being split off from an “outer” world where we find no companionable response has everything to do with our obsessive need to subjugate and conquer”.  This is indeed what we see in the insatiable appetite to consume. People admit when they are given the chance to reflect on their behavior that they feel better when they buy a new electronic gadget, car, clothing. It is not so much about deliberately  deciding to destroy the environment as it is about the momentary sense of  having some power and control over their world that brings  tranquility and fills a nebulous void.  But much like an addictive ‘high’, the feeling is not sustainable as the law of diminishing returns encourages escalation of the behavior and actually models the deeper problem of  disconnection.

The Multi-Dimensional Perspective from modern madness to ecological sanity

From the perspective of Ecopsychology,  consumerism and its devastating consequences is  not a physiological issue that can be filled with material possessions and satisfied by our perceived ability to hold power over our environment. It is a spiritual problem whose solution lies in a loving and compassionate reconnection to nature that in turn heals and fills the inner void with true sustenance. Ecopsychology  seeks to homogenize the imperatives of the environmental movement with the technology of our modern heritage. It suggests a synthesis of  psychological and ancestral perspectives to  provide a pathway through our modern madness to personal and ecological sanity. From the view of Ecopsychology, the two are integrally connected – when we find our personal sanity, ecological sanity will emerge. Roszak suggests that although modern psychology is in service to science and is disconnected from its ancestral roots, the historically philosophical nature of this discipline has as its essential purpose the healing of the wounded soul  and thus it is the obvious tool to use.  By healing the individual wounded soul, the pandemic of unhappiness, discontent and fear that is reflected in our insatiable consumption and results in environmental disequilibrium has potential for healing.

“…when we know ourselves, we know the universe…”

In his book,  Quantum Mind, Dr. Arnold Mindell  explains our intimate connection with all that is around us and in us:   “…when we know ourselves, we know the universe and when we know the universe, we know ourselves.”  Thus, when we change our internal relationship and come to know more of ourselves, we  expand our knowledge of  the universe.  What then would we project  onto our external reality in the world?  If we experience self-honor and self-respect and are at peace with ourselves, would we not  give and receive that in the world?

The possibility to turn around the degeneration of our ecology comes not from the arrogance of our belief that we as humans have the potential to externally change the course of global evolution but from our potential and capability to recognize that we have the personal freedom to enter into a new, respectful relationship with our external world…and in particular, nature.  We can choose to hear Gaia in a new way and make new choices that are in harmony with her needs for sustainability on a global scale. In so doing, we play in the quantum field of universal harmony and surface lasting change that is good for all.

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When we re-vision our relationship with multidimensional reality we emerge a natural desire for greater simplicity and no longer need to consume to fill our emptiness and engender a false sense of happiness. What surfaces in this new connection with ourselves and source is an authentic happiness that is both sustainable and healing…..there is choice and we are the purveyors of that choice – what do you choose?

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One Response

  1. […] Rec and Sports placed an interesting blog post on Ecopsychology – The Human Factor as Healing for Global Warming Here’s a brief overviewThrough our disruption of the innate order of nature, the vital  diversity of numerous species of  animals and flora are ravaged to… […]

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