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The Gulf Oil Spill – A Prayer for Healing

The Gulf of Mexico under siege

As images of oil-soaked wildlife and dead dolphins and birds  from the Gulf oil spill monopolize the media, it is hard to articulate the cascade of emotions that flow into consciousness –  first it is shock and horror, then incredulity that such a disaster could happen in America in the 21st century, then shame at being part of the species who visited this apocalypse on the innocent; then it seems to settle into a deep inexpressible heart sadness that the unimaginable and unspeakably ugly unfolding of this nightmare managed to survive into the light of day and become reality.  There is just no way to get around its presence….and its long-term life-altering effects…for the people who depend on the bounty of the Gulf, for the wildlife who are threatened and for a planet once again under siege.

As a young child, I remember the terrifying experience of my father dying suddenly. I would often go to sleep at night with the distinct impression that I had somehow slipped into some parallel universe and that when I next opened my eyes I would have returned to an upright world where my father was still alive and the other experience was simply a bad dream.  As I found out time and again, that was not the case – reality was reality and no matter how much I wanted it to be different, it never was….eventually I learned to deal with it and although my life was irretrievably altered, the new norm simply became my life.  That is how it seems the death of a pristine ecosystem will affect this nation and we cannot deny it.

My Florida Playground

I found myself in tears this morning as witness to the devastation that was about to slink its slimy way into the backyard of my Florida playground. I no longer live there -at least not in my physical and present incarnation- but I discovered that in my memory I always believed it to be a place that  would never change and would always be there. Even if I never physically returned to the serenity of a walk along Venice Beach, the antics of the manatees at Homosassa Springs, the splendor of the setting sun over St. Pete Beach as I sat with a close friend watching for the ‘green flash’. Even if I never again flew from the west coast  ‘armpit’ to Key West and witnessed with awe the beauty of this part of the world from the air. Even if I never again flew to the Gulf out-islands with the group of women pilots met for our monthly lunches …..I always believed it would all still be there – alive and well to antiquity – never needing my presence to continue….but a place to which I could return at will.

It felt like a cherished connection to my past was being destroyed simultaneously with the demise of the fragile ecosystem – change had visited a part of my past and altered it forever – it wasn’t just a bad dream, it was real and there was nothing I could do about it but be heart-broken. As I sat with the sadness, unable to truly grasp the depth of the emotion that had gripped my soul, I began to see that this was one of the ‘letting go’ moments whose time had come. As hard as it was to fathom, the devastation in its finality seemed to represent a cutting with the past – it was as if the silent images of death and destruction were showing me on a personal level the death of my connection to that life for me.

The responsibility of stewardship

Like the bubble of denial within which we seem to have been living as a nation -ie- believing that such a disaster as just happened never would, that our regulators were taking their responsibilities seriously – I too had mistaken the serene and comforting memories to be an immutable, eternal truth.  As I worked through that realization, it became clear how necessary  it is to fully attend t0 present time, out of the fantasy bubble of what was and become available to live fully and choicefully NOW.  A piece of my soul was left behind in that idyllic world and it has now been retrieved.  Perhaps the possibility exists for us as a nation to do the same.  We have left part of our soul in the mistaken belief bubble of our delusional ‘perfect’ world and this disaster is perhaps the wake-up call  in all areas of our existence.  We can no longer pretend that we are simply experiencing a nightmarish ‘rough patch’ in our history and soon will wake up from this bad dream to find all is restored. That is not and never will be a possibility. We cannot allow ourselves to escape into a phantasmagorical world where all is always well.   The only course of action is to begin anew, altered and with new resolve to live differently – renewable energy, sustainable awareness – into ecological maturity as responsible stewards of this earth upon which we live…time to change.

A prayer for healing in the Gulf

I never realized how much I had available to me in those days of play and enjoyment in Florida…never really appreciated how many times I had the opportunity to imbibe the fruits of the natural world – it was all so easily available that I took it for granted believing it would always be there in the same pristine way I had experienced it —– how wrong I was!  As time is bendable, I choose to overlay my gratitude today on the torn ecology of the Gulf as a solemn prayer for its healing….as with any change – return to stasis is not possible. Perhaps in this case it is a good thing – perhaps this is the first pained step onto a new path toward appreciation for our lives in partnership with nature rather in dominance of it…perhaps in the horrific images and shattered lives to which we are witness today, we will retrieve our truth and heal our souls as we heal this devastation.

A quote from Mohandas K. Gandhi:  “To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”

Ecopsychology – The Human Factor as Healing for Global Warming


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.


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.


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?

Dr. Seuss Has It Right!


We are undoubtedly in the throes of huge change these days. As I have mentioned in previous posts, the ‘armageddon’-like lore around 2012 is ubiquitous and inescapable. Also inescapable is the fear and visceral survival emotions that are surfacing as we move through this process of change. The grip is powerful and requires the greatest vigilance to maintain some semblance of uprightness in its presence.

Our latest gambling adventure offered one such moment and illustrates how we can become caught up in this grip so easily!  Unlike our last exquisite celebration, this experience (losing)  became a doorway for all the fear, lack and self-flagellation floating in the collective consciousness to spew from my mouth.  The darkness of that focus engendered a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness. It made me consider that the old adage “Money is the root of all evil” is true – for we are enslaved to its presence, its value and we measure our own value by the amount of it we have in our lives – the more we have, the happier and more secure we are taught to believe we will feel. Without money we will not survive! Our instinctual behavior these days is to ‘hunker down’,  weather the economic downturn and eventually resume life as it was…the status quo to which we are indentured and prostituted…consuming to feel better, happier and  grow our personal bubble of survival even at enormous cost to our planet.


Then, as Wisdom always seems to do, I discovered a very interesting and uplifting article in Shift magazine, the monthly publication of Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) entitled: The Adaptive Organization which can just as easily apply to The Adaptive Organism (we humans being one of those organisms !) It speaks of the inevitability of change that occurs both in nature and in human systems. This evolutionary impulse is precipitated by strain (an engineering term referring to tension created within structures or functions that result from destabilizing events).  That we are in the midst of a destabilizing event of global proportions is irrefutable. The notion is proffered in this article that embracing change and learning from it is the next  adaptive step we must take. The linear, broken system we cling to (the status quo we scramble to return to) –our monetary system, our education system, our isolated, individualistic values  no longer are able to respond to the complexities of our present circumstances. Continue reading