Where We Begin: A World in Peril Requires a Lifestyle of Healing
It is so hard to look around and not be dismayed at the state we are in as humans and the state of our home, this one planet. Because it is hard, we tend not to allow ourselves to drop into the heartbreak. We react by refusing to slow down and be where we are, feeling the feelings that we are feeling. We go quickly though our days and try to blind ourselves with distractions: coffee, food, drugs, internet, dieting, exercise, etc. All of these distractions take energy from the Earth to create, and time and energy from us. These things - time, energy, the forests, water, animals - that we consider “resources” are actually life and the life of the planet that we live on. Thus demands on our time and energy are demands on our life-force.
We humans are daily creating our own heartbreak through projects of epic destruction like the tar sands, and through the dysfunctional ways that we treat other humans and living beings on this earth. It’s heartbreak that we can’t process daily. It’s too much. Most people I meet feel utterly overwhelmed by even if they are unable to articulate it. Every time they go on Facebook or read the news, there’s another huge piece of bad news that they can’t immediately do anything about. Most people I know feel scared.
As all of this builds and builds, we will use more stuff to distract ourselves from this heartbreak that we carry: the internet, gadgets, games, exercise, substances like tobacco and marijuana, alcohol and coffee and energy drinks, making money, the quest for “just the perfect couch” for our newly decorate living room in the apartment we can barely afford. As it becomes harder for us to process and put down, the more we carry.
Another way to describe this is “unresolved trauma”. It’s a vicious circle, since we will need more resources and support to deal with it.
The world has us moving fast, getting it done quickly, connected quickly, replying quickly, fixing it quickly, building it quickly. I think we are taught this way of being by the capitalist, patriarchal system that we live inside of. I am speaking here as a descendant of the colonisers of this land, as a cis-, straight woman: I recognise that I have it easier within this system than many. We are trapped by the praise for being quick-thinking and strong, for making money and partying on Saturday night. We are trapped by the lie that we can have it all - the status car, the sexy career, the beautiful partner, the house, limitless wealth... - if only we make ourselves worthy.
Of course there are counter-currents to this madness that are becoming mainstream themselves - yoga culture, retreats, self-care movements - but there are aspects to these movements that adhere to the system. Are you going to be a yoga instructor? Then you’ll feel the pressure of opening a studio and hustling for clients. Are you a healer? Same thing. There is little support for building and honing skills that care for people that are not monetized in some way. I think it’s hard for us to slow down when the money pressure is on. We are trapped by the myth of time=money.
A hurricane builds by being fed warm, moist air. It gathers and gathers and gathers force, drawing it to itself and doesn’t release it. This is how we are when we keep spinning through our days, just barely making it from morning to bedtime, waking up tired with no time or energy to acknowledge our pains and heartaches, let alone process them. When the hurricane hits dry land, it spends some of its force and eventually blows itself out. Sometimes we too hit a place where we can release some of the pressure. But if we only release a tiny bit and keep feeding our lives with the same kind of force that formed that hurricane in the first place, we will have to spin out again and again. Better to find the source and change how we are running our lives so we can stop spinning out.
Thus there is much to be said for going slower - slower with people’s feelings, with one’s own feelings, slower with food - how we grow it, how we prepare it and how we eat it, slower with and upon the Earth, slower with our opinions and the formation of our judgments, and most importantly: slower with our own healing…
As I see it, healing is more of a lifestyle choice than a one-off, done-quickly process. Am I going to stay in the flow of my own life, building strong and loving relationships and taking pleasure in my day-to-day life for the (really very) finite amount of time that I am on this Earth in this particular body? Or do I want to just fix whatever is ailing me to enough of a degree that it is bearable and then I can get on with my usual self-distraction/destruction/avoidance (to whatever degree that I do this) as a full-time occupation? Do I just let off enough steam that I can slow my hurricane down?
Our Earth suffers hugely when we are collectively in full-on distraction/avoidance mode - we lean very heavily on the plastic and the disposable for our quick fixes. We eat food that satisfies our mouth cravings but doesn’t necessarily support our bodies or the planet. We take holidays by plane that are meant to revive us so that we can go back into the fray of our lives. We order over-packaged things from Amazon (who underpay their employees) that are supposed to make us feel better, but ultimately don’t since they can’t fill up the hole inside us.
This is the global and cultural background the informs all of our healing work. We live in a culture that traumatizes us and keeps us too busy to slow down and deal with that trauma. And so it gets rolled down the generational mountain growing like a snowball.