Focusing with climate change and other world events
How can we live with the distress caused by climate change, Brexit and other major world events; with climate change being the biggest challenge to us all?
My Focusing partner and I recently had a session on our responses to what’s happening on a global scale. My experience is that I have lived with the anguish and distress all my life. It’s under the surface much of the time. Periodically I turn towards it, and simply listen.
The deep ecologist Joanna Macy says:
‘This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty.
Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world.
So don’t be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, because these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings.’
What comes is how much sadness and pain is there. Something in me finds it unbearable. And then the responses come; what am I doing, and what more can I do. I sensed how enmeshed I am, and how I live is part of the problem, and I thought about what more I can do to mitigate the negative impact I am having on the planet.
Joanna Macy: ‘You don’t need to do everything. Do what calls your heart; effective action comes from love. It is unstoppable, and it is enough.’
As well as hopelessness, I also sensed and recognised the enormous hopefulness I feel; that there is a huge well of kindness, care, love and resourcefulness in humanity. I also feel embedded and enmeshed in this capacity for love and care.
Joanna Macy: ‘The biggest gift you can give is to be absolutely present, and when you’re worrying about whether you’re hopeful, or hopeless, or pessimistic, or optimistic, who cares? The main thing is that you’re showing up, that you’re here and that you’re finding ever more capacity to love this world because it will not be healed without that. That was what is going to unleash our intelligence and our ingenuity and our solidarity for the healing of our world.’
So yes, I think Focusing can help us to find a way to be with the enormity of climate change. It helps you to be present and listen to how you are living with it, experiencing it in your life, even if it is underneath the surface. It helps you to be compassionate with yourself and with others.
Joanna Macy: ‘The refusal to feel takes a heavy toll. Not only is there an impoverishment of our emotional and sensory life, flowers are dimmer and less fragrant, our loves less ecstaticâ but this psychic numbing also impedes our capacity to process and respond to information. The energy expended in pushing down despair is diverted from more creative uses, depleting the resilience and imagination needed for fresh visions and strategies.’
It’s important to find a way to be with the feelings, even touching into them for a few moments is helpful. If the feelings are too big for you to feel, you can find ways to touch into them lightly, without getting overwhelmed. Listen inside, and you will be surprised how wise the body is, and how it shows you creative ways of being with overwhelming feelings.
Joanna Macy: ‘We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognise our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don’t apologise for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening as we see people honestly confronting the sorrows of our time.’