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My Spiritual Practice and the Climate Crisis

These days the climate crisis is my spiritual practice. Climate change is really an umbrella term for the litany of calamities that now dominate our daily awareness: species extinction, rapid ice melts, devastating fires, biblical floods, migrations, wars, and political dysfunction.

I aim to find a balance between cultivating an inner practice and being aware of our fast dismembering world. This awareness isn’t an abstract observation””it’s deeply felt in the body as a roller coaster of emotions. Dread, panic, outrage, grief, sheer disbelief, and disturbed dreams have become bedfellows.

In the face of this, it is important for me to use meditative awareness to regulate my nervous system. I work with the breath and have trained my attention to stay with feeling””to directly feel feeling””and not proliferate mentally around what is felt. Mixing breath and awareness with attention to feeling, the body and mind are able metabolize disturbing emotions quickly and maintain inner well-being, clarity, stamina, and focus.

I also do a deep breath practice that releases any residue of distress and connects me to a profound sense of compassion and lucidity. With deep breath and meditative practices, I sense into the shadow energy that is consuming the world, and then, invoking spirit protectors, suffuse it with the light of consciousness and compassion.

I don’t think life is going back to some kind of stable norm; these are now the times we live in. While heartbreaking, there is also a collective awakening that is fast evolving. It is like a quantum intelligence moving through us all. There is something breathtaking about this. We feel the urgency and its call to radically reprioritize, to act, and to lovingly treasure each moment.

About the Contributor

Thanissara Mary Weinberg was a Buddhist nun for twelve years and has taught meditation retreats with her partner, Kittisaro, since 1992. Together they founded Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat in South Africa and co-authored Listening to the Heart: A Contemplative Guide to Engaged Buddhism. She is also author of Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth. Thanissara and Kittisaro recently launched Sacred Mountain Sangha, a California-based nonprofit.

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