Eco-Warrior Challenge No. 1

I, have watched all those documentaries about Collapse, Freakonomics, Zeitgeist, An Inconvenient Truth, Cowspiracy, The Price of Sugar, Food Inc, and it is enough to send you rushing to the doctor for Prozac, except you’ve watched Big Pharma, Big Money.

While awareness raising is important, there should always be an opt out clause.  There is little point in telling the “Story of Stuff” without telling the ‘Story of Solutions”.   Throughout the blog, I’ve been trying to share those nuggets of treasures where solutions are being found and snippets of people’s ideas and actions which are making a difference.

It’s this focus on solutions that got me excited about permaculture (yes, I’ve said that before a million times) and also the Pachamama Alliance – my latest inspirational discovery.

There is a saturation point where all this information and exposure gradually seeps into your cells and becomes a part of you and you wake up realising you’ve woken up realising you’ve fundamentally changed and in dire need of walking the talk.  I used to see the same qualitative change in the students I taught.  It gave meaning to my purpose to witness it happen.  And it was nothing I could offer to an Ofsted inspector as evidence of my ‘outstanding’ work.  But I took a joy in these transformational shifts arising from their more implicit learning.

Like habit formation.  Repeat an action regularly and a neuronal change occurs which makes it difficult to break.

The eco-challenges offered by the Northwest Earth Institute are categorised, and I thought it appropriate to commence these biweekly offerings with a task from the ‘simplicity’ list.   There are two reasons for this choice.

Firstly, I want everyone to succeed in forming their new eco-habit.  To do so, there is a need to love the diminishing natural ecology sufficiently to act upon that love.

Secondly, I’ve been deeply moved by Arkan Lushwala’s perspective on global culture and western separation.  In this clip, he talks about the importance of finding silence inside.  (If you are short on time, the relevant section is from 9:06 onward.)

 

” To feel, to walk on Earth in a way you keep the balance, requires attention.  Attention requires a certain kind of silence inside and this culture does not give you silence.  Everyone is busy, busy, busy.”  (Arkan Lushwala)

Many of the’ simplicity’ suggestions entail disconnecting from a wired world.  But I think we can utilise Arkan Lushwala’s wisdom and take that notion a step further.  I know you are all deep thinkers and feelers, so 10 minutes a day without any technology (by way of example) isn’t going to be enough of a challenge.

Eco-challenge 1:  Spend time each day experiencing the silence within you.

Each day, for the next two weeks, I’m going to suggest a means for experiencing this silence.

Day 1:  Find a place to sit comfortably and close your eyes.  Imagine yourself sitting before a deep lake beneath the moonlight.  It is so still that it looks almost like a deep, dark-blue plasma.  The space is completely empty but for the deep, dark-blue lake before you.  The air around you is completely still.  The space is so silent that you feel, rather than hear your own breath.  Feel it ebb and flow slowly and silently.  Floating on the surface of the lake is a lit candle.  Pay attention only to the flame.    When you’re ready, gently blow out the flame and pay attention to your body, pay attention to the sensations you experience and slowly open your eyes.  

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Eco-Warrior Challenge No. 1

  1. Reminds me of a quote that I love from the movie “Moll Flanders” (she’s just be told to close her eyes and her heart throb says): “Do you see the restrictions of your mortal body? Close your eyes. Inside you . . . so much space . . . the Cosmos! Inside you go on forever!”

    Actually I’ve found Plato’s idea of floating, becoming one with the water, extremely effective for doing this. Been using it since he posted his video about Learning to Float. 😀

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    1. I like that quote – it’s like something I’ve experienced when meditating. A kind of union and merging with the cosmos. I’ve liked floating images too. I may share the extension of the one above a little later, it goes a little beyond floating, but does involve merging with the water.

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  2. I expected the first challenge to be about picking up litter and recycling it correctly, or eating more raw food. I should have known you’d approach it wholistically – that’s what permaculture is, after all.
    I’m impressed.

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    1. You’ve just made me laugh.
      I’ve been caught – guilty, your honour – but yes, hoping to create a wholistic journey as we go along. My partner and I were intrigued by a throwaway mention on our course of a Zone zero zero (the books tend to start with the home – zone zero), but someone somewhere in the permaculture archives talks about zone zero zero – the self. So if you think about inputs and outputs of a system, I’m trying to work on being careful about what I ‘feed’ myself and more responsible in action.

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      1. I like your approach. While permaculture encompasses a plethora of technicalities and ideals (such as building useful gadgets from waste products and steering clear of MacDirties dirty dirt burgers, et al) its ethos is simple; tread lightly on the planet, replenish as you reap, make circles rather than spirals.
        While some humans walk faster than others, we only take one step at a time. Too much information at once can be overwhelming. Fed in small doses it can make us hungry for the next snack, until it eventually becomes a big fat greedy banquet.
        That’s a deliberately inapropriate metaphor 🙂
        I love the simplicity of the meditation. The candle can be self, source, or merely silence, depending on preference.

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  3. Perhaps someone has forgotten that we have absolute silence when we sleep. I’m the opposite of all that tranquil candle and wind chimes stuff, having lived in Asia so long, I just know it’s all bull. I really dislike silence and find it very unnatural. The natural world is a noisy place with thousands of continuous different sounds and hearing them is what relaxes me.

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    1. I once entered a non-decidious forest in the south of Ireland and was immediately struck by how ‘unnatural’ it seemed. It was incredibly silent – no bird songs or calls at all, no buzzing of insects. However, finding silence in the external world is not the same as finding silence within. The way that I feel Arkan’s meaning is by way of analogy. When I lived in Ireland, particularly in small villages and towns – it’s possible to be fully aware and pay attention. You’d talk to people you passed on your walk, pay attention to the sounds in the hedgerows around you, the habitual time of the heron flight over head and locals would talk about changes in their environment – and notice when it is sick.

      Then I moved to a city and urban life is so overwhelming in terms of sensory inputs, it’s not possible to attend to it all – it’s busy busy busy. To cope with the deluge, people cut off – they could pass their best friend in the street and not see them. People don’t talk to each other and may be actively hostile and suspicious if someone does, they spend time not making eye contact, and even in a consumer interaction – often fail to acknowledge each other’s presence. This separation from the ‘noise’ of the world, means people become indifferent to the ills around them, cut off from the world and buried in their own concerns.

      That first kind of living is a more natural and healthy state and is conducive to finding the silence within. It would seem that you understand that.

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      1. Well, I’m confident enough in myself to be able to know the what’s and why’s.
        I too have lived in a tiny backwater village for a time and of course you’re right, we do communicate in such an environment in a completely different manner to towns and city life. I’ve never quite understood exactly why that is – probably some kind of primal protection mechanism kicking in when surrounded by strangers.

        I believe that these occasions where we realise we’re being semi-ignored, that feeling of being on the receiving end of a failure to recognise our presence isn’t actually anything more than basic ignorance. Many people basically have the manners of a pig, whether they know it or not. I wouldn’t look into it any further than that. The best I can do is feel sorry for them being such cretins in the first place.

        There’s a lot of money to be made from harvesting people’s innermost fears, self-doubts, lack of self-regard etc. Let’s not kid ourselves – it’s huge business. Hitchcock made movies on it. USA created 100,000 jobs in Phychoanalysis, kick started by Luke Rhinehart’s banned book “The Dice Man”.
        It grew real big in the 80s, with all this pseudo junk like “The Road Less Travelled”, “I’m OK, You’re OK” etc, you’ll know these titles – I thought who is kidding who here? How weak and damaged a mind does one have to have to actually think that such concepts of writings are going to be the big answer?
        The very thought of living my life on the instruction of another’s book – particularly another from another culture, sends shivers down my spine. That’s intolerable to me.
        I don’t believe in any of this inner silence nonsense and I think it’s absolute pseudo-babble.

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        1. Particularly if the book is the ‘dice man’ eh?
          I see the self-help, life-coach guru, success as a reflection of how sick western society is. It’s nothing new though. People have lived by a book for a lot longer in history than the pseudo-psych business.

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          1. People who are making good money from weak-minded people are telling us that western society is sick. It isn’t sick and in reality a great deal less sick than many other societies.
            It’s all a perverse fabrication manifested by snake oil salesmen, the same who have imported fake Eastern Mysticism and all this psycho-babble that you’re wasting your valuable time with – such as “inner silence” and it’s only just another strand in the great web of deceit. They saw you coming.
            It’s always, always the lonely and the damaged that fall down this path in the belief that it’s the answer to their salvation, that it will fill the void. They want/need to believe it, too, because they have been told to. They’ll clutch towards any straws that don’t slap them into consciousness with the wake-up call that all their foibles are of their own making. They are either too lazy or too scared to deal with the reality that everything they think they lack in themselves is actually because of themselves and the reasons for such are always conveniently found to be due to external factors and never of their own making. Having floated through life in an effortless vacuum for decades, there comes the point in their lives where they feel the need to “find themselves” – whatever that means – and engage in this. The idiocy is profound.

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    1. Have you come across the concept of ‘flow’ in the sense that Csíkszentmihályi described it? I think the idea is similar to the Buddhist/Taoist concept of ‘doing without doing’ or the ‘action of inaction’. It’s a sort of merging of action and awareness, where you’re so focused on something, other needs are almost neglected. He saw it as a positive thing, mostly experienced when actively pursuing something creative – like art, writing….

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