Here in Australia, impossible to ignore, there has been the continuing cruelty of a nationwide drought. And the resultant drying up of rivers and loss of biodiversity.
Then along came the winter bushfires. Winter! Not the ‘normal’ season for fires to occur. Even less ‘normal’ for the rain forests to burn.
And now, there are massive rainfalls, flooding, storms and perilous tidal surges.
Julie and I have been looking at the trees and vegetation of Saltwater National Park for green signs of rebirth. They’ve been hard to find: tufts of grasses, epiphyte-like growths, occasional new leaves. The enormous heat generated by this fire seems to have nuclear-blasted the paperbarks and grass trees. Some are burnt-out trunks with branches intact, still standing. Others resemble resinated black statues.
As the pace of our lives continues to accelerate, driven by a host of forces seemingly beyond our control, more and more of us are finding ourselves drawn to engage in meditation, in this radical act of being. We are moving in the direction of meditative awareness for many reasons, not the least of which may be to maintain our individual and collective sanity, or recover our perspective and sense of meaning, or simply to deal with the outrageous stress and insecurity of this age.
Even now as write, I don’t know what words to describe my uneasy feelings about the climate. Maybe it’s because there’s just too much to say.
Earlier this year, the on-line Sydney Morning Herald would run one or two stories on climate change. Now, and especially since Australia’s monstrously extensive bushfires, there are a half dozen or more each day.
To a large extent, the local fires have abated…for the time being. Yet the BoM site still informs us of ‘smoke haze’. The air we breathe is badly polluted. But there’s something worse in the atmosphere.
We are restless, somewhat distracted and very much looking for the comfort of each other. Haven’t you felt it? Some of us have lost sheds, fences, homes, friends, pets. Wildlife populations and vegetation have been decimated. The worst is the loss of security, of safety. What will life be like from now on if the air we breathe is uncertainty?
It’s not often that I am at a loss for words. But over the last week, I’ve felt unable to ‘put pen to paper’.
In retrospect, this is as it should be. The Australian bushfire losses we’ve experienced are too big and one’s feelings still so raw.
The climate crisis is no longer a future problem. We need to grapple with it now. In an increasingly accelerating way, life on our planet as we’ve experienced it is changing. That means we are being called on to change, too.
Time is running out. The patient is critically ailing. Every day matters.
We need to adapt to this warming climate. We can keep our practice to the cooler morning and evening part of the day. As the heat builds, we can do passive poses which have the effect of cooling the brain and pacify the body’s systems. Forward bends, supported inversions and yoga flop-asanas are the ‘go’.
Probably like you, I’ve been giving much thought to climate change. So much so that I put my hand up to facilitate a presentation at the Ekam Festival on Climate Yoga.
Sometimes I think there’s something wrong with me. I get anxious about what’s happening in the world.
I enjoy watching dystopian TV shows, such as, ‘The Handmaids Tale’. Many of my friends won’t go near this series, saying it’s too dark and violent. Too reminiscent of what’s happening in the increasingly right-wing world we live in.
I’ve always been like this.
I’m worried and ready to declare myself a Climate Yogini. I’m not sure exactly what that means at this stage. So far, it’s business as normal. We go about doing our laundry, planting vegetables, walking on the beach with very little threat that the weather will spoil our activities. But it seems to me that the times they are a-changin’, and not that slowly, and not just in Australia. You can google ‘global warming hotspots’ and you’ll see the areas that are most at risk.
What are we yogis supposed to do in this time of discomfort and perhaps difficult adjustments? Probably just what we have been doing. Keeping up yogic practices: asanas, pranayama, meditation, relaxation.
And, particularly in the summer heat, let’s do quiet, cooling and calming yoga practice. Save the jumping around and through. Spare yourself sweating the long timings in poses. Keep the goal-seeking, perfection part of your personality in check. And chill.