Facing Climate Change with Heart
In the heart practice below, Sister Jewel from the Order of Interbeing offers a way to hold the inherent complexities of awakening to climate change. We invite you to use this as a contemplation for your personal meditation and to practice it together with those you consider your sangha.
This summer, I was sitting quietly at the edge of a field, and it suddenly hit me that throughout my 40 years I have inadvertently been contributing to our planetary crisis, just by being part of this society. It was very sobering to reflect on all the items I have consumed from birth—food, water, electricity, heating, air conditioning, clothing, possessions, media, transportation, and more—and the reality that so many of these things were produced, used, and disposed of in ways harmful to the environment. I had never before seen my role in our ecological crisis so personally and concretely.
Yet I am also continuously struck by how much possibility exists for transformation of our species and our planet at this moment of crisis. As convincingly argued by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone in Active Hope, we do have the means to turn away from our destructive course, and many people all over the world—including you, the reader!—are already manifesting just and sustainable ways of life with great courage and innovation.
I offer this guided meditation as a practice for awakening to both the crisis and the great potential for transformation.
—Sr. Jewel, January 2015
Breathing in, I open to my feelings in response to the climate crisis.
Breathing out, I allow these feelings to be here, whatever they are.
In: Opening to my feelings
Out: Allowing my feelings
Breathing in, I tenderly hold the suffering in me in response to the climate crisis.
Breathing out, I tenderly hold the collective suffering, including that of the earth.
In: Holding suffering in me
Out: Holding suffering of others
Breathing in, I am aware of the many animal and plant species now threatened with extinction.
Breathing out, I am aware of the growing threat to human health and safety.
In: Species threatened with extinction
Out: Humans also threatened
Breathing in, I look deeply to see how I have contributed to our global crisis.
Breathing out, I see the individual and collective ignorance at the root of this destruction.
In: My contribution to the crisis
Out: Ignorance at its root
Breathing in, I allow myself to feel sorrow and regret for my own harm and the collective harm .
Breathing out, I ask the Great Mother Earth and the Buddha in me for forgiveness and understanding.
In: Embracing my regret
Out: Forgiveness and understanding
Breathing in, I know I am also part of the solution, and I can contribute to sustainability and social justice.
Breathing out, I see the individual and collective awakening happening all over the world.
In: I can contribute to healing
Out: Collective awakening is happening
Breathing in, I open to what I truly, deeply long for in my own life and in the world.
Breathing out, I commit to making concrete steps in my daily life to manifest this reality.
In: Touching deep aspiration
Out: Concrete, daily steps to realize it
Sister Jewel (Chan Chau Nghiem) grew up in the US and Kenya, in an intentional community that practiced simple living and engaged in village development projects worldwide. She remembers contests with the other children on who could use the least amount of water for bathing. She was ordained as a nun by Thich Nhat Hanh in 1999. She will spend the first half of 2015 teaching mindfulness courses at Schumacher College in the UK, an environmental college for graduate students, and then lead mindfulness retreats in Europe and the US.