An Online Course for Aspiring EcoSattvas
With the unprecedented uncertainty we are facing, many of us are feeling on edge.
Humanity is at an edge. So each of us may be feeling on edge, even as we all have different edges. But with the support of Dharma and community, we can come together at this edge and discover an authentic and courageous way forward.
A new EcoSattva Training will be available in early October. The latest version not only has new content and new presenters but has changed in form. The course has been specifically designed to support self-paced and self-scheduled participation with shorter core session videos and more resources for contemplation and interacting with one another. Ideally experienced in small groups, either in-person or online, you can start the six module course at any time and move through at your own pace. Then join the monthly live sessions to connect with the global community of registered EcoSattvas in training, no matter where each is in the course.
Learn more below and prepare to register, hopefully with your group, in September.
We’ll try to answer your basic questions on this page and keep it updated with the all the latest details.
(If you’re enrolled in a previous series of the EcoSattva Training, you can access those course materials below.)
This life was already difficult. The Dharma validates that our sense of struggle is inherent in being alive. Yet as here-and-now evidence of the dawning climate crisis mounts, the grief, anxiety and depression we may experience constitutes an additive, psychological “eco-crisis tax” on everyday life. Even for those who have manageable baseline stress, the size, scope and seeming intractability of ecological breakdown can easily overwhelm the psyche. If at some level our own body, and indeed every body, registers and wrestles with this existential threat, is it any wonder that our collective experience is increasingly unstable, similarly on edge?
At the same time, our engaged projects designed to name eco-crises and agitate for critical change often require monumental energy and time, not to mention their demand for unfamiliar skills and understanding. Challenged to confront colossal, entrenched forces and working with that same multi-layered stress, contributors often struggle to collaborate in sustained, durable efforts. It’s not surprising then that many eco-activists feel on the edge of burn out, even as Earth’s precarious ecological health can cast a pall over potential alternative endeavors.
The latest version of the EcoSattva Training is designed to meet participants in this unprecedented challenge with new insights from both the Dharma as well as the growing field of climate psychology. We will journey together to soothe and ultimately unbind our bodies, hearts and minds so that they can actively and creatively love this life. Deeply rooted, thoroughly engaged yet not dependent, we can express the most authentically helpful response to ecological crisis that is available to us.
We don’t know what is to come, what humanity is capable of and how the Earth will respond, but we are living at a pivotal time, an edge. Dharma wisdom along with practices and the critical support of community provide the opportunity to come to terms with this place, not needing to be someplace else, and then to move to and through our own edges, perhaps to truly be of service and discover what it means to be a human being in such times.
The course will begin at the level of experience, a good place to start given our pervasive stress. Climate psychologists are demonstrating that way we experience climate crisis and losses in the rest of nature is at some level traumatizing, with the attendant adaptions to trauma showing up in both our individual and collective defenses. We will spend time in this course understanding that dynamic and then bring in specific Dharma and trauma-informed practices can soothe our eco-stressed bodies, hearts and minds.
While meeting our eco-suffering and tending to it with exquisite care is critical, we will not stop with the practices for self regulation. More is on offer. Having cultivated an inner landscape of kindness and calm, both ancient Dharma as well as modern climate psychology can support us in challenging the views and patterns that only contribute to suffering, not just for ourselves but for our relationships and our movements. We will explore the ways that we commonly conceptualize the ecological crisis, the stories we tell of how it came to be and who is to blame, as well as the impact of that framing on our ability to be with it, moment to moment. Interdependence will be a common theme throughout the course, as we explore patterning at the individual and collective levels as well as in the intersections between ecological harm with other forms of objectification and exploitation, especially in regards to race, revealing their common roots and common remedies.
As the body is tended, the heart is supported and the mind has new understanding, wise action is not only unblocked but can flow like a river. In the final part of the course, we will explore diverse forms of response, from the surprisingly important changes we can make in our everyday lives, to the necessary refusals to cooperate with systems of domination, and everything in between.
In this phase, we are invited to be at our edge. The edge is uncomfortable, uncertain and completely necessary before transformation. In authentic response, we are each called to purposely move into discomfort, even as the outward expression varies widely: one person is building up the nerve to defy all his friends and family by admitting, even to himself, that the climate crisis is real, while another is finding their voice in pressuring a city council to declare a climate emergency, and yet another is risking arrest and even being subject to violence in as part of non-violent civil disobedience. Yet in this course and beyond we have the opportunity to support one another in working through our respective edges. Though the edges may be different, we’ll be together at an edge.
This is a course designed to support all who are interested to join. While no Dharma practice or understanding is required, some basic familiarity with mindfulness will be helpful. We invite both self-described “activists” and nonactivists alike. While not required, it might be helpful to read a few articles here on our site to get familiar with our approach.
We are still working out the teachers and other leaders who will be offering their wisdom and leading us in practices. If this new series is anything like those from the past, we’ll be blessed with amazing teachings. Be sure you’re on the mailing list and you’ll receive updates as they are announced.
You can sign up as an individual, but just as in previous years’ trainings, we encourage all who have the option to either join or organize a local in-person group. Those who don’t have access to a local community can take advantage of our online group directory to create or join an online group.
There will be a registration fee, though we’re still working out our costs so that’s not settled yet. Fees will be lower for those registering as part of a group. As always, while we depend on course fees to cover our substantial costs, scholarships will be available. No one will be turned away from the course for lack of funds.
The first module will be available on Sunday, October 6. However, in contrast to previous years, there is no fixed schedule for course modules. Instead, the new course is specifically designed to support you and your local community in participating according to your own schedule. Once enrolled, you and members of your group will be able to access the module resources. You (hopefully with your group) can begin when it works for you and then meet weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or whatever frequency works for you.
At this point, we’re planning on six, perhaps seven, core modules. Also in the works is a pre-course module for registered online and in-person group organizers to support them in facilitating the course. This module is scheduled to come out September 29.
Each module is designed to support groups in gathering for 90 minute sessions. That time will include time to do a brief opening, view the core teaching video, explore the provided inquiries, engage in discussion, cover logistics and close. It does not include time for an extended opening meditation, which some groups will like to do before starting the session, making the gathering 2 hours long. The core teaching video will be range in length from 30 to 40 minutes (much shorter than in previous iterations of this training). Each module will have its own page on our site that contains the a sample agenda, the main video, a set of inquiries to choose from and a supportive resources. Of course, groups are invited to use what works for them, removing and adding as will be most helpful.
To build the sense of a global community among all those registered in the course, we will host live sessions on a monthly basis dedicated to making connections. Course leaders and all those currently enrolled in the training, anywhere in the world will gather in online sessions featuring science and policy updates from our co-founder Lou Leonard and the opportunity for breakout groups and discussion. (Yes, those who took our first EcoSattva Training might be glad to know that breakouts are back! While many of us can feel a bit shy in these settings, past participants have found the chance to connect in one-on-one and small groups one of the most valuable aspects of the training.)
Registration will open in September so as long as you’re on our mailing list, you’ll receive that announcement. The group directory will be available at the same time. Both will be available from this page.
Until then, the first thing you can do is spread the word. Forward our announcement email to dharma centers, teachers, activists, practitioners or fellow human beings who you think might be interested in joining this training. You can also use social media to share this page or our (forthcoming) facebook event. Feel free to use the image below (click to access the full size) and/or print and post this EcoSattva Training Flyer (PDF) in your community.
Another important thing you can do is to work with others in your local community to start a group that will do the training together. Let us know by email if a sample email inviting participants to join you would be useful and we’ll see if can get that in place. If you don’t have a local community, you can use our directory and group registration tools (coming soon), to create an online group.
Let us know what you’re planning, how we can help and then stay tuned.
So glad you asked! Besides spreading the word and possibly starting a group, we have specific volunteer needs to support the training and would be delighted to waive the registration fee for those who can help out. Even if none of these works for you, perhaps you know someone who might be interested! Let us know by email and we’ll take it from there.
Right now, we have a need for
- Email Support Rep – Reply to questions from participants using the course FAQ or by getting an answer from One Earth Sangha staff. This one doesn’t take a lot of time, requires almost no tech skills, and is incredibly helpful.
- Video Editor – Use Shot Cut or your own video editing software to help us turn recorded zoom sessions into the core presentation video. This is obviously a more narrow skillset so if you have this to offer, that would be amazing.
- Web Producer – If you have WordPress experience and especially the more technical kind (e.g., setting up forms and doing styling), let us know!
If you’re enrolled in either of the first two series, you can access the course materials here: