Where I live, at this moment sadly plastic is NOT being recycled and all of us inhale already an amount of plastic every day the size of a bank card!
What kind of future do you wish to leave behind for the next generations?
My friend Beatrice once grumped at me when I ordered coffee with a plastic lid on the cup. Now I have former washed lids with me to close the cup. We all can change the small and larger things and it starts with awareness.
The existential threat of climate change can be challenging to grasp and confront. To stay motivated and energized to face this threat, we must develop skills and take time for our own well-being. “We have to acknowledge that what happens to us internally affects what happens to our communities,” says climate activist Dekila Chungyalpa, “and that [in turn] affects what happens to the planet. All three things are indivisible.” How can we stay present to this crisis and take part in the collective work needed to heal the human-earth connection? How can we develop resilience and navigate the difficult emotions that arise in this challenging time?
More than 4,900 people from around the world tuned in to the event held in honor of Earth Day, with speakers sharing their reflections on ways we can confront the climate crisis and offering practices for emotional well-being. The panel began with a guided meditation from Brother Pháp Dung and closed with questions from the audience.
Below are five takeaways from panelists on how to face the climate crisis, while caring for our emotional well-being:
- Observe your thoughts. Climate distress can lead to feelings of despair, overwhelm, and hopelessness, which can create an avoidance response. Mindful awareness helps us stay present to the challenges of our current reality, which is crucial for taking wise and timely action. Elissa cited a recent study from her work that shows practicing mindful awareness to recognize our difficult emotions about the planet decreases climate distress and avoidance.
- Come back to your body. Difficult emotions can trap us in a negative spiral of distress. Brother Pháp Dung shared a story of teaching belly-breathing techniques to an anxious young woman at an eco-retreat: “I remember being with her, breathing with her, and showing her the technique of following your breath, coming back to the body, and staying out of the mind that is like a spiral.”
- Connect with others and the Earth. Social support is a predictor of recovery from stress. Dekila recommended reviving ritual practices for connecting with ancestors, community members, and the Earth as an antidote for eco-anxiety. She shared that she avoids burnout by returning to “the unconditional love” of Mother Earth and her own “deep sense of gratitude to nature.”
- Take the action you can. Find the climate work that is the right fit for you. There is so much work to do, it can be overwhelming to start, Elissa shared. She recommended talking with friends and family about climate distress, acting locally, and remembering that our actions are contagious: “part of systemic change is trusting that we are part of social quantum change.”
- Support youth. 56% of young adults worldwide feel that humanity is doomed by climate change, according to a recent global survey. Dekila spoke to the importance of nurturing the inner resilience of youth, who are most impacted and burdened by the implications of the crisis for our planetary future. Reflecting on his experience at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), Brother Pháp Dung added that we need “the passion, the noise, the music” of youth to find new ways forward.