What if we didn’t have to fight against climate change?
Fighting is exhausting. By choosing to look through the positive lens of our collective healing, there is an endless wellspring through which we can resource energy to not only take action, but to sustain it.
What if, instead of fighting… we focused on healing? On balancing? On remembering?
In mainstream narratives around climate change, we truly do not give Mother Earth enough credit for the masterful balancing act she has cultivated over billions of years.
This Earth Day & beyond…
What seeds are we planting?
In the ever-evolving present & the future that is ripe with potentiality… what seeds are we tending? And how?
Healing our planet begins with healing ourselves & how we relate to the planet.
True regeneration is a return to our roots… offering reciprocity & care to our planet who sustains us.
I feel with every fiber of my being that we are in a time of great remembering: a renaissance of what it means to be in relation to the ecosystem & with one another.
We have to break down to break through.
The complexity & massive scale of the climate crisis as well as the multivariate social justice crises can stun us into apathy & inaction. Our nervous systems were not designed for social media and the constant stream of information about our burning Earth.
If you are overwhelmed by all of it, you are not alone. It can feel paralyzing & it is easier to numb it out.
So I’d like to offer 7 tangible steps that have worked for me in alchemizing feelings of overwhelm & apathy into action:
1. See Our World As A Web, Not In Silos.
The world is deeply interconnected. Earth systems are beautifully complex & Mother Earth is a master practitioner of balance.
For example, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are broken up into 17 unique goals. When we see the SDGs as a deeply interconnected set of complex challenges & solutions, they morph into one giant call to action.
What is that action? A paradigm shift across all systems.
Sounds overwhelming, right? It can be! But it doesn’t have to be.
Indigenous communities have stewarded land & knowledge for millennia with the rooted understanding that we are not separate from nature — we ARE nature — and we are intimately connected with all creatures around us. When we see ourselves as connected to Mother Earth, all creatures, and to one another, we remember that we are not alone as we navigate the challenges of the present moment.
In Mahayana Buddhism, Indra’s Net of Jewels is a beautiful metaphor for interbeing. In very brief summary, it posits that what happens in one is reflected in all.
In Indigenous Mayan languages, the term “In La’Kech, A La Kin” translates to “You are my other me. I am another you.” By seeing ourselves as interconnected, harm is no longer an option. Everything affects everything.
2. Get Grounded.
Everyone knows that we need to spend time outside to optimize our wellbeing.
Western science is now beginning to prove what has been known for thousands of years — the power of grounding. Putting your bare feet on the Earth may sound trite, but it is a practice that when implemented over time, has enormous benefit.
Everything on Earth has an electromagnetic field. We are constantly exchanging energy & electrons with what we come into contact with. Our loved ones, our cell phones, our pets, our computers. You get it.
Earth also has a strong electromagnetic field. That’s why when we need to ground a cable, we put it… well, in the ground.
But what stops the conductivity of electrons? Synthetic materials like many types of rubber.
And what are the soles of most of our shoes made out of? You guessed it — synthetic rubber! So the vast majority of humanity is walking around quite literally un-grounded.
Here’s a scientific study published by the NIH: Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons.
So, go outside. Put your feet on the Earth. Take a few deep breaths. And repeat tomorrow.
3. Localization: Thinking Like A Watershed.
By taking action collectively at the most local levels & supporting localization have power to affect change where we are.
A stream or tributary do not pretend that they are the entire river or sea. They do what they can, where they are… and that is enough. If we can all remember our roles as part of a local ecosystem — both social & ecological — we can ensure that communities are sustained.
“A needs-based economy, or localization, in accordance with the law of Nature is the only remedy to the problems we face” — Venerable Samdhong Rinpoche (quote source: Local Futures)
So what does that look like?
Support your local shops, artisans, & farmers. Identify the things you’d normally buy from large chains & see what the local alternative is to keep your local economy healthy.
4. Care As A Key Intervention.
Care is the secret ingredient to creating a human society that is thriving rather than just surviving. When we care about something, our actions are not just things to check off our to-do lists.
Exhausted mothers tend to their screaming babies because, fundamentally, they care about them. Even in the throes of their own exhaustion, they continue to follow the thread of love & care.
How can we apply that to our relationship with the Earth and with our communities? To keep on keeping on even when the going gets tough.
We are here as conscious tenders, as stewards, as caretakers. And that we have the ability to understand harm, means that we have the responsibility to choose otherwise.
Care is a powerful feeling. We can harness it as a tool for impact. By weaving care into our work place, daily habits, systems, and structures, we will feel a tangible shift.
What would it feel like to be invested in a healthy future for generations to come?
We are standing at a precipice, except that to leap is to soar.
Logic alone will not get us out of the challenges we face today, nor will innovation… it is through a shifting of awareness from the head to the heart that we will truly see the broad sweeping change we need.
It’s not about what has been before, it’s about what’s emerging.
What’s birthing through us?
With this gift of consciousness that we have, what can we choose to bring here onto our planet?
5. Ripples Before Waves
The enormity of the climate crisis, armed conflicts, ongoing social injustices, & economic upheaval can leave us stunned into inaction.
“What could I possibly do that would make any kind of a dent in the massive issues we are facing?” Perhaps the question of the 2020s.
That’s where the mighty ripple comes in. We are all pieces in a much larger puzzle.
So how can we make a ripple where we are? Even the tiniest of ripple expands outward beyond our comprehension. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone focused on creating a ripple around them? Together we’d generate powerful tides.
If the enormity & complexity of what we are facing feels like * a lot *… that’s because it is.
So do what you can without putting pressure on yourself to be perfect. No one is! We don’t have to all be climate activists, but it is time to step up into our duties as citizens of Earth.
Where can you create a ripple?
6. Regeneration of Soil
Planetary health begins in the soil.
According to Rodale Institute’s white paper, The Soil Carbon Solution, by shifting to regenerative farming practices and protecting ecosystems such as grasslands, healthy soil has the power to store “more than 100% of current anthropogenic emissions of CO2” and exceed global emissions targets through “rapid drawdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide”.
Soil health is not only a key intervention to climate change, but also to the skyrocketing epidemic of chronic illnesses we are facing in our country.
Soil health is inextricable from human health. By prioritizing biodiversity in & above ground, we are able to heal the climate crisis & ourselves from the roots up. Our gut health flourishes when we eat food that has been grown regeneratively.
So how can you play a role in regeneration of soil?
Build relationships with your local farmers, get curious about the practices they use & have conversations about regeneration. Do your best to buy produce & animal products that are grown or raised using regenerative organic practices.
Grow your own garden! Whether you are in a small apartment with a window box or on a large parcel of land, everyone has the ability to grow something. The practice of caring for herbs, fruits, and vegetables is a great way to reconnect us with the Earth.
7. Regeneration Of Ourselves
I think of the climate crisis as a sacred mirror in which we can see what is asking to be healed within us so that we can show up with more integrity as caretakers of this magnificent Earth all around us.
Our Earth and all species who inhabit her, have endured profound pain, injustice, and harm at the hands of armed conflict, staggering inequalities, technocratic forms of development, extraction, and ongoing exploitation of both humans and ecosystems.
We owe it to ourselves to take time to reflect and hold space for the collective trauma that has unfolded across the globe in the last few centuries alone. It is imperative that we understand the impact that these compounded traumas have had in shaping both our institutions and our ability to function harmoniously as a society.
By taking time to be with the intense pain that has unfolded here on Earth, we can begin to heal it & chart our course forward. By healing the wounds of our ancestors — that which they have & that which they have caused — we begin to regenerate.
Our Earth does not need saving, we do. And we must save ourselves.
Movement building (& sustaining) is exhausting. Rest is a form of radical resilience. We must take time to rest & to regenerate ourselves as we work to sustain the larger movement for a brighter future.
What moves you? What lights you up? What gives you boundless pools of energy?
For me, it is deep presence with wild things. Tending to plants & to dreams with equal reverence. Listening to birds chirp & whistling back to them. Singing. Writing. Being.
Regenerate yourself, tend to what needs tending, then return to the movement. Again and again. We’ll be here to celebrate you.
* Originally published on Conscious Consulting, LLC’s musings page: https://www.consciousconsulting.llc/musings/earthday2022-RFLWz
Nadine Clopton is committed to co-creating a world that places compassion, communities, and ecosystems at the root of positive change.
She holds a master’s in environmental policy design from Lehigh University where she was a Presidential Scholar. In her undergraduate studies, she studied Health, Medicine, & Society (Public Health) and Political Science with minors in Sustainable Development and Environmental Studies.
As a Program Manager at Rodale Institute, she runs the Regenerative Healthcare program. Through leading edge events and education, Regenerative Healthcare seeks to educate the healthcare community about food as medicine and human health’s inextricable links to soil health. She also manages the Grow Clean Water program, which explores the link between watershed health and how we farm—with a specific focus on how supporting regenerative organic agriculture keeps harmful chemicals out of our watershed and off of our plates.
Outside of Rodale Institute, Nadine serves as the President of the Global NGO Executive Committee (GNEC) and as an NGO Representative to the United Nations. In her work with GNEC, she works to amplify civil society voices and advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Nadine is also the Founder of Conscious Consulting, LLC, rooting individual & organizational change in self-inquiry, purpose, & embodiment through workshops and coaching.
She lives & works in southeastern Pennsylvania on unceded Lenni Lenape homelands.