Orienting towards life

To change the way we as humans inhabit this planet, we need to change the story at the heart of our activism and shift the focus from the threat of life towards the self-sustaining and self-healing power of life. ‚Life on Earth is threatened‘. ‚We‘re on the way towards extinction.‘ Those of us who are in some way active in social and ecological activism - in whatever form, are hearing sentences like these constantly. By now this story even rippled down into mass media and is a mainstream argument to push each other to finally act. But we don‘t really act - not in the clear way that we know would be needed. Why is that? We are collectively orienting towards the threat. Towards death. Towards danger. Constantly reminding each other that life is going to vanish (and so will we). Even if we live our lives in objective safety, this feeling of being under threat persists. As if the Earth would crumble under our feet and we would fall into the great black nothing. People with unprocessed trauma feel like this constantly, no matter how objectively safe they are in the present moment. Is this whole story of ‚life on Earth is dying‘ mainly a symptom of trauma? It pushes us further into paralyzation, chronic stress, exhaustion and overwhelm. It creates this gap between the inner pressure to act - and the ability to do so in a way that truly meets the issue. It may sound counterintuitive, and might be a provocative suggestion:

The way out of our current global mess is to first stop telling us this story about life under existential threat. Many beings on this Earth are surely endangered in a frightening way, as we humans project our collective trauma and manifest it again and again in the way we treat each other, our fellow beings and Earth in general. It‘s like a self-fulfilling prophecy and perpetual manifestation of what we tell ourselves about the great suffering of this time. I‘d like to suggest that for once we just give it a try to orient towards life. Orienting is a basic technique in trauma therapy, which helps us to reconnect to the present moment, the here and now, to recognize fully what surrounds us. Adapting this practice, set your intention for one day to notice everything around you that is alive and that sustains life. Try to perceive the incredible self-sustaining and self-healing power of life. How life transforms and adapts constantly to sustain itself in ever changing conditions. How life persists in very unlikely circumstances. How life supports and cares for life. In this way, we can learn to also orient towards life within ourselves, and to its self-healing and balancing power. We can let go a little of the urge to analyze, manage and control, and re-create a basic trust in life. Orienting towards it, we can learn to sense much clearer what supports it and what harms it. I think we need a different story in the heart of our activism: A story in which we are not the tragic, endangered heroes, but in which we take the place in relation to life that is sustainable: A place of thankfulness, humbleness, trust in and love for life. A place where we‘re aware of our interconnectedness with all that is alive, and aware in which incredibly creative ways we are constantly supported by life. From this place, we can start to support life back, to protect and sustain life - without falling into the hero-trap, without loosing ourselves in trauma and drama. Of course this does not mean to become ignorant to the status quo of our world, or to bypass any negative feelings and sensations. Instead, it allows us to see them for what they are: Symptoms of dysregulation, disconnectedness and trauma. Recognizing it and STILL orienting towards life, towards what is healthy and intact, allows us to find ways how to process and transform them in a sustainable way. It’s a big change of perspective that we need here collectively. As a cell of this huge organism called Earth: take a step. Orient towards life. And do your healing work.




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