September 18, 2015

Is our planet Burning Up? What we can Do when we’re Feeling Afraid.

Fighting from above

In North America our land has become parched and is burning up with heat.

Vast areas of fire and smoke cross the borders of our states, provinces and countries as we share fear with our neighbors.

When it hits home and we become personally affected, it has a way of getting our attention. Our clean air and healthy water has been easy to take for granted.

I find conversations with friends now turn into debates about the changing state of the world around us, as we process news images of dying whales and evacuations from fire zones.

It all leaves me with a heavy heart.

The natural world has always been my sanctuary. As a child, I spent countless hours alone in the woods chatting with trees and building shelters while I escaped the world around me.

Now as an adult, the forest and ocean provide me with a precious haven from the busyness and overwhelming pace of life. Walking trails and beaches has become my form of meditation.

However, the landscape around me has now changed dramatically. Brown, dead leaves crunch under my feet in mid summer, having fallen from thirsty trees long before their colors had a chance to turn.

It is hard not to feel a sense of helplessness as so many questions run through my mind.

What is the best way to help?

What can I do to make a difference as an individual?

Does the Earth have a chance?

There are many different opinions on this, but lately I have found consolation and hope coming from a vastly different perspective.

A viewpoint that suggests that we should trust our Earth is much stronger, wiser and more resilient then we give her credit for.

That she has a way of correcting and rebalancing herself through fire, flood, and earthquakes even though we may not like how that looks.

We humans have populated her, polluted her and live in a way that is unconscious of her seasonal rhythms and it is now time for us to consider the Earth as our teacher.

It appears we have much to learn from her.

“It is who we become that changes the world and our environment, not what we do. Harmony within will create harmony without. So the true work is learning how to change our thoughts, attitudes and belief systems. We actually have to work with “ the alchemy of the soul” to really be able to change our inner environment as our inner state of being will be reflected in the outer world.”  

~ Contemporary Shamanic Teacher Sandra Ingerman

We have decided that natural disaster and heat are bad, and that our planet is ill. But who are we to believe she has it wrong? Is it possible that our stressed out, chaotic society could be influencing the natural world around us?

With this perspective in mind, here are some fresh, simple ideas that can make a difference.

Take responsibility.

We might be doing a pretty good job at recycling, but what about being okay with taking on more than our share? Let’s model to our children that it’s cool to bring a bag of trash home from every trip to the beach. Then how about taking a look at the energy and emotions we are putting into the world. When sadness or anger strikes, let’s take responsibility for what is going on inside and not push our pain away. Acknowledge it. Sit with it. Because the healing we do inside, is going to be reflected in the world around us. In a good way.


How about dedicating an act of kindness to a favorite tree, the ocean, or the bears? Some days it can be hard to dig deep enough to get our smiles out in the world, so doing it for a “cause” it might help us find bigger reason to share some kindness. Trust our beautiful planet will feel it and so will those around us.


Consider a different form of prayer. A kind where we imagine the feeling we have inside when we smell rain on a summer evening. A prayer of visualizing forests that are green and lush and full of wild creatures. We can dance it, breathe it and send it out to the grandfather trees. It will help transform our worries to hopefulness and hope is what our Earth needs more of right now.


The next time we are out for a walk, take some seeds or nuts along. We can then sprinkle them as an offering of deep gratitude and reverence for the land we walk on, the trees, and for the courageous people who put out the forest fires and clean our oceans.

These offerings will keep our prayers alive.

Today I have dedicated this article to hundreds of trees in my area that had recently perished in a windstorm, their roots had all been weakened from drought. My offerings have been scattered around a fallen tree in my yard who’s shade and fragrance will be deeply missed and my prayers today are imagining the sound of heavy rain to cool the fires on nearby mountains.

I will then watch hopefully for the new growth to come from the fire’s ashes, fallen trees, and from inside my heart.



We Are Our Environment: What I Lost In The California Fires


Author: Sandy Dow

Apprentice Editor: Jenny Wise/Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: IIP Photo Archive/Flickr

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