‘Awe is more than an emotion, it is a way of understanding. Insight into a meaning greater than ourselves. The beginning of awe is wonder and the beginning of wisdom is awe’. (Abraham Joshua Heshel)
It’s been hard to ignore the climate crisis this past week, with headlines of record temperatures in Europe and images of wildfires blazing. The climate crisis has always been inseparable from economics and politics but here in the West it’s less often framed as a spiritual let alone an embodiment crisis. Listening to a recent recording of Extinction Rebellions co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook’s speech entitled ‘Whats next for the climate movements?’ I felt a sense of deep satisfaction to hear her name the link between spirituality and the climate and ecological emergency whilst referencing somatic practices as a means of restoring the direct experience of our vibrant belonging to life: the (w)holiest source out of which actions can arise.
Acknowledging that indigenousness cultures and eastern traditions have always held this understanding, Bradbrook reflected ‘I am often amazed how those concerned with taking action to address the climate crisis fail to address this fundamental root cause’. It further delighted me to hear her name the important role somatic practices can play in restoring a direct experience of our vibrant belonging to life which in turn becomes the source out of which our actions arise.
Indigenous cultures have long understood that until ‘we who are walking asleep’ into deepening crisis wake up and remember that our sickness is born out of our severing from the sacredness of Life, then even our best efforts to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, pollution in our rivers or global inequities, will be misdirected and ultimately futile.
It can be helpful to understand quite how deeply the profound wounding of separation is baked into Western language, cultural assumptions and systems of education and medicine. The17th century Age of Reason deemed it necessary to de-sanctify the body in order that science may advance and in the separating of spirit from matter our souls were handed to organised religion for saving. Invisible yet pervasive it is this broken relationship with our body that legitimises the pillaging of the earth: Sufi teacher Lewellyn Vaughn-Lee reflects ‘we can no longer afford to let the outer world carry our shadow’: we are like hungry ghosts wondering why life feels so much less than it could be.
Are you hearing your own deep hearts call to wake up and recognise that emptiness is no longer satisfied by consuming more: is the earth herself not crying out for us to heed our yearning for something deeper? Jung called it ‘the call of the Self’ whilst Sufis hear it as the call of the Beloved but by whatever name or frame we might give it, we are being called to heal this original wounding.
In mystical wisdom traditions such as Tantra, divinity and consciousness are fundamental properties of the material universe not supernatural or metaphysical principles: nowhere is more holy than the body or Earth.
Here in the secular West we have a harder time reclaiming sacredness though the body, we have been culturally taught to mistrust the body or at the least view body as an object and speak of having a body as if it were separate. Inspired by somatic pioneers such as Bonnie Bainbridge -Cohen a generation of teachers have shone their light through bodywork and movement practices to heal the wound of body-mind-spirit separation As part of this lineage Linda Hartley, founder of my own somatic training, writes ‘in coming home to our body we become connected to our greater home the Earth, we become part of the earth and she a part of us’. Through somatic approaches to therapy, movement, bodywork or meditation we reconnect inwardly though the experience of the body into our cells, bones and fluids. We do this, in the words of Andrea Olsen ‘not to de-mystify the body but to embody it’s mystery’: sensing our inner geology of bones, tides of breath and currents of our essentially fluid nature of being.
I’m a passionate advocate for somatic practices: for their potential to diminish the body-mind tensions that inhibit our resonance with the world, to wake up our inherent aliveness so that we may once again feel our belonging through our body to the sacredness of our beautiful planet. As writer Philip Shepherd reminds us, ’how we relate to the world won’t fundamentally change until our relationship with the body does’.
Ali ROSE is a Registered Somatic Therapist, combining talking, clothed touch and movement to support you physically, emotionally and psychologically. Recognising body and mind as inseparable we give space to what the body knows and support the body-mind integration of life experiences. Click HERE to find out more about her individual therapy work in Chepstow and Bristol or follow on Instagram AliRose Somatic Therapy