Note to the reader: to celebrate the release of The Sustainable Soul: Eco-Spiritual Reflections and Practices, I’ve decided to pause and have a look back at this blog’s beginnings. The piece below is adapted from the very first Sustainable Soul column I wrote for the Lohasian website back in 2007. It feels appropriate and fitting to run it again now. Enjoy!
Sustainable. We hear that word a lot nowadays: sustainable energy, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development… but a sustainable soul? What’s that?
Imagine you’re standing in a forest. It’s gorgeous. Green and lush, full of life! Left undisturbed and unpolluted, it will continue indefinitely, drawing energy from the sun, growing new trees to replace the ones that fall and decompose, feeding its animal denizens, changing all the time but remaining stable. If disturbed by a natural disaster or parasite, it will grow back if given half a chance. The only real danger to it is the logging company over there at the forest’s edge that would clear-cut the trees and walk away, leaving only bare earth behind. The forest needs to be protected if it’s to truly be sustainable. This forest is your soul.
When I say soul I mean the heart. The essence of your being. The core from which everything else flows. The deep center within. So, what makes it sustainable? Think about that forest again: dynamic but stable, self-renewing, able to heal, creating new life and new paradigms, but needing protection from forces that would destroy it. Sounds pretty spiritual, doesn’t it? Having a sustainable soul means becoming connected to something greater than yourself, and learning to be consciously aware of your part in the Great Story of Life on Earth. It means being both adaptable and grounded at the same time. It means not becoming so depleted and drained that you feel as though you’ve been clear-cut. A sustainable soul is resilient and able to heal from life’s storms.
Central to this soul-work is the process of reconnecting with the Earth. At the root of our culture’s dysfunction is the fact that our contemporary industrial societies foster a profound level of disconnection from the rhythms and processes of the Earth that make our lives possible. We are Nature. We are the Earth. We are not separate, and what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. Cultivating a sustainable soul means cultivating a sustainable Earth. The two are inseparable.
It’s not easy to nurture a sustainable soul. The culture itself is lurking at our edges chain saw in hand, ready to cut us down. Even so, we can and will grow strong if given half a chance. Add a little spiritual sunlight and water and we heal, grow and flourish!
The Sustainable Soul is all about sharing that spiritual sunlight and water with each other. We explore what it means to live with intention and deep connection to something greater than ourselves. We share ideas for making life more meaningful. We guard our borders, and learn how to consciously interact with and challenge contemporary society. We will not give the clear-cutters free access to our deep center, our soul’s ground.
Take a look within. How’s your inner forest? Is it healthy? Does it need a little sunlight and water? Is it growing, or experiencing a dry spell? Worse yet, have the clear-cutters been through lately? If they have, be gentle with those places, and think about planting some new trees.
Photo Credit: deep roots on the forest floor by flickr user liza31337 at www.creativecommons.org