Tag Archives: Earth

COVID – 19 and Walking Meditation                                                           

Anxiety and fear provide the internal Coronavirus. It overwhelms practices to calm and meditate. It is often impossible to sit and meditate, but we can walk with normal breaths for 15 minutes – in our home, in our back yard or around our streets – making sure we honor distance from others.

We know from our experience of hikes in nature, or neighborhood walks after dinner, that sudden flashes of insight often arise in concert with our footsteps.  We then see clearly how to handle a predicament or solve a problem. Imagine what can happen when we add conscious awareness to our footsteps.  When we concentrate on our breath and focus on slow walking, we actually have a brilliant piece of engineering to quiet the mind and body.  When we add a third concentration – aware of how our feet touch the earth – we have a meditative practice designed for our times.  We focus our mind on the mechanism of each foot touching the earth – heel, then ball of foot, then toe.  We slow down even further and with our body – not our intellect or ego – we make a contract with Mother Earth to leave a smaller footprint. We examine our consumption patterns and energy use.  All from walking with awareness, our breath, our legs and noticing how our feet touch the earth.

With this concentrated focus of walking meditation there is very little opportunity for the mind to worry about past events or future anticipations.  The meditation keeps us present, here in the moment of being fully alive.  It slows us down step by step so that our mind enters silence.  This is aided by another component we can add to walking meditation – a gentle half smile to nurture the peace and silence within. With the deepening of this internal silence, insight naturally occurs.

Walking meditation is a powerful methodology for healing ourselves.  We start by breathing in and out with full attention to the in-breath and to the out-breath.  Co-ordinating our breath with our steps we breathe in, saying silently to ourselves – “Breathing in” – as we take two or three slow steps.  Then as we breathe out, we say – “Breathing out” – as we simultaneously take two or three slow steps.  Practice this for several minutes just to get used to the concentration and the co-ordination of breath and steps and be fully aware of breathing in and out, and of walking slowly step by step.  Sometimes you will take two steps, sometimes three or four steps, sometimes there will be more steps on the out-breath than on the in-breath.  Allow the breath and lungs to find a natural rhythm with your steps.  It is the concentration and awareness that matters, not whether you take two or three steps, but do remember to wear a half smile on your lips!  If you take two steps with the in-breath, say to yourself –

“Breathing in” (on step 1), “In” (on step 2).

If you take three steps on the out-breath, say to yourself –

“Breathing out” (on step 1), “Out” (on step 2), “Out” (on step 3).  As you take each step, you can add a concentration that brings you solidly into contact with the earth.  Concentrate on your foot touching the ground in this sequence – heel, ball of foot, toe.  This particular concentration assists you to be fully with your stepping on the earth, keeping you alert to earth rhythms.

At Carleton University where I used to teach, I would walk from the bus stop and take a detour around the greenhouses of the Botany department and come to the Rideau River that runs along one side of the campus. From there I had a kilometer of riverbank to practice walking meditation before arriving at my office building.  It is quite secluded in parts and the river has sets of rapids that greatly enrich my walk.  One section of the path took my steps through a cedar grove, and I always felt a sacred blessing from these beautiful trees.  I slow my walking right down to a three – three rhythm when I enter the cedar grove.  The path is never the same, as the seasons change its character.  Autumn leaves give way to snowfall as winter leaves her embrace.  My clothes and footwear change, yet my steps, breathing and feet touching the earth remain constant.  The rustle of autumn leaves is replaced by the crunch of snow and ice, which gives way to the mud and rain of spring before the heat of summer allows me to walk in sandals or barefoot.  The birds and foliage change with the seasons, as does the river – iced over in winter, turbulent in the spring and calm in summer and fall.  Students with their books and friends congregate by the river when the weather is sunny.

I notice the changes in the seasonal round of nature, yet remain with my breathing, footsteps and the earth – so that I am not drawn into unnecessary thought.  It takes me approximately twenty minutes to arrive at my office.  I am in a clear, calm state and better able to be of assistance to students and colleagues and bring my own sense of calm and clarity to the university.  On leaving the university I retrace my steps of walking meditation along the river before going home, or to appointments in the city.  The experience engenders the same calm and clarity.  This walk is Paradise, and a constant reminder to me for those occasions when I am not in touch with the earth mother.  We do not need to walk on water, or over hot coals.

We simply need to walk on the earth and touch her deeply with our full awareness.  That is all that walking meditation is.

Dr Ian Prattis is an author, speaker and Zen teacher. His recent books are found at his website www.ianprattis.com

 

Coping with COVID – 19

This was sent to me by my friend Theda Phoenix. An excellent overview.

From a psychologist:
After having thirty-one sessions this week with patients where the singular focus was COVID-19 and how to cope, I decided to consolidate my advice and make a list that I hope is helpful to all.
MENTAL HEALTH WELLNESS TIPS FOR QUARANTINE

1. Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.

2. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Take the time to do a bath or a facial. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.

3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes. If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less traveled streets and avenues. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan. It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.

4. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least thirty minutes. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!

5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for thirty minutes. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support. Don’t forget to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc—your kids miss their friends, too!

6. Stay hydrated and eat well. This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!

7. Develop a self-care toolkit. This can look different for everyone. A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure). An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, photos of vacations, comforting music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, a small swing or rocking chair, a weighted blanket. A journal, an inspirational book, or a mandala coloring book is wonderful, bubbles to blow or blowing watercolor on paper through a straw are visually appealing as well as work on controlled breath. Mint gum, Listerine strips, ginger ale, frozen Starburst, ice packs, and cold are also good for anxiety regulation. For children, it is great to help them create a self-regulation comfort box (often a shoe-box or bin they can decorate) that they can use on the ready for first-aid when overwhelmed.

8. Spend extra time playing with children. Children will rarely communicate how they are feeling, but will often make a bid for attention and communication through play. Don’t be surprised to see therapeutic themes of illness, doctor visits, and isolation play through. Understand that play is cathartic and helpful for children—it is how they process their world and problem solve, and there’s a lot they are seeing and experiencing in the now.

9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth. A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

10. Everyone find their own retreat space. Space is at a premium, particularly with city living. It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and “forts”. It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.

11. Expect behavioral issues in children, and respond gently. We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. Do not introduce major behavioral plans or consequences at this time—hold stable and focus on emotional connection.

12. Focus on safety and attachment. We are going to be living for a bit with the unprecedented demand of meeting all work deadlines, homeschooling children, running a sterile household, and making a whole lot of entertainment in confinement. We can get wrapped up in meeting expectations in all domains, but we must remember that these are scary and unpredictable times for children. Focus on strengthening the connection through time spent following their lead, through physical touch, through play, through therapeutic books, and via verbal reassurances that you will be there for them in this time.

13. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance. This idea is connected with #12. We are doing too many things in this moment, under fear and stress. This does not make a formula for excellence. Instead, give yourself what psychologists call “radical self acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback. You cannot fail at this—there is no roadmap, no precedent for this, and we are all truly doing the best we can in an impossible situation.

14. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children. One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily). Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children—they see and hear everything, and can become very frightened by what they hear.

15. Notice the good in the world, the helpers. There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic. There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It is important to counter-balance the heavy information with the hopeful information.

16. Help others. Find ways, big and small, to give back to others. Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbors, write psychological wellness tips for others—helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control.

17. Find something you can control, and control the heck out of it. In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture, group your toys. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.

18. Find a long-term project to dive into. Now is the time to learn how to play the keyboard, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, start a 15 hour game of Risk, paint a picture, read the Harry Potter series, binge watch an 8-season show, crochet a blanket, solve a Rubix cube, or develop a new town in Animal Crossing. Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.

19. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements. Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.

20. Find an expressive art and go for it. Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal for release of feeling. Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give it your all. See how relieved you can feel. It is a very effective way of helping kids to emote and communicate as well!

21. Find lightness and humor in each day. There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason. Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.

22. Reach out for help—your team is there for you. If you have a therapist or psychiatrist, they are available to you, even at a distance. Keep up your medications and your therapy sessions the best you can. If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help for the first time. There are mental health people on the ready to help you through this crisis. Your children’s teachers and related service providers will do anything within their power to help, especially for those parents tasked with the difficult task of being a whole treatment team to their child with special challenges. Seek support groups of fellow home-schoolers, parents, and neighbors to feel connected. There is help and support out there, any time of the day—although we are physically distant, we can always connect virtually.

23. “Chunk” your quarantine, take it moment by moment. We have no road map for this. We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now. Often, when I work with patients who have anxiety around overwhelming issues, I suggest that they engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable. Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time—find what feels doable for you, and set a time stamp for how far ahead in the future you will let yourself worry. Take each chunk one at a time, and move through stress in pieces.

24. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass. We will return to feeing free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.

25. Find the lesson. This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable. When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone work through said trauma is to help them find their agency, the potential positive outcomes they can effect, the meaning and construction that can come out of destruction. What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis? What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?

5 STAR REVIEW of SHATTERED EARTH

5 STAR BOOK REVIEW

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

 Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction by Ian Prattis is a compelling prophecy for humanity. In this book, the author gives a strong warning against the threat to which human greed and abuse of the environment have subjected the earth. It is painful to read, but this is not fiction. The book unveils startling and disturbing facts to illustrate how much damage we have already caused the environment, from the throes of climate change to the evil of militarization, from excessive human greed to acts of violence and war. The author cites concrete examples of how the world is dying by using the experience of Australia with sand storms, volcanic eruptions, and coastal tsunamis, the widespread inundations in Bangladesh, the Netherlands and worldwide coastal regions, rising sea levels and many others.

Shattered Earth is a book with a message that should rouse every human being and make them ask serious questions about what they are doing to save the earth. While the planet is dying and many people are experiencing diseases and starvation, there is noticeable mindlessness that isn’t just shocking but evil. In prose that is beautiful and in a voice that is compelling, Ian Prattis invites readers to think about the fate of the planet and shares stories that are moving and revealing of the actions that are destroying our world. Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction is a timely book and one that addresses environmental issues with much clarity. This is a book that should be promoted and now is the time to save the earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ecocide -THE MESSAGE TO CONVEY

Excerpts from – http://ianprattis.com/ShatteredEarth.html

Many years ago (2005) I published Failsafe: Saving the Earth from Ourselves. I wrote about homo sapiens as perhaps a Failed Genetic Experiment. I delivered the content of this book to students at Carleton University in a television course on Ecology and Culture. Half way through the course I remembered stopping – I looked out at the young people and offered an apology to them – that my generation had not left them with a healthy planet.

Four books later I released Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement in 2017. In 16 essays I offered examples of how to respond to the most serious social, economic, environmental and personal challenges of the 21st century in order to become better stewards of the earth and society. Melissa Studdard, Author and Poet stated “Amidst the fear, greed, and pain of our burning world, there is a cool garden where you can recover hope for posterity and cultivate your best life. Ian Prattis’ words are one of the surest pathways to that garden. Both analytically rigorous and fearlessly honest, this book is a must read for anyone asking, “What can I do?

My books reinforce the attempt to change the state of our world – only things have got so much worse since my initial apology. To blaze through the fog I went over to the dark side with my latest book “Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction.”  A brilliant reviewer of this book remarked at the end of her testimonial – “This book is dark. It is bone chilling. It is captivating.” That is a good description! Jana Begovic had this to say; Dr. Prattis is a recipient and bearer of the ancestral wisdom, He shines the light on what is important for our survival, and that of the generations to come, on the urgency with which we ought to act while there is still a glimmer of hope left before it is too late. If humankind wants to survive, it needs to unite in this very late hour, and attempt to reverse the human greed, callousness and cruelty inflicted upon Earth. The powerful, sobering and timely message of this book should be shared far and wide.

This year (2019) I participated in the Climate Strikes on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It was quite emotional for me to see thousands of children shouting out for politicians to get behind the science. On the Hill I mused on my book Failsafe: Saving the Earth from Ourselves, published much earlier. I do remember apologizing to my students at Carleton University – that my generation had not left a healthy planet for them. I recalled that apology at the Climate Strike, when surrounded by thousands of magnificent children. I was in admiration of their strike, yet emotional and sad that Earth matters had not changed for the better. I noticed that I was not the only grandparent who cried a bit. I was also thinking about the completion of my new book – Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction – and decided to dedicate it to the brave children of our world. I was saddened by the COP25 in Madrid where the fossil fuel industry stalked like predators over governments and premiers. Their world-wide stomping was also directed to the brave protests from children. The protests have to continue. Every legal action must now be taken up to drive the oil executives and their government lackeys to change or occupy a jail cell.

Ten years ago a brilliant pushback to climate denial was made by Polly Higgins, a barrister in Britain. She created a campaign to criminalize “ecocide” – whereby environmental damage would be a global crime. This was aimed at the destruction of ecosystems by the carbon cabal and their political lackeys. The legal instrument of “ecocide” has yet to be adopted, though her idea has garnered world-wide momentum to hold corporate executives and governments liable for the damage they do to ecosystems and humanity. The Marshall Islands and Maldives have brought similar legal requests to the UN about their dire situation of rising sea levels.

The legal work of the ecocide movement operates as a counterpart to the mobilization of Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Greta Thunberg’s Global Youth Strike for Climate. The organizations are highly complementary and combine as strong grassroots movements demanding specific legal changes to protect the Earth for future generations of all species.

Unfortunately, Polly Higgins died from cancer in April 2019. Her strong belief was that such a law would change the world. Her work continues with a vast legal team in many countries. Her everlasting quip will never be forgotten:

“I have a choice to protect our Earth, or let it be destroyed.”

These are the stakes we all face.

http://ianprattis.com/ShatteredEarth.html

 

 

48 Minute Interview about “Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction”

I enjoyed the depth of this interview with Robert Sharpe. The conversation rested on specific questions.

  1. YOUR NEW BOOK “SHATTERED EARTH: APPROACHING EXTINCTION” INVOKES AN ALERT. IS THE EARTH OR OUR WORLD COMING TO AN END?
  1. WHAT IS THE MESSAGE YOU ARE TRYING TO CONVEY TO YOUR READERS?
  2. WHAT CAN WE DO TO AVOID IT?
  3. WHAT MEASURES CAN WE TAKE NOW?
  4. IS IT AN INDIVIDUAL THING OR A GOVERNMENT THING?
  5. COLLECTIVELY WHAT CAN WE DO?
  6. AS INDIVIDUALS WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT CLIMATE CRISIS?
  7. WHAT IS THE 2050 SCENARIO?
  8. WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT ABOUT ANCIENT WISDOM AND INDIGENOUS WAYS?

Listen here to the conversation: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/biteradiome/2019/12/05/shattered-earth-approaching-extinction-with-dr-ian-prattis

 

Should the interview catch your interest, take a look at the Cover, Overview, Foreword, Testimonials, Q&A, and Order of the book – go to the URL on my website – http://ianprattis.com/ShatteredEarth.html

The ORDER tab takes you to Amazon (soon to Indigo), and to the Author’s stack of books. Using the latter option you can buy an autographed book that comes with a bonus – a FREE prior book as a thank you.

KEY WORDS: “Visionary, Mindfulness, Sustainability, Guidance, Gaia, Eco-dharma, New Paradigms, Authentic, Ethical Framework, Analytically Rigorous, Spiritual Warrior, Hero’s Journey, Community Activism, Futuristic, Climate Emergency, Extinction Rebellion, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Marshall Plan, Political Leaders, Impermanence, Extinction, Darkness, Awakening, Ancient Wisdom, Climate Strike, Eco-cide, Abrasive, Wisdom, Truth, Demise, Reverence, Brilliant, Lotus Revolution, Sixth Sun, Grounded-ness, Bone-chilling, Captivating.

 

URL for “Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction”

Dear friends and gentle people,

Would you be so kind as to forward the URL for my latest book to your friends and networks?

“Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction” opens with Chapter One – A Candid Look at the Future of Planet Earth. It lays out the corruption of the fossil fuel cabal, the ignored science and the consequences of releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. It continues with The Children and Extinction Rebellion (XR), Impermanence and appeals to Indigenous threads of sanity. Ottawa friends can get a signed copy from my home with a bonus – one prior book for FREE with each purchase. Email me at iprattis@bell.net or use Messenger on Facebook for directions.

The URL on my website – ianprattis.com – has COVER, OVERVIEW, FOREWORD, TESTIMONIALS, Q&A, ORDER BOOK for Shattered Earth. It directs attention to the future of humanity and the planet.  http://ianprattis.com/ShatteredEarth.html provides direct purchase to Amazon and soon to Indigo, in addition to the FREE book bonus option through the author. The latter is the best deal! If you go to Amazon or Indigo – please consider leaving a review once you have perused my latest scribbling.

All blessings,

Ian

Impermanence and Extinction

The point of meditation is to grasp our true nature and accept the inevitability of change. It is impermanence that enables composure in the face of the difficult possibility of Extinction. The Buddha was very clear about “Impermanence.” His teachings on this foundation spur a radical change. The 12th century Japanese Zen Master Dogen writes, “Impermanence is itself Buddha nature.” For the Buddha, Dogen and countless sages this is not a problem to overcome. It is a path, not an attempt to overcome impermanence. Without this insight, we will not be able to change our mindsets about disruptive political and environmental circumstances. We rigidly hold on to views of how it once was, only it has already changed – often dangerously so. This lapse is further embedded by humanity’s general avoidance to value the planet and other people, undermining the possibility of understanding the sheer necessity of “Impermanence.” However, once we can accept that we have created the present deterioration of the global situation, then and only then can we find insights that bring radical change to our values, habits and mindset. Thich Nhat Hanh adds,

“It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.”

From the Buddha, Thich Nhat Hanh, all the way to Eckhart Tolle and Mooji, poets, seers and scientists – there is a unanimous point of view.

Dogen, from the 12th century, instructs us to intimately observe cause and effect, especially the condition of impermanence and loss. Then he throws in, “…..time is always impermanence.” The bottom line is that concentration on this factor releases us from fear and suffering. I offer a simple four step understanding of impermanence:

  1. Things change.
  2. Accept the existence of the change.
  3. Find your composure about it.
  4. Use meditation and the fullness of your heart to continue.

It is very difficult for western culture to accept death and the notion of impermanence. The usual response to both is fear and denial. We have to re-educate our minds to get past these two obstacles. When we can recognize that our present form of civilization is dying, we will recognize that despair and denial will do us no good. We need to rely on our practice of mindfulness and community-building to provide a measure of sanity. Martin Luther King devoted most of his time and efforts to build “The Beloved Community” as the strength to break through racism in America. With spiritual practice and community activism, instead of denial and despair, a space opens in our mind for lucidity and steadiness to propel our species to live differently. When such a community walks with us, fear dissipates and the dreadful despair and suffering recedes.

Such a future on Earth requires a mass awakening of attributes that run counter to the ecology of greed. It requires a candid acceptance that our global civilization in its present form is coming to an end. Such an acceptance of our reality on the planet enables understanding of environmental collapse and Extinction. Thich Nhat Hanh brings this home to us in a challenging way, making it very clear that any view not based on impermanence is wrong. He shows how the Buddha provided meditations for his followers so they could recognize that the only thing that follows death is the fruit of our action and thinking, of our speech and of our acts during our lifetime. Specifically, on climate crisis he is very blunt:

“If we continue to consume unwisely, if we don’t care about protecting this wonderful planet….the ecosystem will be destroyed to a large extent and we will need millions of years to start a new civilization. Everything is impermanent…. We are our environment, which is in a process of self-destruction.”

The origins of the Climate Crisis can be found in greed, craving, delusion and ignorance, where sanity is crushed by the greed for profit and corporate rules triumph over social responsibility. That sums up our overwhelming retreat into denial. The Buddha advised a long time ago that we need internal changes in our values, our thinking and our ways of life. This means turning away from a system driven by greed, limitless profits, exploitation and violence against people and the environment. By relying on impermanence we can make changes to our collective systems and choose co-operation and living in harmony with the natural world. That enables humanity to flourish in a better 21st Century.

Understanding impermanence brings clarity to our minds and perhaps we can implement ethics, structures and technology while on this planet. We have the job of cultivating a new way of living with one another on Earth. This is what Thich Nhat Hanh means in his homily, “Only Love can save us from Climate Change.”

We must deliberately cultivate positive ethical attributes in our minds. We have to shine the light of recognition and mindfulness on our suffering, so that we become steady and full of resolve to live differently with a community. We have to shift the tide of negativity, change our mindset and not squander our life. With templates like the Mindfulness Trainings we consciously choose to nurture patterns of behavior and habits that are wholesome and generous. In other words, we make mindfulness practice our new habit, an internal transformation of consciousness at the core of our being.

I shape all of this into a simple personal mantra for myself – “I refrain from causing harm.” I know that by refraining from one thing that causes harm, I then prevent other harmful things from happening. It takes mindfulness to do this and the trainings provide the starting point, a guidance system and a deep well of internal ethics to live by. My commitment is to actualize these trainings in my life, and in the lives of others, so that impermanence is understood. To mitigate ecological collapse, the transition from doomed economic and political systems have to change to life sustaining societies based on community activism. There are many hurdles, as people do not see Climate Emergency for what it is, because they are stuck in their personal suffering. The plight of Mother Earth is beyond their capacity to grasp. Spiritual practice and community building of some kind are drastically needed in order to prevent being overwhelmed by suffering, despair and fear.

I could go on and on about the terrible things taking place in society, politics and to the planet – and will divert to that in a moment. It is important to refine a system of ethical conduct. I go deeper into meditation to mainly fix myself to be steady and insightful. I register with Mindfulness Trainings, as it brings out all that I would like to see in people around the planet. The bottom line for me is that awakening and mindfulness are active. Activism, on its own, does not have the inner resources to maintain effective social and planetary transformation. I know from personal experience that re-training the wild mind is a necessary ingredient to precede activism. Becoming environmental or political is only one part of the gig. It cannot be fully effective until the internal spiritual work is in place.

At present, we are totally out of sync with the earth’s resources. The fragile threads of ecosystems around the globe are severely compromised and we are in the position of going down the collective sewer. Earth is like a giant living cell, all parts are linked symbiotically. Biologist Thomas Lewis created this metaphor with humanity as just one part of a vast system. The reality is that the life support systems of our planet are severely threatened by Climate Crisis. Our ignorance and neglect are destroying Planet Earth, because we do not know how to respect ourselves, others, and the planet. We have no alternative but to concentrate on sustainable living, rather than exploiting the spoils of perpetual economic growth. Profit cannot be the sole reason for commerce. There must be responsibility tied into the equation. Unfortunately, we have largely discarded our ability to relate to meaningful values such as compassion, planetary care, love and social justice to mention a few castaways. Unless we radically change, there is no possibility of balance, environmentally or socially.

These issues were examined with great clarity by the awakened mind of the Buddha, 2600 years ago. His teachings are timeless, as relevant to the modern world as when first spoken.  In the modern era Thich Nhat Hanh taught the Five Mindfulness Trainings as a design for living related to modern realities. They are non-sectarian and all spiritual traditions have their equivalent. The first training is to protect life, to decrease violence in oneself, family and society. The second training is to practice social justice, generosity and not exploit other beings. The third is responsible sexual behavior for all people, to protect couples, families and children. The fourth is the practice of deep listening and loving speech to restore communication and reconciliation. The fifth is about mindful consumption, which helps us not to bring toxins and poisons into our body, mind or planet.

Expanding Heart and Mind – Community Building and Activism

I rest on the Hopi Elders’ Prophecy in 2000,

“Create your community. Be good to one another. And do not look outside yourself for your leader… See who is there with you and celebrate…. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

I believe, from my own experience, that community activism is a vital action for populations around the world. I would say community building and activism are essential actions in our times. For years I organized a big event in Ottawa City Hall – the annual Friends for Peace Day. This was my job for a decade. It all started on a bitterly cold winter evening as the Iraq war loomed. I received notice that a Peace Song Circle was happening on Parliament Hill to protest the bombing of Baghdad. So I went, accompanied by my wife Carolyn, a friend and our dog. No-one else turned up, as it was so cold. I remarked to Carolyn,

“This is a good idea but it needs attention to detail and organization.”

She replied, “Let’s do it.”

So we created the nucleus for Friends for Peace Canada.  It quickly grew to a loose coalition of over fifty organizations in the city and we asked them to begin the peace process first of all within themselves, then to the community and out to the world. Our mandate evolved from peace advocacy to projects on the ground. We gave annual Grants to local organizations making a difference in our city, as well as working with other coalitions in the city for environmental and social justice issues. We organized five thousand participants at the Song Circle on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, held on a miserably wet, cold spring day in 2003.

A sea of multi-colored umbrellas on a rain swept morning welcomed all those gathered.  As other peace protests joined us and sang “All Within Me Peaceful,” the crowd covered the grounds of Canada’s seat of government, all meditating at the end in total silence as the rain poured down on our heads. The pouring rain was strangely welcome, for it symbolized the tears of Iraqi children, my tears, your tears, transformed into hope through singing for peace with one another and experiencing deep stillness with this community on Parliament Hill. There was a transformation of anger, anguish and violence into a determined clarity to be peaceful and to oppose war. From there we know the wise actions to take.

The projects in the city of Ottawa supported by Friends for Peace include: the Multi-Faith Housing Initiative, the Youth Treatment Centre, Child Haven International, and Peace Camp Ottawa, which brings reconciliation to Palestinian and Israeli teens. In addition we supported the Physicians for Global Survival initiative to expand the mandate of the Canadian War Museum to include the creation of a culture of peace. There were other projects in Africa, India and Nepal. One planetary care project was the campaign to make the Dumoine River watershed in Quebec a protected conservation park. Peace Grants were also awarded to rebuild the Galai School in Liberia and the Healing Art Project of Minwaashin Lodge – an aboriginal women’s centre in Ottawa. Orkidstra received several grants to expand their children’s orchestra. Other grants were presented to the Dandelion Dance Company and to USC Canada. Ottawa Friends of Tibet received several Peace Grants for their Tibetan Re-Settlement Project, just to mention a few.

Each year since the relentless rain on Parliament Hill in 2003, the annual Friends for Peace Days have been memorable. We were rained and snowed on for several years on Parliament Hill, thunder and lightning at Alumni Park of Carleton University, before we moved inside to Ottawa City Hall. We organized differently there, with peace activist and environment booths along the periphery of the hall, a food court at the back, a long set of tables with items for the silent auction and the stage at the north end. The response to this community activism was beyond any expectations.

The yearly event, held in the Autumn, became an awesome, diverse, unique Ottawa experience. It was made possible by the generosity of volunteers, supporters and citizens of Ottawa who showed up to have a good time, be educated and inspired. It created an epicentre of intent and action, intense at times as people were moved to both tears and laughter. The intensity and joy rippled through the diversity, all generations, faiths and cultures in our northern city. The force of the epicentre roared through the community and activist tables, Muslim families, Asian groups, elders, young folk and volunteers. The diversity of Ottawa gathers, listens, dances, laughs, cries, and takes home an unforgettable experience of hope and confidence.

Friends for Peace presented Awards to outstanding Canadian citizens who devoted their lives to securing peace, planetary care and social justice. Our mandate was always solid throughout the day, at the Welcome and Community Tables, the Silent Auction, Connection Centre and Food Court. Citizens left at the end of the day feeling uplifted, confident and connected. The intent was to create a different form of peaceful expression that appeals to a wide cross section of Canadian citizens who want to create infrastructure in our institutions that value peace and planetary processes.

When I founded Friends for Peace Canada I was making a conscious choice to focus on the local, my home city of Ottawa. My focus was on mindfulness in schools, city environment, youth at risk and the empowerment of women. I was astonished by the results, more true to say “blown away.” At the local level there was continuity with great women who made sure good things happened. Many of the Award recipients were women. The funds raised from the annual Peace Day were used to issue Grants to organizations in Ottawa.  In particular we supported youth organizations that burst on to the local scene guided by awesome women. Orkidstra, founded by my friend Tina Fedeski, provides children from under-served communities with the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and sing in a choir. It is modelled on the El Sistema program, which was so successful in Venezuela for breaking down barriers of poverty and violence. The philosophy of El Sistema has spread to sixty countries in the world, serving millions of children.

In Ottawa, Orkidstra is creating a quiet social revolution on the backs of children – in a very healthy way. Tina Fedeski and two friends drew together a marvelous group of music teachers, promoters, volunteers and educators. There are now 700 children from over 62 cultural and linguistic backgrounds – a huge enrollment beyond the 27 children who started in the program in 2007. Orkidstra is a social development program giving children in Ottawa a sense of belonging and achievement plus fostering life skills. Children from low-income and under-served areas receive tuition, instruments and music – provided free of charge. Each child commits to playing in an ensemble. The program builds community, co-operation, commitment, compassion and self-esteem. This is in the opposite direction of fear, suffering and neglect. The results have been amazing. All graduates go on to post-secondary education making good the belief that empowering kids builds mature citizens and community. In the Orkidstra domain there is no sense of separation, only love. They interconnect with integrity, a recipe that makes the entire organization deeply heart-warming.

Similar support was provided to The Dandelion Dance Company, which has a similar structure. This is the creation of Hannah Beach, who brought forth a dozen young women actors, dressed in black to several Friends for Peace Days. This Ottawa based youth dance theatre company explores social issues through movement. Their repertoire is driven by the experiences, reflections and passion of young women who range in age from twelve to eighteen. The themes they dance include children’s rights, hunger, authenticity, bullying, drug addiction, stereotypes and inclusiveness. Their performances of John Marsden’s “Prayer for the Twenty First Century” brought the entire audience to their feet applauding their passion for nonviolence and the basic rights for women. The dance alluded to our hope and dreams we want for our society. The Dandelions provide the means to galvanize parents, friends and volunteers so that good kids are created and excellent citizens emerge.

Peace, Planetary Care and Social Justice are alive and well in our northern city. A Circle of Nations no less. Friends for Peace had a fantastic run for a decade, then I was side-lined by surgeries for three years and I could clearly see Impermanence working on me! There is now a two week Peace Festival in Ottawa every September. It has grown in ever increasing concentric circles. The foundations of mindfulness through the organizations we partnered with have taken root in the annual Peace Festival. All adhere to some form of our mandate: Peace, Planetary Care and Social Justice. Concentration on my home city was a primary focus. I was inspired to devote my time and energy to moving things just a little bit, so that good things could begin to happen spontaneously. I soon discovered, there were many good friends across the city more than happy to make this possible – and take over.

This narrative shows how the strategy of community building and activism in the face of Extinction is necessary. This is what it takes to derail the culture of fear and greed. To truly embrace impermanence requires an open spiritual practice, co-operative networks and preparation for community activism to invigorate the values that serve humanity. The required global response to implement some form of the Marshall Plan or the Green New Deal is not likely to appear in time, unless political leaders suddenly become brave and make bold choices to connect rather than separate. In the looming vacuum, deadly forms of Climate Emergency will certainly crash down all over the planet. Yet the organization of community building and activism provides local support with a strong view of impermanence. In my home city of Ottawa, Canada, there are many magnificent networks of solidarity in the city to help and support.

There may well be disaster in our faces, yet there is also solidarity in community activism.  Martin Luther King’s “Beloved Community” no less.

 

Climate Strike in Ottawa, September 27, 2019

I published “Failsafe, Saving the Earth from Ourselves” in 2008. I remember apologizing to my students at Carleton University that my generation had not left a healthy planet for them. I remembered that apology at the 2019 Climate Strike in Ottawa – Friday September 27 – surrounded by thousands of magnificent children. I was in admiration of their strike, yet emotional and sad that earth matters had not changed for the better. I noticed that I was not the only grandparent who cried a bit. Montreal was in the forefront with 500,000 protesters, followed by 100 towns and cities across the country – also around the world. The largest protest ever with over 6 million climate strikers.

I was also thinking about the completion of my new book – “Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction” – to be released at the end of October.

This book is dedicated to the brave children of our world.

Here is a recent testimonial of this work:

Krystina McGuire-Eggins, Therapist

In Shattered Earth, Ian Prattis catapults the reader into a dark, brutal vision of the devastation on Earth as a result of our willful neglect and abuse of its resources. Prattis shares his abundance of knowledge and experience as a professor emeritus of anthropology and religion, scholar, world traveler, spiritual leader and poet, to present a convincing and alarming view of the future, including a glimpse of the year 2080. Using the wisdom he has gained from his travels to overseas ashrams and monasteries, as well as his time spent with Native American medicine people and shamans, he also provides an invaluable insight into the ancient wisdom that can sustain us. This book is dark. It is bone-chilling. It is captivating.

Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction

This is my 18th book – the most difficult yet. It is about our broken world – particularly with respect to the impending Extinction brought about by Climate Emergency. The difficulty for me has been the darkness of Extinction despite the pacifying alternative of Impermanence. The testimonials blew me away – here are a few.

Claudiu Murgan, Author – Ian Prattis’s previous books – Failsafe: Saving the Earth From Ourselves; New Planet New World, and Our World is Burning – should be part of our schools’ curriculum. Shattered Earth makes no exception. It has an abrasive message for those that still don’t want to understand that the existing ecological balance is broken and only a sudden halt of the destructive actions fueled by greed and power could dim down the effects. A must read for all that care about their legacy.

Jana Begovic, Contributing Editor of “Ariel Chart Literary Magazine.”- …..Dr. Prattis is a recipient and bearer of the ancestral wisdom, He shines the light on what is important for our survival, and that of the generations to come, on the urgency with which we ought to act while there is still a glimmer of hope left before it is too late. If humankind wants to survive, it needs to unite in this very late hour, and attempt to reverse the human greed, callousness and cruelty inflicted upon Earth. This powerful, sobering and timely message of this book should be shared far and wide before it is too late.

Anita Rizvi, Therapist – Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction is humankind peering into a broken mirror and seeing the stark reality of Climate Emergency reflected there. Without leniency, Dr. Prattis forewarns of a world with ‘no beauty rising from the ashes’ should we stay on our present course. Amidst the desolate and barren narrative described so beautifully in this book, a solution is born in the mud pits. Civilization can set a new course that will allow our natural state of interconnectedness to emerge.  Shattered Earth is brilliant and asks something of each of us – to become part of the only force that can jointly topple the creators of Climate Emergency. With Dr. Prattis there, it is time for the Lotus Revolution.

The book will be released at the end of October 2019. Copies can be picked up at my home in Ottawa with a bonus. With each purchase you can take home – FREE – any one of my prior books. Email iprattis@bell.net

Amazon Rainforest Burning in Brazil

My latest book – Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction – is being released this fall by Manor House. 13 chapters, Four Parts. The present situation in Brazil is addressed in Chapter One: A Candid Look at the Future of Planet Earth. 

Excerpt from my first chapter of Shattered Earth: Approaching Extinction –

“Furthermore, the Economist Journal on August 1, 2019 published “Deathwatch for the Amazon,” which is collapsing ecologically. A process hastened by Brazil’s President. The drastic wildfires in the summer of 2019 were dismissed by President Bolsonaro as being set by NGO’s opposing him. There was no evidence. Even worse was the statement that his government lacked the resources to fight the record number of wildfires in the region – home to three million species of plants and animals and one million indigenous people. It has been a long war promoted by agribusinesses and the Brazilian government against the indigenous population. The Amazon rain forest was a major buffer to rabid Global Warming. That prevention has now been compromised, as rain forest degradation has major impacts for Climate Emergency. Amazon indigenous communities have suffered from violent and oppressive treatments in the name of development.”