Environmental Healing

For nearly 2 months I’ve watched as oil from the damaged BP well pours into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s as if a deadly cancer has struck someone I love, coursing through their body and destroying them while I sit idly by. Every morning I look for assurances that a cure has been found and the oil has stopped gushing, but every night I fall asleep saddened and anxious that a cure might never be found.

Posted on | Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, JD | Comments ()

For nearly 2 months I’ve watched as oil from the damaged BP well pours into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s as if a deadly cancer has struck someone I love, coursing through their body and destroying them while I sit idly by. Every morning I look for assurances that a cure has been found and the oil has stopped gushing, but every night I fall asleep saddened and anxious that a cure might never be found.

In discussing this disaster with the people around me, I’ve learned I’m not alone in my feelings. Everyone I know has reacted with sorrow, frustration, anger and despair.

Most of us are aware of how our emotional well being is impacted by the relationships we have with other people. Think about how badly you feel after fighting with someone who gives you love. A breach in this relationship, if only for a moment, can make us feel vulnerable and unsafe, ungrounded and disconnected.

In a similar fashion, a breach in our relationship with the earth leaves us feeling vulnerable and anxious too. We all depend on the earth for security and comfort. When the earth is damaged, our sense of safety is damaged as well.

The recent experience in the Gulf is especially disturbing because not only is the earth being damaged, but also we are forced to endure days and days of failed attempts to stop the toxic flow. As the oil continues to pollute our environment, a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness continues to pollute our soul.   

In these dark moments, we must remember that while we may feel powerless and hopeless – we are not. In this, like in every dark moment of our life, we must call forth the powers of healing and hope that exist within us.

One of the most profound observations I’ve made in my personal and professional life is the enormous capacity we have to heal each other, our natural world and ourselves. Part of this healing occurs naturally, but most of it occurs by pushing ourselves to change and grow.

 In order to heal the planet and ourselves from the pain of the oil spill we must push ourselves in a reparative direction. Just like we’d take action to mend a damaged human relationship, we must take action to heal the earth.

Each day is ripe with the potential to create positive change in this regard. These single actions may seem like a little, but collectively they mean a lot:

  • Stoop down to pick up a piece of garbage that someone else has left behind.
  • Become more conscious in how you consume and purchase.
  • Cultivate a sense of gratitude for the clean water and clean air that gives you and your loved ones life.
  • Find a quiet place in nature and radiate love out towards it.

By respecting what we have we, can begin healing from what we’ve lost. We are not powerless in the face of this crisis. As human beings we hold the power to heal the earth, and in so doing, heal ourselves. Respect and love the earth today like you would respect and love a parent or grandparent, son or daughter, brother or sister.  Always remember that we live not on the earth, but in relationship with it.

Blog written by Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, JD
Paul Hokemeyer is a licensed attorney, researcher and Marriage and Family Therapist who works with individuals, couples and...