Ecosomatics: An Embodied Ecology

Most people accept that our behaviour is destroying vital ecosystems, yet there’s very little being done about it. Why? There are several factors, but a key part of the problem is that we’re in denial. I find it pretty hard to be with the fact that we’re responsible for the sixth mass extinction. How about you?

My opening paragraph might have made you feel less centred and at least a little more fearful. But being in a state of fear tends to make us less caring,  less open and inevitably less environmentally aware. Reminding you about environmental destruction has – perversely – made you less able to respond to it. But what if I were to give you some simple tools to stay centred and calm while we talk about climate change and mass extinction? What if you could respond to this massive challenge from a place of grounded openness and calm?

I’ve written about Paul Linden’s work on embodied peace building in this blog before; he teaches techniques that enable us to embody peace and calm. About a year ago Paul suggested to me that my work with being embodied in nature and his work on embodied peace are powerfully complimentary. He proposed that we synthesise the two into an embodied ecology; ecosomatics. In this video by Steve Savides, Paul explains our work together.

Originally posted on Facebook by Steve Savides – exploring intention on Monday, August 8, 2016

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4 Responses to Ecosomatics: An Embodied Ecology

  1. Christine Kraemer says:

    Thanks for that interesting snippet. You may already know there are similar sentiments being expressed in the field of bodywork as a whole — Deane Juhan being my favorite bodywork writer (like me, he has a graduate background in religion and literature!). Specifically I was thinking about the bit where Linden talks about how environmental activists today are trying to use fear as a motivating tool, but in order to effectively respond to climate change or any other issue of importance, one cannot be in a state of “fight or flight” but must be in a state of conscious embodiment.

    Juhan writes in his book Touched by the Goddess:

    “The dysfunctional habits and restrictions of movements, the painful
    symptoms, the pathologies, and the patterns of compensation that
    I encounter [in the treatment room] are nothing but the physical
    extensions of my clients’ mental states, and these in turn reflect to
    a high degree their experiences of the social context in which they
    find themselves. […] Whatever I have avoided in the headlines I
    am forced to read in the tissues, and in fact it is here that I most
    inescapably encounter the crux of many global problems. How can
    an industrialist understand what his factory is doing to the
    Mississippi River if he can’t even perceive what he is doing to his
    own bloodstream? What can greater social freedom mean to
    someone who is imprisoned by their own habits? What is patience
    to someone who is struggling for their next breath, or flexible
    negotiations to someone who can’t bend over, or tolerance to
    someone with raw nerves, or accountability to someone who will
    not take personal responsibility for the condition of their own

    He also has some wonderful writing on the importance of movement re-education in order to transform consciousness, because the body is the vehicle through which we experience all things. He has a beautiful introduction to his book Job’s Body that touched on that, though the book itself is mainly an anatomy and physiology text.

    I used Juhan quite a bit in my book Eros and Touch from a Pagan Perspective, which is a theology of touch and a Pagan sexual ethics. I have chapters considering the issue of touch on theological, personal, and social levels, but I only got into the global/ecological at the very end. If I take up that line of thought again I will have to check back here for inspiration and dialogue partners 😉

    • Administrator says:

      I know of several people exploring ecosomatics from varous perspectives and we’re all doing related but different work. I’ve done some bodywork over the years and I’m sure it’s had a big influence on my thinking. I like Nick Totton’s body psychotherapy work – he’s an ecotherapist too. I also like the work of Anna and Daria Halprin – especially as they bring in ritual. Reading the quote from Juhan brings several threads to mind. Inner and outer are intimately intertwined and Gregory Bateson explores that interplay. He famously said that as Lake Erie is part of our “wider eco-metal system”, if we pollute the Lake, we pollute our own minds (Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972). Juhan also echos Wilhelm Reich’s pioneering work on body armour. You’ve also reminded me of Wholebody Focusing, which works in an embodied way with “all the ongoing interactions that we are” (Schillings, 2014). We’re all exploring the same deep and powerful truth about our embodiment: bodymind and place are one system. I came to that conclusion after many years of Pagan practice, so curious that we share that path.

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