Heavy Weather: Balancing Joy and Despair

Can we still find happiness in our daily lives without ignoring the dark reality of climate chaos? Author and meditation teacher Mark Coleman recalls experiencing just that juxtaposition of joy and sadness working on an article on a ridgetop north of San Francisco during the wildfires of late 2018. “It was just such a poignant moment of going into nature for refuge and solace and at the same time being reminded of the fires and the climate crisis,” Coleman says, noting the irony that he the article he’d been asked to write was about meditation and nature. Love and grief are at the center of Coleman’s practice for coping with climate anxiety. “We love this planet, we love this Earth, we love all of the abundance and the beauty and the diversity and complexity,” he explains, “[and] because we love, we feel the pain we feel the grief. The grief is a natural, healthy immune system response to a problem.” Mica Estrada, a professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California San Francisco, agrees that feeling grief is a valuable coping mechanism – even if it hasn’t always been encouraged. “I think for a long time that [grief] was seen as a weakness and I think we’re finally hitting an age where grief is seen as a strength,” she says. “I think we have lived in a time when the dominant culture says don’t feel too much. And I do feel like we’re finally growing up and saying listen, real strength is being able to feel what we’re feeling.” Guests: Mark Coleman, Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher; Author, Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery Mica Estrada, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, UCSF This program was recorded at the Commonwealth Club of California on September 5, 2019. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

by Climate One