Sunday, July 20, 2014

Poptarts of Doom and Contemplating the D-Word

About two months ago I took class on Appreciative Inquiry for work. One of the main tenants of the philosophy is “what you pay attention to, grows.” Last week I blogged about wanting to cultivate a less mechanized and stress-based approach to living. I’ve known for a long time that my online viewing habits are not conductive to a peaceful mental state, and I finally committed to deleting all of my opinion news sites. I posted the following message on Facebook about it:

Today I deleted my "New Sites" Favorites folder because clicking through the articles in them just got too stressful. I do not need to start my morning gulping News of Doom and Horribleness. I can figure out some other ways to stay informed, but I don't want the angry energy of these sites in my mental space anymore. I made a Favorites folder for spiritual practices...Druidism, Wicca, Buddhism, etc. and will click through those with my morning coffee instead. I want a more wholesome, nourishing internet breakfast--steel cut oatmeal instead of Poptarts of Rage and Doom.

This got a fair number of likes and lead to a spirited discussion, not about the oppressiveness of the 24-hour news cycle but about…Poptarts! Hey, Poptarts are nature’s perfect food, and they’re a lot more fun to talk about than the broken state of journalism in this country. Anyway, the point is that I want to start consciously paying attention to things that will help me feel like less of a victim to the circumstances I live and work under.

I recently listened to a podcast from the UK with two Druids discussing fracking, something I haven’t paid much attention to. I was completely appalled, but I was also deeply enriched by the discussion. They talked in depth about how painfully and dangerously disconnected we have become from our essential nature and about how the industrialized world is toxic to our spirits. They discussed the problems inherent in moving from a non-dualistic approach into a state where we see ourselves as completely separate from each other, the natural world, and the ecosystems we exist in, to the point that it’s considered morally upright to poison our land for short term profit.

Off and on over the years, I’ve looked into Druidism as a spiritual practice, but it always felt slightly archaic and anachronistic to me. Nonetheless, once I even took a serious stab at it. It didn’t pan out at the time, and I realize now that’s because the material I was working with was written by a much older man in Scotland who lived in a very different world than I did. The vegetation and trees required for the rituals in the book out didn’t grow here, and one thing that does, Scotch Broom, I am deathly allergic to. It was also very focused on the expression of male energy, and felt out of alignment to my vibe. So, as is typical of me, I got huffy about it and decided it just wasn’t for me. But as I’ve continued to read about Druidism, I've realized that there are numerous ways to practice it that don’t involve moving to Scotland and making your own ritual dagger out of bones from a deer you shot with a bow and arrow at the full moon.

I spend 50+ hours a week commuting through downtown and working in one of the most dangerous parts of the city in one of the most complex industries in existence--health care. I don’t open my door to a view of a natural stone grove, cavorting stags, and towering redwoods. But still, I think there must be some way to integrate the practice of honoring all life and respecting my environment; a patch-made practice of urban nature spirituality.

--Kristen McHenry

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