~ Yana Barbarian
~ Yana Barbarian
Yes. HEAL. Love is the antidote.
“The phrase “holding space” is nearly ubiquitous. And yet truly safe spaces in which we can be seen and held in our vulnerability are still exceedingly rare. So let’s to take a moment to question: What exactly is a safe space, and how do we go about holding that for each other?
A safe space is one in which we are received fully, in totality, as ourselves. There is no lecturing or instruction in a safe space. There is no saving or even “helping.” There is no shaming or projection or demanding someone else to be more like us or do it “our way.” If we want to be a safe space for someone, we do not tell them not to be angry. We do not react fearfully to their sadness or pain, or freak out when they show their shadow. Neither do we allow them to place blame on us, harm us, or lash out in a way that serves no one. Holding a safe space, then, requires extremely strong and well-established boundaries.
In order to hold space, we simply witness the other with love, as though our consciousness itself is a set of warm and expansive arms gently holding and supporting—but never grasping. Like a butterfly has landed gently in our open hand, or like one holds a newborn baby, particularly one that is upset.
Being this for another is the most sacred act, the greatest honor, we can possibly undertake; it is the holy work. This simple state of being holds magical transformative powers, as the deepest and darkest of wounds can finally be witnessed in loving presence and so often transmuted and released just because they are finally met and witnessed. And of course, we can only be this for another as deeply as we have already chosen to heal and integrate our own selves…which for me is a tremendous motivation to do the work, and do the work some more.
But what happens when someone opens the special Pandora’s box of their own darkness to us, in confidence and in need, and we don’t meet them there but rather squelch and shame their expression? I am not quite sure our society as a whole yet understands just how toxic and deleterious this scenario can be; it can create divisions and wounds in the psyche that can last a lifetime.
For example, when a woman shames another woman, for being too much, too “negative,” and too herself —whether it be a daughter, a sister, a friend—she then creates in that girl that very vulnerability that puts them at risk of falling into the hands of the nearest hungry energy vampire/abuser/predator. The lack of safe space and even the subtlest of shaming, actually primes her to be abused by shunning and relegating a piece of her soul to the shadowlands, where only the vampires dwell.
I know from personal experience that those very predators—who are paying attention, and looking for weak spots, and hoping to feed on her soul—will be willing, in fact all too happy and excited, to “see” those parts of her that have been forced into shadow and shame by others. They will provide a reflection of that part of her where others have failed to do so—and by being the only one willing to hold her in her darkness, they will gain a very unholy control over her.
In particular, the absence of truly safe space for empowered feminine sexuality has made our daughters vulnerable to the worst sort of predation. Further, the destabilizing and and shaming of the feminine actually threatens to destroy our entire world by creating a massive imbalance that only love can heal.
The minute we force another woman into a box, and accept her only conditionally according to her ability to satisfy our requirements of “good” and “appropriate” behavior, and have her modulate and curate herself to our liking (or more accurately, so as not to trigger our own shame and wounding), the minute we force her to change in order to receive our approval, we are being a puppet of the age-old agenda to syphon and steal power, and we reiterate the cosmic wound. We are part of the problem. Period.
As noted, when a someone shames someone else simply for being, it is really her own judgment and rejection of herself, which she is imposing upon another. If we can catch that and heal that in ourselves before inflicting it on another, we may quite literally be changing the course or even saving someone’s life. If we do the work within ourselves and really have a good hard (loving) look at our own shadows, we suddenly find ourselves able to hold space for another in a way we had no idea we could.
I would say it’s a big deal, a huge responsibility, and high time to rise to it. The energies that are resurfacing right now— in us—are so raw and delicate that they depend on us remembering how to enact this on Earth once more. And if we should fail, the fate of the Earth is also at stake.
With the shadow that’s looming over the entire Earth right now, a veritable sea of unprocessed darkness, it is so essential that we all make the commitment to healing our own.
So do a good deed, and starve a vampire. Commit to holding truly safe space, for yourself, for those you love, and for the Earth that we call home.”
~ Sara Sophia Eisenman
An excerpt from Derrick Jensen. Very pleasing to come across again today.
“Sustainable development” is a claim to virtue. The word “development” used in this sense is a lie.
The word “develop” means “to grow,” “to progress,” “to become fuller, more advanced.” Some synonyms are “evolution, unfolding, maturation, ripeness,” and some antonyms are “deterioration, disintegration.” And here is a real usage example from a dictionary: “Drama reached its highest development in the plays of Shakespeare.”
But here’s the problem: A child develops into an adult, a caterpillar develops into a butterfly, a stream harmed by (say) mining might possibly in time develop back into a healthy stream; but a meadow does not “develop” into white-box houses, a bay does not “develop” into an industrial port, a forest does not “develop” into roads and clearings.
The reality is that the meadow is destroyed to make the “development.” The bay is destroyed to “develop” it into an industrial port. The forest is destroyed when the “natural resources” are “developed.”
The word “kill” works just as well.
Think about it. You’re going about your life, when someone comes along who wants to make money by “developing” the “natural resources” that are your body. He’s going to harvest your organs for transplantation, your bones for fertilizer, your flesh for food.
You might respond, “Hey, I was using that heart, those lungs.”
That meadow, that bay, that forest were all using what you call “natural resources.” Those “natural resources” were keeping them alive. Those “natural resources” are their very body. Without them they die, just as you would.
It doesn’t help to throw the word “sustainable” onto the front of whatever you’re going to do. Exploitation is still exploitation, even if you call it “sustainable exploitation.” Destruction is still destruction, even if you call it “sustainable destruction.”
One sign of intelligence is the ability to recognize patterns. We industrialized humans think we’re smarter than everybody else. So I’m going to lay out a pattern, and let’s see if we can recognize it in less than 6,000 years.
When you think of Iraq, is the first thing that you think of cedar forests so thick that sunlight never reaches the ground? That’s what Iraq was like before the beginnings of this culture. One of the first written myths of this culture was of Gilgamesh deforesting the hills and valleys of what is now Iraq to build great cities.
Oh, sorry, I guess he wasn’t deforesting the region; he was “developing” the natural resources.
Much of the Arabian Peninsula was oak savannah, until these “resources” were “developed” for export. The Near East was once heavily forested. Remember the cedars of Lebanon? They still have one on their flag. North Africa was heavily forested. Those forests were destroyed—I mean “sustainably developed”—to make the Egyptian and Phoenician navies.
Greece was heavily forested. Ancient Greek philosophers complained that deforestation was harming water quality. I’m sure the bureaucrats at the Ancient Department of Greek Sustainable Development responded that they would need to study the problem for a few years to make sure there really is a correlation.
In the Americas, whales were so abundant their breath made the air look perpetually foggy and were a hazard to shipping. “Development” of that resource removed that hazard. Cod were so numerous their bodies slowed the passage of ships. “Development” of that resource fixed that, too. There were so many passenger pigeons that their flocks darkened the sky for days at a time. Once again, “development” of that resource got rid of them.
Do you know why there are no penguins in the northern hemisphere? There used to be. They were called great auks. A French explorer commented that there were so many on one island that every ship in France could be loaded and it would not make a dent. But that “resource” was “developed” and the last great auk was killed—oops, I mean “developed”—in the 19th century.
Two hundred species went extinct just today. And 200 will go extinct tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.
Every biological indicator is going in the wrong direction.
And we all know why. The problems are not cognitively challenging.
“Development” is theft and murder.
“Development” is colonialism applied to the natural world. “Development” is kleptocracy―a way of life based on theft.
Here’s another test of our intelligence: Name any natural community—or ecosystem, if you prefer mechanistic language—that has been “managed” for extraction, or that has been “developed”—by which is meant industrialized—that has not been significantly harmed on its own terms.
You can’t, because managing for extraction is harmful, as we would all recognize if, as in the example above, it happened to us. We would all recognize that if an occupying army came into your home and took your food and a couple of your relatives that your family would suffer.
So why, with all the world at stake, do we suddenly get so stupid when it comes to “sustainable development”? Why do we have such a hard time understanding that if you steal from or otherwise harm a natural community, that natural community will suffer harm?
Upton Sinclair wrote: “It’s hard to make a man understand something when his job depends on him not understanding it.” I would extend that to read: “It’s hard to make people understand something when their entitlement depends on them not understanding it.”
In the 1830s, a pro-slavery philosopher argued that slavery was necessary because without it the slave owners would not have the “comforts or elegancies” upon which they had become so accustomed.
The same is true here, when we extend the understanding of slavery to the natural world, as this culture attempts to enslave—read, “develop,” oops, “sustainably develop”—more and more of the living planet.
In short, we’re allowing the world to be killed so we can have access to ice cream 24/7. And we call it sustainable development so we can feel good about ourselves as we do it.
The good news is that there are a lot of people who see through the bullshit. The bad news is that this doesn’t, for the most part, affect policy……
A story may help make this clear.
Before the big Rio Earth Summit in 1992 (and wasn’t that a success! Things are so much better now, right?), the US ambassador to the United Nations sent out high level assistants across the country, ostensibly to get public input as to what should be the US position at the summit. One of the meetings was in Spokane, Washington, where I lived at the time. The hall was packed, and the line of people to speak snaked to the back of the building. Person after person testified that “sustainable development” was a sham, and that it was just an excuse to continue killing the world. They pointed out that the problem is not humanity, but this culture, and they begged the US representative to listen to and take a lead from Indigenous peoples the world over who lived well and lived truly sustainably on their lands, without “development.” (In fact, they lived well and sustainably because they never industrialized.) They pointed out that “development” inevitably forces both Indigenous peoples and subsistence farmers off their lands. Person after person pointed out precisely what I’m saying in this article.
When we were through giving our testimony, the representative thanked us for our support of the US position and for our support of “sustainable development.” It was as though he hadn’t heard a word we said.
Here’s the problem: The word “sustainable” has since been coopted to not mean “helping the real world to sustain,” as in playing your proper role in participating in a larger community that includes your non-human neighbors, but instead to mean “sustaining this exploitative lifestyle.”
Think about it: What do all of the so-called solutions to global warming have in common? It’s simple: They all take industrial capitalism (and the colonialism on which it’s based) as a given, and the natural world as that which must conform to industrial capitalism. This is insane, in terms of being out of touch with physical reality.
The real world must be primary, with whatever social system you are talking about being secondary and dependent, because without a real world, you don’t have any social system whatsoever. “Sustainable development” is a scam and a claim to virtue because it is attempting to sustain this exploitative, destructive culture, not the world on which it depends.
And that will never work.
So many Indigenous people have said to me that the first and most important thing we must do is decolonize our hearts and minds. Part of what they’ve told me is that we must break our identification with this culture, and identify instead with the real world, the physical world, the living Earth that is our only home.
I want to tell one final story. In his book, The Nazi Doctors, Robert Jay Lifton asked how it was that men who had taken the Hippocratic Oath could work in Nazi death camps. He found that many of the doctors cared deeply for the health of the inmates and would do everything in their power to protect them. They’d give them an extra scrap of potato. They’d hide them from selection officers who were going to kill them. They’d put them in the infirmary and let them rest for a day. They’d do everything they could, except the most important thing of all. They wouldn’t question the existence of the death camp itself. They wouldn’t question working the inmates to death, starving them to death, poisoning them to death. And this failure to question the larger framing conditions led these doctors to actively participate in the atrocities.
With all the world at stake, it’s not good enough for us to paste the word sustainable in front of the deceptive word development when what we really mean is “continue this exploitative and destructive way of life a little bit longer.” That destroys the words sustainable and development and, of course, contributes to the ongoing destruction of the world. It wastes time we do not have.
With all the world at stake, we need to not only do what we can to protect the victims of this culture, but we have to question the continuation of this death camp culture that is working the world to death, starving the world to death, poisoning the world to death.
Image of homelessness from the now-defunct Italian blog Moving & Learning.
Big Pharma loves to invent new ‘diseases’ so that they can then invent dubious new drugs to ‘cure’ them, give them an official-sounding acronym (“ED” for hawking Viagra to men with low self-esteem), and then frighten you into hounding your doctor to ask if their new drug “is right for you”.
Ever since the term Information Sickness was coined, and ever since I started saying that in our modern overcrowded world we’re all suffering from a form of mental illness, I’ve been looking for a label to put on this ‘illness’. So I thought I’d invent a new disease. I’ve decided to call it Civilization Disease. I thought of calling it a ‘sickness’ but the term ‘disease’ is truly ancient, and before the invention of medicine meant literally ‘lack of room or opportunity’. Ancient peoples understood that crowding and confinement really are the causes of ‘dis-ease’.
So having named this new disease, it’s only appropriate that I provide an appropriate medical summary of it : Symptoms & Diagnosis, Causes, Treatment & Prognosis, and Prevention.
Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Causes and Sources of Infection:
Treatment & Prognosis:
“Depression is a global epidemic. It is the main driver behind suicide, which now claims more than a million lives per year worldwide. One in four Americans will suffer from clinical depression within their lifetimes, and the rate is increasing with every generation.
It robs people of sleep, energy, focus, memory, sex drive and their basic ability to experience the pleasures of life, says author of The Depression Cure Stephen Ildari. It can destroy people’s desire to love, work, play and even their will to live. If left unchecked it can cause permanent brain damage.
Depression lights up the pain circuitry of the brain to such an extent that many of Ildari’s psychiatric patients have called it torment, agony and torture. “Many begin to look to death as a welcome means of escape,” he said in a Ted Talks presentation.
But depression is not a natural disease. It is not an inevitable part of being human. Ildari argues, like many diseases, depression is a disease of civilization. It’s a disease caused by a high-stress, industrialized, modern lifestyle that is incompatible with our genetic evolution.
Depression is the result of a prolonged stress-response, Ildari said. The brain’s “runaway stress response” – as he calls it – is similar to the fight or flight response, which evolved to help our ancestors when they faced predators or other physical dangers. The runaway stress response required intense physical activity for a few seconds, a few minutes, or – in extreme cases – a few hours.
“The problem is for many people throughout the Western world, the stress response goes on for weeks, months and even years at a time, and when it does that, it’s incredibly toxic,” Ildari said.
Living under continually stressful conditions – as many modern humans do – is disruptive to neuro-chemicals like dopamine and seratonin, which can lead to sleep disturbance, brain damage, immune dysregulation and inflammation, Ildari says.
Civilization is the disease
Epidemiologists have now identified a long list of other stress-related diseases as “diseases of civilization” – diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma, allergies, obesity and cancer. These diseases are rampant throughout the developed world, but virtually non-existent among modern-day aboriginal peoples.
In a study of 2000 Kaluli aborigines from Papua New Guinea, only one marginal case of clinical depression was found. Why? Because the Kaluli lifestyle is very similar to our hunter-gatherer ancestors’ lifestyle that lasted for nearly 2 million years before agriculture, Ildari said.
“99.9 percent of the human experience was lived in a hunter-gatherer context,” he added. “Most of the selection pressures that have sculpted and shaped our genomes are really well adapted for that environment and that lifestyle.”
In view of nearly 3 million years of hominid existence, since homo habilis first began use of stone tools, our genus has undergone rapid environmental change since the advent of agriculture about 12,000 years ago. And in the last 200 years, since the industrial revolution, our species has had to cope with what Ildari calls “radical environmental mutation.”
While our environment has radically mutated, our human genome is essentially the same as it was 200 years ago, Ildari says. “That’s only eight generations. It’s not enough time [for significant genetic adaptations].”
“There’s a profound mismatch between the genes we carry, the bodies and brains that they are building, and the world that we find ourselves in,” he said. “We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food-laden, sleep-deprived frenzied pace of modern life.”
Though he’s not entirely opposed to medication, Ildari says we can throw all the drugs in the world at the depression epidemic, and it won’t make a dent.
Anti depressant use has gone up 300 percent in the last 20 years, but the rate of depression has continued to increase. One in nine Americans over age 12 is currently taking an antidepressant, and one in five have been on them at some point.
The answer, Ildari says, is a change in lifestyle. He says the results of his six step program have exceeded his wildest dreams:
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
4. Healthy Sleep
5. Anti-ruminative activity
6. Social connection
In his presentation, he emphasized the importance of exercise and social connection, as they are two of the hardest parts of the program for modern Americans.
Exercise is ‘not natural’
Ildari says the results of exercise on depression are so powerful that if they could be reduced into a pill, it would be the most expensive pill on earth. The problem is 60 percent of American adults get no regular physical activity. Ildari says it’s not their fault. Between long days at work and household and family responsibilities to attend to, who has the time or energy to hit the gym?
The dirty little secret about exercise, Ildari says, is “it is not natural.” We are designed to be physically active “in the service of adapted goals,” not to exercise on a hamster wheel.
Hunter gatherers get four or more hours of vigorous physical activity every day, but if you ask them they will tell you they don’t exercise, Ildari says. “They don’t work out. Working out would be crazy to them. They live.”
“When you put a lab rat on a treadmill … it will squat down on it’s haunches, and the treadmill starts to rub the fur and the skin right off it’s back side,” he said. “When you stare at a piece of exercise equipment, there is a part of your brain that’s screaming out ‘Don’t do it! You’re not going anywhere!’”
If you can’t go out gathering your own nuts and berries or hunting your own meat, Ildari recommends brisk walking with a friend. Walking for 30 minutes, three times a week, has better effects on depression than Zoloft, he said.
Another huge factor in modern depression is the lack of social connection in our modern nuclear-family bubbles. “Face-time with our loved ones puts the breaks on our stress response,” Ildari says.
The problem is we’ve replaced face-time with screen-time. “Our hunter gatherer ancestors spent all day every day in the company of their loved ones.”
Unfortunately illness, including mental illness, triggers people to isolate themselves, which only makes depression worse.
“Resist the urge to withdraw,” Ildari says, “because when you’re ill, your body tells you to shut down and pull away. When you have the flu, that’s adaptive. When you have depression, it’s the worst thing in the world you could do.”
Rewilding and Tribal Living
What Ildari didn’t mention in his Ted Talk is how difficult his cure is for most modern humans to attain. Sure, we’d all like more fresh air, sunlight, exercise, a better diet, better sleep, less monotonous work, and more interaction with loved ones, but who has time for all that?
I’m stuck here staring at my screen typing about it in an effort to make a living for myself, and many of you don’t even have time to read this article because you have 50+ hours-a-week jobs of your own. Meanwhile, immediate-return hunter-gatherers work an average of 17 hours a week. In this world, we certainly can’t just quit our jobs to be less stressed, when the financial stress would create more stress.
In my opinion, the answer lies in baby steps. Baby steps away from dependence on civilization, and toward nature, earth skills, and self-sustaining communal living. These are things I plan to learn more about while building this website. I’m excited to share what I learn with you, and hope you’ll share your knowledge with me.”