Showing Up – Spiritual Practice in a time of Ecological Crisis.

In the month of September the Anam Ashram community were delighted to join with Niamh Barrett from ‘Showing Up’ to take part in an outdoor gathering of spiritual practice in Sean Walsh Park Tallaght. Mindful that we are living in an era of ecological crisis we can often feel overwhelmed. Gathering for meditation in spaces which have been destroyed due to human activity was a new experience for me, but a really interesting and wonderful experience.

Niamh noted that, “For many years, the wetland at Sean Walsh Park was home to a rich biodiversity which included rare plants, newts, bats, frogs and endangered European eels. Last September in one night, an entire section of the wetland was buried under tonnes of river silt by the local county council. Many animals were instantly killed and plant life extinguished. It became the subject of local protest and Dáil questions. Remedial action to restore it was promised. But then, through the months of the pandemic, the wetland has been shape shifting again, with grasses and wild plants taking root on its dry surface. It’s a powerful place for bearing witness to our current, planetary emergency of ecosystem and species loss, and at the same time, how the earth continues to evolve.”

A group of us gathered on a Sunday afternoon, practiced mindfulness meditation, gentle movements, walking the space as well as ‘circle’ sharing. Some of us brought poetry to share, a word, a reflection or silence. It was a beautiful afternoon. There is something very special about this area of wetland in the park. Even though it was destroyed by tonnes of silt it has, in the past year, begun to rejuvenate. Sitting in the long grass we even spotted some frogs. There was a deep sense of silence in the space and I felt like we were ‘visiting’ with the creatures there, in solidarity with their struggle, their loss and even their ability to renew and replenish. For us as a group it was also important to gather safely, to share a collective meditative space once more.

The roots of the ecological crisis are deeply spiritual for we have forgotten who we are and where we come from. The first action we can do to restore our relationship with the natural world is to reconnect, to spend time in nature, use our senses of sight, touch, smell, hearing to rekindle a sense of awe and wonder with creation. For we will only protect what we love. Cultural historian Thomas Berry said, “We need to move: from a spirituality of alienation from the natural world to a spirituality of intimacy with the natural world from a spirituality of the divine as revealed in words to a spirituality of the divine as revealed in the visible world about us.”

Before COVID restrictions returned to Dublin I was also fortunate to be able to take part in Extinction Rebellion’s Meditation for Climate Justice on Grafton Street. This was a two hour gathering, in silence, in the heart of Dublin’s shopping district. Who knows what impact these shared outdoor meditation spaces have but for me there is something about changing the energy of a place and offering a peaceful statement about the ecological crisis. It is important to ‘show up’ to offer a different perspective, to gather in community with like minded people, to share our energy, our concerns and our hopes.

We hope to gather in Sean Walsh Park again for another afternoon of mindfulness when it is safe to do so. In the meantime please check out “Showing Up” which offers in-person and online spaces for connecting with others and mindfully engaging with some of the most difficult issues facing our world. You can find out more at www.showingup.ie

Stay Safe and Take Care of Each Other.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

Jane – Anam Ashram.

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