HEAT – I can still see the flames bursting from the houses that had been hit by the bombers in Berlin towards the end of World War II. Very scary to the little boy watching from the neighborhood. I could feel the heat, not only the temperature, but the destructiveness.
HEAT – the high temperature of our climate brought back memories. Again, the recent heat felt destructive. And suddenly my experiences then and now connected with my professional work.
As a professional psychologist I had been moving for many years beyond looking mainly at individuals with little planful attention to anything beyond the individual. My focus had been the inner world, the soul of the individual.
Then, together with many in the professional community, my attention turned to people’s relational involvements. We looked at couples relationships, at families, and at family histories, at clients’ ethnicities, and many other relational aspects, including racial and gender identities which were often determined by others. We developed “Relationship-oriented Therapy”.
We learned to become sensitive to trauma, especially to the ways in which early life trauma determined bio-physiological changes. We understood that we are “embodied” beings. What is called mental illness, we understood as responses to early trauma and to our vulnerability as beings who exist as bio-physiological, not only as soulful creatures.
So, we began to talk about “Relationship-oriented and Context-sensitive therapy” because it is very often the social and military-industrial context that contains the factors traumatizing us. People come to us now for assistance, for healing, and for creative steps out of their traumatizing environment. Their life context becomes part of the process of recovery and healing.
Now the HEAT teaches me that we have to take a fundamentally new step: Our earthly home is burning, and we all have to run to take care of our Earth home. Looking at the history of mankind, this is a “second order change” (G. Bateson) compared to all previous centuries. We have to take responsibility for our Earth home, something never before required. We are accountable for our home. With burning minds, we have to cool down our environment - for the sake of our children and all future generations. The icebergs are melting at an unexpectedly high rate; one of the lungs of our planet, the Amazon forest, is rapidly being cut down, the Earth’s atmosphere continues to be heated up by industrial and fossil productions.
As a psychotherapist I am beginning to hear from couples and families how they are concerned about the fate of the Earth. People teach us through their experiences that they see the health of the Earth as part of their own healing. My therapeutic work has become not only “Relationship-oriented” and “Context-sensitive”, but also “Earth-conscious”. We are part of the Earth. And the Earth (Greek: Gaia) is part of us. We cannot heal ourselves without contributing to the health of Gaia. And any contribution to the health of our Earth home will improve and change our lives.
Let’s all turn actively toward “Relationship-oriented, Context-sensitive, and Earth-conscious” lives!
(First published in Creation Spirituality Communities Newsletter, July/August 2019)