Keynote Convening CCC19

Dancing with Gaia

Editors’s Note | CLIMATE CHANGE & CONSCIOUSNESS: OUR LEGACY FOR THE EARTH, at the Findhorn Foundation, in North Scotland, April 20-26, 2019, will be a unique conference about surviving and thriving in a climate changing world and post-carbon economy. The event will feature some of the clearest and most passionate voices for the Earth ever gathered together in one place. Kosmos is an official hub for CCC19.


It may be difficult for organizers and strategists, planners, activists, and environmentalists to comprehend how an event as broad in scale and as detailed as the upcoming gathering, Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth, was delivered completely through spiritual guidance. But it was.

I am a neuroscientist, a clinician, a researcher, an author, and an educator. I am a mother and a grandmother, and I am married to an environmental attorney who tests my ideas through the lens of his critical thinking about how things work. While I have cultivated spiritual awareness my entire life, I have also trained extensively in somatics and make every effort to be grounded and anchored as I must be to meet all my responsibilities.

Yet on the night of November 8th, 2016, as I was heading in the direction of enormous despair by what was happening in my country, I was lifted up by the delivery into my physical body—starting at the crown of my head and descending in increments to my toes—of a clear plan. This was a structure for gathering together a diverse assembly of humans at a place known for its profound relationship to nature so that they could awaken to, celebrate, and act on the power of human resilience and evolution to meet the climate crisis and alchemize it through action.

The skeletal design, the central players (indigenous leaders, youth, environmental scientists, activists, artists, permaculturists, diversity farmers, neuroscientists, community organizers, physicians, social entrepreneurs, architects, transportation and urban planners, businessmen and women of all ages and from all over the globe) would come together and, in collaboration with the unseen realms and the creatures of the earth, pool their innate brilliance to rally humanity practically and effectively in the name of the children of the future.

Many of the speakers were named to me along with the location for the gathering. The instructions were logical and direct, but the manner of their transmission was completely revolutionary. It was an outline for action, and it was given with such clarity and insistence that there was no resistance possible. And it all downloaded in less than fifteen minutes. I have never turned back from this assignment, though it transformed my life completely in virtually every regard from that moment forward.

What has impressed me the most since that stunning moment two years ago is the neuroresilience that has accompanied it. I have moved into thought realms and collaborative relationships that are unlike anything I would have chosen for myself. The joys I experience from living brazenly on these new creative frontiers bring with them a unique neurochemistry that I did not even know was possible. This speaks to my conversation with environmentalist Bob Yuhnke elsewhere in this journal about ending habituation as the path of consciousness in a climate-changing world. It is letting go of the very ways in which we identify and value ourselves that we enter the neuroplasticity required of this new era.

I am sharing all this with you right now in order to encourage you to step into activism and leadership not as a duty but as a love affair. Nothing promotes radical transformation as much as love. And who is the affair with? It is with life itself: with Gaia, with the natural world, with the promise of a future. It is also a love affair with your own highest potential. The art of love is the art of surrender. As someone who always thought she would be an artist (meaning a poet or a dancer) I never would have considered social leadership as an art form, but that is exactly what it is. We are dancing with the forces of fate and the subtle realms—listening to the music of an evolutionary symphony that oscillates between discordant and rhapsodic. This is what Climate Change & Consciousness means to me: the dance of life, the art of love.

Images by Zach Street

Zach Street is an Artist/Activist/Educator living in Hilo, Hawai’i, and shares his island home with the ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua featured here. Endemic to the island, these iconic trees are symbolic of love, dance, and the spirit of Nature. Currently under threat from human introduced diseases, the ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua are inspiring the local community to act for the future of the forests of Hawai’i. MORE

Yes, we are living on the brink of utter disaster. Yes, species are being lost and the grief is unbearable. We do not know if there will be a future worth inhabiting for our children or our children’s children. Yet, at the same time, the symphony of miraculous, impossible change is being composed for us. Please listen. As someone who has survived and thrived despite overwhelming trauma, I know the paradox of hopelessness conjoined with limitless possibility. This juxtaposition is what I am looking at now as I survey a world in crisis. I do not deny the despair that comes over me, but it is always alchemized into faith by astounding neural connections that are built as I evolve through and with this crisis.

While I study the science of climate change, I also study the human nervous system. I have become more focused and clearer about their interaction. From a physiological standpoint, we have every capacity to innovate ourselves and to shift behavior, speech, and thinking in unforeseen directions. Foremost among the health consequences of climate change is the loss, panic, and stress that is virtually everywhere and that will accelerate. There is nothing more important for us to do than to step courageously into the role of leadership in this regard—whether we think we are qualified or not—by modeling a pioneering response to challenge. I invite you to embrace the crucible of our climate-changing world as you would welcome a lover or unique friend—someone so unpredictable and provocative that they wake you up to the present. This reality we are moving into has many hidden twists and turns. It is full of surprises. Dare to enjoy the growth it ignites and embody how that translates into activism. We are all newcomers to what Thomas Berry called the Ecozoic Era when humans would recover their creative orientation to the world.

In the process of healing from early trauma, I have reclaimed some of the childhood that I lost because of it. This imparts a capacity to be incredibly curious, like a child coming into a room for the first time and noticing all the energies that are there: the colors, the shapes, the nuances, the sensations. This sensory experience of discovery is a key aspect of moving into the unprecedented qualities of this historical moment. Paradoxically, I see the world as if for both the last and the first time. I am made anew by the guidance that is available to flow through me and direct my words, my gestures, even my very steps. Every action we take is programmed in the somatosensory cortex, the behavioral hard drive of the brain. Addictions are sustained by addictive gestures, down to the simplest ones like lighting a smoke, ordering a burger, or turning on the ignition of a car and expecting to hear the engine turn over. When we break an addiction, these behaviors no longer engage. Instead, new neuronal connections are sparked. That is what I experience as I step into leadership. It is a cellular regenerative high that no drug can replicate. It is sustainable and sustaining. It is available for you, free of charge, if you are willing to dance with your beloved Gaia. She is waiting expectantly for you, her hands outstretched.

Learn more about CCC19.

Attend the parallel Kosmos Event | Climate, Consciousness, and Community Summit | April 20-23

About Stephanie Mines

Dr. Stephanie Mines is a neuropsychologist whose unique understanding comes from extensive research as well as decades of fieldwork. Her stories of personal transformation have led many listeners to become deeply committed to the healing journey. Dr. Mines understands shock from every conceivable perspective. She has investigated it as a survivor, a professional, a healthcare provider, and as a trainer of staffs of institutions and agencies. She is devoted to the living experience of healing trauma in community that she believes is essential for us to thrive in a climate changing world.

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