Ecological Imagination: Listening to the Heart of the Earth (Audio)

By Leslie Davenport, who will be presenting Deepening Climate Advocacy at Hollyhock on June 19-23.

Imagination is often misunderstood, defined as a fanciful flight away from reality – and sometimes it is. But there is another kind of imagination, one that is based on deep inner listening with a quality of calm presence, and a curious, open-minded focus. When images arise into that kind of spacious awareness, imagination is tapping into a source of wisdom, a type of intuition, that puts us in touch with more of reality, not less.

With deep listening, we bring our ourselves into relationship with the unknown. This is similar to the creative process, whether we are facing a blank canvas with a handful of paints, jotting notes for a speech on a napkin at the café, or in the scientific crowd, pondering how quantum gravity helps explain the origin of the universe. We step outside what we already know, send our inner critic on vacation, and make room for messy, confusing bits and pieces of insight to swirl and shift before connecting in new and meaningful ways.

Cultivating creative imagination has a powerful role to play at this pivotal time in human history as scientists around the world are reporting that the impacts of climate change on civilization and the natural world are accelerating. We need to cultivate a pragmatic form of hope by discovering clarity followed by empowering actions, resilient individual and systemic support with effective methods that support eco-harmonious change.

Our creativity is supremely practical. As engineer, inventor, and cofounder of Sloan-Kettering Hospital, Charles Kettering puts it: “Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.” Especially when we are called to navigate the myriad ways that climate change will require mitigation and adaptation, innovative approaches are essential. We are entering uncharted territory that demands new and creative solutions. We need to improvise, but the guidance needs to come from wisdom as we continue to learn what it means to uphold the honor of being human.

Cultivating intuition through deep imagination is natural, and everyone has this capacity, although many of us are out of practice since our contemporary Western culture highly prizes achievement and logical analysis. While we certainly wouldn’t want to be without our rationality, adding intuitive ways of knowing sheds light on aspects of life inaccessible to the logical mind. Albert Einstein is said to have commented on our contemporary condition: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” 

The rational and intuitive parts of the mind are like two legs that keep us moving forward—so why would we set out on a lifelong journey with one leg becoming excessively muscle-bound and the other atrophying? We need to strengthen and utilize everything we’re made of. If we want change—if we want to come back into balance with the natural world—we must understand how we got here and begin to develop the neglected aspects of ourselves. “Problems cannot be solved by the same consciousness that created them” is another astute insight attributed to Einstein, and that truth rings clear when we look at global warming.

Below you will find a recording that can support the journey to the wisdom of your own heart. It also invites you to listen to the heart of the earth, giving our living planet a voice. You will want to give yourself 15 minutes of undisturbed time, and a comfortable place to sit or recline. It’s helpful to have paper and a pen or drawing materials nearby to write about or draw your experiences following the experience. This meditation can be returned to on several occasions, and you may find new aspects coming into focus, or a more nuanced understanding.

May wild grace guide our actions that all beings may thrive.

Leslie DavenportLeslie Davenport, author of Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change, is a licensed therapist and an international speaker in transformational leadership with an emphasis on the evolution of consciousness and societal systems to address global warming. She is on the faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies and John F Kennedy University in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Join Leslie at Hollyhock for Deepening Climate Advocacy on June 19-23!

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