what is ecopsychology?
A psychology of being home (oikos or "eco" ) within the logos (creative order) of nature.
Ready or not, like it or not, humanity is a force of nature.
The human psyche--including our values, aspirations, attachments, and ethics-- interweave into all natural systems. Luckily, the miraculous force of nature is equally interwoven within us. What if the crises we face are not happening too us, but for us? What if facing environmental limits were a necessary rite of passage?
If true, buckle up. In this context, who are you? What matters?
Given our predicament, work, love, and home are crucial questions. we need an orientation within psychology that explores and guards the complex inner dynamics of sustainability. This includes tending trauma triggered by environmental turbulence while simultaneously lighting up paths of accountability. This gritty work inspires and nourishes creative responses within each of us.
Humans are well-suited to the challenge of moving from a life-exploiting to a life-sustaining civilization. But we need support, inspriation, and company. What if all psychological approaches--whether somatic, behavioral, transpersonal, depth, indigenous, sociocultural, humanistic, spiritual--turned toward this "great turning?" Any psychology can become an ecopsychology. Context defines ecopsychology, not perspectives or techniques. Ours is a big tent.
Artemis of Ephesus
The worship worship of Artemis traces back to the 10th century BC. Clothed in images of wild creatures, breasts baring symbols of fecundity, towers of civilization crowning her head, standing tall & open-handed; ancient Artemis embodies the dynamic and vital interdependence of humanity and wild nature. In ancient Ephesus, a fire burned day and night in her Temple. If those tending the Sanctuary let the "fire of life" sputter and go out, they would be buried alive. Literal or symbolic?
Either way, this harsh punishment is true. If our passion for mutual belonging is extinguished, we will be buried alive.
Four Domains of Ecopsychology
EMBODIED ECOLOGY: Intimacy with one's habitat (including the body , diet, and surrounding environment) is a foundation for health, happiness, and evolution. There are many wonderful paths of embodied ecology, including physical activities like yoga, hiking, organic gardening, restoring damaged habitats, and promoting regenerative agriculture. Linking basic survival needs to the well-being of the planet is crucial. How we live and our daily actions matter.
EMOTIONAL RESPONSIVENESS: The greatest threat to life is apatheia, a state of not-feeling or anesthesia. Sensitivity is protective. Emotional response is a first step in transformation. Being being affected by what is happening inspires creative action. In fact, necessary change is impossible unless we are affected. Feelings and concern on behalf of life also signifies the development of an expanding and inclusive ecological identity, what ecopsychologists call the "ecological Self." In our work, feelings of shame, fear, despair, and anger can be healthy--if they are linked to underlying needs.
TRUE PURPOSE: True purpose is a gift from life for life. Turning to take action on behalf of of life can reveal the central organizing principle of our lives. What matters most to you? What will you do with your one wild and precious life? Turning to face the storm strips away the extraneous and breaks the trance of addictions. Authentic creative action on behalf of life is how we evolve.
SPIRITUALITY: What if the primary role of human beings is to stand in awe of creation and celebrate? Nose to the grindstone is not life-serving. The human soul is wild and, like any natural entity, needs protection from exploitative market forces. Cultivating inner alignment with the intelligence of creation is profoundly protective. Aligning with laws of nature also promotes relaxed confidence, generosity, and joy.