Conference organiser, Stephanie Mines, shares her intimate story of the personal shift in consciousness that compelled her to convene the 2019 Conference, Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth. The week-long Conference will take place at the Findhorn Foundation 20-26 April 2019….
A young girl with long golden hair does somersaults on the sandy beach. I watch as she becomes pure cartwheeling beauty; a faceless, nameless dance of life. She lands on the cushy ground like a gymnast lands on the mat at the end of a tumbling pass, solid and exultant. She does not know that I am her sole witness, watching from a hillside where I have hiked to view the bend of the river.
My kayak rests, parked in the distance, a streak of red in this marsh green land where mushrooms huddle at the base of spruce and pine wearing thick garments of moss. The girl strides off to the top of the boat dock, out of view. The wind moving through the branches sings to me. From a nest, a baby bird calls to her mother and is answered from somewhere nearby. The preciousness of these moments is imprinted upon me, each pixel like a rare jewel I may never see again.
As I make my way up the hill and eventually back to my kayak, I wonder if that girl was sent to mirror something in me. Perhaps the conversations of birds was a message delivered by Mother Nature who has kidnapped my consciousness. I don’t need to know the answers to these questions. I just know that I am learning to play freely in Nature’s playground and to listen in ways I never could before. I am not the same as I was. This New York woman has become a creature of the forest.
What has happened to my history of trauma and the story of who I was? Where are the reiterations of my failures and losses and my endless, insatiable need to prove myself? Well, they’re not entirely gone but they are more ephemeral, muted, and increasingly unimportant. I no longer invest in them. Sometimes I try to resuscitate them because they have kept me company for so long. But they don’t stay long.
This shift in consciousness started on the night of the 8th of November, 2016; the United States election night! It felt like a takeover of my being. It was a thoroughgoing electrical surge pointing me in one direction, like a weather vane strongly turned. I knew I needed to become an indefatigable force for climate change consciousness. I was to educate about climate change, to encourage humanity to uncover its inherent, unquestionable intelligence and resilience, to build sustainable communities that would not only survive but thrive even as climate change accelerated and was denied by its perpetrators. There was nothing of greater importance for me to do. My devotion to individual healing became instantaneously transmuted into an intense focus on collective awakening to this singular necessity: looking climate change in the eye, meeting its challenge joyfully and creatively, and serving as a steward for the planet.
The shift in my consciousness from that moment is ongoing. Sometimes I slip into despair, but I return to the forest or find the forest wherever I am so that I can hear what The Mother is telling me and be reminded of the energetic reorientation She has given me. My highest priority is the awakening on a global scale to the abundant creative intelligence that has been given to us to meet the challenge of climate change and to act decisively from that intelligence. That is all I need to know. Nothing else matters.
It is challenging to write about this because it draws attention when this process is not about me. I am merely a tear, falling from the eye of The Mother. If the telling of this serves Her purpose then there is value in the sharing. If this process inspires someone else’s awakening then I am happy to share my experience and try to deliver it tenderly and powerfully. The journey feels like a miracle that unfolds moment by moment. It is a not only a New Story. It is a Never Ending Story.
Here are the instructions: I am to protect the silence of The Mother by not being silent; I am to not be distracted by any cautions about my age or my qualifications; I have this One Thing To Do. I am what I am called to NOW and that is all there is. I am to follow this calling day by day, moment by moment, wherever it leads me. I will be guided by the rhythms of my body to make my choices and set my schedule. I am to honour those rhythms. I will be in a mode of constant learning. I will always move forward.
Out of this impulse has been born, Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth. This is not just a conference. It is, quite literally, the Mother of all climate change gatherings. It is also, to my mind, the perfect follow through to the New Story Summit held at Findhorn almost precisely five years previous. This is because it offers a new story for the planet, a new story about who we are individually and collectively, a new story about money and food, a new story about the meaning of family, as well as a new story about climate.
The Conference is, in fact, the ultimate coming together at the perfect place and time with the perfect mentors to help us move with clarity and purpose toward sustainability, toward zero emissions, toward growing our own food in communities living where it is safest, and to support and love one another in the collectives we establish. Thriving in a climate changed world can and will be a celebration, a perfect landing like the one the girl made on the beach as I watched transfixed by the beauty around me, drenched in the rarefied air of Nature’s Truth.
As I read the words written by our Conference presenters I am in awe not only of their individual brilliance, but also the astounding symmetry they provide for a balanced view of where we are as a global community and what we must do to steward for the world’s children. Naomi Klein’s thorough socio-economic-political overview, Bill McKibben’s precise knowledge of climate science, Vandana Shiva’s potent rendering of the vitality of our relationship with the soil, Polly Higgins’ clear sense of Nature’s rights and the necessity to protect sacred land, Jonathan Porritt’s grasp of how communities can be served by technology, Charles Eisenstein’s articulation of the heart of spiritual transformation and how to find a New Story, and Christiana Figures’ optimistic, in-depth take on global climate change initiatives. Where else will we ever find such a comprehensive leadership team? However, these presenters are no more crucial than the participants. It is the fusion of leadership with the emergent vitality that everyone brings to the Conference that will make us exultant and unified in our commitment and ready to do what we must do to act for and with the Earth.
This shift in my own personal consciousness intermittently brings with it a feeling of closeness to Findhorn Foundation co-founder, Eileen Caddy, and the unquestionable knowledge that Climate Change & Consciousnes is inextricably linked to the land and the Nature particular to Findhorn. I feel Eileen Caddy’s smile and see the twinkle in her eyes as this story unfolds. There’s a multitude of perfections assembling for the Conference. I have enormous confidence in them, and the generous purposefulness of our assembly. This confidence transcends my personal self-confidence when I am most fully in this movement from I to We. This We is everyone and it is also the future. It is intimately associated with families and with children. It is the planet.
This Conference is for that girl on the beach and the stillness of the moment in which I witnessed her and heard the conversation of the birds. It is for the sanctity of life.
Stephanie Mines, Ph.D. is a neuroscientist, psychologist and author of five books on the treatment of trauma and shock. Stephanie first went to Findhorn in 2011 when she was a keynote speaker at the Conscious Medicine Conference. She has returned every year since and has a strong love for the community and the place. Stephanie lives in Portland, Oregon and is married to environmental attorney Robert E. Yuhnke, co-author of the US Clean Air Act.