While confronting ecological degradation requires "external" socio-political responses, ecological transformation also demands "internal" revolution. Negative states of mind arising from ecological concern include denial, despair, burnout, and grief. Emerging neuroscience research, however, demonstrates how contemplative practice can shift consciousness and promote resilience, thereby helping scholars, students, and activists re-engage with their ecological work. Contemplative practices are those that consciously direct calm, focused attention. Such practices can build internal resilience, by promoting a greater sense of calm and well-being, decreasing stress, and sharpening focus and concentration. In addition, contemplative practices improve relationships with other people, through increasing compassion and flexibility in thinking. They also strengthen relationships with the nature and the surrounding world by increasing our ability to question, explore, and cope with rapid change and complexity. In the environmental studies classroom, contemplative practices can strengthen engagement and focus. Drawing on classroom experience and a survey of the literature, this talk shows how contemplative practices, including mindfulness exercises, creative expression, and meditation, cultivate the well-being and resilience that are essential for sustainable ecological engagement in the face of daunting global ecological change.
Allison, Elizabeth, "Cultivating Resilience for Addressing Ecological Change" (2016). Embrace of the Earth 2016. 8.