Introduction

We are earth of this earth, bone of its bone.

We are finally becoming aware of how thoroughly we of the Industrial Growth Society have set ourselves apart from the natural world. With our snowballing technologies, with our race for money and global markets and the goods we've learned to crave, we have forgotten what the ancients knew. We forgot that "we are earth of this earth, bone of its bone," and so, as the poet says, "the earth is perishing." That amnesia is fundamental to our willingness to wreak havoc on our planet's living systems for our own ephemeral gain. We seem to think we could survive without the soil, the trees and waters, the intricate web of life. That delusion is reflected in the very term "environment": the word suggests some periphery or backdrop to our lives—rather than the stuff of our very bodies, igniting every sensation and perception, renewing us with every breath.

It is our good fortune to be living in a time when countless thinkers and poets are calling attention to a profound split in the depths of the modern psyche and offering work that seeks to heal our illusory but fateful separation from the living body of Earth, and the loneliness, the viciousness, this alienation engenders.

An arising of new scientific thought and a resurgence of ancient teachings are helping us now to come back to life. In addition, over the last thirty years, a body of experiential group work has developed to help us awaken to our mutual belonging in the web of life. Sometimes called "Deep Ecology" work, "Awakening as Earth," "Our Life as Gaia," or "The Work that Reconnects," in this course we simply call it "Reconnecting with Life."

Maps to guide you

Reconnecting with Life is a guide that maps ways into the vitality and determination we possess to take part in the healing of our world. Developed by many people over the past thirty years, this body of work has helped hundreds of thousands of people find solidarity and courage to act, despite rapidly worsening social and ecological conditions.

Much of the work presented here is best done with others in a group workshop setting. But it can be done alone; it is in the end work we ourselves must do. And so we present the work in this course for those of us who will first encounter and engage this work by ourselves. Hopefully your experience with this work will inspire you to engage in these processes in a workshop setting and perhaps become workshop facilitators.

Prerequisite: intention

In this course we offer methods which most serve to reconnect us with our brother-sister species and with our wider biological nature. You need not be a naturalist or ecologist to do this work. The essential is already present in our desire that life continue, a desire which led you to take this course.

What is required is a clear intention. The intention you start with is all important. We can phrase it in many ways-to heal our separation from the natural world, or to know our interexistence with all beings, or to find in the web of life the power that will help us act in its self-defense. Having owned that intention, we are then in service to it; that bottom-line motivation will carry you through any difficulties or challenges that may arise.

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The practices in this course derive from the work of Joanna Macy. Joanna and her co-teachers acknowledge that the authorship of many of these practices is interwoven and that many practices grew out the experimentation and interaction of many colleagues.

The primary source for this course is Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our lIves, Our World, by Joanna and Molly Young Brown.

See as well Joanna's web site: http://www.joannamacy.net