Consciousness And Climate Change: An Interview With Stephanie Mines, PhD

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How will climate change impact our human consciousness? How are consciousness-raising movements like #MeToo bringing to light enculturated trauma that will move us toward individual and collective healing? How can a Sustainable Healthcare Model help us prepare and heal for climate change?

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Listen to neuroscientist, Stephanie Mines, PhD, share insights into the relationship between trauma, human consciousness, the wake up call of the #MeToo movement and climate change. Mines shares over 35 years of insights into human neurobiology and spirituality crossing worldviews and integrating our capacity for healing from shock and trauma. Mines believes the shock of climate change will move the now considered fringe science of healing ourselves to the center of our culture and consciousness in the coming years. Her insights, along with internationally renown speakers, will be featured at the upcoming Consciousness and Climate Change: Our Legacy to the Earth conference at Findhorn, Scotland in April 2019.

The transcript for this interview is below.

Discover more about the Consciousness and Climate Change conference: ccc19.org

Visit Dr. Mines at www.tara-approach.org


ABOUT THE CONFERENCE

Climate Change & Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth, April 20-26 2019, will be a collaborative and participatory investigation into how we can steward a sustainable future on what has already become a radically changed planet Earth. We have travelled to this “new” planet on a burst of carbon dioxide. A new planet requires new ways of living.

The conference will bring together eminent scientists, wisdom keepers, business people, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, young people and others, to envision and begin to inhabit our joint future. It will be an international, inter-generational and multi-disciplinary gathering. This is the principle of ‘the big tent‘, borrowed from party politics, whereby diverse viewpoints, backgrounds and interests (the ‘voices in the room’) are brought together to engage and dialogue.

Through interactive, embodied and experiential means, participants will access intuitive, intelligent and innovative insights into how we will meet the demands of this new world. Each individual will be invited to invoke their ‘Legacy for the Earth.’ Our combined roles and commitment will represent a global mission of stewardship. Everyone will be part of this love story.

Participants will co-collaborate to explore:

  • The science and truth of climate change in language that we can all comprehend;
  • Ways to embody our longing to connect with the Earth and hear Her voice;
  • How we can build and rebuild communities as functional entities;
  • Political, legal and social activism, and networking for social change;
  • How do we nurture children and support youth to restore our environment;
  • Soil restoration, organic food production and community-scale agriculture;
  • Alternative energy sources and appropriate technologies;
  • Biodiversity and the intrinsic preciousness of all species;
  • Racism, misogyny and gender bias – how they deepen the environmental crisis;
  • Contemporary and traditional resources to address the trauma of climate change;
  • What can we learn from indigenous cultures, activists and wisdom keepers;
  • Healthcare and the detoxification of environmental pollutants and toxins; and
  • How to generate inspiration for a grassroots upsurge to reclaim our future.

THREE MAJOR ORIENTATIONS

Three major threads running though the conference will be:

  • AWAKE: Facing the truths of climate change.
  • CELEBRATE: Using the arts to express our love for the Earth and all life.
  • ACT: Developing our response, locally and globally.

WHY THIS CONFERENCE IS UNIQUE

While words like ‘climate change’ and ‘sustainability’ are in the popular parlance, the truth about the magnitude of our environmental predicament is not well understood. This is in part because the language used to deliver the science is frequently infused with acronyms that deter engagement. This conference will translate scientific jargon into language that is accessible to anyone. In addition, we intend a celebratory response to climate change that emphasises human resilience and creativity, which is key to coping with the scientific reality. These two sides of the coin (environmental science and celebratory resilience) will be linked at every juncture of this gathering.

This conference will be led by some of the most knowledgeable and highly regarded voices of the climate change movement. The key contributors are recognised internationally for their expertise, their commanding presence, and their proven capacity to identify practical and optimistic strategies for sustainability action. Joining these voices with those of artists, healers, parents and youth has seldom been attempted in quite such a way.


Consciousness and Climate Change: An Interview with Stephanie Mines, PhD

A TRANSCRIPT OF THE ABOVE INTERVIEW

LISA REAGAN: Welcome to Kindred, an alternative media outlet and non-profit initiative of Kindred World. This is Lisa Reagan and today I’m talking with Dr. Stephanie Mines about climate change and consciousness. Dr. Mines has devoted herself to the resolution of personal and collective trauma for over 35 years. She is the author of five books, including We Are All in Shock, New Frontiers and Sensory Integration, and the most recent, They were Families, How War Comes Home. Welcome, Dr. Mines.

STEPHANIE MINES: Thank you, Lisa. It’s great to be here with you!

LISA REAGAN: It is wonderful to be here with you. We’re here to talk about today is climate change and consciousness, which is also an upcoming conference in Findhorn, Scotland a year from now. But there is so much territory to cover between consciousness and trauma and climate change, you and I could meet regularly for the next year.

STEPHANIE MINES: I’d love to do that. I’d love to do that Lisa!

LISA REAGAN: Your work in the past has been on trauma. You have the book, We Are All in Shock. I remember getting that book years ago and this was… what year was that book published.

STEPHANIE MINES: That book was published in 2013.

LISA REAGAN: Okay, it wasn’t that long ago. It feels like it was. But, your work has focused on trauma for 35 years. Can you start us off by just helping us get some understanding around what is shock, what is trauma, what are the differences?

 

The Difference Between Shock and Trauma

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah, I’m happy to do that and let me just say that there was the earlier book which was Sexual Abuse – Sacred Wound: Transforming Deep Trauma. That was published in 1998, so that was really my first book on this topic of differentiating shock from trauma and We Are All in Shock actually was the most comprehensive statement about that. So that first book on sexual abuse was the definition really of shock. So sexual abuse, a violation of that magnitude is in the category of shock more than it is in the category of trauma.

See Kindred’s Contributing Editor, Robin Grille at the Climate Change and Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth!

So these words are used interchangeably and it’s unlikely that I’m going to make a big difference in that habit of using those words interchangeably. But for people like us who really can make those discernment, it is important from the standpoint of being of service of others to realize that there is a difference. So it is a difference of magnitude and the illustration that I frequently reference is a metaphor: if the lights in the room where you’re doing your work go out, that’s a trauma, because you can’t proceed with your work, but usually if the lights go out in the room where you are, they can be turned back on fairly easily. There is a solution available. There are resources available to get the lights back on.

But the lights go out in your house, in your neighborhood, in your village, in your community and nobody knows why that happened and there isn’t a direct way to get the lighting restored, that is shocking. That is overwhelming. People become disoriented and confused and they feel helpless and they feel that they cannot access the resources that we get them out of the hole that they’re in and that is much more the experience of shock. So, the ratio that we look at to differentiate shock from trauma is: are the resources available to remedy the situation? With shock, the resources are frequently not obvious and may fall into black and white categories like life and death. So the way that shock usually happens is when the individual is in an unresourced situation.

Developmentally, shock frequently relates to early development. So, in utero, for instance, the resources are somewhat limited. So shock that occurs in utero is overwhelming. The prenate, the developing baby, cannot relocate, can’t find another food source, can’t find other options for how they will survive. So the availability of options is a critical factor in differentiating shock from trauma.

LISA REAGAN: It’s really about the resources. Are there differences in neurobiology and neuropsychology?

STEPHANIE MINES: Oh, absolutely. You mean, in terms of what happens as a result of shock and trauma?

LISA REAGAN: Right, I guess I’m thinking about the ACES study that is very popular right now and also the term trauma-informed treatment and trauma-informed care are popping up and no one is using the word shock, so I am just trying to help our listeners understand what they’re hearing out there and the difference between what they’re hearing out there, as you’re saying, resources to address it and resources not available, and what is it. We’re going to talk about ACES in just a moment.

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah, I am really glad that you’re correlating the fact that trauma is being used much more globally. The word shock is not used. I do want to mention that Naomi Klein, a climate change commentator, wrote a book called The Shock Doctrine and I think that’s important. We’ll come back to that in our conversation because climate change falls into the category of shock versus trauma. I even use the term trauma-informed touch to explain some of the interventions that I teach in the entire approach of shock and trauma. I think that term is useful because it implies that the person touching or the person providing treatment has an understanding of trauma in a kind of general way.

From my standpoint as a neuroscientist, differentiating shock from trauma is essential because the way that the brain responds to trauma and the way that the brain responds to shock is different.

LISA REAGAN: That’s exactly what I suspected.

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah, exactly. This actually correlates with addictive patterns. So, if the individual’s organic quest to satisfy a need is impossible to satiate, there are no resources to satiate it, those are completely unavailable, the individual is more likely to find an addictive compensation because their life depends on satisfying that need. Addictions are simply compensations for organic needs that were impossible to satisfy. In terms of ACES, what we see that this study educates us about is that when early development is thwarted, when early development is inappropriate and not able to meet the needs of the developing being, then not only is that person psychologically in distress, that person is in distress at every level of their being, including their immune system. Their very longevity is threatened and that makes perfect sense to me.

This has a great deal to do with how the immune system functions and the relationship between the immune system and the nervous system. The nervous system, which organizes in response to threat, has a direct line of communication to the kidney-adrenal system and if that system of adrenal or cortisol response is oriented in a particular way, either sympathetically or para-sympathetically, over and over and over again, there is no way that the immune system can’t be compromised and the degree of compromise of the immune system is in direct correlation to the magnitude of threat of shock and trauma in early life.

The ACES study is very useful from that standpoint. The one thing that I do want to point out about the ACES Study and it’s incredible value, especially for the medical profession, is that there are other options for the individual who has such a burden on their nervous and immune systems, and I am speaking more here from my own personal experience as someone who came into this field as a result of my own early experiences of trauma and I don’t think that is unique to me. I think a lot of people in the helping professions entered that field because of their own experience and their compassionate outreach. I would say that while adverse impacts on my early life were definitely overwhelming and definitely fell into the category of shock, I did find resources in certain areas within myself that I would define as spiritually-based that allowed me to develop considerably in my health in my life and to be in a field that increases the quality of my lifestyle and increases my health, so that as I enter my elder-hood, which I believe now I’m well established in, I’m about to be 74, I find myself getting healthier and healthier.

I think that is because I have learned the art of regeneration, which is what I teach in the TARA Approach, even though the outcomes for adverse childhood experiences are daunting, there are other options. There are ways to regenerate. There are ways for those who choose consciousness and for those who research appropriate resources to not be condemned by any means to those health consequences of adverse childhood experiences. I just want to hold that out there: that people who experience adverse childhood experiences are not condemned to poor health. With the right education, the right outreach, and what I call sustainable health, which is really more on a family level, on a grassroots level, on a community level, on a level that everyone can access, through bringing in those sustainable health resources that I am very much in the business of compiling,we can turn this around. I intend to make that available to as many people as possible.

How Childhood Trauma Makes Us Sick Adults, an interview with ACEs Study researcher, Vincent Felitte, MD

LISA REAGAN: I do appreciate the work that you’re doing and I should tell the listeners that Dr. Mines is one of those rare scientists and practitioners that not only bridge worldviews, but goes back and forth up and down timelines and integrates our neurobiology with our spirituality in ways that are practical and it’s stunning. She has a great TED talk on Kindred, The Neuropsychology of Spiritual Guidance, that you’re welcome to enjoy.

Right now, I want to do what I do best, which is an old gum shoe journalist, be a Debbie Downer for a moment, laughs. What I want to do is talk about the distance that we’ve already traveled with the ACES study, done in 1973 by the Kaiser Permanente Group by Dr. Vincent Felitti (watch his talk here). His talk is also up on Kindred along with some other information on ACES and an ACES quiz to find out what your score is. This adverse childhood events list came out of studying women who couldn’t lose weight and what he found was that the majority of them were sexually molested at some point in their childhood and losing weight made their neurobiology feel unsafe, so they would just pack the weight. That revelations prompted a deeper look, because as he says in his interviews, nobody believes that relationship was possible: that you could have lifelong consequences from childhood trauma. That’s why the ACES study is so riveting. Even though it is 2018, people are rolling it out like they just discovered it.

For example, Oprah Winfrey was just on 60 Minutes last month saying that the ACES study was “game-changing”. So, I would just like to say I know this is why Kindred exists and why we do the work we do here as a we keep trying to trot out the New Story and gather everyone who is a part of it so that there is more visibility and coherence in this new emerging worldview. But when you are saying that it is possible to recover and they are acting like they just discovered it…

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah.

 

Oprah Winfrey, Trauma Recovery And Waiting On Mainstream Media To Catch Up

LISA REAGAN: How much longer do we have to wait for this information to mainstream as well?

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah, well, this is beautiful what you’re pointing to, Lisa. I really appreciate the way that you’re bringing all of this together. I am reminded very much of the work of Rebecca Solnit, who talks about what’s in the center and what’s on the edges in her small book that she wrote that is still incredibly relevant on hope, Hope In The Dark. What you’re saying really illustrates this. So in the center, we have Oprah Winfrey talking to one of my heroes, Dr. Bruce Perry. Love that man and I have followed his work and his writing devotedly. He really is a hero for me. But here she is talking about information and that some of us, like me, have been talking about for decades and acting as if, wow, this is a game-changer, and because she is talking about it, it becomes a game-changer because she’s in the center. I mean, Bruce Perry has been doing this work for a long time. I am so glad she chose him because he really packs in the experience and his compassion for working with children and families is enormous and he has been brought in to all of the major cases where children have been abused and taken advantage of and misused in collective situations.

But, meanwhile, while we have this sudden event in the center with Oprah Winfrey, out on the fringes on the corners on the edges of society in the places that we don’t see in the media, we don’t see on major television networks, not being pushed as headlines, we have people like you and me and many many mothers and families who I have worked with for a long time who are soaking up this understanding of relational based family dynamics where parents are the anchors for their children and understand how they can emphatically nurture the development of their offspring and who are really fostering development that is organic, that is following the child. That is allowing the child’s brain to have optimum opportunities for evolution.

This is happening outside of the cameras and the racy news stuff that we all think is so important and Rebecca Solnit’s theory, which I espouse, is that those edges and those outskirts are slowly moving into the center. We will slowly become the centerpiece in a very natural and simple way. Unfortunately, I think it’s climate change that’s going to cause that to occur because climate change will eradicate this idea that what is in the center, what everybody appears to be, you know, racing their hearts about, that will disappear. What happens in collective communities where people are really surviving and thriving based on their love for one another, based on their respect for each other, based on their belief in the children of the future and fostering human development and serving humanity — that will then become the centerpiece and those things that we’ve known, those of us particularly have been working in promoting mother and child-centered birth practices and understanding the crucial role of the primal period in development. Those of us who have been doing that now for a long time, we’ve been talking this talk for quite a while and people have been listening and raising their children according to that. Those people will then be able to flourish in a world that will be radically altered by climate change as Naomi Klein describes in The Shock Doctrine.

 

Climate Change Will Shift Our Consciousness

LISA REAGAN: So climate change might shift our consciousness in a way that we won’t need to have those in the center, the status quo defenders, people who have pharmaceutical ads as being the answer between their show breaks be the people who are going to show us the way. That is my concern with the ACES study now is who is trotting it out and who is going to benefit from the “discovery” of the ACES study. I say that because what I want to do now is move us into the territory of what you have discovered and what you write about and what you’re presenting at the Consciousness and Climate Change Conference, which requires us to shift our worldview considerably in order to facilitate these healing models.

Robin Grille’s video to help parents talk with children about climate change is brilliant and practical. You can also find Robin at the upcoming Climate Change and Consciousness Conference at Findhorn, Scotland, in April 2019.

STEPHANIE MINES: Absolutely and it’s really interesting to me. I myself am completely strapped by the fact that I just recently did my first webinar that is precursor to the climate change and consciousness event that is going to happen in 2019 at Findhorn so that is a monumental event with top name presenters like Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein and Vandana Shiva and many other stellar minds speaking about climate change and consciousness, but climate change and consciousness is actually a movement and from my standpoint, the movement has already begun and I launched this first webinar just about a week ago on the topic of women, cancer, the #MeToo movement and climate change.

This is the interface between what ACES is saying about adverse early childhood experiences, the current sorry state of our health in the world, which is declining rapidly and cancer being despite some advances in certain areas, on the rise, particularly for women, particularly for women of color and the way in which we need to look both deeper and more simply at how we can vitalize our immune system functions in the face of climate change and in the face of adverse childhood experiences. This is completely counter to the pharmaceutical approach and I have to say, I am required to, but I also absolutely do believe this, that I am not speaking against the allopathic or Western medical model. That model has incredible value. When my husband had a heart attack, I can tell you that I was very happy that the kind of services that he received in hospital worked. They worked beautifully and he has had an amazing recovery and he is probably healthier than ever before as a result of having a stent, of taking certain kinds of medications, and also living an extremely healthy lifestyle.

So I am not speaking against the medical profession. I respect and appreciate the medical profession for what they’ve done for me and my family, but as I think we all know, they don’t have the whole story and they act as if they do. So I believe that the two can work together, this really deep and simple understanding of our empowered capacities to heal ourselves and to heal our families and to heal our families. I believe that the capacity to do that is in our own hands, not in opposition to the medical profession, with the medical profession when the medical profession is needed, which isn’t all of the time.

So in my webinar on women, cancer, the #MeToo movement and climate change, what I talked about was the historical legacy of women keeping secrets and that’s of course the correlation with the #MeToo movement. So the #MeToo movement is an incredibly healthy movement. It’s a movement to come out of hiding. It’s a movement to have the courage to tell the truth. It’s the movement of independence and it’s the movement of an authentic voice and lineages of women have compromised their volume because of traditions that they sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously and habitually replicate. That has got to change and that is changing and in my webinar, I was encouraging the participants to change it for themselves deeply and precisely.

So what I was pointing to was how incredibly precise the immune system is. The immune system is gorgeous. It is such a work of art and what the immune system does is make definitive decisions instantaneously, so the immune system has the capacity to identify a threat and just eradicate it on the spot so that it is decimated. That capacity to have impeccable boundaries like that and to act on those impeccable boundaries, we need to cultivate. There is too much deliberation whether something is threatening or is not threatening. So the immune system gets confused when the person in whose body it lives doesn’t take care of themselves in that definitive way and that’s what telling the truth is a simple and definitive action that calls the shots the way they are and trusts in the power of that truthfulness and that’s the correlation between the #MeToo movement, women, and cancer and I say that with no blame whatsoever to the women who have perhaps felt they had to keep secrets, but that time is over. That is completely unnecessary and coming out of hiding is much more valuable than staying hidden.

That action gives the immune system a sense of being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing and the way that climate change enters that formula is that climate change is a shock because it threatens everything and how do you respond to it? It has to be definitive and it has been immediate. So we have to change a lot and it’s that willingness to change. It’s that receptivity to change. It’s that resilience that promises to give us health and that’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot as I approach my 74th birthday and I realize, you know, my whole life is turning on a dime right now. I am remaking myself as I enter my 74th year. There’s nothing about retirement or stability or you know, comfort, that is appealing to me. I am stepping into a whole new evolution, a whole new phase of who I am and how I appear in the world and how I feel and that to me is the health that I have earned through the regeneration from adverse experiences.

 

Gaia Is Calling Women To Wake Up To Self-Nurture

LISA REAGAN: I have read your blog post about women and climate change. Can you speak specifically the way you do in your articles about how climate change is going to affect women in particular?

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STEPHANIE MINES: Well, women I think are the leaders in this period of accelerating climate change. I just watched an incredible video by a leader, a man, who spoke of the womb of the earth and how nothing really changes until the women change. We, I feel, are being called to step up as leaders, as our Mother Earth, the deeply feminine force of the earth, Gaia, calls us forward to stand for her. We are her voices. I think this is a time of challenge for women and the way that our health is being impacted, I think is a reflection of how deeply we are challenged. I have many young students, women I know, friends of my daughters, who are being diagnosed with breast cancer and it’s horrific, but what is amazing is how they’re choosing with these diagnoses to turn it around. So they’re taking the diagnosis as a wake up call and they are empowering themselves and finding out who they really are because of this diagnosis very much as climate change is helping everyone, but women in particular to find out who we are.

LISA REAGAN: So let me draw some… let me connect some dots between you use the phrase “kinesthetic empathy”…

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah.

LISA REAGAN: To describe how women are enculturated to be the sponges for trauma around them, especially in men, you’ve written a whole book about bringing war home to the family and how that is not even addressed in our culture. So how does someone turn around this being a sponge for everyone into now I am going to take care of myself.

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah. This is the wake up call and it’s a great question. You are still an incredible journalist, Lisa, and I don’t think you should refer to yourself as an old journalist.

LISA REAGAN: I’m an old shoe. I’ve been around a while.

STEPHANIE MINES: Well, you know, it’s the critical mind of the journalist that I love and that I think is also incredibly healthy. It is even that critical mind that I would say women need to cultivate generally in terms of themselves so that we can wake up for our mother Gaia and for our children and become the leaders that Gaia wants us to be. So how do we identify this unconscious absorption that women are enculturated towards that just has us soaking up all of the angst and all of the anxiety and all of the stress that is not just in our families or just in our homes, but you know, in the entire world around us and the way that we can become conscious of it is by examining it by using our capacities for awareness and intelligence and consciousness and focus. Our ability to focus, we have to bring up that capacity to focus so that we can differentiate ourselves from what is going on around us and find our voice, find the particular role that Gaia has in mind for us as forces to be of service in any variety of ways. It doesn’t have to be big, it can just be with one other individual, one child.

How Gaia is working through us for the salvation of humanity and of the earth, so we have to be able to focus. I have been saying this about women, to women, for women, with women, for a long time. It’s that ability to zero in on what is the truth to examine and in the webinar that I did, I put forth my concept of deep journaling, which is just a way of using writing to exercise the critical mind and examine how we’re making our choices, what is it that we’re feeling, not just by recording it or documenting it, but by really inquiring into it and I would say that’s one of the regenerative capacities that was a gift to me by my extremely adverse childhood experiences because I was so unsafe in the family and the environment in which I was forced to live that I became very introverted and very skilled at tracking everything within me and around me as a way to feel some sense of safety and stability and I’ve never lost that. That has been honed and refined and educated throughout my development, mostly at my own instigation, so the ability to be curious about ones self.

This is a very animal instinct, you know how animals really inquire into everything. They’re so curious about everything. That’s really a part of the healthy primitive brain and we want to regain that. We want to learn that again because we had it as children and adverse early experiences stripped that away from us. I couldn’t do that as a child. I couldn’t do that in a physical way. I couldn’t just explore and be curious in my movements because that wasn’t safe, but I never stopped being curious internally and I really believe, Lisa, that saved my life and I realize that as a neuroscientist when I saw the interaction between dopamine and oxytocin, you know, they’re very interactive, so I didn’t have too much oxytocin. I had a little bit from my grandpa, but there wasn’t much oxytocin flowing in my home when I was growing up, but I contained within my own little private secret world, I contained a lot of dopamine. I just kept circulating my dopamine and that dopamine, that curiosity ultimately gave me the capacity to self generate my own oxytocin with itself and so you could say that I’ve continued to develop that, the ability to be self inquiring and the ability to be creative and the ability to track responses to circumstances and transform them into their most optimum outcome.

So that’s all part of the self care that I teach, but what’s happening for me in this third act of life is that it’s not just about self care. By taking care of myself in this way, by nurturing my intelligence, by learning to focus, by focusing more and more all of the time, looking more and more deeply into myself all of the time and allowing shifts to happen spontaneous as the result of a really heightened sorting ability, I am of more and more service to my blessed world that is on the brink of disaster.

So self care is really what allows me at this juncture to make the transition from “I to We” so that I become even more of a servant by serving myself. So I hope, my hope really in what I’m saying to you right now and what I’m doing in my life right now is to be a model to other women to the best of my ability and I really say this with a lot of humility, because I feel very guided in this, but to be a model for the beauty of elder-hood, to be a model for the beauty of this practice of focused self-inquiry and self-care that is urgent right now. So we want to be urgent without being desperate, you know, we want to slow down to speed up. You know, this capacity to really steer yourself forward as a brilliant female contributor to this world that we’re living in. That’s what I want to be a model of for women.

LISA REAGAN: This sustainable healthcare model that you’re advocating for and that will be presented at the conference?

STEPHANIE MINES: Yes. The sustainable healthcare model that I’m developing more and more everyday and then I just applied to a fellowship to develop even further is a model of the kinds of resources that can be sustained by an individual, that can be sustained by a family, that can be sustained by a community that is cut off potentially from the western medicine that we need for, you know, the acute situations when it’s a miracle, like my husband’s heart attack, for instance.

The kinds of self care that can keep an individual, a family, a community healthy despite the difficult circumstances they might be in, the challenges, and the lack of access to institutionalized care. That is the sustainable health model. It involves combining traditional medicines that work for indigenous communities beautifully and that are in some cases ancient with evolution and improvements on those that have developed like my own TARA approach, which takes an ancient Japanese energy medicine system and transforms it into trauma-informed touch so that kind of evolution adapts these ancient traditions for the current times. All of that goes into the sustainable health medicine bag and what I will do also with the model is train practitioners in the dissemination of these sustainable health interventions.

 

The New Sustainable Healthcare Model

LISA REAGAN: So speak for a moment about what we were talking about right before we started recording, you were saying that this kind of sustainable healthcare model is really needed by white westerners and talk for a little bit about how you were just in New Zealand and how that was a different experience.

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah. Yeah. You’re a great weaver, Lisa and I love the way that you’re paying attention.

LISA REAGAN: Laughs.

STEPHANIE MINES: I love it and I am so grateful for it. So, yes, I was just privileged to be invited in to a beautiful Mauti community called Parihaka on the north island of New Zealand and the district that’s called Taranaki named for Mount Taranaki and Parihaka is now being known and people haven’t known about it. It is just coming out now that Parihaka was a center for non-violent passive resistance when the British were raping and really destroying basically trying to commit genocide against the Mauti so that they could acquire their beautiful beautiful land and New Zealand is exemplary in making restitution for that more and more.

There’s a long way to go yet, but it’s happening and it is somewhat evidenced by how I was received into the Parihaka community, totally unexpectedly and totally with me being raw and wordless, really. I don’t speak Mauti. It’s an incredible language and I want to learn it, but everything that I was exposed to was in Mauti, so I felt like an outsider but it turned out that I wasn’t. So what I learned about was the incredible health of the Mauti community itself. So I think for white people, this sense of being healed in the heart of community is unusual. Even though I come from really an old world family myself, myself and my family we are all immigrants from eastern Europe, a very traditional peasant eastern European Jewish family, but we were so fragmented by being in America that the core of comfort and the core of sustainability that is the truth of what the family is or what the community is was gone and was lost.

People were so incredibly damaged by being, you know, ostracized and beaten and tossed out and torn asunder and stripped from their traditions that instead of the family being a sanctuary, it became another territory of war, very much like what I describe in They were Families: How War Comes Home. But in the Mauti family, even though the Mauti people have suffered the ravages of a colonization just like the Native Americans have in the US, the family is really a shelter. It is really a source of incredible healing and knowing that family is there for you and also the healing traditions within that family, which include nature as the primary one, the natural world, listening to, being part of, connecting with the natural world, which is something that I insist upon as being a component of the conference, Climate Change and Consciousness.

That everyone there, whether you’re Bill McKibben or you’re a registered participant, you will be exposed to deepening relationship with the natural world. That is innate in the Mauti community. You know, Mount Taranaki is not the mountain that is beautiful out there. Mount Taranaki is a relative. It is part of the family and the songs the language of the community are instruments of healing. I was so blessed to be asked to do some healing of trauma in community on a day at Parihaka that was organized for women peacekeepers from throughout Aotearoa and I saw as I was working with a traumatized family in a whole collective situation, as I was using the TARA approach, the healing interventions of the TARA approach, at certain moments, the whole group, Lisa, the whole group would start to sing. I can send you some photos of this.

LISA REAGAN: I would love that.

STEPHANIE MINES: It was so incredibly beautiful. It was hard for me. I mean, I didn’t even try as the practitioner supposedly conducted this, to keep from wailing. I was working with a mother and a daughter and as the trauma issues surfaced at certain junctures, the whole group would start to sing in Mauti. So the songs were part of the healing. The circle itself, the gathering, became part of the healing. So these songs, even the youngest girl who was there knew the songs. These songs have been kept alive. What songs do we have? What songs would we sing to each other as a source of healing? So that’s what I mean. That’s an example of what I mean when I say that the sustainable health paradigm will include what I learned from the Mauti, but it is needed not by the Mauti, but by those of us who have lost that kind of connection with the natural world and also with community.

LISA REAGAN: Right. Well, my family comes from farming family and standing around pianos and singing together and having meals together is something I have written about on Kindred as one of the inspirations for the work I do. The name of the article is My Grandma Is Not A Hippie. All of the stuff I want to do has gotten me labeled as a hippy, but my grandmother did it and she wasn’t a hippy. It was just how people lived closer to community.

STEPHANIE MINES: That’s so beautiful. That’s not what we’re going to go back to, but it’s what we’re going to bring along, because it’s restoring that with the upgrade to consciousness that needs to accompany it. That’s a beautiful reference because it was one moment when I was at Parihaka and there are certain ceremonies that are required and they are all done in Mauti for entering a space. I don’t know the rituals, I’ve never done them. I was being asked to participate in a ritual that was bringing me into a space and at a certain point, someone said, now you’re supposed to sing a song.

Someone said to me, in English obviously, well now that you’ve gotten this far in this process, now you have to sing a song and I was just gobsmacked, because number one I have a terrible voice, I don’t sing well, and I don’t know any songs. Whatever song I know, I thought nobody really wants to hear me sing it, so I was stupefied and then finally just out of my mouth came this Yiddish folk song that my grandmother sang me when I was little and I didn’t even know that I remembered it. It was in Yiddish and I just let it out and then it was only later that I learned that step in the ritual was one in which you’re supposed to sing a song from the land from which you came.

LISA REAGAN: Oh gosh, wow. Well, we have to do a whole other call on this because as somebody who has worked to create community and bring community together in the US, one of the many books that I am finishing or else, talks about my, and not just mine, but other people’s efforts in the United States to bring people together and what we saw. I know Darcia Narvaez has written a lot about neurobiology and this sort of thing in her work as well. In America, because we’re almost like prime to belong to a cult. We want someone to tell us what to do and what to say I think and how to feel. So the minute we roll out and say these are sacred ceremonial rituals and we’re going to access our spirit and this piece of ourselves and come together, what I’ve found in the past… it wasn’t always true but it is true enough to make it significant is that people wanted to create life rafts and then, okay, this is how it’s done and this is the ritual, instead of there was some missing step there of consistent community and heart opening experience. It’s like the experiential piece isn’t there enough for us to create the new reality that we’re still in our heads.

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah, I totally agree.

LISA REAGAN: So I’ve seen that, yeah. But we have such a long journey ahead of us and I’m so glad that you’re there holding the space that you are. I just wonder if you could take a moment and tell our listeners anything you want to say about the conference and then where to find you online.

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah. That’s actually a really good segway, because I big part of the conference is very much on this topic of building community, because exactly as you are saying, we need to learn how to do that. There are going to be people at the conference who know far better than I. I haven’t built community. I am learning about community right now through my work with this conference and this is part of me remaking myself in my third act here. I always thought what I really wanted was a lot of isolation and independence so I could write my poetry and my novels and not be bothered by other people. It turns out really that’s not how creativity really flourishes. It flourishes in community. So that’s a big part of climate change and consciousness, so the conference is “Climate Change and Consciousness: Our Legacy for the Earth.” The website is http://ccc19.org but I want to also emphasize that this is not just about a conference where we have these major presenters like Bill McKibben and Vandana Shiva and Naomi Klein and other stellar speakers. We have all of that.

We have a great banner of incredible people who are going to be presenting, but we also have incredible participants, all of whom will be presenters at some point in the conference. We have incredible workshops. But even beyond that, I see this as a movement that leads to what happens when the conference is over. That’s what is important. That’s when the communities manifest. That’s when people implement the brilliant ideas, the networks that are generated at the event itself and I am working now to the best of my ability to make sure that some structure for that action plan is in place. I am very much emphasizing the sustainable health component, but all of the other components also have to be in place. It’s a huge undertaking. There are people who want to help me and learn about the sustainable health component through my paradigm of the TARA approach. You can reach me on that website, http://tara-approach.org and through my personal email, which you’ll find on that website and I welcome a response from those who would be interested in supporting, for instance by sponsoring people who can’t afford to attend. I’ve just been able to get some funding for some Mauti youth. There’s a huge youth component to this conference. Youth are a centerpiece to this event.

Every aspect of this event is given to me in guidance, so this whole conference was given to me as an assignment and it was very specific, so it was spiritually directed and anyone who wants to see the eight principles of this conference which were dictated to me, I am happy to share that with you. So the concept of climate change and consciousness is actually a movement. It will go on beyond the event itself and there are also precursor events occurring, such as the webinar I just spoke of and I am doing another webinar on April 21 which will be about the relationship between the human nervous system and Gaia’s. Yeah, you’re invited to that Lisa if you’d like to attend.

LISA REAGAN: That sounds wonderful.

STEPHANIE MINES: Yeah. It’s going to be a lot of fun and it is going to include a visualization and meditation that allows us to hookup with the Gaia and nervous system so that we can respond to her needs more readily and that’s on my website already. We just I think posted it today. So http://tara-approach.org and http://ccc19.org. We welcome everyone.

LISA REAGAN: Well, thank you so much. I am so in awe of you and 35 years devoted to this territory and that you can report back to this degree, it just blows me away. I read your work and I realize the depth and breadth that you’re covering that I just really really deeply deeply appreciate that you have done this. You have held this space.

STEPHANIE MINES: Thank you, thank you.

LISA REAGAN: I would like to tell our listeners, if you would like to read the transcript and any pictures that Stephanie is going to share with us, you can find them at http://kindredmedia.org. I don’t know where you are going to run across this recording, but http://kindredmedia.org is where you can find the transcript and all kinds of resources that I will tack at the bottom as well for the conference and other works that you have to share.

STEPHANIE MINES: I want to acknowledge you Lisa because I really want to honor this journalistic mind, this inquisitive mind of yours. I want to support you in writing your book or books I should say and I want to thank you for hearing me and seeing me and acknowledging me and recognizing me and giving me this opportunity to communicate my mission and my directive to the world.

LISA REAGAN: Oh, thank you so much. It’s wonderful and you are in my community, so we all get to play in the sand box together as I like to say. It’s wonderful.

STEPHANIE MINES: Wonderful. Thank you, thank you Lisa.

 

 

 

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