insta posts (1)
insta posts (1)

Air Pollution and Mental Pollution entangled within

Today (September 7th) is the International Clean Air Day designated to act globally for reducing air pollution on our planet.

What causes air pollution? A lot of factors can be counted; such as harmful air pollutants produced by industrial sources and used for agricultural purposes, increasing carbon dioxide emissions due to excessive human transport and human waste. 

Experts develop many strategies and action plans about how to reduce aforementioned causes to clean the air in the sky. However little has been said about why we as humans have polluted the air we breathe -the most important source that keeps us alive- so drastically in the first place. To understand the degree of pollution taking place in air, water and soil on the planet, I invite you to reflect on the mental pollution occurring in our minds for 350 years. 

About 350 years ago, thinkers from the Enlightenment era invented the concept of ‘progress’. Progress is defined as “the movement towards a refined, improved or otherwise desired state.” Progress is a linear rise targeting a peak and implies a desire of living at that peak. The thought of progress occupies our human minds so intensely that thinking without progress becomes barely possible. 

On the other hand, life itself is far more complicated than a linear path going upward. When I observe other inhabitants of our planet such as fungi, plants, animals (especially ants, spiders, insects and many other bugs) and trillions of microorganisms, those creatures do not progress towards a peak. They intentionally grow, and entangle with each other. They intelligently overcome challenges, especially the ones we impose on them with our hostile and ignorant behaviours. If needed, they advance their skills for adapting to current circumstances. Yes, they do progress but the meaning of their lives is not inseparably attached to progress. They advance if life asks them to. Their evolution took its roots from enhancing vitality and honouring life itself, not from an abstract desire of progress.

Progress has its place in life. I do not want to make progress a scapegoat for the damage we caused on the planet. The problem is we humans have become obsessed with progress. If one perceives progress as the ultimate meaning of life, one can easily veer away from the porous and cyclic reality of life. 

All living beings share a common feature; hollowness. Without holes and voids, life energy can not flow within and among the living bodies. However, in the progress obsessed society we live in, these natural holes have turned into lacks and deficiencies that need to be ‘filled’ and ‘fixed’. ‘’Never enough’’ is a dominant belief in our unconscious psyche which conditions us either to deny or to fill and fix natural gaps so we can feel whole and complete.   

How we culturally treat the hollow parts of the human body gives a clear indication to the situation. Vagina and anus are the human body parts which are humiliated and ignored at most. Bodily fluids coming from our hollow body parts such as snot, sweat, tears or menstrual blood, all have their own history of denial and humiliation. In our contemporary lives, we perceive hollows and their excrements generally as a curse rather than a natural reality. 

Death is another natural reality that we as a progress obsessed society struggle to accept and therefore choose to deny. We use resources of the planet obscenely to advance medical interventions so the life span of humans can extend quantitatively -not so much qualitatively- while at the same time 28% of other inhabitants of the planet Earth are endangered and about to become extinct due to our misuse of resources. 

From a simplistic point of view, each death, dying and decay is a transformation of matter and energy. However, within the complex relationship threads of life, when a loved one dies, the thread of life tears and a gap occurs. Again, our progress obsessed psyche tends to fill and fix the gap rather than honouring its hollowness. Fortunately, our ancestors have honoured death by holding grief ceremonies for thousands of years and our ancient psyche knows well how to grieve.  

Last weekend I joined a grief ceremony to honour the anger, the fear, the sorrow and the emptiness that death causes in and around me. I realised that if I choose to sit with the emptiness, the sorrow, the fear and the anger that the reality of dying leaves me with, ironically my vitality enhances. During the ceremony, I felt that my hardened parts melted down by simply gazing at the fire. An enormous release of energy took place either by flooding out of my tears or by the vibrations of my breath purling out via sound and language. It was as if, whatever obstructed my life flow from moving freely became fluid and integrated to the flow of life. 

We need to hold many more grief ceremonies for the destruction we are causing on the planet. The more we sit and allow space and time to appreciate hollowness and to honour decay and death, the better we would be able to clean the polluted air in our minds and in the sky.

Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *