THE NEW LINEAGE: How Climate Change is Creating a New Epigenetic Transmission
By conference convener, Stephanie Mines, Ph.D.
I was born into an immigrant household that insisted I honor my lineage by associating only with people who looked, behaved and believed as we did. I was repeatedly drilled in my responsibility to ‘my people.’ My job was to memorialize our history, maintain our practices and pass all this on to my own children when I became a parent. There was no possibility to marry outside of my faith; this was the only way, I was told, that ‘our people’ would survive. My teachers had direct knowledge of genocide, poverty, violence and deprivation, which buttressed fear of ‘the other’ and a perceived, ever-present threat of loss, starvation and tragedy. We lived in cramped quarters with other family members. Aunts, uncles and cousins were close by in our urban ghetto, intensifying the attitudes that became my foundation for meeting the world. Even when I moved out to be more independent, become educated and expand my awareness to form new ways of thinking, I carried these early teachings with me and adapted them to my new lifestyle.
That is, until full comprehension of climate change and what it means for the world dawned on me last year. This awakening has completely shifted my internalized definition of ‘my people.’ I had long since moved on from believing that it referred only to a certain group, but I had not yet replaced it with the notion of a ‘global family.’ This awakening to being a global citizen, a global parent and grandparent, and someone who is responsive to the events occurring everywhere on this planet was ignited by looming catastrophic climate change. Climate change has globalized my lineage and, in so doing, has altered my brain. I am infused with a new neurochemistry that hormonally displaces the rigidity of an older, entrenched paradigm of separation. Does this mean I have altered my DNA? I think the answer is yes.
Neuroendocrinologist Bruce McEwen has been one of my neuroscience heroes since I first began to inquire into how the human nervous system responds to trauma. McEwen still conducts cutting edge research demonstrating our endless capacity for resilience and neuroplasticity. As a holistic investigator I was tantalized by McEwen’s articulation of human responsiveness to stress. It illuminated what we can do to maximize creative buoyancy in all aspects of human function, including movement, expression, health, social engagement and creativity. He emphasizes the potency of education, outreach and access to resources to dramatically enhance our human capacity to meet challenge. We do this with brilliant innovation, which changes old patterns by writing a completely new blueprint of possibility. McEwen’s research helps me understand from a scientific standpoint how it is possible for me to change so profoundly. Family lineage informed me of the threat of having everything stolen from me. By contrast, the threat of omni-present climate change, is now evoking expansion, evolution, intelligence and a sense of belonging that has always eluded me. Stewardship is not only about saving the Earth’s resources, protecting its creatures and developing technologies for low-carbon energy generation. It also embraces inclusion and cooperation, collective problem solving and community sustainability, thus resourcing our children and our children’s children. This will alter the neurochemistry of brain development so that future generations will continually be more creative in rising to the challenges of civilization, culture and climate.
The concept of the evolutionary epigenome was developed collaboratively by geneticist Moshe Szyf and neurobiologist Michael Meaney. It somehow seems fitting that an Irishman and a Jew together proposed that one’s environment can serve not only to deepen molecular brain scars but also to obfuscate them. The human blueprint is not etched in stone; it is more like a sand painting. If mentoring and mirroring are encouraging, the brain can endlessly shift, rendering human evolution a tabula rasa.
During the Climate Change & Consciousness conference, we will collectively build the vibrational field that is our legacy for the Earth – a diverse, representative microcosm of the macrocosm that serves all humanity by combining hearts with intelligence to sustain human civilization. Thus we offer our children the chance to respond to the threat of climate change with joy and excitement; to grasp the opportunity to meet the greatest challenge humanity has known. Those of us raised in lineages of limitation that engraved the terror of imminent threat onto our cellular structure can offer future generations an entirely different option. If you are willing to allow your own personal story to morph into something entirely new and perhaps unknown, you can be a force for the emergence of a new lineage. The possibility for neuronal vibrancy is endless and indifferent to age. We are all instrumental in rewriting the script for civilization.
2019 is the perfect time for us to join for this purpose and Findhorn is the perfect place. Subsequent posts will explain why.
The organisers of CCC19 (Climate Change & Consciousness, the week-long conference at Findhorn in April, 2019) are filled with gratitude for the momentum the event is gathering. We are constantly being approached by preeminent climate change activists keen to be involved. Most recently, environmentalist author, philosopher and poet, Kathleen Dean Moore, has spontaneously and generously offered to perform at the conference and facilitate workshops. Kathleen will be joined by piano virtuoso Rachelle McCabe whose accompanimentt to Kathleen’s spoken word makes even more palpable her passionate expression of love for the Earth and all of Nature. If you come to CCC19 for their performance alone, you’ll not be disappointed; your spirit will be uplifted and you will be forever changed. Go to A CALL TO LIFE: Variations on a Theme of Extinction to experience the power and beauty of their collaboration. Here is a brief description of the piece, A CALL TO LIFE, provided by Kathleen:
“Words alone cannot express the moral urgency of action,” says Kathleen Dean Moore, “and so we turned to music.” In a unique creative collaboration, classical pianist Rachelle McCabe and Moore, a philosopher and writer, have created a music/spoken-word performance piece, A CALL TO LIFE. In the program, McCabe plays a breathtaking interpretation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Variations on a Theme of Corelli.” Moore weaves words between the variations, creating a call to action to save the planet’s lives from the dual threats of climate change and ocean acidification. “We are using a formidable piece of music to address a formidable global crisis,” McCabe says. McCabe and Moore have performed for audiences all over the United States. “It is at once devastating and inspiring, despairing and hopeful,” wrote ocean conservationist Mark Hixon, who heard the performance in Hawaii. The synergy of words and music creates what one audience member called “as powerful a message as one could imagine.”
A longer blog post about the work of Moore and McCabe is available here.
A key tenet of the vision for the Climate Change & Consciousness conference is that the voice of youth be heard, loud and clear. That aspect of the vision is now being realised with Xiuhtezcatl Martinez joining the CCC19 programme. Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced Shoe-Tex-Caht) is the indigenous hip-hop artist who is taking on climate change with passion and power. He’s one of the 31 youth suing the US government for not safeguarding their future. Xiuhtezcatl is the Youth Director of Earth Guardians (www.earthguardians.org), a worldwide conservation organisation. His infectious spirit of artistry and daring “just do it” attitude resonates with every phase of the CCC19 programme’s tripartite structure: AWAKE, CELEBRATE, ACT. You can see it all in this video.
At the end of last year, Christiana Figueres, who will be one of the keynote speakers at Climate Change & Consciousness, visited the ethical bank, Triodos, to share some wisdom and inspiration on how to ‘be (a leader of) the change you want to see’. Tridodos happens to be the bank used by the Findhorn Foundation.
Christiana’s sage and quite radical advice boiled down to the following:
1. Develop a clear vision deeply rooted in morality and values.
2. Employ a breadth and diversity of decision-makers.
3. Connect the dots to achieve radical collaboration.
4. Build trust by “embracing the distrust and giving it space”.
5. Exercise stubborn optimism.
6. Call forth our inner wisdom into our decision making.
In relation to the progress of climate action, Figueres points out that the next 5 years are critical. ‘They will determine,’ she says, ‘the quality of life for people on planet earth for the next 300 years.’
To read in more detail go here.
By conference convener, Stephanie Mines, Ph.D.
“Climate change is multifactorial; it cannot be addressed by linear strategies alone.
The problem lies in our relationship with each other and the Earth.
Climate change is a symptom of these relationships.”
Karina Gonzalez, Student Leader at Fossil Free North Arizona University
CLIMATE CHANGE & CONSCIOUSNESS: OUR LEGACY FOR THE EARTH is not just a conference. It is where a model for a sustainable, dynamic and respectful society will be envisioned and enacted. I was guided to convene it for my children, grandchildren, all the children I know and even those I don’t know. Every child and young person I see on the street, in cafes or at the cinema, on hiking trails or in the supermarket, I view in the context of climate change. I wonder, ‘What kind of world will they inherit?’ ‘Do they know that the water, the food, the very air they breathe, is under threat?’ ‘How will they get the resources they need to survive in an environment that will soon and very suddenly become unfamiliar?’ And most importantly, ‘How do we form relationships and communities that will hold and support us during the turbulent times to come?’
CLIMATE CHANGE & CONSCIOUSNESS is where these concerns will be met. So the voices of young people must not only be heard there, they must in fact be the centerpiece, the reference point and the anchor for everything else. We intend to build spaces for youth to explore what they know and what they don’t know about climate change. I’m not speaking merely of data. I’m also speaking of the feelings, the undercurrent of emotions that are inevitable when life is radically altered, whether we are conscious of them or not. And I want to ensure that adults listen carefully to our youth.
I am committed to empowering youth leaders in a movement for deeper climate change consciousness. As Karina Gonzalez points out, climate change is about our relationships with each other and with the Earth. These leaders of tomorrow will step forward at this conference. It will be our joy and privilege to witness them rise up. This, I believe, is a key aspect of what, Charles Eisenstein calls the Most Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.
You can help us manifest this vision by being a supportive sponsor for young people who want to attend but do not have the funds to do so. Become a vital contributor to the future of humanity by gifting them, and all of us, in this way. Please contact us if you wish to donate.
By conference convener, Stephanie Mines, Ph.D.
As I watched the US election returns late into the night of November 8, 2016 I was riveted by a certainty and clarity of direction. I knew without a sliver of doubt that there was one issue that I was to focus on now: climate change. I also knew, in what felt like a head-to-toe sweep of guidance, that I was to convene a major conference to develop resilient, sustainable communities and that it was to be at the Findhorn Foundation.
In retrospect, I would call this experience a quickening. Quickening is the moment during pregnancy when fetal movements are first perceived by the mother. It is a numinous experience. My heart was stilled as a mother who first feels the beckoning of new life. And whilst this appeared sudden, I can see now that it was an evolution. This moment had a history and that history was mine.
I was conceived in a situation of violence and born into trauma both in my familial surroundings and in the world around me, which was at war. Stress and violence shaped every moment of my formative life and was unrelenting throughout my childhood. It is not surprising that as I matured I became interested in trauma resolution, which ultimately led me into neuroscience and psychology. I devoted myself to the comprehensive healing of trauma and the empowerment of traumatized people.
I did not study the environment or climate. Yet when this purposeful directive arrived in my body on the night of November 8th I stepped in one bound out of the realm of personal healing into that of collective awakening and environmental science. I knew with absolute certainty that the greatest trauma the world faces or will face is due to climate change. I also knew that it was my job to stand up to be a steward of the land and Her creatures, for my children and for all the children of the future. This was my unquestionable assignment.
With this precise orientation came another irrefutable knowing; that I could not do this alone. All my life I have been a stubborn independent. I preferred to be alone with my creativity and free from interference or interruption. Yet in this rush of understanding that seemed to descend upon me I relinquished that preference and embraced community; I reached for it and felt its comfort immediately as though I had already received it.
I grew up surrounded by danger. I thought my goal in life was to find safety and comfort. I thought a good marriage, having children and a home and getting a professional degree like a doctorate would make me safe. That illusion evaporated as I realized that there is no safety possible in a world where climate change is accelerating and yet still being denied by a small but powerful minority. It is the clarion call for humanity to wake up and celebrate its love of the Earth by returning to the simplicity of an intimate relationship with Her. If unheeded, climate change will overtake us just as addiction swallows the beauty of an individual. We will have destroyed ourselves.
This quickening sparked the birth of the conference, CLIMATE CHANGE & CONSCIOUSNESS: Our Legacy for the Earth. Join me at Findhorn in an awakening and celebration of our capacity to act in the name of Our Mother. A ten-year-old girl named Aika Tsubota said “I think of the Earth as a gentle cradle that watches over all of the lives in it.” The time has come to cherish this cradle of life with unremitting passion so that it continues to be the cradle of humanity for generations to come.
This is the first in a series of blog posts by conference convener, Stephanie Mines. Future posts will address: why the Findhorn Foundation is the site for the conference; the role of children and youth in our gathering; and how neuroscience demonstrates why you are the very ones who can save humanity through your love affair with the Earth.
Stephanie is the founder of The TARA Approach for the resolution of shock and trauma. For more information about Dr. Mines and her work go to www.Tara-Approach.org or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stephanie will be teaching a series of courses at the Findhorn Foundation called Essence and Empowerment beginning in September 2017.