Ep 5: This Pain Is Not for Nothing

Joanna & Jess May 16, 2024

Episode details

Now we get to what may be the toughest part of reckoning with our planet’s situation: dealing with numbness, grief, and despair. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the many crises around us, and natural to want to numb ourselves to the pain. 

Joanna and Jess speak with great vulnerability and candor about what it takes to navigate our darkest feelings—and the strength and beauty that can be found when we honor our pain. 

Trigger Warning: In this episode, we discuss suicide.

In this episode:

  • When it feels like our pain could swallow us whole, it helps to remember that all feelings come and go
  • Desperation can take us to dark places, but we are more than our despair
  • Numbness—Jess opens up about her familiar tactic for escaping pain
  • Our pain becomes sacred when we allow it to deepen our connection with the world
  • Bonus Exercise: Breathing Through

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

Resources

Links, prompts and exercises to further your inquiry.

The WAGT Toolkit

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Learn more about how to start one here.

Meet Your Hosts

Joanna and Jess

Joanna Macy, PhD, is a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking, and deep ecology who has been working for peace, justice, and the preservation of life on Earth for seven decades. She is the creator of The Work That Reconnects, a globally celebrated framework of practices that has helped leaders and activists for decades to serve the healing of our world in a more powerful and effective way. Joanna is 95 and lives in Berkeley, California.

Jessica Serrante is a coach, facilitator and trainer who has been supporting activists in the climate movement since 2007. She has served on staff at organizations like Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network and worked with groups like Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion. Her first encounter with Joanna’s work a decade ago changed her life, transformed her burnout, and led to a deep, abiding friendship. Jess is 35 and lives in Oakland, California.

Also By Author

Ep 9 Bonus: The Bodhisattva Check-In

This bonus episode will support you to take the main insights from Episode 9: “Live the Questions Now” deeper into your life. 

Jess will guide you through an adaptation of the Work That Reconnects exercise called “The Bodhisattva Check-In.” In Buddhism, the bodhisattva is the archetype of the compassionate person who devotes themself to collective well-being. 

In this exercise, you will be invited to use your imagination to “step in” to each of the circumstances of your life in order to make the contribution to the Great Turning that is yours to make. 

All you’ll need for this bonus exercise is enough space to take slow meditative steps in a straight line or in a circle. A living room or a yard are great. If you don’t want to or can’t walk, there will be instructions on how to do this without moving. You’ll need a total of 20 minutes, including time after the recording has ended.

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

 

Ep 9: Live the Questions Now

When it comes to building the Great Turning, it’s natural to have questions: What is my individual role in it all? How do we win? Who do we fight? While Jess wrestles with her desire for a “prescription” of what to do, Joanna invites us to “live the questions” instead. In this episode, we learn about the three dimensions of the Great Turning and the way forward: community, relationship, and solidarity. 

In this episode:

  • There are no perfect road maps, but if we come together in courage and community, the way will emerge
  • The climate crisis is not just an environmental issue but a spiritual crisis of disconnection
  • Bonus Exercise: The Bodhisattva Check-In

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

Ep 8: Eros and Thanatos

This episode explores the powerful role of Eros (sensual love) and Thanatos (death) in fueling our connection to the world as we contribute to the Great Turning. Joanna and Jess discuss how we might learn to see our world as our lover (and as our self), the gifts of cultivating a sensual connection with the world, and how facing mortality can make the gift of being alive feel even more precious. They also reflect on the closeness of Joanna’s own death, which Joanna sees as “going home” to rejoin the cycle of life.

In this episode:

  • Using our love and awareness of impermanence as fuel for activism
  • Discovering ways to truly feel interconnected with all life through sensual presence
  • Reflections on mortality and our place in the cycle of life

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

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