Lucy Weir, PhD
I was always interested in philosophy, and what it means to live a good life, particularly given the contradictions and unfairness that we see all around us and experience internally. This – early childhood experiences of both extreme trauma and exquisite delight, awareness of the natural world in all its wonder and beauty, paradoxical family, culture, and educational demands – shaped me, and that makes me no different, fundamentally, from you.
I started practicing yoga as a teen, deeply dysmorphic, depressed, bulimic and unable to articulate the anger and fear that gripped me. I wrote, and ran, and thought, and continued to function, fragmented and locked in, even as I drove myself down a deep canal of nihilism that drove me to take death-wish level risks on a regular basis. Learning to think critically, practicing philosophy, running and writing all helped to keep me alive. That, and enormous good fortune.
I lived in several countries as a young woman, mainly in the global South, where I worked as a volunteer with people on the edge. It was fun sometimes, but often frustrating. I wanted to help but I was helpless to make the kind of difference needed. I began to wonder about freedom, and free will.
I settled down a bit when I got married and had a family but the distress and isolation that a fragmented personality brings didn’t go away. Philosophy was some consolation. So were my relationships with those who loved me and who I loved. So was running. I must write about running sometime. It’s a lifesaver, particularly if you’re prone to poison yourself with drink.
As my children grew, so the opportunity arose to dig deeper, through distance learning. I studied yoga, and trained to teach in 2002, going on to take classes and courses in the face of some ideological opposition locally. Through the Open University, I completed an MA, and inspired by the Corrib Gas Controversy and its fragmenting impact, I managed to enter (with the help of a glowing reference from my former supervisor, the late Professor Barbara Harrell-Bond) a PhD programme.
My PhD thesis was entitled “From Respect for Nature to Realisation as Agency in the Ecological Emergency”. I’ve been thinking and writing about related topics ever since, and am awaiting the publication of my second book on the subject.
Does this sum me up? Probably not. But it gives you a taste of what I’ve been attempting and what I want to continue to attempt to address: how to respond to the ecological emergency. How to live well, even as we realise that internally and externally there is dissonance, fragmentation, that it arises into our awareness more critically and urgently the more we ignore it, that we cannot live an ideal life, but we can live well, that yoga has some important things to say about learning to allow love to do what needs to be done by stepping back from reaction, and listening internally and externally, paying attention, being patient and waiting, sensing and attuning to what is of benefit to all, and then letting that happen through us. Letting love do what needs to be done. This is knowing oneself, and it is also the way of wisdom.
There are many philosophical and yogic precedents for what I’m attempting to articulate. Ultimately, my work is to change myself. By changing myself, I change the way I relate to the world and that changes how the world relates to me. I’m hoping that if I can do this sufficiently effectively, my impact on my experience, which is the ecological emergency, will shift how it unfolds. Can I make any difference? In a sense, of course not. Not as an individual. But as someone who influences others in minute and not so minute ways, through how I communicate and act, as much as through what I say and do, this method has its merits.
I’m hoping to make a living from this, too, through offering courses in this philosophy as a practice, a practice of compassion in the ecological emergency within which we are all enmeshed. I invite you to participate in this practice, to seek to change yourself, and thus to transform the relationships and communities you are involved in. Suffering is happening. We cannot stop that. We can, however, mitigate it, and create resilience, both in human systems and in the more-than-human world.
I invite you to work with me in whatever way you can conceive, to create connections, compassionate communication strategies, ways of creating resilience in communities, and by being kind. None of this is easy. None of it is passive, or weak. But it does require commitment.
I’m still moving writing, practices, and pictures from my other two blogs, http://www.yogazazen.wordpress.com and http://www.gamanrad.wordpress.com, so if you’re interested while I’m in transition, you can look there).
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Be well. Raise awareness. Be kind.