Listening to media and certain conversations, we may come to feel overwhelmed by the climate crisis. We may even view the Earth as the source of our pain.

Earth Holders cultivate a different view. We see the Earth as the most precious jewel of the cosmos, a living body which gives birth to and sustains all beings. Healing arises as we take mindful steps upon the Earth, rest our bodies in the shelter of trees, look with wonder into the blue sky. Earth Holders fall in love with Mother Earth and take care of this planet body as if it were our own because we know we inter-are.

Here are a few Earth-practices to help you find refuge and healing with the Earth.

Outdoor Sitting Meditation

Find a place to sit comfortably outside. As you sit and look at your surroundings, become aware of your in-breath and your outbreath. You may want to explore these guiding words written by Earth Holder Heather Lyn Mann and (as indicated) invite the sound of a beautiful bell:

Breathing in, I see nature around me
Breathing out, I relax my body
In, nature
Out, relax my body (Bell–10 in/out breaths)

After a period, you may feel comfortable enough to close your eyes.

Breathing in, I listen to the world around me
Breathing out, I smile to Earth’s sounds
In, listening
Out, smiling (Bell–10 in/out breaths)

In time, you may want to open your eyes again to look afresh at the world.

Breathing in, I see Mother Earth and she sees me
Breathing out, I feel grateful for our communion
In, seeing each other
Out, gratitude (Bell–10 in/out breaths)

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Outdoor Walking Meditation

Earth is a miracle. Each step is a miracle. Taking mindful steps on our beautiful planet can bring real happiness. As you walk, be fully aware of your foot, the ground, and the connection between them which is your conscious breathing. You may want to enjoy this awareness exercise written by our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh.

“Imagine that you and I are astronauts. We have landed on the moon, and we find that we cannot return to Earth because our ship’s engine is broken beyond repair. We will run out of oxygen before Mission Control in Houston can send another ship to rescue us. We only have two days to life. What would we pray for? What would make us happier that to return to our beautiful planet an walk on it? When confronted with death, we realize the preciousness of walking on the green Earth.

“Now we have somehow miraculously survived and have been transported back to Earth. Let us celebrate our joy by walking on our beautiful planet together, with deep peace and concentration.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Long Road Turns to Joy: A Guide to Walking Meditation

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Beginning Anew with Mother Earth

Thich Nhat Hanh has offered us a wonderful practice called “Beginning Anew” for refreshing our personal relationships, especially when those relationships become neglected, tense, or torn.  Lately we humans have been in a rough patch in our relationship with Mother Earth. Dharma Teacher and Earth Holder John Bell has adapted Thay’s practice as “Beginning Anew with Mother Earth.” It can be used individually as a guided meditation or in sangha as group practice.

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Four Earth Holder Touchings of the Earth

As Thich Nhat Hanh has taught us, there is an art to suffering. He says a good practitioner can always produce a moment of happiness.  But in order for our happiness, our energy, our determination to be alive in us we may need to metabolize our suffering on a regular basis by turning toward our suffering, allowing it, and holding it with tenderness. If we do not take the time to turn toward the grief, it will continue to build within us. 

When we “Touch the Earth” with our grief and sorrow we transform and are transformed of the very feelings that we carry. These Four Earth Holder Touchings of the Earth, written by Earth Holder Nomi Green are a compassionate way to metabolize our grief.