The Wisdom of Joana Macy

People often find that being in therapy asks them to, and helps them to, be more connected to all the different aspects of themselves. Taking on that challenge can be scary and difficult, but it brings with is many unexpected rewards. One of those rewards is that when we become aware of and connected to our full selves, we feel can more connected with other people as well.

Joana Macy is neither a therapist nor a psychologist. Now approaching her nineties, she’s been a scholar and activist for over five decades. Her work revolves around Buddhism, systems thinking, and deep ecology.

And yet as I was recently listening to her speak about her life and career, I couldn’t help hear parallels to the world of therapy and the work of personal change.

One quote in particular rung out with such clarity that I had to stop the recording and listen to it again. It speaks to the transformational power of truly being with ourselves. Rather than go on and on about it, I’d like to let her words and wisdom speak for themselves. Joana says:

“…if we can be fearless to be with our pain, it turns, it doesn’t stay static.  It only doesn’t change if we refuse to look at it.

But when we look at it, when we take it in our hands, when we can just be with it and keep breathing, then it turns.

It turns to reveal its other face, and the other face of our pain for the world is our love for the world, our absolutely inseparable connectedness with all life.”

You can find the full interview with Dr. Macy here.