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Recap — Climate Distress and Healing Through Earth-Based Practices

Recap — Climate Distress and Healing Through Earth-Based Practices


Published on April 28, 2023

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On April 18, Dahdaleh senior fellow Harvey Skinner and community fellow Susan Harris returned to the Dahdaleh Institute for an interactive seminar that discussed the impacts of climate distress, defined as ‘mental and emotional distress due to concern about the future of our planet’, and then guided personal reflection exercises.

Climate trauma is a new category of trauma that can trigger past trauma (e.g. personal, cultural, or inter-generational trauma). Climate distress and climate trauma can often be seen as a ‘double bind’, where individuals don't want to further contribute to climate warming but may find it difficult to change on an individual level: e.g.  adopting a plant-based diet or switching to an electric car. During the seminar, Susan and Harvey both emphasized the importance of civic engagement as the most effect way for individuals to make a difference.

Susan opened the seminar with a guided Earth-based mediation practice that encouraged participants to reflect on their personal connection to the Earth and explore Earth loving-kindness. It awakened feelings of calm, appreciation, and kindness between the individual and Earth.

Following the meditation session, Harvey presented several alarming international and Canadian statistics that highlight the effect climate change is having on the mental health of youth. Nearly half of the youth stated that their feelings about climate change negatively affect their daily life and over half believe that humanity is doomed. On the positive side, Harvey described Prof. Lindsay Galway's research which showed that youth are already looking to make a difference by choosing careers that align with sustainability goals, mitigate climate change, and hold government decision makers accountable.

Finally, Harvey led a Qi Gong practice that focused on the Earth elements. He drew rich visualizations with comparing the movements to nature, such as a tree swaying in the wind and the energy drawn between heaven and Earth.

Watch the seminar presentation below:

Connect with Harvey Skinner and Susan Harris


Global Health & Humanitarianism, Planetary Health



Related Work




Harvey Skinner, Senior Fellow, Faculty of Health Active
Susan Harris, Community Scholar, Meditation, Wellness, and Selfcare Active

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