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Lions Roar : November 2019
deep sadness for the Inuit who had spent their whole lives relying on that ice for their hunting and their culture. In each case, I was able to be emotion- ally present and honest, which helped me write the book. I don’t think that would’ve been possible without a medi- tation practice. Tell us about your meditation practice and how it helped you do this difficult work. I don’t meditate every day, but it’s defi- nitely a big part of my life. A long time ago I realized how busy my mind was. Then I came across a Thich Nhat Hanh book that said even doing the dishes can be a meditation. That resonated with me. I started sitting for just a few minutes at a time, and then slowly began working my way up to twenty minutes. In moments of crisis as a war reporter, I learned to watch my breath and remember to be present. Writing The End of Ice brought meditation back into my life. I had got away from it, but I needed something to ground me because of the intensity of the subject matter. I started sitting every morning before I worked, and I coupled that with spend- ing more time in nature. You write about the time you fell into a glacial crevasse. While you waited to be rescued, you stared at the ice in front of you to stay calm, instead of looking straight down into the darkness. Were you meditating then? I was! There was so much fear coursing through me. I knew how close I was to death, and I knew that panicking would not serve me. I just had to sit there and wait. As time went on, I noticed my body starting to exhibit signs of hypother- mia—such as uncontrollable shaking— so I knew I needed to save energy, stay focused, and stay calm. The one thing I could do was meditate. Having seen all these problems first-hand, what do you do in your day-to-day life to be gentler to the planet? The single biggest thing I learned was from an indigenous elder of Cherokee descent, Stan Rushworth, who reminded me of the difference between a Western settler mindset of “I have rights” and an indigenous mindset of “I have obliga- tions.” Instead of thinking that I am born with rights, I choose to think that I am born with obligations to serve past, present, and future generations, and the planet herself. If I wake up each day with that sense of moral obligation, no matter how bleak things might appear to be, it’s easy to see that there’s much I can do. I can consistently work to reduce my own carbon footprint. I can continue rais- ing awareness through my writing and talks. I’m very grateful that I have this work to do. For people who want to know more about climate disruption, where do you recommend they start? Go spend time on the planet. That’s the first and most important thing any of us can do. We need to be moved to action from a deep place of love for the earth, instead of a place of fear and concern. I’m watching what’s happening to the planet and I’m being present with it. I love this place, and from that love stems my motivation. ♦ JOHNFLEMING NUNS IN THE HIMALAYAS The Pema Chödrön Foundation’s support helps ensure that nuns in Nepal, Bhutan and India have the same equal opportunities for deep practice and study as monks have always had. AT rISk popULATIoNS Pema is committed to supporting organizations that work to protect and nurture at-risk populations, particularly women and youth who are in challenging circumstances. THE Book INITIATIVE Pema’s books and recorded teachings are offered to underserved individuals and the organizations that support them, around the world, free of charge. THE BUDDHIST MoNASTIC TrADITIoN Pema is dedicated to help guide and support her home monastery, Gampo Abbey, as well as monastic settings in Asia and the West. OUR ONLINE BOOKSTORE: You can purchase Pema’s books, CDs and DVDs along with her archived teachings at our online bookstore. Free Shipping in the USA. THE pEMA CHöDröN FoUNDATIoN SUpporTS: pEMACHoDroNFoUNDATIoN.org LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2019 18 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE