August 24, 2015

Wildfire Devotional: The Power of Intention when the Pacific Northwest is Burning.

Author: Caitlin Oriel

Large wildfires are burning in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, with additional fires drawing into Northern California, Idaho and Montana.

The unfortunate reality is that summertime wildfires are an annual concern. They’re a risk that firefighters prepare for and train for. It’s a worst case scenario whose likelihood of occurrence increases with dry conditions, lack of rainfall and careless human destructive actions toward the environment.

The dire drought conditions in California are a red flag for wildfire risk that could only get worse quickly and natural disasters like this beg for us to stop being ignorant to our circumstances.

We are not separate from nature. We cannot continue to “take” from the resources of the land and the offerings of the environment without giving back when our land is suffering.

Translation: let’s stop polluting, dumping, wasting and overusing resources without a divine action of respect toward the environment. Let’s consider our relationship with nature to be a reciprocal one—an equitable exchange.

We’re all one of the ignorant ones, I’m guilty too. We all get swept away in our busy-ness.

I live in the farmlands east of Boulder, Colorado, and it wasn’t until I drove into the city this weekend and questioned what all the smoke was blocking the normal crystal clear view of the Rocky Mountains that I realized what was happening in the Pacific Northwest.

I was reminded of what an idyllic, yet authentic way of relating to mother nature would look like by coming back to this quote:

“Sometimes, home has a heartbeat.” ~ Beau Taplin

We make home in a physical sense on the piece of land where we reside. Home certainly carries a fluid definition and a sense of impermanence, dependent on circumstances. It’s where we keep our belongings, where we recharge. Often, we feel most comfortable where we feel at home. Let’s apply this same sense of sanctity to the land we consider home.

In turn, the land we’ve appropriated to live on is a part of Mother Earth. The heartbeat of the land we make home on deserves to be heard, felt and simply respected for how this home supports our aliveness.

The wildfires are a red flag pointing to extreme duress being placed on our Mother Earth. The implications of this disaster are environmental, societal and personal. The land is burning and depleting a formerly nutrient rich environment which served the agricultural needs of the community who calls the area home. The air is smoke filled and hazy and is impacting the health of children, elderly and those who are respiratory-impaired. Occupations and livelihoods have been lost.

The heartbeat of our Mother Earth is in danger. We need to ask ourselves what action steps we can take to bring burning lands back into a greater balance:

1. We need to realize the services Mother Nature provides us with. Her beauty is always available as a resource. She is available in direct support of our mental health.

2. Mother Nature offers a powerful resource to our mental health in times of need, but we cannot continue to take from her without giving back. When she is suffering, it’s not a problem we can shove under the rug and try to forget about. We are not separate from her and, now more than ever, we need to support the relationship of equitable exchange.

3. Action doesn’t have to be big. It can start with intention, direction and devoted thought toward bringing balance and healing back to our world’s burning lands.

The solution starts with the power of intention.

We can dedicate our meditation and yoga as a practice of devotion directly to someone, something or someplace that is suffering and needs our support. We can set the intention to live consciously and mindfully in a way that reduces our footprint on the land and sends healing energy to the lands recovering from disaster.

The power of spiritual intention through the dedication of our mindfulness practices can make a huge impact toward collective change.

The solution starts with you and your mindful commitment.


See maps demonstrating the widespread impact of the fires:

Fires in the Northwest at Night.

Washington Smoke Forecast.

Oregon Smoke Forecast.

Canada Smoke Forecast.



Stanford Study on the Mental Health Prescription


Author: Caitlin Oriel

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Author’s own

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