An Interview with Deep Ecologist Joanna Macy on "Coming Back from Activist Burnout"

Julie Fiandt
Posted October 7, 2008 from United States

I thought this was fitting for the Listen To Your Own Pulse: Tools for Balance and Self-care group!

From Yoga+Joyful Living Magazine:

Coming Back from Activist Burnout After so many setbacks, how can eco-activists find the heart to carry on? Here, Yoga+ asks scholar and activist Joanna Macy about courage and the value of “deep ecology.” By Contributing Editor Kelpie Wilson

Article at

If you haven't read Joanna Macy's work, I highly recommend it. Here's a book review I wrote for Think Girl (

World As Lover, World As Self - Joanna Macy World as Lover, World as Self is a uniquely large scale meditation on social justice and ecology. This newly revised and entirely relevant book may inspire activists of all causes and backgrounds. Buddhist philosophies inform Macy’s work, which realistically depicts the world’s devastations. At the same time, it promotes philosophical approaches to despair, shares heartening poems, and guides readers through meditation exercises. For example, she does not shy away from discussing death; she situates us as ancestors who must act on behalf of future generations.

Since I slowed down and immersed myself in this book, I have found my own thinking to be more holistic. I have been mulling over the intersections of feminist, anti-racist, anti-poverty, environmental, and holistic health movements. As she writes, “we can take on isolated causes and fight for them with courage and devotion…we tend to fall into the same short-term thinking that has entrapped our political economy…What a difference it makes to view our efforts as part of a vaster enterprise.” –Review by Julie Fiandt

Comments 2

Log in or register to post comments
  • Jennifer Ruwart
    Oct 08, 2008
    Oct 08, 2008

    What I love about yoga is that we can literally do it anywhere. It's what I also love about running. I can slip on my running shoes, step outside and be completely calmed by the steady beat of my feet hitting the pavement, the sky above, the trees around me.

    I think it's too easy for activists to NOT take care of ourselves because we are so busy taking care of the world.

    I hope that everyone who reads this article, stands up and does a quick sun salutation and lets out a powerful OM from the soul.

  • Dave Alexander
    Oct 13, 2008
    Oct 13, 2008

    For me, it is all about a vaster enterprise. Over the years I have noted that most activists believe in something yet position themselves against the opposite. When we choose opposition, we commit to a game we cannot win because those we oppose have tremendous financial, military, and usually cultural power. And they are masters of fear.

    But when I step back from the immediate concerns to the vaster enterprise, I can see how humanity has come to this place and time. From this higher vantage point, I can love, remove myself from opposition, and apply my energies toward my chosen causes from a balanced place. I had heard that this is what Joanna Macy is about. Thank you for sharing.

    In Friendship, Dave...

    "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mohandas K. Gandhi