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Do Be Do Be Do - Our Human Song

Essay #1


Aiming to be a cohesive exploration of interface touch, a key principle and hallmark of

Zero Balancing - this essay clusters my own thoughts, experiences and reflections

alongside the inspiration of others to weft and weave seemingly contrasting threads into

a contextualised fabric and tangible whole.

There is a simplicity and intrinsic clarity to interface touch that I find quite unremarkable,

deeply profound and all too rare. I say unremarkable as a way to illustrate how

remarkably absent of drama and doing ZB touch inherently is. Being at interface is

about being with things as they actually are, without contrivance or fabrication. So there

is this tendency to feel met, as Interface touch is a practice of discernment and

continues to reveal relationships, of how they are and where they are.

I explore as key themes the notions of Being and Doing, our tendency to favour one

over the other which can be perceived as a function of grasping. When we grasp we

cause suffering, reinforcing rigid habitualised behaviours and mindsets. There is a

discipline of repetition when applied to learning new tasks, however could we take our

first steps as a child if we didn't have this innate ability to try and try again. When we’ve

grasped it we must then let go (or let be) just as the Buddhist parable of the raft



‘My dear friends, the Dharma I offer you is only a raft to help you get to the other

shore’ (1) Buddha.

Having reached the other shore, to then lift and carry the weight of the raft on our backs

and proceed to walk is surely an unnecessary burden. How are our attachments to the

rafts in our lives functioning today and what is the cost of not noticing? Introducing the

notion of stuckness characterised by a reductive, narrow margin of experience and

possibility, I explore it’s dangers and antidotes. Those being stillness, movement and

flow some of the foundational, innate elements within Zero Balancing.

I will introduce and examine interface as a skillful relationship, a practice of sanity, of

solitude and safety. Interface is also a paradoxically shared yet solitary experience, a

radical act, a practice of acceptance, patience, authenticity and clarity. What is clear to

me is that being at interface in its right relational core, is also a practice of ethics. A

practice of not taking the not given which can then give rise to the generosity,

abundance and aliveness of the present moment.

I have found that Zero Balancing whilst being distinct, also has many parallels, shared

principles and truths with other practices. Therefore I would like to acknowledge these

shared truths and Celebrate them. Most notably my interest in ‘mindfulness’ which has

its origin in the Buddhadharma whilst flourishing in secular non religious ways. Many of

the mindfulness sources I include were authored by Jon Kabbat Zinn who pioneered the

‘MBSR’ mindfulness based stress reduction system, helping people to cope with stress,

pain and illness. This also seems to be an outcome of Zero Balancing practice in that

life becomes more bearable. I for one have felt much more nourished at a deeper level

through both giving and receiving ZB and have subsequently been able to be with

stress, pain, anxiety and illness in healthier more responsive ways. That most basic of

Buddhist teachings, the truth of suffering and the path that leads to suffering’s

cessation, I touch on as a source of guidance and inspiration. Most notably the four


noble truths and the eightfold path, foundational aspects to the path of insight,

awakening and freedom from suffering.

Identifying the difference between solitude and isolation I touch on why this is important,

especially within the present day context of pandemics, mental & physical health crisis

and the deeper spiritual truths of interbeing and causality.

Touch and the felt sense are our primary tools and it is through the art of mindful touch,

of anchoring into and being present in moment to moment awareness/experience

without agenda, that skilful relationship arises. As Jon Kabbat Zinn eloquently declares:

‘We discover who we are by coming into felt relationship with the world around

us. The more deeply we come into felt relationship with the world - the more

deeply we discover who we are, not as a fixed known entity but as a responsive

presence illuminated by the world’ (2)

Main Body

On Doing I was thrilled to hear Zero Balancing founder Fritz Smith talking about the life

principles of Being and Doing, during his Zoom ZBUK call in July 2020. Especially as I

had already begun writing and reflecting on this subject myself, a wonderful

synchronicity and lots of food for thought.

‘We’re all doers caught up in and programmed to do, which always involves the

future and the world of duality.’ Fritz Smith (3)


Zero Balancing and the practice of interface touch finds it’s anchor in the me - the you

and the place we meet Fritz refers to as duality but with a recognition of the ever more

subtle shifts and refinements of attention/awareness, that can liberate amplified states

of consciousness and experience ultimately of the non dual. A non dual dissolution of

the separateness of subject/object perceiver/perceived relationality and thus becoming

absorbed into a blissful union. This may sound lofty and conceptual but ZB is actually

very practical and grounded too. In ZB we aim to work without an agenda, holding a

space where the receiver is free to have their own experience without judgement or

over influencing from the practitioner.

Doing comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There's the kind of doing that involves

doing the dishes, completing a task, driving the car or cooking a meal. There's a lot right

with being in doing however if the doing has become our modus operandi, that is a

different matter entirely. There's a virtue associated with being a do’er, of getting things

done which left unchecked can become an addiction to the shrine of accomplishment

and attainment. The shadow side of which can often be dissatisfaction and greed as

nothing is ever enough. There are maybe times where getting stuck into doing

something is a healthy distraction and can actually give some respite from the

overpowering directness of an experience or event like with a bereavement. However

taken to its extreme, being stuck in doing can escalate into a long term strategy and

avoidance tactic but how long can you keep going in that lane?

Stuck in doing & Getting Unstuck. Doing clearly has its rewards and is a necessary

agent of change and growth. However, finding yourself stuck in perpetual states of

doing is ultimately unsatisfactory and can have disastrous outcomes on our health, even

if what we are doing is nothing. Don't we see this state of unrest and exhaustion invoked

in the faces, bodies, energies, histories and health crisis of those around us. Are we

able to notice how stuckness and ill health present in our own lives that extend


outwards to acknowledge not simply others but other species, life forms and the planet


Author and Teacher Dr Joe Dispenza draws the analogy of being stuck, as someone

who is ‘caught in the narrow margins of Beta brain waves for example whilst driving a

car in 1st gear with the foot on the gas’ (4a) which is unsustainable - destination


Apologies for the driving analogies but they’re useful and there's more to come.

According to Dispenza ‘people drive through their lives without ever stopping to

consider shifting gears, changing and forming new behaviours and brain wave states’

(4b). Most adults in their everyday waking conscious states inhabit the three upper Beta

brain wave frequencies of the analytical mind. The highest of the Beta’s being a

hyperarousal stress induced state.

For clarity here is a summary of Dispenza’s Beta brainwave activity.

● Low range Beta is characterised by a relaxed attention with an absence of

vigilance, like when reading a book that you're enjoying.

● Mid range Beta is characterised by learning, analytical reflexive rational thinking.

● High range Beta is characterised by hyper arousal and stress.

‘In high Beta the outside world appears to be more real than the inner world, with

our attention awareness primarily focussed on everything that makes up the

external environment. In high Beta we are preoccupied by time, have a tendency

towards criticising others as well as judging ourselves, becoming overly focussed

and obsessed with ourselves. In this emergency state the nervous system

prioritizes survival over anything else, activating the biochemical arousal of the

fight flight freeze response’. Dr Joe Dispenza (4c)


I want to emphasise that being in high Beta can be absolutely the appropriate place to

be, serving us well when we need to respond quickly and get the job done. Our

tendency however to overutilize and become dependent on this innate ability can be an

issue. We can become obsessive and compulsive in our behaviours, overly attached,

chronically fatigued and disempowered. As a caution, Dispenza further illustrates:

‘the potentiality of unconsciously seeking out emergency situations in our lives to

fuel our addiction to stress hormones’ (4d).

The three main players of which are adrenaline (epinephrine), norepinephrine and

cortisol. Fascinating considerations of more recent research discoveries that Dr

Karsenty and his team at Columbia University have made into the role Osteocalcin, a

molecule found in bone - has to play in the fight flight stress response. (5) Yella

Hewings Martin.

In my understanding the primary role of adrenaline and norepinephrine are arousal,

activated when we're stressed and need to respond quickly. For example we’re

changing lanes on the motorway (told you) and out of our blind spot races a car at

100mph. Without hesitation we get back into our lane, our heart is pounding, our

muscles are tense, breathing is faster and we’re sweating. That’s adrenaline which also

gives us the surge in energy we need to get out of danger. But also we may have a

spike in adrenaline when we receive an unwanted email from the boss, whilst waiting in

a queue to buy groceries (heightened during pandemics), walking alone in the dark or

any perceived threat be it real or imagined.

According to Amit Sood MD ‘Depending on the long term impact of what is

stressing you out and how you handle stress, it could take anything from half an

hour to a couple of days to return to your normal resting state’ Sarah Klein (6a).


A year or so ago I recall an experience of being in a hyper arousal stress response, the

result of an unprovoked attack from someone I knew. In fight - flight - freeze mode I

managed to get away and find safety. Yet a day later I was still feeling troubled,

unsettled by the experience as the stress hormones coursed through me. I felt

traumatised, confused, angry and also a victim. Blaming myself, what had I

unintentionally done to provoke such an attack and betrayal of trust. Knowing that I

needed support to help integrate the experience and move on from it, I received an

impromptu ZB session from my nearest practitioner. The session helped immensely and

I was able to feel safe again in my body and return to a restful neutral state pretty much

immediately. To my knowledge this was the first time I’d called upon ZB within a context

of emergency and crisis. As a result I understood experientially how ZB and the ZB’er

are so perfectly placed to support this kind of integration and regulation of body

chemistry. It is remarkable to me, this ability to support a gentle yet rapid return to the

normal resting state, in contrast with what can ordinarily take much longer periods of

time. Also to recognise the very real potential of getting stuck in endless loops and

cycles of stress response that can present in chronic autoimmune conditions. I myself

had a fibromyalgia diagnosis several years ago, of which some of symptoms include

exhaustion, body held pain, inflammation and brain fog.

Cortisol releases into our system more slowly and helps to regulate body functions that

aren't crucial at that time like our reproductive, digestive and immune systems.

‘When we stew on problems the body continually releases cortisol whereby

chronic elevated levels can lead to serious problems suppressing the immune

system, increasing blood pressure and more’ Dr Amit Sood (6b).

Completing tasks and getting things done thus takes on another hue, in the knowledge

that leaving things unfinished can be incredibly fatiguing. Unfinished business, an often


outcome of stuckness is a tough behaviour and mindset to remedy, but also is

damaging within a context of body chemistry and developing chronic health conditions.

Whilst in the survival mode of high Beta like a serpent eating its tail we are stuck in

hypervigilance, stress and emergency response, which creates a massive burden on

our bodies functions and systems in the long term. The continuous repetition of survival

based thoughts can also create feelings of anger and fear, sadness and anxiety to

name a few. The stress response can be activated by thought alone and isn't

necessarily an appropriate intelligent response to ‘real’ perceived threats and dangers.

Everyday existence can for some be traumatising with a potential minefield of triggers,

threats and dangers apparent. We see this more and more with the abundance of

autoimmune disorders, mental health conditions., PTSD and depression.

Dr David Hanscom similarly talks about how crucial mindset is in relation to our sense of

stuckness. Mindset is defined as:

‘how the things we think about govern the world in which we live’ but also how

our ‘mindset determines body chemistry’ (7a)

When we feel trapped, angry, anxious, in survival and hyperarousal mode our central

nervous system and inflammatory responses are fired up. When the body is under

threat as Dr Hanscom states then:

‘The inflammatory and immune systems fire up and being in a constant

inflammatory response, actually destroys the bodies tissues and increases

degeneration. Whatever poses a threat, be that real or imagined, fires an

inflammatory response and so chronic pain is a response to perceived threats

and dangers. Anxiety, Parkinsons, Alzheimers and Schizophrenia are all

inflammatory disorders. Being trapped in negative thinking and repressed


emotions are also threats that trigger inflammatory responses.’ Dr D Hanscom


The loop of how mindset affects body chemistry - which affects life outcomes needs to

be interrupted and the key to this according to Hanscom is ‘safety’. When we learn how

to feel safe then we learn how to be resilient in the face of perceived threats and


‘feeling safe is learning how to stop’ Dr David Hanscom (7c)

Getting a glimpse of insight and understanding into the value and significance of safety,

especially within the context of healing and wellbeing fills me with gratitude. A Gratitude

in knowing that safety is so deeply embedded within the fabric and practice of Zero

Balancing through our practice of interface touch. Of establishing and maintaining a

healthy boundary that allows someone to be just as they are. I have as an outcome

grown to feel more safe within my own practice, a long process of acknowledging

certain overly empathic/listener/rescuer behaviours and traits. Learning that my own self

value isn’t dependent on what I can produce in other people. Learning to care a little

less actually feels more broadly like coming into a sense of wholeness and clarity.

Paradoxically then, being able to support others with more discretion and less need, is a

natural expression of how well I can support myself.

On Being Fritz Smith in talking about the spiritual nature of Zero Balancing explored the

principals of being and transcendence within a context of his own world view.

‘Being is a state of stillness which is the doorway to the transcendent, being in

the bliss of consciousness’ (8a) Fritz Smith


Being touched on bone opens up possibilities and experiences of consciousness that

aren’t bound to everyday waking states. My view is there are no higher teachings, only

deeper experiences and therefore ZB is perfectly placed as a tool for transformation. As

Fritz says:

‘Bone has no looseness, so the minute you are touching bone you are touching

vibration (energy) and the minute you touch vibration you are touching the

mystery. The minute you touch the mystery you are touching the creative force of

possibility’ (8b)

Perhaps touching into the unknown, the mystery of the creative force of possibility is

synonymous with an experience of Being in the Bliss of Consciousness. The Sanskrit

word and epithet Satchithananda is a compound form of being, bliss and

consciousness, deconstructed by Fritz to illustrate the kind of states people can have

when being touched on bone and receiving what might be called ‘spiritual fulcrums’ (8c)

Sat - pure existence (being)

Chit - pure consciousness

Anandam - pure bliss

Ways Of Being This is what I am most captivated by and wish to practice in my

everyday and ZB life alike. Being in skillful relationship rather than being separate from,

actually includes the unwanted experiences and emotions, pains and discomforts that

can be so readily abandoned and denied. Being in skillful relationship with the actuality

of things whether they be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral is as Jon Kabbat Zinn


‘not a technique in the McMindfulness tonic & cure all sense but as a way of being’ (9a).


Therefore to practice Zero Balancing as both giver and receiver is also a way of

practicing Being. Of being with one's ever present unfolding moment to moment

experience, synonymous with Jon Kabbat Zinn's own definition of mindfulness as:

‘the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present

moment and non-judgmentally’ sometimes adding ‘in the service of self

understanding and wisdom’ (9b)

If the practitioner embodies the principles of skillful relationship, of unconditional positive

regard, non judgement, no agenda nor attachment to outcomes etc by being in moment

to moment experience then it’s possible a modelling and mirroring of behaviour can take

place. Like an imprint or transmission from one to the other without the intention to do

so, or to contrive this in any way. Perhaps this is a natural phenomenon, an occurrence

of coherence, just like what happens when adding a drummer to a group of people with

drums but unable to keep a unified rhythm. The modelling of rhythm invites the others

into harmony and balance of coherent energy wave patterns. (10) Dr Joe Dispenza

Being alone and the practice of solitude The etymology of solitude originates from

the Latin word ‘solus’ meaning to be alone. Solitude can be seen as either a practice of

liberation, or a punishment and descent into madness and hell. Ascetics, hermits, yogis

& mystics of old have embraced solitude, in their quest for God and oneness with

creation. For someone who has been incarcerated, where solitude has been forced

upon them they will need to be kept on scuicide watch. There are always exceptions to

the rule and I once had the privilege to meet an old Tibetan monk Palden Gyatso, who

gained notoriety with his book Fire Under The Snow. Palden Gyatso spent 33 years of

his life in Chinese concentration camps from the beginning of the Cultural Revolution,

had been systematically brutalised and tortured yet miraculously he survived. I

remember how he explained so humbly (through a translator) his ability to remain stable


and continue to practice meditation, the isolation was in a sense like being in retreat and

though imprisoned he felt free within his mind. Despite the hatred felt for his torturers,

he was ultimately able to find compassion for them and therefore not be tortured by his

own hatred. Palden Gyatso was clearly a remarkable man with an indefatigable spirit

who escaped the Gulag and his occupied Country to find sanctuary in India. Doing so

with several torture instruments that had been used on him, so that he may explain to

the world and find justice. In 1998 Palden Gyatso was awarded the John Humphrey

Freedom Award during the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights. (11)

Is suffering a choice

On the flip side there's also a kind of privilege to living in solitude like that of the Artist,

painter and writer who sharpen their minds and refine their tools unencumbered by the

grind of everyday existence.

Eminent Buddhist Scholar and Author Stephen Batchelor explores solitude as an artistic

practice, particularly inspired by the life and works of Painter Agnes Martin:

‘Solitude, the expression of which Art becomes a means of making solitude

visible’ (12a) Stephen Batchelor

The Art of being alone with ourselves can be paved with challenges, perhaps the

greatest challenge is the one we’ve been avoiding all our lives and that is the challenge

of ourselves. The French Renaissance Philosopher Michel De Montaigne wrote about

his own solitary experience:


‘Retreat into yourself but make sure you're ready to receive yourself there. If you

don't know how to govern yourself, it would be madness to entrust yourself to

yourself’ (12b)

I would say the madness of a perpetual outward orientation and projection of

personality, is also the madness of having never stepped inside yourself to taste and

touch as Rilke so intimately illustrates:

‘the great gift, great sorrow and necessity of being alone’ (13) Rainer Maria Rilke

RIilke’s solitude isnt a solitude of despair or alienation but a recognition that solitude is

our natural home and we must love and protect the solitude of ourselves and others.

Zero Balancing could also in this way be framed as a practice of solitary experience in

which we receive the great gift of ourselves whilst in relation to another. Again isn’t this

a most delicious paradox. Entrusting oneself to another is perhaps less daunting than

Montaigne's madness of entrusting oneself to oneself. Entrusting oneself to another and

being in therapeutic skillful relationship could be for some, a precursor to being able to

entrust themselves to themselves.

Unlike De Montaigne who had the privilege of retreating to the southern tower of his

Chateau in search of solitude, most people have neither the space, place nor taste for

solitude in their lives. Yet we can find solitude in the most ordinary places and in

everyday kinds of ways like whilst travelling on a bus to work, or sat fishing by the lake.

There is actually nothing to do but to simply be - in this very moment illuminated by our

encounter with life itself.

‘You'll never have a greater opportunity to wake up and give yourself over to the

full dimensionality of who you already are than this one’ (14) Jon Kabbat Zinn


Batchelor's expression of solitude as being a practice of Art made visible, caused me to

consider what artistic, solitary expressions co emerging with the experience of Zero

Balancing might be. The clues to which I believe are embedded in the words of


‘the greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself’ (15) Sterling

quotes Montaigne.

To be introduced to ourselves with such discretion, skill and safety is the Art of the

practitioner. Perhaps the art emerging from and made visible, is in the lived experience

of the receiver and the embodied qualities they wish to move forward with in their lives.

The art emerging from the mindful touch of ZB expresses itself in that quiet new sense

of groundedness, a releasing of something old that weighed us down, a spontaneous

joy and reverence for life, or in my case tears that had been held down for far too long.

‘The sorrow which has no vent in tears may cause other organs to weep’ (16)

Henry Maudsley

Similarities exist between the practices of solitude and the practice of interface that we

in ZB refine as fundamental aspects and hallmarks of what makes ZB [ZB]. The

interface between energy and structure - the interface between self and other.

To paraphrase John Hamwee in his book Zero Balancing, the guiding principle of

interface may sound simple but if you get it and therefore understand it - you’ll have a

lifetime of possibilities that open up to practice. The infinite possibilities and ways to

practice interface, a practice of discernment and discretion - of knowing where you are

in relation to where you are not. Of where we need to be and where we don't need to

be. In the perception of objects be they other people, concepts, inner and outer

environments, emotions, landscapes, sensations, pain, joy, of how we are in our

relationships be they intimate or otherwise. There's a clarity in understanding and


experiencing interface, a clarity that isn't always needed or appropriate in other aspects

of our lives. Getting stuck in or attached to Interface could be a hindrance, for instance

to developing close intimate bonds and relationships with others. In ZB we acknowledge

how interface isn’t the panacea but simply one way to be relational with another.

Nonetheless interface touch is the method we work with.

I have not just an instinct but experiential understanding that to practice Zero Balancing

most effectively, facing ourselves becomes necessary. That we can best serve another

by serving ourselves or as Ram Dass so clearly states;

‘I can do nothing for you but work on myself and you can do nothing for me but

work on yourself’ (17)

Somehow this statement sums up what I so often feel when giving a ZB, in the sense

that we both are free to do our work, collaboratively through the felt sense.

This also feels well and truly in the domain of interface that references Rilke's Two

Solitudes. A refinement of ZB skills ought to be matched also with deeper work on

ourselves in multi disciplinary ways, talk therapy, voice dialogue, dreams, embodiment

practices, Feldenkrais, Chi Gong, contemplative practices, artistic practices, working

with our disowned shadow selves etc. Jim McCormick in his recent ZB Webinar calls

this processing. A term that comes from the work of Psychologist Carl Rogers who

founded a psychotherapeutic humanistic approach. (18)

Creatures or Beings Sadhguru’s incisive question to his audience ‘are you a human

being or are you a human creature’ (19) is a provocation, a call to wake up and restore

one's humanity in the skillful compassionate service of others. As the only creatures on

this planet that are afforded the title of being a Being, it is evident that our species

despite its magnificence, hasn’t risen to embody this title wholeheartedly. Is this not now


the greatest existential responsibility, our race to be human, a human being? Humans

are a paradoxical species, capable of great feats of altruism, compassion and intelligent

evolution whilst also being primitive, violent, cruel and destructive. Is not our rallying call

now to create safety, not just for ourselves but for everyone else and this planet we

belong to. How can we protect the solitude of this planet with it’s fragile planetary

biodiversity and ecosystems instead of taking, consuming and destroying its limited

resources? What is the alternative? Not being human at all?

As it turns out, we may be less human than we think? Many strides are being made in

understanding the human microbiome ‘the hidden half of ourselves’ (20a) and how the

causal factors of a compromised immune system and proliferation of autoimmune

disorders lie in our modern pharmaceutical attack in the thus named ‘microbial


‘We have over the past 50 years done a terrific job on eliminating infectious

disease but we've seen an enormous and terrifying increase in autoimmune

disease and allergy’ (20b) Prof Ruth Ley

‘You're more microbe than human’ says professor Knight our ‘human cells make

up 43% of the body's total cell count, the rest are microscopic colonists’ which

include ‘bacteria, virus’s, fungi and archaea’ (20c)

To be is to inter- be Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and his community of Interbeings

teach that we can not be by ourselves alone but only always in relation to something


‘If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in a sheet of

paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain, the trees cannot grow and without


trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the

cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. Interbeing is a word

combining the prefix ‘inter’ with the verb ‘to be’ then we have a new verb,

inter-be. Therefore we can say the cloud and the paper inter-are recognising that

‘to be’ is to inter-be. You cannot be just by yourself alone, you have to inter-be

with every other thing. This sheet of paper [is] because everything else is’ (21)

Thich Nhat hahn

A: What’s the difference between a baker who makes bread and a baker who doesn't?

B: I don't know, what is the difference between a baker who makes bread and a baker

who doesn’t?

A: A baker who makes bread doesn't understand they are simply a participant in the

process of its making, whereas a baker who doesn't make bread appreciates that they &

the bread, along with the living yeast culture, the seed & flour, the farmer & the field, the

sun cloud & rain - inter are.

Interface might exist within a context of interbeing as a recognition of being distinct yet

not separate from each other. That a non solid and impermanent I, comes into being

through the inter relational play of our sense perceptions and conscious awareness.

‘Unless I’m stimulated I don't know who I am’ (22) Fritz Smith

Interface and interbeing might also exist within a context of tensegrity. The body with its

rods and poles, bone and connective tissue, organs, systems, fascial networks all exist

interconnectedly rather than independently. Therefore we know when holding a

scapulae or a tarsal bone we’re also holding and connecting with the life that is lived

with its history and memory, traumas, wounds, blind spots, successes, achievements,

joys and pains all inter are’ing.


Being with Crisis The stark reality of how fragile and uncertain life realy is, has now

come into sharp focus in a way that is perhaps unprecedented as a global universal

phenomenon. As the news spread, the world watched as the realisation hit home that

life may never be the same again. Nation by nation in quick succession turned their

lights out and told its citizens to lock down, stay at home and isolate themselves. The

days became weeks, months and now just falling short of a year the world can seems a

very dark, confusing and distressing place to be. We call this the Global Coronavirus

Pandemic. Many months have passed since our first lockdown period and now into our

third and soon to be fourth lockdown with a confusion of tiers and ever changing

approaches to managing this public health and economic crisis.

How to be in extraordinary circumstances

At large people and populations simply haven't been able to cope with being forced into

isolation, fearful of contagion with a sky rocketing surge in mental health issues,

domestic violence etc.

How to bear witness to suffering

My own experience has been largely wholesome, applying myself to this new

opportunity to practice solitude, however the effects of long term closure and social

restrictions have become more challenging to live with and sustain as time goes by.

What has become clearer throughout is that as humans we’re unable to survive very

well in isolation as we are by our very nature social beings. I've been disappointed in the

language our leaders have used throughout and I believe the language has amplified

the panic, fear and anxiety in people. Instead of socially distancing we can maintain our

social networks whilst physically distancing from others. Rather than becoming isolated

and on our own could we begin to perceive solitude in a different much more healthy


way. Of course when a vulnerable person becomes isolated this is a huge problem as

we have seen during the pandemic who suffer, unable to access resources and

healthcare. The psychological effects of lockdowns, isolation, loneliness, fear, anxiety

accompanied by economic downturn, loss of income, loss of livelihood and purpose,

dignity, self respect are a tragedy unfolding.

Are we now on a precipice where the complex balance between peace and war, human

growth - productivity - technological advancement and the utter devastation of our

planet is at a critical point of no return? Are we truly living in a time of extinction and of

life potentially never being the same again.

Ecologically ‘extinction is the metric we use to recognise wildlife decline’ (23a) and yet

Naturalist and writer Michael McCarthy also states that in comparison ‘declines don't

make the headlines in the tabloid press and we don't hear about them until it's too late’


Examples of ecological impoverishment and decline are often to be found in quiter

almost unnoticeable ways as with the decline of insect life across Britain and the world,

a result of pesticides and the industrialisation of food production. The act of de bugging

our car windscreens is well and truly a thing of the past. This is not simply a theory:

‘Scientific tests on the windshield phenomenon measured an 80% decline of

insects over a 20 year period on a Danish road. In 63 nature reserves across