top of page

Compassionate Ecology

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Another way of Being - Post Pandemic Growth

Simonette Vaja

“Existential despair can be experienced as an important and necessary component of self-transformation that involves the complex mental task of de-constructing ideologies and socially conditioned paradigms.” 2014

When our “mind-set” foundations collapse, the emotional experience is intense and leaves us with a feeling of powerful loss of meaning and connection. Hence existential despair is not something we are inclined to move toward at will, we find the forces of life and circumstances thrust upon us, shoving us toward another way. Our recent personal and collective experience of living during a global pandemic is a perfect example of circumstances outside of our control, forces of nature shoving us toward “another way of being.”

During my time at university and psychotherapy, I let go of ideologies and paradigms that seemed so true for me, I felt disconnected further from my community, my social context. I didn’t belong, nobody really understood me or knew me. I felt disconnected from family and friends.

Initially I let go of the religious doctrine, a patriarchy paradigm that exploits division and hierarchy leaving me dissociated and isolated. Other significant core beliefs came shattering down. Like the wicked wolf huffing and puffing at my home, until like straw my ideals of security were scattered by a strange hot wind. After a time of shock and anger, I gradually constructed a new way of living with all my self-contradictions.

This process is easier if you can have a likeminded/hearted community surrounding you, or at least a few people you feel connected: be that family, work colleagues and friends. However, even with these connections, over the passing of time, I found, the newly formed constructs would not hold up to reality and the destruction of self-attachment happened repeatedly, each time just as shattering as the first.

As my transformation from intellect-book-learner to embodied-lived-experiences grew, my connection to my body sensations and emotional wisdom astounded me. My connection to other people’s experiences grew and I felt a response deep in my womb, in my heart, and in my body. When I heard, or saw the suffering of another, such as someone who slashed their wrists, I felt a sharp pain in my womb and my heart. Likewise, seeing the collective grief of mothers' losing their family members due to war and bombings or the effects of our recent global pandemic – aware of a myriad of sensations deep within my womb.

For me, it is important to hold this embodied experience, because then I can allow the compassion that is arising to guide my behaviour and my desire to relieve that suffering of the other.

How can I contribute on my own and when do I feel compelled to join a community of activists and make meaningful change or raise awareness? Compassionate action arises from this embodied empathy, and or outrage and anger, followed by a desire to reduce the suffering of another. Being fully present to another person’s pain, or to the collective anguish is like walking into the fire – Feeling the fire in your body to act, to join a community that you are aligned with. Compassionate Activists. Find your tribe – being open to changing the way you do things, being mindful to what you say. Speaking in the moment-to-moment truth of the matter. Standing strong and present, breaking down and collapsing in the present. This is another way of being and acting. Compassionate leaders will move toward the pain, toward the sorrow, toward the human suffering and ask, “what can I do to help.”

Compassionate ecology is about the impact we all have on each other, on every living thing in the environmental context. This global pandemic has opened the field to involve all people, everywhere. What can I do to relieve the suffering of all people, everywhere?

I just happen to live in the most beautiful part of the world, Sydney beaches and mountains. You have your place and time and feelings about what moves you to action too. The internet and social media platforms open the whole world to each of us. A global pandemic and environmental crises, requires a united wholistic diverse human centered approach. How to share the resources required to keep living our lives, caring for our families and friends, wherever it is we live. A World united by its ability to listen to the many different and diverse needs of people, communities. Decision making has been dominated by power and accumulation of wealth at all costs. Disregard for our planet Earth and her limited resources and natural ecology, to inequities between countries and within countries. Economic policies.

Trauma - gives rise to an uncertainty about the absolute certainty of everything you hold dear in your life.

This is not necessarily a dreadful thing - an opportunity for deeper understanding of what motivates you in your life, your priorities and your capacity to be flexible and construct for yourself a present-day reality that works for you. I grew to sustain this with a “pragmatic self-compassion” I had a reason to get up out of bed and live this life. “Ikigai.” Being available and open to new experiences is an important way to live and I cherish this.

The felt extreme polarities at play during my life, these experiences that defined me as an evil, self-possessed, and vain girl, and my shared experience of meditation with my mother, imposed upon me that indeed the devil lived inside me. Once free from that burden and terror, my meditations continued to improve to the corresponding point on the meditation continuum - sublime oneness in an embodied state of love – Then after many years my experience of meditation became more “normal” It is currently, a practice that is part of my everyday life and one I share with others and sit with them through what-ever qualities arise. I hold an intention to encourage you to connect to higher rejoins of your brain that open your experience to Compassion and empathy - those times when you feel at one with everything.

I had many polarities to explore in my life - these extreme experiences involved my relationship with eating, body image with my sexuality-orgasms, friendships, and intimate relationships with men. My experience of “the mother continuum” was also skewed and screwy for many reasons which I have already mentioned, significantly though, it was the interplay of other people defining my experiences for me and my child's mind coping with extreme boredom and terror by dissociation.

Fundamental changes of all types can be self-imposed or imposed by others or circumstances: Trauma effects can be one-off incidences, like a fire taking your home and death of a loved one, losing your job, your marriage ending, or complex traumas, which are repetitive occurrences of neglect and abuse starting from birth onward. These are the childhood traumas that I experienced in my life, and this is a small representation of how I came to grow tall and strong transforming each terror and pain into my greatest gain.

Yes, a serial love addict, sex being the only way I knew how to connect and form healthy intimate relationship. Then during a few Spiritual crises of identity and understanding, I found relief through meditation and mindfulness practices; relief through Nature as my teacher, incorporating visualisation using nature metaphors. Psychology and philosophical studies opened the necessary qualifications and experience to work with others, altruism, and service. I have noticed that life has thrown me experiences that meant I had to face my greatest pain/shame and that the alchemy process transformed this into my greatest gains (I write plural because I have repeated this in so many areas of my life). The rainbow prisms of light encircling my various shadow aspects are such a gift to me, and I am grateful and in awe of this sacred process. I saw opportunities to be flexible and learn how to quickly let go of the past, welcome the present and accept what is in my life - to look to the future through my own rainbow colour lenses. I practice “Presence” so that I am ready for joy, I act according to what moves deep within – this feeling is a shared human experience called compassion.

Compassion for all people everywhere can be cultivated and grow. It is a protector for burnout when working in the field of human suffering. Self-compassion and compassion for others, for nature, for every living creature is a beautiful meditation practice and way of being.

Imagine if each of us started our day with the intention for all living beings, everywhere to live in peace and harmony; for all creatures on the earth and oceans to be free from harm and the causes of harm; for all people everywhere to take care of each other joyfully.

Yes! Another way of Being.

For audio compassion focused meditations, I have some published on Insighttimer app.

A new audio course for Vicarious Trauma Growth and Care for the Compassionate Heart.

Simonette Vaja 2014 and then again 2021 and then again 2023

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page