The Inner Nature podcast series is a collection of conversations between thought-leaders exploring the intersection of contemplative practice and environmental action. The series explores how we can tend to our inner lives so we have the creativity and clarity to imagine the future we know is possible and the mental and emotional stamina to work toward that vision, even if it takes a lifetime.
Each month, we'll release a new conversation between some of the greatest contemplatives of our time as they reflect on how environmental activism is essential to our own, personal journey from separation to wholeness.
These conversation partners explore questions like:
How could transforming our inner lives help us transform the world?
How are introspection and imagination crucial to a thriving planet?
How is environmental work essential to the contemplative endeavor?
And how can we stay connected to the healing power of nature, even as we experience grief and guilt over compounding environmental crises?
Together, we’ll look at how the contemplative journey shapes our mindset, which ripples out into our relationships with one another and with the earth.
Inner Nature is a collaborative endeavor between the Spring Creek Project and the Contemplative Studies Initiative. Listen at the links below or wherever you get your podcasts.
Carly Lettero, Spring Creek Project director, welcomes you to the themes we'll be exploring in the Inner Nature series.
Episode 1: Kaira Jewel Lingo and Kritee Kanko, Part 1
In the first episode of Inner Nature, which is part 1 of a 2-part conversation, Kritee Kanko and Kaira Jewel Lingo set a foundation for understanding the mutuality and reciprocity of contemplative practice and environmental action. They invite us to consider many questions: How might we meet and hold personal and collective grief, anger, and trauma? How can we deepen our sense of “interbeing,” or interdependence? And how do we summon the courage to question the status quo, and build the wisdom to respond with a clear, sacred “no,” as is necessary, to protect one another and our planet? This conversation unfolds an acknowledgment of both the individual and systemic responses needed to the climate emergency. In doing so, Kaira Jewel and Kritee make clear the critical interconnectedness of environmental and racial justice.
Episode 2: Kaira Jewel Lingo and Kritee Kanko, Part 2
In the second episode of Inner Nature, which is part 2 of a 2-part conversation, Kritee Kanko and Kaira Jewel Lingo highlight the importance of creating small, local communities for processing grief and anger, practicing mindfulness, and taking climate action. The conversation also invites a broader perspective on the environmental crisis, as they discuss climate breakdown in terms of its spiritual and social causes, such as trauma, dominance, and oppression. Kaira and Kritee leave us with hopeful guidance around meeting overwhelm and anger with wisdom, creativity, imagination, and love.
Episode 3: David James Duncan and Fred Bahnson
In this episode, David James Duncan talks with Fred Bahnson. Both David and Fred developed and deepened their own contemplative practices among the peaks of mountains and on the banks of western rivers, which in turn led them to lives of activism and advocacy. During this conversation, they invite us to consider many questions: Where do we find hope? And why is it necessary for sustaining a life of environmental activism? How can contemplative practices like purposeful silence and careful attention serve us? And what is the cultural and spiritual role of storytelling? They braid their own thoughts and writing with the words of other writers and spiritual leaders including William Stafford, Barry Lopez, and Saint Isaac of Syria. They discuss how committing to inner work can not only sustain the individual activist but can also help cultivate the kinds of caring and graceful communities that are needed to champion real and meaningful environmental change.
Learn More About Our Podcast Guests
Fred Bahnson is an award-winning author, journalist, and essayist, telling stories at the intersection of ecological restoration, spirituality, and culture. He is the author of the book Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith. His writing has appeared in Harper's, Orion, Notre Dame Magazine, Emergence, The Sun, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Spiritual Writing. He is also a documentary film writer and producer. He collaboratively wrote and produced Horizons, a documentary about climate change seen through the eyes of writer Barry Lopez. Alongside his career as a writer, Fred founded and directed two environmental nonprofits. Now, as Storytelling Lead at Earthshot Labs, Fred is part of a cross-disciplinary team of scientists, technologists, and carbon finance experts aligned on a common mission: to leverage voluntary carbon markets in order to support large-scale reforestation projects around the world.
David James Duncan is the author of the classic novels The River Why and The Brothers K, the story collection River Teeth, the nonfiction collection and National Book Award finalist My Story as Told by Water, the best-selling collection of “churchless sermons" God Laughs & Plays, and the upcoming novel Sun House. David's work has won three Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, two Pushcart Prizes, a Lannan Fellowship, the Western States Book Award, and inclusion in Best American Sports Writing, Best American Catholic Writing, two volumes of Best American Essays, and five volumes of Best American Spiritual Writing.
Kritee (Dharma name Kanko) is a climate scientist, Zen Buddhist priest and grief ritual leader. She is the founding Dharma teacher of a Colorado non-profit Boundless in Motion, a community in the Buddhist lineage of Cold Mountain Zen to identify, face and "compost" our personal and ecological traumas through meditation and grief work and take strategic collective actions for healing. She leads traditional Zen retreats (sesshins) that offer koan training and co-leads healing retreats for people of color with other BIPOC leaders (including Kaira Jewel Lingo). As a senior scientist in the Climate Smart Agriculture Program at the Environmental Defense Fund, she is helping to implement methods of small farming at large scales in Asia with a three-fold goal of poverty alleviation, food security, and climate mitigation/adaptation. Kritee is also a founding board member of Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, a center that brings meditation in nature together with Dharma teachings for ecological action.
Kaira Jewel Lingo is a Dharma teacher who has a lifelong interest in blending spirituality and meditation with social justice. She spent 15 years living as a nun at a Buddhist monastery in the Plum Village tradition and under the guidance of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. She is the author of We Were Made for These Times: Ten Lessons for Moving Through Change, Loss, and Disruption. Now based in New York, she teaches and leads retreats internationally, provides spiritual mentoring, and interweaves art, play, nature, racial and earth justice, and embodied mindfulness practice in her teaching. She especially feels called to share the Dharma with BIPOC students, as well as activists, educators, youth, artists, and families.