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7 Noetic Steps to Surviving a Volcanic Ash Cloud

by Marilyn Schlitz

I was preparing for my lecture on consciousness transformation to the League of Optimists in Brussels, Belgium when I got the news: All flights from Europe were cancelled. I was due to go on stage shortly and nothing about the implications of this information had sunk in. I just wanted to be here tonight and home tomorrow.

As part of my back story, I was in Europe on our IONS global engagement tour. I had spent the past two breathtaking weeks meeting and connecting with the European consciousness community. Perhaps more importantly, as mother of an 11-year-old son, we were both being challenged by what was the longest time we’d been apart since his birth. I had a delightful time visiting four nations, speaking with diverse audiences, responding to the press, meeting old and new friends, and dining in wonderful cafes. And in a perpetually jet-lagged state, I was counting the nights before I would return to my family. And so after tonight, following an inspiring public dialogue with author Thomas D’Ansembourg convened through a French-speaking translator and my own presentation, I’d be going home a very happy camper. Or so I had thought.

Over the course of the days that followed, I got a chance to live the topic of my conversation with Thomas that night: Why and how does consciousness matter? What is the connection between theory and practice? And how do these questions apply when you’re stuck in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, longing to go home, with a very real threat of volcanic ash clouds hanging over your head – and not a plane, train, bus, car, or even ship will get you out? It was from this place of direct knowing and being that I drafted my noetic tips for surviving a volcanic ash cloud.

  1. 1. It’s not personal. Of course, trying to remember this was sometimes challenging. Why did that infernal volcano have to go off on the night before I was heading home? Occasional appeals to Vulcan, the god of Volcanoes, became part of my reflection repertoire. But mostly the ash cloud became an experiential lesson on the power of nature over human efforts to control the world.

  2. 2. Remember to breath deep. Of course, this begs the very real question of air quality – given that nasty black cloud heading our way. Looking up, it was a surprise to notice clear blue skies and crisp clean air. In fact, the weather could not have been more pleasing. Go figure!

  3. 3. Set intention. This depends, however, on the depths of one’s defense mechanisms. Disbelief is a very logical response. You’ve got to be kidding? A cloud of volcanic ash is heading our way and no one knows how long we’ll be stranded? Right! But once the reality sunk it, it was time to grab the best in the moment. Wallowing clearly wasn’t the most adaptive response – though at moments tempting.

  4. 4. Secure the base camp. This was very hard for many who were stuck in uncomfortable places. For me, it meant staying calm when there were no hotel rooms – only to find in the light of morning that because of a cancellation my room was available for the duration of my stay in Brussels. Other friends offered refuge. Eventually I made my way to England, where I was one step closer to home. Here I was offered sanctuary by IONS Community Group Leader and new found best friend, Claudia Neilson.

  5. 5. Know you’re not alone. Connecting into my network of fellow noeticians – and tweeting with fellow refuges – offered great comfort. Once I brought my attention to the reach of IONS and my thread of relations throughout Europe, a safety net appeared. Having unplanned time was a unique change of pace. In a kind of suspended animation, I was presented with rich and fertile gifts of conviviality and fresh encounters.

  6. 6. Be flexible. I looked for comfort in simple activities. A book. A meal. A hug from my friend and host Mickael Drouard’s four-year-old son. Some time to reflect and write. Not knowing was the hardest part. Even after I was safe with friends and filling my days with exploration, my dreams were plagued with heavy suitcases, missing homework for my son, and unknown destinations that left me confused when I awoke in the predawn hours. With emerging daybreak and warm exchanges came the opportunity to again be at home within. As the old adage has it: Wherever you go, there you are!

  7. 7. Practice gratefulness. Once I got that this was out of my control (or anyone else’s), I found a flow. I discovered that my beloved friend Brother David Steindl-Rast, a valued teacher and tireless promoter of living a grateful life, was also stranded in London waiting for a flight to the States. Each day shared in the wake of the Volcano gave us the chance to play with the spirit of gratefulness while surrounded by companionship, goodwill, and simplicity.

Eight days later, full of equanimity and balance, I safely returned my familiar life in California. Now, as the days unfold, I remain filled with delight at the amazing gifts that continue to unfold from that remarkable volcanic eruption. More than anything, I feel more at home in the world that lies beyond my known comfort zone.

Many of my encounters in the global tour – and those of IONS staff – are here on this website. And more discoveries are afoot as we engage our expanding community in the study of consciousness and human potential to promote our collective well-being. Hope to see you soon!

  • 2 Comments
  • cprize Apr 20, 2011

    With 7 new volcanoes in the next 20 years and a LOT of other eruptions and immense earthquakes what preemptive solutions are you thinking are possible to solve the inevitable delays in flights by jets due to the ash levels? I'm here to rock your complacency and make you and the entire group think ahead, well beyond your comfort zone. Do you want to use the dreams of others to pinpoint where all of them will be? I already know where some are, one is about 30 miles south of me on the MT/SK border (this Sept 24). One on the BC/WA border, another north of Seattle, another in the middle of the UK, possibly one closer to you... exciting times. Many lives are at risk.

    Before now you probably have been told by others that California will sink into the ocean, but do you know when and how deeply it will sink? If I told you that Noetic won't physically be where it is in Petaluma in less than 5 years where would you move that is safe? If you found that CA was going to sink 1200' within the next decade and another 200' later would you move to the other side of the mountains (like I have)? Societal infrastructure in CA will be 75-90% lost to the subsidence and related disasters. (The central valley is savable, but at a huge cost at a time when CA's tax base is shakey. It entails creating the largest dam in history, pumping an entire river above its height and the construction started soon, without engineering studies completed, and obliterating several cities in the way. Not an easy proposition, but the alternative is worse. WA loses 60-65% of its land area.)

    Imagine what all this will do to the economy. Plan now and act promptly. If you wait until later when the evidence is irrefutable, like after the next tsunami which will devastate the southern part of Japan in mid-May you will have lost your edge of knowing in advance and definitely lost it by the first new eruption. Costs for moving and finding another place will go up steeply, and property values where you are will be dropping at least as fast. This info isn't given to distress or alarm you, however if you fail to act preemptively you will experience much more distress later and financial hardship.

    If you think my message is all doom and gloom you would be wrong. There are some bright points. One is that the long awaited Promised Land will appear in the international waters of the Pacific as a major island. It's sudden appearance is the leading cause for the land subsidence along the whole Pacific Coast of N&S America. No the Promised Land isn't Israel. The name for this new island given to me is the Commonwealth of Peace.

  • cprize Apr 20, 2011

    If you think the tsunami that devastated Sendai Japan was bad you don't want to be around for the mega-tsunami this new island creates by emerging from the ocean floor. The resulting shock wave will slurp up everything in its path to a far higher elevation along all coasts of the Pacific and beyond. In some constricted places the mega tsunami could exceed a mile in height and in level coastal areas could go 100 miles inland. We have no historic examples except Lituya Bay, and that was a local event with the displacement mass being miniscule by comparison. 'Fossil' evidence of mega-tsunamis are rare and really don't provide a good picture of what it would mean to people now.

    This event also means that every island which is less than a mile above sea level will need to be evacuated in advance. Think of the logistics. And that brings us back to finding an alternative method of transportation we started with, quickly, as jet planes cannot evacuate most islands even if the air was free of volcanic ash. They need runways few islands have. Ships won't fill the need for many, too sporadic, and few are commissioned for such work, and where will they take the evacuees? Consider the ramifications... and the loss of food production due to the subsidence!

    Think ahead, use your dreams for the help you will need to make the right decisions. Don't rely on what I've said as being your only source of timely advice. Avoid the opinions of others on these concerns unless their words are also guided by what the Creator provides. Knowing the disbelief which afflicts many I expect little or no action will be taken until after the next tsunami. But it's your decision. The way to confirm it yourself has been provided. I'm certain research using member’s dream journals will substantiate what I've said. This isn't what one person has foreseen without the means of creating additional proof.

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