(This is an excerpt from the intro to a book I’m writing on reclaiming the power of the third chakra.)

The pictures were gruesome: parts of dead birds, mostly seagulls, lying like pieces of a child’s puzzle ready to be assembled. Their bodies are in various stages of decomposition. Some are just bones, some still have feathers, beaks, feet and heads. They all have their stomachs exposed. And there is another common detail: they are filled with garbage. Blue Bic lighters, bright red disposable pens, yards of fishing line, orange plastic caps, clear plastic bags, bits of white plastic.

I opened the magazine in November, became quickly fascinated and even more rapidly queasy. I put it back down near my desk and tried not to touch it. I was at once drawn to look and disgusted. Even touching the magazine made me feel sick and dirty. Like I’d have to wash my hands if I picked it up again.

These birds have become mini garbage dumps for our excessive lifestyle. But it was the photographs that so clearly elucidated the metaphor: Birds are one of the symbols of the heart chakra – the place where we come into our humanity and soar. They (and we) are meant to fly, to be free, not to die from swallowing too much garbage. How is the garbage we are swallowing, literally and figuratively, keeping us from flying? How can we change, not just our eating habits, but our relationship to the natural world, the way that we think, what we consume, individually and collectively – and set ourselves free?


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