Some nights I am pulled awake before morning light by a rising wave of queasy sensations, which implode my reasonably coherent sense of self into a vortex of struggling pieces. While I worry about many elements of my personal life, I have come to associate my night monster with a leap of awareness regarding our terrifying global situation. A warming biosphere and the ubiquitous signs of a world tipping toward catastrophe, confirmed by scientific facts, have chained my waking life to a new and increasingly radical curriculum. It is a syllabus in which words like “resilience” and “revolution” are markers.

The irony that I teach meditation but am reduced to night sweats is not lost on me. While meditation generates calm, well-being, and the perspective of insight, the actual process of awakening from the dross of apathy, resistance, and delusion is a struggle. It...

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