The #Ecocide Friendship

jojo mehta

The Guardian newspaper called Polly Higgins ‘one of the most inspiring figures in the green movement’ but on Easter Sunday last year at the age of 50, she passed away after a short battle with lung cancer. Polly was a successful lawyer who abandoned a courtroom career to lead a decade-long campaign for a law called “ecocide” to be recognised as an international crime. 

‘Ecocide is extensive loss, damage or destruction of ecosystems, in laypersons terms; serious harm to the natural living world.’

In this podcast the co-founder of the Stop Ecocide campaign Jojo Mehta talks to me about Polly’s legacy and Jojo also shares her wisdom on how she has handled her own personal grief at the loss of one of her closest friends. Wisdom that is universal to anyone who has a close friend in spirit.

Show Notes

In this podcast you will learn:
  • About the moment Polly realised that Mother Earth needed a lawyer
  • How seriously Polly took her mission
  • How Polly’s illness began and her response to her diagnosis
  • About the day Polly died and her spiritual presence at the Extinction Rebellion on Easter Sunday
  • How Jojo compartmentalised her relationship with Polly and how only recently has she grieved the deep friendship they shared
  • More about how you can join the #stopecocide campaign and become an Earth Protector
  • … and Jojo’s answers to my three quick fire questions, her most influential male mentor, her favourite words of wisdom and the song that sums up her story.
My stand-out quote from this podcast:

‘She [Polly] also had this amazing effect on people, I mean the number of people I’ve met in the last few months who have sort of confessed to me that they kind of fell in love with her when they met her and you know that might not necessarily have meant romantically but she had this extraordinarily inspirational effect on people where she would have a conversation with them and they would turn their whole lives around. She was always incredibly feminine and terribly sexy as well, just extraordinarily warm with a strong feminine presence and I think in that way … a wonderful role model for what a woman can be in a man’s world.’  – Jojo Mehta

Background Information

Click image of JoJo above to find out more about Ecocide and how you can become an ‘Earth Protector’ and watch Polly’s TED talk below to get maximum enjoyment from this Wyse Woman podcast.

Related Podcasts

If you enjoyed Jojo’s podcast you may like to listen/listen again to Mandy Haggith’s podcast from Series 1. Mandy lives a self sufficient life in harmony with nature in a cabin in the woods in Scotland. 

'The destruction of the earth is a crime and it should be prosecuted.'
George Monbiot
Journalist, The Guardian

The Ashram

Most women can relate to the experience of leaving behind a much loved relationship, a career or even a place they called home because a new chapter in their lives needed to unfold. Perhaps it is something that is happening to you right now? Well hopefully my Wyse Women guest can offer you some inspiration and guidance, because at the age of 60 she left the life she had led for 30 years to start a career in the public eye. 

That in itself is a story worth hearing, however what makes this women’s story even more remarkable is that the life Sally Kempton had been leading up until that point was a deeply spiritual one, because in the early 1970’s Sally became the full time student of the enlightened Siddha master, Swami Muktananda. She traveled with him, edited many of his books, and received intensive training which led to her being initiated as a swami (or monk) herself and serving as a teacher in the Siddha Yoga meditation community.

In this podcast Sally who is now an international meditation teacher and author talks to me about life in the ashram, her difficult decision to leave … and she shares her wisdom about how preparation and staying centered is the key to smooth life transitions.


Show Notes

In this podcast you will learn:
  • How Sally came to live in an ashram with her guru and why she left
  • What a guru is and what the word guru means
  • Sally’s wisdom for all women who are facing a big life transition 
  • More about Sally’s books
  • … and Sally’s answers to my three quick fire questions, her most influential male mentor, her favourite words of wisdom and the song that sums up her story.
My stand-out quote from this podcast:

I have always said that if you are going to be a spiritual teacher and you don’t have a guru then life itself is going to destroy your ego one way or another. As you can see from all the gurus who are doing really good work and suddenly they do something transgressive and they are smashed in a context that’s not safe.’ – Sally Kempton

Book Reviews

Review 'Meditation for the Love of it'

I have read a lot of books on meditation but this book took me to new depths. I loved the way Sally encourages preparation and honouring even before she shares any meditation ‘technique.’ Her constant focus on guiding the reader inside to meet themselves was revelatory for me and resulted in one of the most amazing dreams I have ever had. 

In the dream (which Sally explains can also be a form of meditation) I saw a girl enter a school gym and I looked over at this girl in admiration as she played table tennis. One of my present day spiritual teachers was stood next to me and I asked her who the girl was. I liked how vital she was,  I thought she was showing off a bit but I also immediately spotted her talent. Anyway my spiritual teacher answered me and said ‘Jo, it’s you, that girl is you at 15 years old.’ The girl then walked over to me and told me I looked familiar to her, so I said ‘Jo, It’s you, the only difference is I am 43 and you are 15.’ and then we both deeply and lovingly embraced each other. 

The feelings in the dream were of a profound home coming and a deep acceptance of myself …  and I credit that experience to not only the tuition that Sally shares in her book but also her transmissions and the transmissions of her Guru that are within its pages as well. 

It is man’s foremost duty to awaken the understanding of the inner self and to know his own real inner greatness. Once he knows his true worth, he can know the worth of others. – Swami Muktananda

Review: 'Awakening Shakti

I hadn’t even opened the pages of this book, it was simply on my night stand waiting to be read ahead of my interview with Sally. It had only been there a matter of days when I found myself thinking (lucidly in my sleep) of names like Vishnu, Shiva and Durga. At one point I sat bolt upright at 2am and said the name ‘Durga’ out loud.  

Earlier this year I spent 10 days in Bali where statues of the Hindu deities are worshiped everywhere and promised myself that on my return I would do more research into this spiritual tradition. I now understand that Sally’s book is the answer to that silent vow.

I’m taking my time with this book as Sally instructs but so far I love the ease of her explanations about such complicated stories (even humbly apologising in the foreword for any information she may have lost in translation) and I love how she is bringing the archetypal energies of these Goddesses to life, not only on the page but also inside of her readers! Her writing is contemporary and up to date but the sacredness of her subjects is never compromised.

The illustrations by Ekabhumi Charles Ellik are as beautiful and detailed as all of Sally’s descriptions of the Goddesses. 

One of the great gifts of being present to the space of consciousness as a motherly goddess is that you can bring her your pain and your pleasure and ask her to hold it.  – Sally Kempton

Buy 'Meditation for the Love of it'

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Buy 'Awakening Shakti'

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Related podcasts

If you enjoyed Sally’s podcast you may like to listen/listen again to Miranda’s podcast from Series 1. Miranda even mentions Sally at the end of our conversation.

'Sally Kempton is not only one of the best meditation teachers in the world; she is also one of us. She manages to fearlessly explore the outer reaches of the universe without ever losing the warm voice of your dear friend.'
Elizabeth Gilbert
Author of Eat, Pray, Love

The Good Life

Have you ever yearned for a simpler existence? The so-called ‘Good Life’ of self sufficiency where you are living in harmony with nature? Perhaps you picture yourself in a cozy log cabin in the woods or relaxing on a small sailboat on a beautiful sunny shoreline?

Well my final guest for Series 1 of Wyse Woman is Mandy Haggith, a writer and activist who is doing just that. Mandy gave up the conventions of being ‘chained’ to a job and a mortgage to live and work on a croft in acres and acres of Scottish paradise with her husband Bill.

In our conversation we talk about how she is now able to trans-migrate from her log cabin to her sailboat at different times of the year, her passion for trees and bears … and her firm belief that we don’t need to concern ourselves about ‘reconnecting’ to nature … we just need to remember that we are nature.

(Scroll to the bottom of this page to view pictures of Mandy’s home/office.)

Further Reading

If you enjoyed Mandy’s episode, click on the links below to find out more about her song, book and inspirational woman choices.

Further viewing

Some images of Mandy’s log cabin, sailboat and views of the croft and surrounding areas for you to enjoy …

The Power of Mantra

Have you ever heard someone repetitively chanting or singing words such as, ‘Om Made Padme Hum’, ‘Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha’ or even ‘Hare Krishna’ and wondered why and what it all means?

Well these mantras (and there are many many others) are formulas of sacred syllables, which were originally revealed to the Rishis (seers or sages) in the deepest states of meditation. They are the earliest components of yoga and are quite possibly the first type of meditation that was developed. Often times these mantras are untranslatable but it is believed that our souls remember the meaning of the sounds and they can help us express feelings that ordinary language is unable to contact.

This Wyse Woman podcast is with Ellen Arthur, a yoga teacher and **Kirtan leader who lives in Bali and works at a yoga community called ‘The Practice.’ In our chat she talks about how mantra has helped and continues to help her access the deepest dimensions of her being. 

**Kirtan or Kirtana is a Sanskrit word that means “narrating, reciting, telling, describing” an idea or story. Usually delivered as a devotional ‘call and response’ song by a leader to a community.  

To find out more about The Practice in Bali where I met Elle, click on the logo above or CLICK HERE.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed Elle’s episode, click on the links below to find out more about her song, book and inspirational woman choices.

The Divorce

Ending a marriage is tough for anyone but imagine having to go through it when you have built a home and raised three children with your Australian husband on the other side of the world (after being in a relationship with him for over 18 years.)

My Wyse Woman guest on this podcast is Alice Revell from Bristol and in this episode (called The Divorce) she talks about the deep soul searching she had to do when her marriage broke down in 2016.

The Slow Healer

My Wyse Woman guest this month was a self confessed ‘on-the-go’ CEO and no words of warning from others about the importance of slowing down could stop her … she only really started to listen after badly damaging her knee on the ski slopes.

Justine Clement’s injury, subsequent operation and slow recovery invited her to learn how to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’ … and she found some powerful lessons in those enforced moments of stillness.

Lessons she shares now on her podcast ‘The Slow Healer.’