6 December 2017

The Liminal

"At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it? A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or stage of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up. At this threshold a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope.
This is one of the reasons such vital crossings were always clothed in ritual. It is wise in your own life to be able to recognize and acknowledge the key thresholds: to take your time; to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there; to listen inward with complete attention until you hear the inner voice calling you forward. The time has come to cross."
Author: John O'Donohue | Artwork by Jeanie Tomanek

5 December 2017

Learning to listen deeply

When we explore collective intelligence and wisdom, we should not make the mistake of assuming that only fellow humans can inform insights, provide evidence and support decisions. The wider community of life, the embedded intelligence of ‘the pattern that connects’, the practice of asking nature (as nature) can inform collective intelligence and wise action as well.
[…] When it comes to participatory decision-making, accessing collective wisdom and tuning into life’s inherent intelligence, many traditional cultures offer powerful technologies of the sacred, rituals and practices that should not be dismissed as ‘irrelevant’ to our modern societies. To the contrary, we need to recover these deeper forms of listening and gaining insight in order to recover the wisdom we have lost in an avalanche of information and knowledge. Our methodologies tend to be focused on (rational) thinking alone, but deep insights can be gained from processes that include and value sensing, feeling and intuiting as part of decision-support.
Three such practices have helped me personally to experience collective intelligence in action and to gain deeper insights into and through my relationship with life. All three have deeply informed and supported my work as an educator, facilitator and consultant; and have deeply affected the quality of my own interbeing with all my relations.
For me, personally, the practices of mindfulness (connecting to the wisdom within), council (connecting to the wisdom of the group), and solo time in the wild (connecting with the wisdom of nature) offer important pathways towards regenerative cultures, as they are embodied direct experiences of our interbeing. These technologies of the sacred are more than simple practices, they are ways of walking in an ancient lineage of living the questions. They can guide our healthy participation in wholeness.
Council is an ancient way and modern practice, spanning many cultures and religions. In council we listen to the whole: the people and the place, earth, water, fire, air — the living planet. The practice elicits an experience of true community, a recognition that each voice needs to be heard, that every person has a gift, a story to share, a perspective of the whole. It allows us to share our common humanity. Every time someone opens up and shares what truly moves their heart, in heartful listening we are given the opportunity to experience that beyond all our differences we care about very similar things.
Council creates space for new insights and understandings, wisdom in decision-making and the healing of differences. More than being just another communication tool, the deep practice of council allows us to access and experience collective intelligence and group wisdom, offering a way both new and ancient of guiding collaborative processes.
Council is a non-hierarchical form of deep communication where each person is empowered to speak. Its primary intentions — listening and speaking from the heart — encourage genuine self-disclosure and attentive empathic listening. The quality of deep listening extended by everyone in the circle towards the person holding the ‘talking piece’ contributes to creating a container of deep trust and openness.
Once this container is co-created — also helped by an attitude of ritual — it enables us to share deeply from the heart. Often people find themselves expressing a quality of insight and wisdom that they did not know they had. In these magical moments, people speak from a place that is deeply nourished by the collective intelligence and wisdom of the whole group and beyond as the guidance of the ancestors, of future generations and of all of nature is invited in at the beginning of the council.
Council encourages participants to speak from their own experience, making I-statements rather than speaking in generalities for others. As the practice deepens, participants achieve greater tolerance for different perspectives and greater understanding of the feelings of others. Council can help us to develop our ability to mediate conflict non-violently. It offers a simple but powerful contribution to the creation of a culture of peace and understanding.
Council lets us experience empathy and compassion as the bedrock of our own humanity. There are many forms and lineages of council practice. One of the organizations that has contributed significantly to promoting and sharing the practice of council is the Ojai Foundation in California. It has brought council to schools, hospitals, prisons, and into the boardroom of major companies.
Jack Zimmerman and Virginia (Gigi) Coyle provide an excellent resource for exploring many different forms and applications in their book The Way of Council. In recent years some of the elders of the Ojai Foundation have helped to train a series of council trainers and council carriers in Europe and Israel, leading to the creation of the European Council Network. Taking part in a number of Gigi’s workshops and working with the community of council carries and vision quest guides has offered me inner sustenance and deep learning on my own path as an evolutionary activist.
Solo time in the wild
Spending time alone in nature, with an open heart/mind, maybe holding a question or maybe simply letting one come, is also a valuable ally for evolutionary activists. Solo time in nature can generate powerful insights. It serves as an effective way of letting go of the old and inviting the new (story) into our lives.
Rites of passage ceremonies exist in all of the world’s indigenous cultures. They are an important marker of transition, transformation and change in the lives of members of these cultures. The transition from childhood to adulthood, from adulthood into eldership, the transition into parenthood, the confirmation of a new role in the community, the intentional and ceremonial leaving behind of modes of thinking and acting that no longer serve us — these important moments of change and transformation can be energized and celebrated through rites of passage ceremonies.
They serve to support individuals and help them to recognize their unique gifts and potential, for their own benefit, for the benefit of their community and for the benefit of the world.
In the industrial growth society we have done away with traditional rites of passage or turned them into ineffective vestiges of their ancient counterparts. Vision quest, or vision fast, is a powerful ritual that can help individuals to mark these important life stages and transitions in a meaningful and helpful way.
For most people, there comes a time in life when engaging in such a ritual could be an important act of transformative innovation at the very personal level of our own way of being in the world. Rites of passage ceremonies enable men and women of all ages, but especially young adults, to engage in an age-old ceremonial pattern: completion of an old life, movement through the threshold of the unknown and return to the world reborn.
People in transition from one phase of life to another often find deep meaning and guidance in this process. It is a path that has been followed by human beings for many thousands of years. When it is time to consider such a ritual, these questions call us:
Who am I?
What do I have to give?
How can I heal my wounds and leave behind habits that no longer serve?
How can I become an effective agent of positive change?
How can I love this world, every day a little bit more?
What is my true calling?
How can I serve?
... continues
[This is an excerpt of a subchapter from Designing Regenerative Cultures,published by Triarchy Press, 2016.]


4 December 2017


I know a lot of people in my network who just aren't into formal meditation, many have resistance to anything 'spiritual' but resonate deeply with good ole' nature connection. There is no doubt in my mind that most modern humans suffer greatly from NDD, (nature deficit disorder) and therefore any tool we can harness to connect with nature is a gift for us all.
Whilst the 'spiritual community' is a wash in all kinds of eastern/new age influences from meditation, yoga, qi gong, etc - All of them powerful tools in their own right. We have largely remained ignorant to one of the most simple, powerful and healing practices of the indigenous people of Australia. A unique gift of the Aboriginal people is 'Dadirri'
"Dadirri means inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. It is a 'tuning in' experience with the specific aim to come to a deeper understanding of the beauty of nature.
Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia (and the world) is thirsting for. It is something like what you call "contemplation".
"When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening." - Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann
Experiencing Dadirri:
· Clear a little space as often as you can, to simply sit and look at and listen to the earth and environment that surrounds you.
· Focus on something specific, such as a bird, a blade of grass, a clump of soil, cracked earth, a flower, bush or leaf, a cloud in the sky or a body of water (sea, river, lake…) whatever you can see.
Or just let something find you be it a leaf, the sound of a bird, the feel of the breeze, the light on a tree trunk. No need to
try. Just wait a while and let something find you, let it spend time with you.
· Lie on the earth, the grass, some place. Get to know that little place and let it get to know you- your warmth, feel your pulse, hear your heart beat, know your breathing, your spirit.
· Just relax and be there, enjoying the time together. Simply
be aware of your focus, allowing yourself to be still and silent…, to listen…
Following this quiet time there may be, on occasion, value in giving expression in some way to the experience of this quiet, still listening. You may wish to talk about the
experience or journal, write poetry, draw, paint or sing… This needs to be held in balance - the key to Dadirri is in simply being, rather than in outcomes and activity.

13 November 2017


"Aloneness is a time to reflect, integrate, and contemplate. All of us need our cave, our inner sanctum where we can replenish, rejuvenate, and gain a fresh energy and perspective on what life has been delivering to us. The masculine part of us thrives on solitude, where all parts can regather, commune, and emerge anew. Being alone is being all-one. You silently sound a call for yourself to hear the voice of the soul and relax all parts of yourself into wholeness.
This is a redemptive act: to recollect and reunite all parts of yourself around the pillar of the One. In this gathering, we recollect ourselves and return to our source, our original wholeness. Aloneness gives you an opportunity to hear your true nature, the still, small voice within, that always knows. This voice, always present, follows the guidance of your pure soul in all situations.
This still, small voice within serves to bring you into divine will, which serves love. Surrendering to divine will allows our highest potential to manifest. It wants only the best for us. Often we do not know what is best for us, what will lead us to true joy and happiness and the strength of unspeakable peace. When we flow with divine will, it releases us from the compulsive need to do, and we surrender to what is happening in our present experience of life right now. We see that our identity, our sense of value, our love, our strength, and our peace do not depend on doing.
Divine will is most deeply felt and understood when you are alone. You can hear it better! Aloneness is a soothing balm that welcomes deeper, softer emotions within you, gently, gradually, easing and cradling your heart in this tender flow. As Hafiz shares in his poem "Absolutely Clear," "Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly. Let it cut more deep. Let it ferment and season you as few human or even divine ingredients can." Loneliness, sadness, tenderness and deep healing happen in the heart sitting in solitude. Our deepest pain, our need for love that has not been met and fulfilled, arises. We feel it, we surrender to its sacred tears, and we become a little bit more whole.
Many of us are scared of true connection and true relationship because we have not truly connected with certain parts of ourselves. In connecting with our newly discovered aspects we can also let go of security devices and strategies that we have built as crutches for walking in the world, which all prevent us from being open, transparent, and living in trust with self, other, and life itself. In feeling seen, our isolated aloneness can dissipate into forgiveness and closeness.
When you are willing to experience the depths of aloneness, you will discover connection everywhere. Turning to face your fear, you meet the warrior who lives within. Opening to your loss, you gain embrace. Each condition you flee from will pursue you. Each condition you welcome will transform you. Aloneness and true silence is a powerful force that can carve us open. As Mooji has often shared in his satsangs, "Only when you can face and bear your own silence will you be free."
Silence and stillness happen in mind, body, and soul. In the mind, everything ceases. The body finally rests. The soul takes its rightful place as ruler, and you are allowed to be the hero. Silence cannot be forced. From the souls feeling wisdom, silence occurs when your emotions are felt, released, and brought into wholeness. Any emotional disturbance still left in you manifests as the inability to go into silence. As the soul is master of the spirit, and spirit is the vehicle of soul, true silence rests in simply having no emotional healing left to do within you.
Solitude, when you are alone and without any human contact at all for a period of time, can center you in your deeper self. Science has shown that your brainwaves change after seventy-two hours in Nature, without other humans or electrical interference, such as Internet, phones, or electricity. Your mood changes, becomes lighter, more connected, more rounded. Your mind-set relaxes and you feel yourself again, without interference, emotional resonance, or vibrational information from others. You can rest in yourself at last. Your DNA is constantly emitting, emanating, and vibrating information from its spiral helixes into your body, mind, soul, environment, and other people in your immediate surroundings. Going into solitude in Nature, alone, brings forth a wonderful invitation to resonate only with yourself and find out more of who you are and what stuff you are made of."
~ Anaiya Sophia & Padma Parakasha, Sacred Relationships

2 November 2017

Here's to patterns being disrupted

'Confusion is a place between places.
The area where my true sense of direction
is obscured by the mists of varying emotion.
The moment before settling into my body
and allowing the potent feeling to fill me...
Here's to confusion...
here's to patterns being disrupted
by life's unpredictable tempo.
Here's to not knowing,
yet somehow grasping
I can withstand
and bend just like open waters;
being receptive to the teachings
of contrast and change
and to finally seeing.
Here's to lost footing—
to being thrown off balance
and breaking through
my deep-grooved thinking
and out-dated styles of perceiving.
Here's to walking into waves
of fresh ideas and
radical ways of being.
Here's to frustration
and disorientation.
To climbing out of the rut of habit
and swimming in waters of freedom.
Here's to to discomfort
and dissatisfaction;
how they lead me to deeper paths
and redirect my attention to
the light of alternative reason.
And here's to pains of truth
overcoming erroneous roots...
Here's to forming new concepts,
gathering bold insights,
and to gaining with each untried day,
a life of profound meaning.'
(~written by Susan Frybort, author of 'Open Passages' and 'Hope is a Traveler')