I recently heard a wise man say to “observe the misery and gain wisdom from the misery”. I was struck by the power and application of this instruction, especially because the same wise man couples this statement with the inevitability of change. This post unpacks the statement in how it relates both individually and collectively, and ultimately helps to understand how it leads us to empowered happiness.
Okay, okay … yes, I did just complete my first 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat. So yes, my lens has been shifted to see more of the habit-patterns not only within myself but equally outside myself as well. The night I returned home from a week and a half of meditative silence and introspection I cried for hours.
Like a baptism into the realm of awareness and equanimity, I cried.
The 10-days was a rollercoaster of subtle proportions. The location and weather were purely delightful – well fed, well slept, well chaperoned by nearby Mount Cooroora in Pomona. The setting held the space in such a way that meditators had nothing to consider or do beside follow the gong’s instruction to move onto the next session, and then, do the work. And work I did for 10 meditative hours a day, following all of S.N. Goenka’s clear and eloquent instructions.
The darling Burmese born and raised Indian man, Goenka, opened the doorway to this Dharmic meditation methodology for us in the modern world; a doorway that had been previously popluarised 2,500 years earlier by Goutama Buddha. The Vipassana method is entirely simple, practical and experientially based, far from the cosmic out-of-body soul journeys of many a guru. It’s basis is awareness and equanimity/non-reaction in feeling sensation on and in the body, observing and responding rather than mindlessly being thrown around by the conditioned experiences of our mind-body where we react without realising. The purpose is to allow healing within the psycho-somatic relationship with the aid of awareness and equanimity, releasing/liberating stored energy patterns, ultimately allowing for all beings to be happy. Truly … happy.
The technique is potent in it’s impact on the body, allowing the meditator to move from the gross (i.e. obvious) to subtle bodily experiences. Clearly guided to be patient, persistent, diligent, vigilant and intelligent, I couldn’t help but see the parallels of this approach to many of those catalogued in my fractal kaleidoscope of integral frameworks applying to us humans.
As you may well know, my lens for the world is strongly guided by pattern recognition, honing in on approaches speaking similar languages - those multivalent archetypal understandings helping us humans thrive with the laws of nature. Much of what’s spoken through these pattern languages is the idea of SELF RESPONSIBILITY. I touched on this concept in my last post titled ‘The Choice Is Yours’, exploring the creative potential of taking care of our health in the name of self responsibility. I was thrilled to see this approach very clearly articulated in Vipassana meditation. We, ourselves, are the only ones who can liberate our bodies from the deeply stored energies of trauma (and karmic perpetuation, as Goenka explains). And the keys to tapping into those deeply stored septic energies are awareness and non-reaction.
Self-responsibility is something I hear coming out of my mouth more than I sometimes realise. It seems the most apt response to so many questions:
"How do you deal with personal dynamics in groups?"
"How do I get ahead in life?"
"How do I change the world?"
The following post explores what self-responsility might mean, and how we can embrace it individually and on the collective level.
Self: our individual being/unit. Response-able: our ability to respond to stimulous or crisis. This - our individual ability to respond to stimulous/crisis - is foundational to being human.
A recent conversation I had with my father helps to illustrate how I approach this topic. He advised me to be diligently conscious with my health because I don’t have private health insurance (in a country increasingly reliant on such). In short my lack of private health insurance is a lifestyle choice, because (a) I'm not sure I believe in the insurance industry, and (b) I'd rather save my income myself and dish it out for emergencies on an as-needed basis. My father's advise was offered in a loving yet cautionary sense, wanting me to avoid health challenges because of my current lifestyle choices.
My response to him was an emphatic YES, I TOTALLY AGREE - stay healthy and stay out of hospital and away from the doctor. This agreement came from a place less concerned about my capability to access health services, and more from a place of choice to take responsibility for my health and vitality. And I see this extending to the psycho-emotional health, just as much as it's application to physical health.
See, I’m not inspired to live with disregard of the consequences of my actions; especially when one's health is the primary topic. Relying on a system (in this case, the health system) to clean up my 'mess' (inherited or self-caused) isn’t a personal aspiration and it certainly ain’t sexy when I see it in others.
The primary tension I have with relying on a system to clean up one's mess is primarily that it seems to waste of creative potential. By not having the security of a surefire bail-out when the going gets tough, one is encouraged, and compelled, to be impeccable with their actions.
•AUDIO• Click to play >>
The thing about feedback is that it happens whether we like it or not. Either way, consciously acknowledged or otherwise, feedback is swooping around us, within us, between us and beyond us.
The thing about feedback is that all life is designed around it and dependent upon it. Our human bodies, the ecosystems we belong to, the development of a new born child adapting to the world. Feedback is the driving force of the great organic machine called Life, and we’re all loops in it’s grand circuits.
The thing about feedback is that we can pay attention to it, receive it, feel it, allow it, contribute to it, and find ourselves dynamically propelling through authentic interactions – or not. We have the choice to utilise feedback as our co-creative wand, acknowledging life for what it truly is – for what we truly are - and live present and real with ourselves and the world around us.
I'm excited to share with you the next SOCIOCRACY FOUNDATIONS ONLINE course, starting Wednesday 10 May with two of Australia's key trainers, Gina Price & myself (Erin Young).
If you've been needing to know more about how to be truly effective and efficient with your groups, this is a key opportunity.
The Sociocracy Foundations Online course is run by experienced & insightful trainers, bringing you applied learnings from large & small groups such as ecovillages, not-for-profits, social enterprises, private enterprise/business, and community groups.
For course details >> http://sociocracyconsulting.com/learn/foundations-of-sociocracy/
Held over 6 weeks, with an online 2.5 hour session per week, you will learn the key elements for dynamic effectiveness, transparency and equivalence in how your group organises work and makes decisions.
Completing this Foundations course will empower you to step-into a deeper collaboration in your organisation.
Dates: Wednesdays 10, 17, 24, 31 May, 7, 13 June 2017
Time: 9am to 11am AEST
Cost: $360 for 6 weeks
Click here to SIGN UP!
(Note: Gina & I are hosting the Americas-Australia course only. Other international trainers will host the Europe-Australia course.)
Again, for more course details >> http://sociocracyconsulting.com/learn/foundations-of-sociocracy/.
Please share with any individuals or groups who this may benefit.
In service of true people care ~ Erin
On this World Water Day 2017, the one on which clean water access for humans is revered, may we remember the absolute necessity of clean water access for the Earth. Water is LIFE, and no more so for humans than for this precious planet of which we are members & inhabitants. Water is SPIRIT, lubricating LIFE FORCE into action.
While Pacha Mamma is highly sophisticated at dealing with contaminated water, her threshold of tolerance only goes so far. Humans are insidiously manipulating fresh water at an extent we cannot fully understand.
Ancient aquifers are tapped to water cash crops of inefficient monocultures grown in a cocktail of chemicals.
Fresh water is treated to drinking water standard into which we deposit our human waste, contaminating the water, and then sending it to a treatment plant to be transformed by another energy intensive process to then be sent out to sea.
Vast expanses of waterways & systems are threatened by industrial contamination & oil spills, victim to human error & misjudgement.
May we humans understand the responsibility we have to the greater whole to which we are but parts. Should we respect that responsibility, we have opportunity to continue to live in this abundant & divine world with much fulfilment & empowerment. Should that responsibility be disrespected, we will continue to see Life's systems failing, their life force & spirit clogged with the externalities of humans linearly designed systems.
Water is LIFE ~ may we use it with reverence & gratitude, always ~
EXCITING NEW FEATURE :: This post is available in audio (below), read by the author herself. Feel free to download to listen while you're on the road/go. And let me know what you think of it, I'd love to hear. And never fear, the text is available further below, for your normal reading pleasure!
I’ve been hearing this thing inside of me calling out for more bridging of the individual with the collective. I hear it, and sometimes without thinking my response is “who, me?” and other times I realise “yes, it’s totally talking to me” and other times I feel that it can only be me… in this particular context, at this time, with my experiences. If not me, then who?
An idea conceived in my mind some time in the past couple of years, with a serious gestation since October 2016. At that time I found myself at a permaculture convergence, going from workshop to workshop, absorbing wheelbarrows of insight and information, with quick pressure drops in the tea breaks when I could tune-in with fellow convergence folks about their take on day. At the end of it I felt adrift: What do the elders think of these matters? What do the diverse change-makers converging together think of these matters? What do I think of these matters when I’m thrown into the cauldron of public witnessing when it really matters? With much respect for the sentiment of the event, I realised there was a subtle but vital piece missing; one for which an action was calling out for manifestation through me. That piece was something to the effect of people coming together to discuss their perspectives and views on the matters at hand, something that so often feels way greater than the sum of it’s parts. And, so, the Folk Forum was born.
What does that name even mean? Well, inspired by a friend feeling passionate for folk medicine and people knowing how to use nature’s pharmacy for their own healing, I realised we humans (the folk) continually bring together a whole bunch of ‘medicine’ through our experiences, wisdom, knowledge and curiosity. And through my work in the dynamic whole-system governance approach of Sociocracy, I’ve experienced check-in rounds before starting a meeting to see where each person is at as a status check of each element of the system. Through this I realised circle work is a powerful social technology to be utilised for humans to process life together (the forum). Much like Martin Prechtel talks about in his book The Smell of Rain On Dust, true authentic grief performs a fermentation of our sorrow into a profound sense praise for the life gone, and so it goes that the act of bringing together people as a means to SEE and BE SEEN can be a potent pot of perspective on ourselves through the mirror of the other humans sharing in circle around us.
Hello friends ~ greetings from the other side of the new year portal with 2017 well on it’s roll.
Here I share my contemplations on the 'seasons greetings' flung about with wild abandon in December and January each year, and plant seeds of potential for other forms of goal and intention setting, celebration and ritual.
This may seem a little counter-cultural, but I just gotta tell you: when the December festive train rolls into town (particularly here in Australia), it increasingly strikes me as odd to see folks dress up in arctic clothing as Santa Claus, singing songs about silent nights and sleigh bells ringing, while having the oven cranking out a roast in the middle of a hot summer's day – all in the name of Christmas. And then there are the parties for the coming of the new Gregorian year – great spectacles and gatherings of heightened celebration, peaking at the countdown of “10...9...8...7...”, expectant eyes watching the tick-tock of a clock in an OCD-like need to see it happen.
For the clock-in of this current year, I threw tradition to the wind and slept through the much-celebrated collective countdown. Instead, I rose in the pre-dawn hours, amidst birdsong and gentle dawn light, migrating to my favourite local coastal headland to watch the sun rise again over the eastern horizon. This felt far more appropriate and honouring of the newness to be celebrated: a new day, a new year, a new moment of NOW.
I wonder how many others feel the same confusion about the much publicised Christmas & New Year celebrations. Somehow, the concept of the Gregorian calendar being a date-marker for our yearly intentions doesn’t sit comfortably for me in terms of how intentions intersect with the reality of our life. As one with an awareness of the various possibilities for celebration, goal/intention setting and gathering throughout the year long, the concept of saving up all the celebrating, connection, and resolution-setting to this once-a-year period of intensity seems a little...bottled-up.
You see, every month we Earth-dwellers are graced with the ebbs and flows of our planetary companion, the Moon; the new and full moons offering potent energy to set intention and reflect upon our lives both individually and collectively. We also have seasonal waxing and waning – the Winter and Summer Solstice in June and December, along with the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox in April and September. These two planetary ‘drumbeats’ invite us into awareness and interaction on a monthly and quarterly basis in a way that recognises and utilises the seasonal context we’re inherently inclunced by.
Call me a sucker for small and slow solutions, I find the Lunar and Solar cycle as powerful milestones to work with in considering and manifesting the realities for which we wish. And they can integrate and utilise the institution of Christmas gatherings and New Years resolutions; because, realistically, families may only truly be able to gather together in celebration once a year, and the solstice is a beautiful time to do so. When we do gather, let’s do so in a way that utilises and truly supports each other to live full, grounded and abundant lives.
To help you culture-jam your reality to have more seasonal and real-time relevance, here are some possibilities to hybridise family gathering and yearly intention-setting:
All power to you as you develop yourself and your life in alignment with life's potent energies. Please do comment and share your experiences in journeying with the lunar and solar cycles - the more we share, the more we learn and evolve with each other.
And blessings of the season to you, wherever this may find you. For those in the southern lands (like me), the bright & warm days offer external interconnective moments, out in the world. For those in the northern lands, hibernation through through the chills and darkness allow a conjuring of new energy to emerge in the coming months.
Wherever we are, may we cycle genuinely, potently & co-creatively as the drum beats carry us on!
But wait, there's more! New Workshop
:: EFFECTIVE COLLECTIVE WITH SOCIOCRACY ::
Fresh off the back of the Australasian Permaculture Convergence in Perth during October 2016, I'm bringing an expanded version of this workshop to Brisbane's Northey Street City Farm on 1 April 2017 (no foolin').
"Achieving our dreams and visions for a world that cares for earth, people, spirit and fair share of abundance and resources requires dynamic and effective organisation. This form of organisation is designed with transparency, effectiveness and equal-value, governed by a resilience resembling nature’s inherently sophisticated feedback loops, and provides connection, trust and fulfillment.Sociocracy is a social technology for the governance and facilitation of these groups and organisations. Based on circle process, the methodology allows a clarity of group purpose on macro and micro levels, bringing together all elements of the system through a balanced “power-with” autonomy. Founded on the both/and approach, Sociocracy allows for both flat-structure at the appropriate level and a hierarchy of focus. Each person is invited to become a leader in their domain of influence, collaboratively deciding on operational policy in semi-autonomous self-organising groups in order to achieve the organisational mission.
This workshop provides participants with an interactive introduction of this transformative governance methodology. Explore the parallels and application of permaculture principles and ethics through Sociocracy’s agile approach for facilitating effective whole-systems organisation."
Check out details on Facebook here, and buy tickets from the Eventbrite page here.
Cost: $85/$65 Health Care Concession Card Holder + Eventbrite Fee
This work is a true honour: bringing in thriving & collaborative people!
A new workshop is coming into the world through me -
:: CULTIVATING YOUR GROUP ECOLOGY ::
to be premiered at Brisbane's Northey Street City Farm on 11 March 2017, starting 1pm.
It's an action to support people of all kinds to be super functional with the diversity of people in their groups. The time has come to embrace diversity and value the marginal in group settings, allowing each person to offer their gifts and balance their challenges.
"Functional groups are the key to getting things done. By understanding the types of ‘characters’ commonly appearing in groups and organisations, and the patterns of energy shaping group interactions, we’re able to utilise the gifts and balance the challenges. This empowers a group to be more effective, transparent and equivalent in achieving their goals, and ultimately achieve a deep functionality so that visions and ideas can actualise to make a difference in this world. This workshop provides an experiential and interactive insight to understanding the personalities in groups and organisations, how to utilise their strengths, support their challenges, and help them get what they need to be empowered and effective in collectively achieving the group’s dreams and visions."
Check out details on Facebook here, and buy tickets from the Eventbrite page here.
Cost: $50/$35 Health Care Concession Card Holder + Eventbrite Fee
It is a true honour to share this work to support thriving and collaborative people!
It’s a big time in the world. It always is. It seems the rolling list of potential crisis and dilemmas continues to morph and unfold. And humans continue to work in a paradigm with a bunch of ‘leaders’ and ‘experts’ holding the floor in how we ‘officially’ navigate these times. Or at least it seems.
Whether the politicians, leaders, experts like it or not, the embedded wisdom within the collective society is profound. Just as it’s collective folly is equally profound.
This reminds me of the tale of the battle of the black wolf and the white wolf. Said to be an old Cherokee proverb speaking to the inherent duality of the good and bad inside all of us. An old Cherokee man tells a child about the battle of two wolves inside him - a black wolf of anger, sorrow, self-pity, guilt, inferiority, lies; and a white wolf of love, hope, humility, joy, peace, generosity. When asked which one wins, his answer is "The one you feed". Here is a sweet telling of that tale:
There’s something about this inherent duality of black wolf and white wolf traits that really speaks to me. What sings out is how we need each other to support the balance of our individual and collective wolves. We all have them, and the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts – what we collectively generate is so much beyond the individual good or bad we generate.
It seems we’re in a time of being blown around by the black wolf, a time where The Tragedy of the Commons seems to be in full effect. As Wikipedia defines:
“The tragedy of the commons is an economic theory of a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting that resource through their collective action.”
It’s not only the economic driving this tragedy; it’s the related spheres of ecology, equity, energy and ultimately the existential. What are we humans doing here on the world? And what are the possibilities besides self-service with the side-effects of wide-spread destruction?
J.R Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ describes this darkness well - the Orcs dominate with terror and instability. The Black Wolf rules the land and the balance of harmony has been lost. Smorg, the red dragon, lies under the Mountain on a trove of treasure – the miser sleeping on his horde, waylaying it’s productivity and usefulness. Destruction from the dragon’s firey breath around the Mountain is wide-spread and desolate.
Then, something changes. The White Wolf rears it’s head, uniting former-enemies to defeat a common foe. Dwarves, Elves and Men drop grievances to unite in fulfilling the opportunity to defeat a dark enemy and also share in collective wealth and peace.
The parallels with the Standing Rock protests against the proposed oil pipeline through North Dakota, USA are clear. We see an emergence of collaboration, cultural sharing and strengthening, solidarity and a collective YES for another way. The Black Snake prophesied by the old ones of the Lakota people spoke of a threat to the people, enacting a unification.
There’s something about acknowledging the damage of the Black Wolf that allows the White Wolf to strengthen and be activated. The clarity of contrast works to activate the balance; where a hidden Black Wolf somehow renders the White Wolf less empowered.
There’s something about this coming together in collaboration, the acknowledgment of the Black Wolf, the embracing of the White Wolf, that is so potent and called for in these times… the world over. That underlying existential question rarely seen or acknowledged by the collective is becoming louder and harder to ignore: how do we live in our fullest potential in this world, in a way of resilience and fulfillment? The White Wolf wants to run free and full. But without recognising our individual and collective Black Wolves, we are forced to live in their shadows.
To talk of Collective Folly (via the Tragedy of the Commons), we must also speak of it’s counter-weight: Collective Wisdom. It’s there, always, wanting to be called-upon and expressed. There has been a strong yearning in me to speak and share and facilitate the Collective Wisdom amongst our communities; supporting the space to air our Black Wolves, to allow space for our White Wolves. This will be explored in future posts – deepening into what this asks of us and the frameworks we can embrace to support ourselves in being balanced in living with our individual and collective Black & White Wolves.
In the meantime, observe the Black Wolf and the White Wolf – in yourself, in those around you, in society. Observe what happens when people share their troubles. Observe what happens when they don’t. Consider what might happen if we fed the White Wolves in those situations and people around us, the one hiding away under the hungry Black Wolf who doesn’t quite know how to sleep.
It’s a consideration offered to each one of us 7.5 billion people living on Spaceship Earth.
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