25 September – Community Charters and a Prayer for the World

“The greatest distance in the existence of Man is not from here to there nor from there to here. Nay, the greatest distance in the existence of Man is from his mind to his heart. Unless he conquers that distance he can never learn to soar like an eagle and realize his own immensity within.”  

Angaangaq – Kalaallit-Eskimo elder 

Yesterday I took part in a workshop at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, a gathering of people with Angaangaq, a Kalaallit-Eskimo elder and healer.  He has spoken at international conferences on climate change and environmental and indigenous issues.  He speaks about his work as “melting the ice in the heart of man.”  Trying to understand what it might mean to “occupy mind with heart” was one of the purposes of this blog and here was someone whom I felt might have something to say about that.

Its been 11 months since I last wrote here.   All that energy I had given to writing this blog has now had to be spent on something closer to what we traditionally call “work” – creating connections, writing emails and building on an idea that germinated at Schumacher College (see 30 October: Schumacher College, coming to an Ecoliterate view of Law).  I returned to Schumacher College in February 2013, to take part in a course run by Polly Higgins and Isabel Carlisle called “Voices for the Earth”, to try to create a resource for communities who were facing “local ecocide” threats.  It was through this course that I felt a thread being pulled out, to create a meaningful narrative out of events that started with the dance on Hampstead Heath (see About: Heart’s Perspective), all that I had learnt about the mind through being a planning lawyer (see About: Mind’s Perspective), and all that I was learning about holistic science and complexity theory  through the “Eco-literacy” course at Schumacher College.   I felt this thread could begin to be woven into something that might hold the vision I have been trying to serve through this blog – a vision of a world with intrinsic meaning seen through the very darkness we are often afraid of.

Working with Isabel we took forward the idea of a “Community Charter” to the Falkirk communities in Scotland, where they are facing the threat of coalbed methane extraction from underneath their homes, a process similar to fracking.  It is likely to be the first operational unconventional gas extraction facility in the UK (most other places are  facing planning applications for exploratory rather than operational facilities).  We were invited to hold a workshop there to listen to their concerns and also to ask questions about what their vision was for the kind of community they did want.  Through this workshop we distilled principles which became their Community Charter and which was submitted to Scottish Ministers as a representation to Dart Energy’s planning appeal.

What will the Charter achieve?  I believe for true sustainability we need to work for change, not only on the external level of what is physical, but also the inner level of how we see ourselves and each other.  So, on the outer level the Charter is mobilising a community and is being “applauded” by the Scottish Green Party.   On how it may change matters on the inner level, I go back to Angaangaq.  He had with him a claw from a bearded seal, beautifully preserved and connected to a thread for placing round the neck.  He said that, in escaping the polar bear, the bearded seal can dig its claws into the side of icebergs and climb up.  The claw he had represented this quality in people, the quality of always climbing and never falling down.  What was it that was most required to keep climbing and never falling down?  Self-belief.  I am beginning to understand what that might mean.  So, I believe Charters will be able to achieve as much as the network of belief it can build to support its vision, mobilising communities to work towards a higher vision of what they could be in harmony with life and Nature.

One intention when I started this blog was to try to keep an evidential record of whether following the feeling of meaningful connections between inner experience and outer events would IMG_1872manifest itself into a narrative, if one took faith in those synchronicities as the rudder for one’s actions (although finding the keel to keep balance whilst using this as a rudder has been a big challenge).  I felt that recording something after the event brings in the risk of creating links in memory and imagination that may not have  happened when one took the actions.  At the same time, there is a fear in standing out, opening myself to ridicule when my beliefs begin to veer away from the way I have been told reality works.  But, as Angaangaq reminded me, it is a matter of inner belief whether I climb despite the fear, or whether I fall.

A second intention was to finish this inner journey of digging into the human layers of my truth, from the level of mind to body to heart to the spiritual.  Only by such digging could I begin to see whether the connection between inner and outer change was more than just a belief but had tangible results.  I have not had enough constancy in feeling towards any spiritual truth to feel ready to write about that.   Maybe when I find myself able to write about that, then this blog will feel complete.

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4 Dec – The Quiet Revolution: Mental Health,Resilience and Facing Climate Change

Polly Higgins, Earth lawyer and Ecocide campaigner, said an indigenous leader had once told her “only when we face the shadow side, and give it a name, can the healing begin.”.

From my own experiences I feel there is a causal connection between building the resilience we need to face climate change/economic recession, and how each of us face our own inner shadow sides.  In learning to become more accepting of the shadow as well as the light in ourselves and others, the better we can learn ways of easing away from rigidity/fear towards resilience/acceptance in the face of our uncertain global future.

With that in mind, I went to the GlobalNet 21 Meetup event on the topic of mental well being.  The event was held in the Grand Committee of the House of Commons, as one of the keynote speakers was Kevan Jones MP, one of the first MPs to publicly speak out about his depression and what he had learnt from it.

I had often been to Parliament when working as a solicitor and parliamentary agent, delving into their bill boxes to research into legislation.  How different it felt to be going to Parliament at 6pm, when all the human traffic was moving the other way.  Trying to navigate my way through the contra-flow I realised how I had never really realised how the temporal structures of a 9-5 job create physical flows which, notwithstanding individual freedom, might create furrows into our imaginative capacity that might prevent the full flow of our perceptions.

Walking through the Great Hall of Westminster it was interesting to see how this powerful institution of the status quo championed, through its tapestries and statutes on display, those who had rebelled against the status quo.  One tapestry showed the rebellious barons gathered at Runnymede, witnessing King John signing the Magna Carta.   There was a statue of John Hampden MP, who was jailed in 1627 for refusing to make a loan to King IMG_1593Charles, a loan which he believed was illegal and a violation of the Magna Carta.  As Kevan Jones mentioned in his speech, 1 in 4 of us suffer a mental health problem at any one time.  Is this opening to the full range of our mental and emotional capacities the latest rebellion, an inner as well as a social rebellion?

Another keynote speaker was Mark Rice-Oxley, a journalist for the Guardian who has written a book about his depression, “Underneath the Lemon Tree“.  Mark spoke about the myths that are bandied about as part of the stigmatisation of mental health, that depression is for the weak, and that those who admit to depression are finished.

Paul Farmer was the third speaker, the CEO for MIND.  He spoke about MIND’s plan for the year ahead – tackling the stigma, increasing access on the NHS to talking therapies and encouraging more people to talk about their own experiences.  The narrative of “public health” had grown out of a movement to eradicate disease and so he saw a need to change the narrative to a more holistic interpretation of health.  He saw the opening of conversations about mental well being as being the “quiet revolution”.

There was much courage in the room of 200 or so attendees, as 600_185341222people spoke about their own experiences and so opened the dialogue in fresh ways.  I spoke about my own perspective through my struggles with anxiety (see About (Body)), how the lack of full and comprehensive corporate HR policies that give guidance on what to do if one is experiencing mental ill health can actually exacerbate the issues facing employees; and that producing such policies could actually not only increase well being but also the profitability of the corporation.  He told me about MIND’s campaign called “Taking Care of Business” which is seeking to address how corporations deal with the mental well being of its employees.

I cannot help but feel that, if more and more corporations had the courage to face the shadow sides of their employees’ inner selves in their public HR policies, this would build the momentum  for “healing” corporate behaviour so that the default position becomes people and planet above profit.

Who am I without this terror
that tears me apart
to pour out Love from my cracks? 
 
Kali Das
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Thursday 1 November: Exploring trust and belonging with Satish Kumar

I was looking forward to an evening with Satish Kumar as part of the Ecoliteracy course at Schumacher.  I had already had a couple of brief encounters with him which were influential in setting me out the course I was following (see Easter Monday: Journey of the Heart).   To have time to spend in conversation with him was a treat.

At the very beginning of this journey away from my career as a lawyer, I was at the Festival of Life to give a talk on the possibility of socio-spiritual transformation.  At the festival, someone I struck up a conversation with gave me a book called “Be the Change: Action and Reflection from People Transforming our World“.  One of the essays was by Satish and, because of what I was beginning to explore, one sentence in particular gave me a sense of passionate excitement.

The process of the universe is helping me to be self-realised, to fulfil my potential […] The universe is there co-operating, the universe is there supporting, and that gives me trust.

What did he mean by the Universe is there co-operating?  I felt I knew what he meant through the experiences I had just begun to have, and now I had the opportunity to explore that with him in person.

When I entered the library, the open fire was lit and I passed by Satish and sat down on the floor, waiting expectantly.  As others from my group filed through they stopped and shook hands with him and introduced themselves and he said a warm “welcome” in return.  I felt something, a sense of being left out or that I hadn’t done the right thing.  It made me rise to join the queue of my fellow participants to shake his hands.    As I rose I began to feel embarassed about something, was I making myself more conspicuous now by rising?  I had to continue but, by the time I got to Satish the queue had gone so I felt even more awkward and it felt like I was intruding into a space that was suddenly closed.  He gave me a distracted and not so happy look and when he said “welcome”, the word sounded hollow and unfelt in comparison to the tone he’d used with the others.  I sat down with a hot sensation, something of shame and embarrassment.

As the talk unfolded I felt unable to ask my question anymore, the feeling in me had disconnected me in some way.  I knew it was something in me rather than something from Satish and I tried to sit quietly with it and get over it.  At one point I heard Satish say something about forgiveness and gave the example of, if someone had made him feel unwelcome, he would open his heart to forgiving that person.  I was startled as it felt he was speaking to me.  Whether that was the case or not, it did begin to a process of making me feel connected back into the room again.  As questions progressed I still felt unable to begin my question, but then someone mentioned “Be The Change” and the nudges in the connections with what was in me felt too strong and I garnered my courage to get over my feeling of disconnection, to not lose this opportunity for a response to a question that was burning deeply within me.

So I asked him, I mentioned the essay in the book and asked him what did he mean by the Universe is there co-operating and supporting?  He said in response, not one day goes by when he does not feel the co-operation and support of the Universe.  He felt it there, in the way a baby goes to a mother’s breast and there is milk to feed it.  He felt it in the very processes of life itself.  I felt both happy with the answer and that I had not failed to ask the question.

The next day we had a more formal afternoon with Satish and we had some time to think about questions.  I began to wonder what it meant to trust and how that feeling was engendered.   Going back to yesterday I noticed how the sense of not belonging to the space, because of one small accidental miscommunication, had made me feel disconnected and unable to ask my question, unable to have a sense of a safe space, a space of trust.   I wondered whether, before one could trust, one needed a sense of belonging.  In terms of coming to an Ecoliterate worldview, would that arise if there was a collective sense of inner belonging; would our collective “mind-scape” quieten down, as it had with me, to reveal a different landscape to the one imagined when in a space of dis-trust?  Was Ecoliteracy as much a “pilgrimage of identity” as living life sustainably?

The day before, Stephan Harding had been speaking about the Gaia Hypothesis.  What really excited me was the evidential journey he took us on to demonstrate the basis of the central hypothesis, that the Earth is alive because it is self-regulating.  The artist in me loved the beauty of the idea, the scientist in me admired the elegance of the evidence.   Intuition and Reason co-existing in creative relationship!

In Stephan’s book, Animate Earth, I had come across this sentence which gave rise to a similar burning question to the one I had with Satish:

Scientists objected to Gaia because they quite rightly perceived that the idea implied a teleological view of the world which, if accepted, would bring into question the fundamental belief that we can exploit this dead old world.”

“Teleology” I found out meant purposefulness in the world, empowering it with qualities of intentionality, mind and soul.  I asked Stephan what did he feel – was Gaia alive in, not only the sense of fulfilling the criteria for life processes, but also in the sense of evolving?  It was not a question that could be answered in a short space but I felt his answer was similar to what I was beginning to feel, that there is no external outer force imbued with intentionality, but that there is an intimate connection between our sense of consciousness and the life that is Gaia.  We are Nature.

I now see the connection between my inquiry at the Festival of Life and my inquiry with Satish.  Everything revolves around my IMG_1582inquiry into why are we here, what is our purpose? An inquiry triggered by my experiences of synchronicity and meaning when I lost all hope of recovering from my illness and, against all my belief in rationality, was left with no option but to pray to the Universe for help (see About (Heart’s Perspective)).

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Tuesday 30 October – Schumacher College: coming to an Ecoliterate Worldview about Law

So I have left Lullington and landed at Schumacher College to begin the course “Cultivating an Ecoliterate Worldview“.  Coming into the room with its single bed and its stark white sink and cupboard and desk I am reminded of the time I first walked into my room at Durham University as a student, that sense of excitement and of new beginnings and new learning.

On the first night I was speaking to Emily, the course facilitator.  Something she said reminded me of Jacob Needleman.  I had only recently come across Jacob Needleman while staying in Lullington, listening to him being interviewed on an On Being podcast about his views that the American founding history was as much about “internal democracy” as much as the external form of democracy usually focused on, something that resonated deeply with me.  I was waiting to mention this to Emily, when she began saying something about her teacher and mentor on the path to facilitation, who turned out to be Jacob Needleman.  Like on so many other occasions described in this blog, the concurrence of thought, intention and outer experience gave rise to a tingly sensation throughout my body, and a faith that this was the place to be right now, irrespective of whether my own expectations were met.

Yesterday we explored “Embodied Ecoliteracy”.  Rather than beginning with concepts about what ecoliteracy was, we were taken into our bodies and movement, then into sensing the world outside with our eyes closed and experiencing the world in that way whilst being guided. Afterwards we came together in circle, to contemplate and share our experiences.

One participant, from Brazil, mentioned her discomfort with translating the word “Eco-literacy” as a direct translation implied something about just words, whereas she felt a better translation was something which would be translated back as “eco-competence”.  This made me think of law, how also it is just words, and yet they are words which have legal effect.  What is the nature of such words that have “legal effect”, if not just that we have agreed collectively to give power to such words, a power which many now feel powerless against?

Participants mentioned how, with their eyes closed, how much stronger the sensations of the other senses were, such as touch and sound.  I remembered how divorced I was from reality when I was sitting in front of my computer screen, how I lived in an even more abstract space than sight, in my head solving legal problems for my clients without really thinking about what the real world consequences actually were (see 7 March: The Tar Sands Energy Project – Symbol of Ignorance).

I began drawing circles within circles on my paper to represent this thought, the first to represent my mind, then sight, then other sensations and Nature.  An arrow depicted my interpretation of reality, which was mostly just in my mind and sight sensation.  Listening to what people were saying I began drawing another set of circles within circles, this time with Nature at the centre, then other sensations, then sight, and then my mind.  It felt that this was what we were doing in the “embodied ecoliteracy” exercises, putting the natural world at the centre of our learning experience, then sensing her with our sensations other than sight, then sight and then, through the circle and contemplation, finally mind.  It was like a Copernican reversal of my habitual way of learning.  What is “in” and what is “out” in terms of experience?

Sarah had given me a book as a present when I left Lullington called “A Time For New Dreams” by Ben Okri, poet and novelist.  We were invited to give a reading and I decided it would be a nice use of Sarah’s gift to sow some of Okri’s words into the imaginations present here at Schumacher.  Something felt right in my body when I came across an essay called “Plato’s Dream“, the topic was the purpose of education and it seemed to fit in so well with discussions we had been having about the power of words and what exactly it was we were meant to be learning.

However, I didn’t understand why he had called it “Plato’s Dream” as I felt it was the ongoing fascination with the Greek myths in the power of reason that was causing the imbalance, that we needed to move into a new story which balanced reason with heart.  Then, in the silence of waking up from sleep, something made me think about Jacob Needleman saying in his podcast about how he had always turned away from the Amercian founding figures because he didn’t feel they fitted in with his values but, on giving them proper attention, he was amazed and delighted at the depth of their thinking and writing and their quest to find a way of governance which would allow for “inner freedom” of conscience as much as for freedom to pursue material wealth, “inner democracy” as much as the outer forms of democracy.

I began to question whether my resistance about Okri referring to Plato’s ideas as something to aspire to was more about my stereotypical understanding about the Greek story, rather than what full attention to Plato’s writings may actually reveal.  I began thinking about definition and began wondering whether some clarification about such terms as “Nature”, “Reason”, “Mind” and “Rational” might help in re-telling the story about “Natural Law” so that, rather than moving away from reason, we moved back to a more intimate and deeper connection with what reason actually is.

I had started this course with thinking that I was here to learn from teachers what “eco-literacy” was, a body of knowledge to take in.  I now wonder whether “eco-literacy” is more a process for self-discovery rather than a body of knowledge, or possibly a dynamic movement between process and knowledge?

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16 October: Coming across the Interfaith Foundation

“What matters is this dual existence, this simultaneous existence in oneself of two natures, two nearly equal and honourable impulses: the love of Truth and the Good, and at the same time, the impulse to think critically, logically […]”

Jacob Needleman, Professor of Philosophy (California), “What is God?”

I was reading Stephan Harding‘s book “Animate Earth” for the course on Ecoliteracy starting next week at Schumacher College.  In that he talks about his time studying muntjac deer for his zoology PhD and the profoundly different sensation he experienced when he was measuring objects in the woods, and when he allowed himself to relax into the total experience of being in the wood:

“During these meditative moments there was a profoundly healing sense of Rushbeds Wood as an integrated living intelligence, a sense that expanded beyond the wood itself to include the living qualities of a wider world of the atmosphere, the oceans and the whole body of the turning world. Rushbeds Wood in these moments seemed to be quite clearly and obviously alive, to have its unique personality and communicative power. These periods of communion were intensely joyful and relaxing, and contrasted markedly with the stressful effort to reduce the wood to quantitative measurements in my multiplying field notebooks. I noticed with interest that the joyful sense of union would fade into the background of my consciousness as soon as data collection began. “

Its a similar sensation I think many must have felt, the difference between focusing the mind and letting the mind rest in its own awareness.  I have also found different results in one’s life can occur depending on whether one acts from either focus mode or awareness mode (see 5 June: Osho Leela, Polly Higgins and opening to life through awareness).

Whilst talking to Sarah about how I felt my experiment to try to collect evidence for a guiding influence on life was failing, she said that she felt that it wasn’t an “either/or” situation, that you can feel both guided and also then use one’s intellect to focus and make a plan.   This feels right, it is so easy to fall into either/or mentality.  That night Sarah stayed up with me and, as I relaxed to the thought that maybe she wasn’t getting bored listening to my meandering thoughts, my mind also began to relax and space was created for the germination of a new forward looking plan.  It was with a sense of relief and peace that I went to sleep that night.  It is a profound gift to feel listened to.

The next day Sarah was going to a “Universal Worship” service.  I had not heard of Universal Worship before and was intrigued to go along.  We drove down narrow lanes out of Lullington to the village hall of East Woodlands.  In there was a group of people sitting in a circle around a large candle and at the top end of the circle was a beautiful altar with Shiva at the centre.  I was surprised to see a Hindu god taking such a prominent part of the altar, I was expecting the Universal Worship to be a christian service with some acknowledgement of other faiths, rather than putting “The Other” in the centre.

The theme of the service was “Flow” and readings were taken from Islamic, Hindu and Christian texts and poetry.  We also did a dance very much like one of the Sufi dances I took part in at the Osho Leela Centre, and also chanted some Hindu chants to the Indian rivers. I was intrigued and picked up one of the information sheets.  I found out that the minister holding the service was from the Interfaith Foundation, something I had heard about in London and I had even taken part in a service.  However, I had only gone to the service to chant with Illumina and hadn’t taken much notice of the service, other than a vague feeling that a faith which just collated bits of other faiths together was not really standing for much.

I took an information sheet home withe me and was quite taken by the statement, “We come from different spiritual backgrounds and no one Interfaith Minister thinks quite the same as another.  Something about that speaks to me, perhaps because I was born a Muslim, brought up in a school where we sang Christian hymns, feel broken from my parent’s bengali and Islamic heritage, and lived the majority of my life with a sense of loyalty to Western secular liberalism.

Looking  around me, with western secular liberalism cracking under the weight of our collective pain and desire for a way out from our self-destruction, I don’t think I am alone in this feeling of inner homelessness.

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11 October: Losing Direction, back to Frome

Something pulled me back to Frome and I am still trying to feel myself towards what that is. It feels like Life is nudging me towards some meaning to be woven, should I be willing to let go of expectations.  Meeting Sarah, my host in Lullington near Frome, has been a wonderful part of the experience created by starting the Edventure programme.  It is a set of coincidences that I found myself staying with her and it is somewhere in the experiences being opened to me through these coincidences  that I am feeling the meaning of this pull back here.

When I was looking for some kind of training to help me with facilitating the gathering on Earth Rights at Embercombe with Polly Higgins, it was Johannes, one of the Edventure creators, who recommended the Art of Hosting workshop in West Lexham (see 28-30 June: The Art of Hosting).   At one of the training sessions at the workshop we were invited to either participate or lead a session by proposing a project we wanted help with.  I decided to propose a session on Edventure to help me envision my personal goals if I was to take part in that programme.  One of the participants in my group, Rosie, said she was originally from Frome and, coincidentally, had almost applied to be an apprentice at Embercombe.

When I was accepted onto the Edventure course one of the first steps for landing comfortably was ensuring I had somewhere to stay.  I thought I would take a shot into the dark and emailed Rosie to see if she knew anyone who might be willing to host me as part of the Edventure concept of “Community Supported Education“.  Something in me wanted to have faith that, if I was meant to be going onto the Edventure Programme, something would turn up.  However, not having sorted any accommodation a week before the start date, I began to wonder whether my faith was rightly placed.  Then, just a few days before the start date, Rosie phoned me out of the blue to say that she hadn’t forgotten about my email and had forwarded it to her mother, Sarah.  She said that her mother would be happy to put me up for a couple of weeks whilst I found somewhere more permanent.  It felt like this was a nudge that I was going in the right direction.

On arriving in Lullington, during one of our conversations Sarah mentioned that her ex-husband was a sculptor and that he had a sculpture around Marble Arch.  When she said that, I felt a tingly sensation and asked her if it was a sculpture to do with animals killed at war, to which she said yes.  The feeling that I was on the right track became stronger as I remember having seen the sculpture last year.  It was on the day which I have already written about as the day which changed many things for me, the day I took part in an “Ecstatic Earth” dance on Hampstead Heath (see About: Heart’s Perspective).  I was still employed as a lawyer at that time but going through a hugely challenging time.  However, on that particular day I remember feeling I was on top of the world, in love with the sheer beauty which was expressing itself through the sunshine, the colours of flowers and the swaying of the trees as I cycled through the parks of London.  It literally felt that things were jumping into my awareness rather than me looking out, a feeling which was weird at that time but is now becoming more familiar as I explore its terrain through this blog.

It was in that way which I came across the memorial sculpture to animals killed in the World Wars.  It felt like it had jumped into my awareness because of the dance to Mother Earth I was about to take part in, and remembering the sacredness of all life felt connected to the Wildlaw campaign advocating legal rights for Nature.   I was so astonished by coming across the sculpture and how it perfectly coincided with my thoughts and the dance to Mother Earth we were going to take part in I took pictures to send to Shanti Scott, the organiser of the dance, so that it could form part of the collective experience of that day.

The connection between that day and the place I was now in Lullington made it feel that I was on the right path towards my heart’s song.  Having opened to Sarah about this it turned out that, from her perspective and inner experience, she also felt a deep sense of meaning and guidance through the events in her life.

So, when I began feeling that Edventure wasn’t right for what I needed, one of the reasons I found it distressing is because it seemed to anul the experiment I have been trying to live since that day on Hampstead Heath and attempting to evidence through this blog: of seeing what would happen if I tried to flow with what Life guided me towards rather than trying to make a strategic plan of how I wanted my life to be (which is what I had been trying to do as a lawyer).  Would such a way of living lead to joy or not? I had felt “guided” towards taking part in Edventure through the meaningful coincidences described in this post and elsewhere and so, if Edventure wasn’t right, then did that negate the experiment and say that the events that I felt had been of guiding significance were actually no more than a series of random events?  If truth is what I am seeking then I had to go where that led, even if it was a path that led to a negative.

So it was with a feeling of deep despondence and feeling lost that I began getting ready to leave for London.  Sarah mentioned how she liked the tree that I could see from my window and I remember trying to capture it as a memory.  I think Sarah felt my confusion over where my life was now going to go and she offered to put me up for the 3 weeks before the Ecoliteracy course at Schumacher College, if I felt that would be better than being in London.

When back in my house in London something felt torn inside me, a homeless kind of feeling which I guess is part of any transition from one place to another.  I remember feeling as if my thoughts were somehow boxed in by the house and the space it created.  I began wondering if maybe I should have stuck with Edventure a bit longer, that maybe it really was what Life was trying to guide me towards but that, in the face of initial challenges, I had let myself interpret those challenges as meaning I shouldn’t be there when what it showed was a lack of the required fortitude and commitment to find the source of my heart’s song.   Another thought crept into my head, that I really missed not being able to see the tree in the field outside Sarah’s house.  Sarah was a lover of trees, having planted many trees along the lanes near her house over the last 30 years.  Notwithstanding the embarrassment I called her and, on hearing the kindness in her voice, I came back to Lullington, still feeling lost but prepared to try and stay with it for a while in this safe space and see if any new openings came to me.

It somehow feels right, in the time leading up to the Ecoliteracy course,  to be in a place and among company where Nature is so loved.  A huge part of my learning curve over the last year has been about letting go of expectations, so perhaps taking part in Edventure was to lead me here?  Speaking with Sarah and seeing some of the similarities in our experiences in life only strengthens that feeling.

Sitting here in this room I see the tree in the field through the window.  I wonder what it means that I had a real feeling of missing the concept of the tree (as I was not actually able to see the tree when I was missing it) and yet, when I am able to actually see the tree as an experiential rather than conceptual reality,  the strength of feeling on seeing it does not match the shape of what it is I felt I was missing.  I feel this strange sense of observing the shifting landscapes within which the thoughts we think are created.  On the other side of the window I see a cast of one of Sarah’s ex-husband’s sculptures, named “The Pilgrim” on a postcard of the full size sculpture in the gardens of Wells cathedral.  The postcard   describes the sculpture by saying “The Pilgrim Reflects the Searching Spirit Common to All Humanity”.  I feel I am there with the Pilgrim.

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7 October: Edventuring to Frome… and back

Two weeks ago I started the Edventure Programme in Frome, led to it by a process of trying to lead my life from the heart space (see 28-30 June: The Art of Hosting).  Edventure’s model is “Education

in Community”, where the participants learn through collaborating together to transform community spaces, whilst inspiring the community to support them in different ways.  I have been wonderfully supported by my host, Sarah, providing me with a room during this landing period into Edventure.

Having felt “led” to Edventure through this new way of being which I have been exploring through this blog, it was quite distressing to find, once here, that I wasn’t connecting with the project in the way that I had been anticipating.  In an earlier entry (16 January – Occupying Our Minds with Our Heart) I said this blog would be my attempt to “experience the state of:

(1) acting from the heart in my actions in the world;

(2) “speaking from the heart” when writing about the experience itself; and

(3) observing and working on the fears and defence mechanisms arising when I try to “speak from the heart”  as far as I can from the place I am at spiritually/emotionally.”

Unfortunately I have not yet been brave enough to write when I am in that dark place of uncertainty, where the path anticipated suddenly seems wrong and the feeling of guidance dies in the body.  Yet, inevitably at some point, there is a feeling of something becoming lighter, a “letting go” of the desire to grasp onto something maybe, and with that letting go the body begins to feel alive again as a new path of inner intent and outward action begins to emerge.  As yet I seem to only have the courage to write when that sense of clarity begins to emerge.

Though it is sad to leave Edventure it feels right, it feels the experience has been a positive one of learning some things about myself, and it does not feel like the connection has ended.  My usual tendency has been to “battle it out” with something I don’t like, so it is quite liberating to know I can just  flow into a different direction to re-create that sense of spaciousness again.

I also feel sad to leave this house which has been my home for the last two weeks.  Over the weekend I picked apples with Sarah and we made jelly which I am now taking back to London.  Through being here, seeing the connections between our different experiences of life, feeling Sarah’s  connection to the land through the trees she has planted and together making jelly from the fruit gifted on them, I felt held in a place and a time which influenced the conversion of the experience of my inward inquiry as what to take from Edventure.  There is something about experiential learning which must therefore be unique to each place and situation, separate from the cerebral and conceptual learning we prioritise.

As part of my “personal project” on Edventure I committed to starting an online course at Schumacher College called Cultivating an Ecoliterate Worldview, with a 2 week residential period towards the end of October.  I feel this course will broaden my tools for exploring this way of learning I have been experimenting with through this blog, whilst also grounding the intuitive explorations (Evolving Thoughts) into a conceptual framework.

Sarah showed me a poem which she had read a few weeks ago in a field where she had found a 4 leafed clover and which she said reminded her of the things I had been speaking about.  Reading it, it feels like the poet had an embodied experience of what an Ecoliterate Worldview is.  It captures as a singular experience what I feel could be our collective awareness should we so choose.

Blessed Are The Moments

Blessed are the moments when the spirit of man
     goes out to the spirit of Earth,
To merge and commingle therewith -
For here is Peace.
Blessed are the moments when man knows himself as
    the fairest flower of the Earth,
Thrown up by the Earth -
For here is Joy.
But blessed are the moments when he knows that
    the moving spirit of Beauty in all that he sees
Is the moving spirit of Beauty in the depths of his soul -
His own innermost soul -
For here is Truth at last; and immortality at last;
And the ending of Doubt.
(George Villiers – Poems (1919 -1929))
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