Spirituality

Rupert Sheldrake - Revealing the Nature of What Is

Pioneering Deeper Truths

What is so attractive about pioneers?    Perhaps it is because they are seeking deeper truths of what is possible, what is real, and what is true.  And what it means to be human.  For me, Rupert Sheldrake is a real pioneer.

For most of his 70 years, he has been seeking the truth of science.  He has challenged Dogmas. Ideologies. Norms.  Habits.  Assumptions.   He has been rejected by his peers as a result and is often seen as a ‘heretic’ by the what has become the ‘institution’ of science.  To me he is a bit of brave hero that we should all pay attention to – especially those of us who are thinking about the power of aligning human cultures and behaviours to the natural rythyms of the universe, the planet and its life forms.

Here are five things that struck me about Sheldrake’s Pioneering Work:

1) Everything has a purpose, intention and consciousness  - Appreciate it!

Everything, even the Universe, the Solar System, the Earth, electrons, has its own purpose, intention and consciousness – otherwise they would not be what they are.  So, in this context how does the Earth’s conciousness shape our consciousness?  How do we shape it?    What if we saw organisations, projects such as the Finance Innovation Lab – as bodies of intention and consciousness?   If this were the case, I think that we’d pay much more attention to the true inheritent nature of things and what it is naturally intended to be.  We would judge less.  We would have less expectation of others.  We would appreciate more.  We would be more intentional.  Maybe we’d be more curious about our inter-relationships, our interdependencies and our place in the world.  And thus, most importantly, perhaps we’d respect and love each other a bit more.  We would live our full potential.

2) Life is full of attraction and repulsion – get over it!

Electrons do it.  Planets do it. Humans do it.   The fundamentals of life are based on attraction and repulsion.   So with this truth, how can we learn to appreciate the things in ourselves that both are attractive and repulsive.   How about also those things we see in other people? Other cultures?  Other religions?    If this were the norm, I have a sense that we would not be so hung up on ‘what we lack’, ‘what we need’ and given our need to consume natural resources to deal with our repulsiveness –  I believe we would ultimately consume less material goods.

3) There are other forms of energy – tap into it!

The Chinese know this in Ch'i. The Indians know this in Dharma.  Scientists know this in the Dark Energy that exists in the Universe. Given the scale of our ecological and societal challenges, I wonder what potential would be unlocked if we were tapped into other forms of energy?  Is operating from the limitations generated by our rational mind enough?  Don’t think so.  Linking multiple energy sources to the power of intention and aligning to purpose fundamentals, I believe we would achieve, what Thomas Berry calls The Great Transition.   Harnessing the full human potential is essential, and we should explore the full potential of tapping into various energy sources, beyond our rational and physical bodies. 

4) The Laws of Nature are Not Fixed- flow with it!

Nature is always changing and nothing is ever fixed.  Sure there are continued habits of solar systems, ecosystems, species, and humans which continue over time, giving the delusion of set ‘Laws’.  However these, as Sheldrake points out, are merely repetition of habits.   So how can we tap into these habits and when these habits are counter life thriving- how can we interrupt them and redirect them in a way that supports life.  And how about human laws?  Well of course, they are not fixed and are constantly changing too with the shifts of culture and habits.   I wonder how, when it comes to laws that are no longer serving us - such as fiduciary duty-  (which says its prudent to maximise financial returns even if this means maxing out our ecological capital upon which all life depends) we can interrupt and redirect these unhelpful habits?  And even wider what are the general habits of the financial system that are deeply rooted which need attention?

5) Possibility is Impossible to Measure – so don’t smother it!

One of Sheldrake’s biggest challenges to Science is the need to constantly provide evidence to what is ‘real’.  However for me, this is a great tension, especially if we are seeking to ‘create the new’, imagining future scenarios, exploring assumptions, staying open to what spontaneously pops up- all of what is needed to support transformational change and great breakthroughs.    I don’t think Americas would have been discovered if Amerigio Vespucci was asked to evidence the fact that the America’s existed before he left.  So if possibilities and potentials are not observable yet, how can we hold space open for inquiry, curiosity, and not knowing?  How can we protect possibilities from the ‘lock down of knowing’ so that something becomes real?   How can we appreciate the things that we can’t measure like personal chemistry, soul, and spirit?  For me, it is the possibilities that give us the most hope in moving beyond our engrained (and often destructive) personal and cultural habits, behaviours and norms.

So thank you to Rupert for being the pioneer that you are – and for helping me see some deeper potential of the fundamentals of existence.  Those of which will support me as a change agent to help align humanity to the natural pulses and flows of life.

Practicing Harmony for Humanity

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
‘OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM………’
Silence.
Inner Silence.
Inner Self.
Wholeness.
Harmony.

How can we incorporate ancient yoga wisdom practices in our everyday life, in our work, and in the wider global systems change we are seeking in the world?

Dr Shrikrishna was born to a father who was a close colleague of Swami Kuvalayananda (one of the foremost pioneers of modern yoga). Dr Shrikrishna grew up in an atmosphere saturated with yogic culture. He qualified as a medical doctor and took a PhD on the physiological effects of Pranayama at the prestigious All India Institute of Medicine.

Robin and Val of Yogatherapy invited Dr Shrikrishna to the UK for 4 days to teach us how yoga is a spiritual practice – and something that helps you to discover your inner essence and truth.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands and thousands of years. The Vedas. The Upanishads. Buddha. Mahavira. Pantanjali.

Yoga as a spiritual practice is not new. It is a wisdom that has maintained its relevance because it has practical application.

What is new, is the context in which yoga can help humanity evolve to a more harmonious state – for life thriving.

 

Why do we need to pay attention to the individually and collectively destructive cycle of the EGO?

Our current culture is driven by fear of the EGO. Fear of not being ‘the best’. Not being special. Not being loved. Not being eternal.

We seek to address this fear by seeking external validation of our ‘greatness, our beauty, our talents, our knowledge, our specialness’.

We create identities for ourselves that help us meet these goals. I am a mother. I am a lawyer. I am an American. I am upper class.

We endlessly consume products and services, at the expense of the planet, to reinforce our identities. Clothes. Cars. Houses. Experiences.

Anything that threatens the ego’s identity is immediately dismissed, killed, supressed, judged, ignored or escaped.

We look for answers in the external things that are transient.

We get stuck in the narrow range of existence of our small selves and identities that we have created for ourselves. We limit our potential.

We don’t realise that this is a never ending cycle that is causing disharmony in ourselves. And in our world. And for our planet.

 

Why do we need to practice moving from fear?

When we feel separate we feel fear. We feel insecurity.

We have to ‘un-create’ the ‘I’ which is a meaningless thing that ‘I’ has created.

We must move the centre of the ‘self’ that has no boundaries.

This ‘self’ is the wholeness that brings everything together.

Here you can find your ‘perch’ from which connection with the inner self, the real self brings you confidence, energy, and fearlessness to move forward.

The self here is limitless – and this is where the real unbounded creative and intuitive potential lies for each person and humanity.

This is the life force that runs through you. And here you are safe. There is no fear. There is only harmony.

 

What is the importance of practice in transforming the ‘self’?

Practice. Practice. Practice.

We each have our own inner truth and essence. And we need to practice sensing into this.

A way to do this is to move into silence. Not just silence as in ‘no speaking’ but inner silence. Time and space alone. Away from the external noise which distracts the EGO and your ‘smaller identities’.

Practice is something that is done over a long period of time. It is something you do without interruption. And it is something that you have to find the significance of for yourself.

Practice is more than an intellectual transmission. For real intelligence to develop – you have to experience it.

Practice is something that you don’t just do mechanically – you have to be fully absorbed and grasped by it.

For example, you can’t just preach about ‘honesty or trust’ – you have to practice ‘being honesty and trust’. In every aspect of your daily life.

This includes your social life in connection with others (Yama), in your personal life in connection with your own integrity (Nyama) and in your physical and spiritual practices in connection with greater existence (Asanas, Pranayama and meditation).

 

How do we practically un-create the I’ and move to the ‘WE’?

Although all transformative change must start with the individual – these practices are also applicable for your organisation and your work.

  • Physical Health: Create a good state of physical and mental health for your inward journey.
  • Find Silence: Discover practices of time in nature, asanas, pranayama and meditation. Find your ’perch’ of silence from which you can radiate.
  • Curiosity: Be curious about your doubts and fears. Seek to understand the source of your fear. Only then can you move beyond it. What are the fear ‘kernels’ that are waiting to pop?
  • Intention: Be clear on what and where you want to focus your energy and intention.
  • Trust: Have conviction and believe that it is worth practicing. Only when things become relevant and significant to you, will you trust that change is possible. This can only come through the heart, not the head.
  • Commitment and self-responsibility: The change first must start with you. Only then can you move to your field of ‘effectiveness’ (what you can directly influence). And draw boundaries with your ‘field of concern’ (what you can’t directly influence).
  • Discernment: ‘Viveka’ is to be alert to what is and what is not relevant for you. Focus. Spend time with teachers who can help you discover what is meaningful to you.
  • Take time: Aligning to your true inner self takes time and continuous cycles of practice, making sense and fine tuning.

It is with this practice you can align to your true inner self. A self that is not separate from anything. It is Rutham, the pattern of connectedness. And this is the practice that will create the great outer and inner alignment that humanity needs for there to be great harmony on this planet.

Dr Shrikrishna will be returning to the UK for a 6 day retreat on September 3-9th 2014. I highly recommend this retreat and this very special teacher. For more information contact Val or Robin on 01202740940 or 02082456420 or go to www.yogatherapy.org

A journey to the Sacred forests of Sariska.

A journey to the Sacred Forest of Sariska

My alarm went off – it was 5:00 am.   I decided to wake up to one of my favourite Bollywood songs Chaiya Chaiya.    It was a playful tactic to get me out of bed at this very early hour and it seemed appropriate being in India for the Leaders Quest Pow Wow.

Leaders Quest brought about 100 of us together in Jaipur, Rajasthan to reflect and mobilise around key questions facing humanity today.   Although we all come from diverse countries and contexts,  we are all, in some way, motivated to help life thrive on this planet.   We are asking big questions like:

What do we want humanity to be?
What really matters in life?
What is our personal role in helping to enable the world to be a better place?
What do we need to shift in ourselves internally before we can effectively engage as leaders of change externally?

The Pow Wow’s intention was to help us think about all of these things.  And to do so, we needed to be mentally, emotionally and physically taken out of our comfort zones. We were to be opened to completely different ways of being and relating.    And, most importantly, different worldviews.

Today was Questing day.   We were split into groups of 10 and were each off to visit 8 inspiring examples of leadership in the Jaipur area.  Our group was  to visit Aman Singh of KRAPAVIS  who is helping the people of the Sacred forest of Sariska.

The night before, Marian gave us our briefing. “I’d just like to let you know that tomorrow’s  trip is going to be challenging.    It will test your comfort levels.   All I ask that you just go with the flow.  The roads are rough.  There are no toilets.   There is no electricity.  We need to leave at 5:10 am.    The community is looking forward to seeing you”.
Our group  split into 4 vehicles for our 3 hour journey to the Sacred Forest.    We bumped and bounced our way through the final stretch of the monsooned muddy track  - and we finally arrived at the mud huts of Beru, a small village in Sariksa Forest.

Contrastingly, bright flashes of coloured saris popped out of the simple dark mud structures.    We tumbled out of the vehicles and were greeted with smiles and a welcome ceremony.

I see you.  You see me.  We are all interconnected.

As we walked into a mud hut for our welcome introduction I caught the eyes of our hosts - children, men, women, the grandmother.   Unlike my normal encounters in London, people here looked deeply into my eyes.   And mine into theirs.   However,   I was seeing more than just their eyes- we were seeing the depths of each other’s souls.  Despite not having a common spoken language – we connected deeply.  As a natural impulse, smiles emerged.

How freeing was this feeling – to be met with complete curiosity.   No judgements, no filters, no assumptions.   Just curiosity and a smile.     It was at that moment I realised how our Western cultures, through judgement and assumptions, are automatically suppressing the fullness of our individual and collective potential  selves.     We easily separate ourselves from each other and as a result loose a sense of interconnection and a sense of responsibility to each other.     The context of our global challenges require us to be nothing less than our fullest selves and realise our fundamental interconnectivity.

What can we do to meet each other with curiosity and joy?
How can we practice letting go of our judgement of others (and self for that matter!)?

A thriving community

The community hosted us with care and attention.  We helped to make lunch and when it was ready we all stepped into the main hut.   We sat on the dirt floor in a circle.  Ceremoniously were all given a plate made of leaves carefully stitched together with grass.  Then the leaf bowls.

The pots were uncovered and then, lunch was served.   A soup of buffalo curd and spices.  Lentil soup.  Pumpkin soup.   Gram balls.   Chapati.  Gram flour and sugar.  Limes. Yogurt.    It was so carefully dished out to us, with love and attention.   Before we began eating the elder man said a prayer:  “We are joined in community to give thanks.  We are a community who plays together, who works together, who does good deeds together and, of course, who eats together. “        Community is something that is important to me – and I can’t think  of a better definition of community.

 

The key ingredient in Change – TRUST.

Aman has dedicated his life to helping communities regain access to the sacred forests, their livelihoods and their empowerment.    He told us the story of the Orans.   There are 1000s in Rajasthan and they are all self-sustaining forest communities that live in harmony with nature- economically, socially and spiritually.   For 100’s of years, they have been living in their Sacred Land.    Each Oran has its own deity that protects the forest.   The community worships this forest in return the forest takes care of the people and their livelihoods.    However tension has been arising.

The Forestry Department has been tasked in saving the last remaining tigers and supporting mining in these sacred forests.    However, the unintended systemic consequences of this top down ‘protection’ means that the government had become out of touch with local communities and had stripped them of their power and rights – such as harvesting firewood-  their only source of fuel for cooking and warmth.   And frequently, they were not able to provide their milking water buffalo with the essential ponds they need for drinking and cooling.

 

However, there is hope.   Aman is actively working with 100’s of Orans and through his experience he understands how change at scale happens.   Here are a few things we can learn from him:

He is taking a whole systems approach to change.
He understands power dynamics and its interplay between and within the government and the community.
He believes that relationships are important.
He is demonstrating and amplifying the positive impact of how the community model is better for all.
He provides a platform for learning across the communities.
He appreciates learning by doing and experimentation.
He is building the capacity of the community to have self-autonomy.
He is connecting this community to the policy makers to enable legal structure shifts for change.
He is building a movement for change by aligning Orans around a common intention –together they are stronger.

I ask him, “ Aman, What have you learned about catalysing change at scale-- What are the most important things to consider?    To this he replies “It’s important to get everybody who has a stake in the forest in the room.  The policy makers need to be sitting next to the village elders.   They have to see each other as equals in the solutions for change.   And the key ingredient in all of this is Trust.  Trust  between all of the stakeholders, especially those who have very opposing views”.     So, I wonder, in our efforts for change,

How do we create conditions of Trust?
How can we build collaborative processes whereby everybody is involved in co-creating solutions?
What are the minimal optimal structures that allow local communities (and individuals) to have their own empowerment whilst being part of a wider whole?

 

“I am a facilitator, not a leader.”

As Aman spoke, it was clear he was an important leader in this world.   He is an Ashoka Fellow and is often sharing the Oran story at international conferences.    However, when asked about his leadership role, he responds humbly –“I don’t see myself as a leader, I see myself as a facilitator.  It’s up to the other people to come up with the solutions so that they are empowered.  I just help to orchestrate things.  Although I am clear on my mission, I don’t see myself separate to others, I am part of the whole system.”  We then asked him to explain more about the women’s empowerment programme.   Although he was clearly knowledgeable on the subject, he stepped aside and asked Pratibha Sisodia, a Director of KRAPAVIS, to come up to tell us more.   Stepping aside to let others shine.   Now that is a man truly in service to others.  Respect.

What is your life’s mission?
What role do you/we each play in the system?
How can we be of service and help others shine?

We protect what is Sacred.

After lunch, we went to see the holy man of Beru.   He is protector of the deity and thus of the Sacred Forest.   I am pondering on some important questions – why is it that whatever is sacred we protect?   What if we held more things sacred in our lives?

holi.jpg

The current holy man was nominated by the village about 35 years ago live in the thick of the forest and in the temple above.   As we walked up the steps to the temple, I felt excited – to meet a holy man – what does a holy man do?  What does he look like?  What advice does he have for us?

We arrive at the temple door and there he is.   A sparkly eyed man – 50 years old or so.   Long grey hair that falls down his back.  A trimmed beard, a wispy moustache and eyebrows that are as lush as the forest outside.   We all sit around at his feet like school children awaiting the teacher’s instructions.

He is calm and graceful.   He straightens his long white shirt over his legs, mindfully.    He does not speak.

Marian then asked the holy man, through translation, “We’d love to hear your story”.

He then speaks.  Slowly.  With those sparkling and knowing eyes.  With a tilt of the head.   And the small curl of a smile on the side of his mouth.      He speaks of his dedication to his meditation practice.  Through meditation he has been able to develop his higher consciousness-  “ To show good feelings to all that lives”.   He says it’s important “to let calm the mind of the’ self’– so that you can be all that is interconnected.  This will bring you true happiness.”   I am reassured though, as, even the holy man said that developing his own consciousness has been hard work.

What is sacred to you?
How can meditation help you to clear the busyness of your mind, so that you have greater clarity and power.
How can we demonstrate nature as sacred?  Would we then protect it more?

It was an amazing day!

I never knew that I’d have so many rich learnings all wrapped up into 12 hours.   Personally, there are three things that I am taking away to fold into my own practice.  They are:

To practice meeting and seeing others without filters, judgment or assumptions and with curiosity, love and lightness.
To be more disciplined in my meditation practice as a means to calm my mind and to tap into my inner strength and knowing.
To extend and build TRUST – in myself and others.  And to create trusting environments when I am convening and facilitating others.

I’ve also come away more widely inspired about humanity and even more clear that we are all fundamentally  good.  We are a deeply interconnected community.  Through amazing authentic leaders like Aman we are seeing powerful models and methods for change.  And most importantly, I’ve witnessed that it is possible for humans to live economically, socially and spiritually in harmony with nature.

Now that is sacred.


What Energy Am I?

 

What energy am I attracted to?

I learned the other day that 98% of my energy is not my own but absorbed by me from others’ energy – so this being true, what makes me attracted to other people’s energy?  Am I magnetized by the type of energy that I want to see in myself?  Does it reflect of what is important to me?

I think it does and this makes me curious. So I did a little experiment this weekend at West Lexham’s summer convergence.   I pretended I was a little metal pin in a magnetic field.   Who & what was I attracted to?

Hadley

I must say that I wasn’t expecting to be moved by a guy who built solar heating contraptions – but man, was this guy amazing!     What I found most attractive was his love of his subject and his desire to share his love and enthusiasm with us.  That’s it – plain and simple.  No sales job and no ego.   He had read Victorian machine books as a young boy and built his first contraption at the age of 14- he is now 60+.    He took initiative to teach himself.  He is curious about how things work.  He has been practicing and experimenting all of his life.  He is an inventor, a vicar, an accountant – and in my mind a teacher.  Creating new things that are practical.  Reframing (literally!) how people perceive things and their use – with simplicity and care.     Curious, Passionate, Practical, Sharing.

Niamh

Although I have known Niamh for years, I was attracted to her ‘relaxed and responsible’ energy this weekend.   She, with grace, floated in and around the grounds of West Lexham with Basil intuiting what needed to be done & lending a hand and a big smile: gathering wood, guiding guests to their sessions, providing lifts for guests, offering support for some of the speakers and beautifully telling her own story of Tasting the Future.  She did this with respect of others and herself – as this was the work that was needed to be done for the day.    Self- responsible, Doing, Intuitive.

Lucy

Although I have just recently met Lucy through West Lexham,  I was attracted to her ‘versatile energy’.  Being able to stretch from welcoming guests and framing the weekend with poise and clarity to making pizza bases with her guests.    She had intention for hosting the weekend but stayed open to others and the emergence of what was building over the weekend.   Intentional, Versatile and Open.

Stuart 

At first I noticed myself questioning his intense energy, but then in practice with him I shifted my connection.  Stuart has been practicing Aikido for quite some time and he shared some of his stuff with us on Sunday.   To watch him in action was absolutely beautiful – rolling down the hill in connection with the earth or making swift cuts with his sword.   His mastery was attractive:  somebody so interested and passionate about something they practice, practice and practice until they become a master.  Discipline, Practice, Mastery.

Basil

Ok so I love dogs – but I realised why this weekend.  I found myself being attracted to Basil’s energy of unconditional love & deeper knowing.   The way that he looked into my & held my eyes with his big brown eyes – the eye contact was powerful.  The way that, in his presence, people let go of their edge and just became all melty and lovy.

Jamie

This dude rocked (and rolled)!   A teacher and lover of music and anything sonic Jamie brought us down to the water’s edge to make music with leaves, coins, metal boxes – anything we chose- because we all had talent to play as a maestro.  He believes that anyone can be great at anything – if they just believe they can do it and let go of ‘labels’ people have given them.   And even better, if they stay in a moment of being their own element – even if it sounds bad from a conventional sense-  then practice at that edge like crazy – we could break the sound barrier on human creativity the world over.   I was attracted to his energy.  Challenging convention, believing in people and metaphysical meaning.

Rupert?

This guy- and his friends- were really interesting to me.   They were experimenting with a new form of performing arts. Some people found it rather controversial on the day- including myself- however I was energized by these guys and their interest in experimenting with us and testing things out.    They were eager to learn about what I/We thought and to improve their gig.  They were out to help people to test their assumptions.   Experimental, open, creative, improving.

So some of the questions/reflections this leaves me with:

I am attracted to energy that is:

Experimental, open, creative, improving.

Challenging convention, believing in people and metaphysical meaning.

Unconditional love & deeper knowing.

Discipline, Practice, Mastery.

Intentional, Versatile and Open.

Curious, Passionate, Practical, Sharing.

Self- responsible, Doing, Intuitive.

I want to continue to explore further:

  • What is my mastery?
  • What are my passions?
  • What do I want to share with the world?
    How can I get more practical?  Especially with junk!
  • I love music and how it moves me. Want to make more space for this – how?
  • Connection to nature and my source. Want to make more space for this – how?
  • What do I need to practice?

Leading Through Love

The New Logic of Love

January 2012

Fact. We need to create a new logic for the systems that support humanity.   Our current logic frame is rooted in 100’s of years of believing that we are separate from nature, separate from each other and even separate to our true selves.    Our old worldview is becoming obsolete very, very fast.  It no longer serves our happiness or future prosperity.

Intelligence of the Heart

If our old logic, and how we formulate our logic, is broken how do we create this new logic, the new story for what it means to be human?    Well, our rational brains are limited and constrained by 100s of years of embedded social structures and mindsets.   Despair, suffering and fear has been built into our worldview.  One could even say that we now living in a Dark Age and are still living in the shadows and repercussions of the two world wars of the 20th Century. We now need to turn to the intelligence of the heart.

The head no longer has the capacity to engage with the complexity, the depth and the interrelatedness of the solutions that are needed in the shift to a worldview that supports life.  It is the heart that is likely to be the greatest expansive medium for change.  Love is limitless, love is empowering, love is possibility.  And it is through engaging the heart (and of course not forgetting the head) that we will create this new logic.  However the question then becomes, “how do we create this new logic whilst the systems, such as the money system, upon which we depend are the last to adapt?”

 Old and New Worldview – An Integrated Approach to Systems Change

I do believe that Thomas Kuhn has a point when he reflects on the great paradigm shifts of science and says, change happens when “you keep pointing a the anomalies and failures in the old paradigm as you keep speaking louder and with assurance from the new one”.  However, if we believe that all of life is interconnected, as modern quantum physics would suggest, then we should not isolate the old systems at the expense of the new systems.  We can’t idolize the ‘new’ whilst demonizing the ‘old’ as this in itself is a manifestation of ‘separateness’.  Instead, we must call on ourselves to find ways to realise the old system is a breakdown of order, which in itself is a type of ‘suffering’.  So, in comes Love.   In comes compassion.  In comes a realisation of interconnectedness and relationship.

Evidencing a New Logic

So with Love at our core, we must find ways to reveal a new logic and a new story for humanity.  And this includes providing spaces for the knitting together of people, practices and ideas for transformational change to take place.  From here, in order to connect the old and the new worldviews, it will be essential to ‘evidence’ this new logic and to also ‘demonstrate rationally’ that it is possible. In my own world, there are things I think are impossible.  It is not until other people show me it its reasonable that I shift my behaviour. With this, inserting people with the new paradigm in places of visibility and power is important.

Telling the Audacious Story

In calling in the ‘new’, we need to be able to tell this new story so that people, who are ready to be awakened and to take action, have a story to fall into.  This includes working with active change agents and with the vast middle group of people who are open-minded.   And it is the power of story that allows the possibility of the impossible.   We need to look for openings of possibility, rather than dwell on the fear of the unknown.   And what is possible depends wholly on the audacity of our goals and vision.  As we have seen from history, people such as Martin Luther King, whose birthday we celebrate this month, are people who are holders of ‘story’.

But…. Even our Visions are Limiting

However, even as we set visions, these are limiting to our fullest potential.  Our visions are based on what has happened in the past and present and what we think is possible.   Just as the cave man would not have been able to talk about his vision of a fridge freezer, our current visions still limit our fullest potential.  To go beyond our limits, we must be ready to sense into higher potential of what wider universal vision is ready to be born.

What role can I/We play?

So I see incredible opportunity for myself, others and initiatives such as the Finance Innovation Lab to lead the way in creating the new story.   I believe that we can up our game in doing so – here are a few ideas posed in the form of inquiry:

  • How can we magnify the breakdown of the old system?
  • What is our audacious vision and story of the new system?
  • How can we put a spot light on the shining new examples and case studies of people and organisations that are showing the way of the new story that other people can fall into?
  • How can we provide spaces of Love for people to be supported and be able to express their deepest values, concerns, fears and pain derived from the old system?
  • Who are the active change agents and the active middle ground people who are ready – how do we identify them?
  • Who are the people with the new paradigm story?  Where are the places of power and influence we can place them to tell this new story?
  • How can we best evidence that a ‘new way’ is possible?
  • How do we sense into the wider universal vision of what is ready to emerge?
  • How can I as a leader play a role in stitching together people, ideas and initiatives?
  • What can I do to open spaces for others to realise their gifts?
  • How can I hone my skills as a storyteller and what new story am I daring to tell and live?

Why Mindfullness Is So Relevant to Social Change

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you...
... Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it
(Rudyard Kipling -- "If")

The above lines -- taken from Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" -- serve to remind us that we have gained the Earth, our sense of self, if we are able to "keep it together." This loose phrase of "keeping our head" can be interpreted in various ways. To me it suggests that in these times we need to be more mindful of our actions to stay grounded and balanced -- by reliving and connecting with our integrity.

As things around us continue to go awry, plans derailed, and uncertainties magnified; we will be open to increased potentials of frustration. Our comfort zones are also likely to be tested, and we may feel the rise of emotions within us that are waiting to lash out. After all, change is coming at us paradoxically both too fast and too slow. The world around us appears to be shifting fast, yet the real change we wish to see in our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, is for many of us coming too slow. We perhaps have the sensation of being stuck in some dimensional riptide. It can be like the sensation of running in a dream -- our mind is running, or telling us to run, whilst our legs are moving in slow motion. The sensation of change, and of passing time, is rapid, yet the physical activity of change is reduced to cloud-walking. One of the immediate responses to this is frustration -- a sense of being disempowered in a world where everything is seemingly breaking down.

Another feature of our full, information-rich lives is the possibility for "burnout" -- that is, receiving too much information too quickly, trying to process it at an unnatural pace. It is important that we each find a rhythm that is right for us. Recently I heard of a restaurant in the Netherlands that was offering "Dining in the Dark" -- that is, eating your food in pitch black darkness. A person had tried this experience and had written their response -- they said it was a revelatory experience. All the senses were alive -- the food tasted better than they could imagine. There was no distraction from the actual experience of eating. And this is the important point -- no distraction from the self.

We live in a world immersed in sensory and information pollution, and our mainstream media distracts us by design. Entertainment is entrainment, i.e., something that pulls you into its resonance. So amidst busy and rushed lives it is important that we hold everything together. We need to stay focused and ground our energies. Staying grounded is also, for me, about valuing and respecting the self. It is crucial that we do not allow ourselves to become disheartened. Listening or watching the latest mainstream news does not appear to provide us with much hope for the world. More importantly, however, it does not stimulate us into aiming for self-betterment and well-being.

So we need to take a step back and to observe our lives, and to be at ease with who we are and what we are doing right now. A little gentle reflection should not be about beating ourselves up about perceived faults or lapses. It is about acknowledging where we could make some improvements that might add to where we wish to be with ourselves. And it is about taking back our empowerment from external forces that depress and devitalize us. Many external impacts in the world serve to drain us, distract us, depress and disempower us. We have to break away from this and focus on that which uplifts us.

We can, and should, be representative of our ideals. Further, we should aim at normalizing our new ways of thinking and being. This means not being afraid of what "consensus society" may say about our perceptions and perspectives. We are living through an era where we are called upon to be responsible for bringing these new models of thought, behavior, and perception to the world. Let us begin by acknowledging our integrity and stay true to our honor and focused balance. It is important to speak our own understanding -- not only to share where we are each at, but also to validate and give strength to our sense of self. The world we exist in often seems like a topsy-turvy, upside-down reality. When we can observe this more objectively we will see that our established systems of ideas are no longer sustainable or for the betterment of humanity. We thus need to acknowledge this, yet without fear or anger. Then when we have processed these truths we can be in a position to talk about them more freely. We can live our new perceptions and perspectives with inner freedom and integrity. We can hold it all together in ourselves -- after all, we have within us all the tools we need...

For more by Kingsley Dennis, Ph.D., click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

Embodying My Full Expression

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Embodying my Full Expression

Yoga and leadership – is there a connection?   Yes! - I believe there is and here’s why.

In my leadership role at the Finance Innovation Lab, I know that today’s pioneering leadership requires us to be present, intentional, courageous and expressive.  Importantly, it also requires us to be the change we want to see in the world and to fully respect and appreciate ourselves.

Having just come back from an immersive yoga retreat, led by the fantastic and profound dynamic duo couple- Ari and Elina of Lumi Power Yoga, I’ve discovered that yoga is a practice that reflects the leadership that is needed in the world- now.    After one week’s transformative experience, I intend for yoga to be a practice for life.

Here is what I discovered ….. 

Being Self-Respect

Yoga requires you to be self-respecting – in your poses and through your body.    Each one of us is different with unique skills, talents, personalities and abilities.  We are perfect the way we are. Our bodies are a miracle.  However we often think that we are not enough – not as good as everyone else, not as intelligent, not as young, not as beautiful.  My shadow-side is rooted in deeper patterns of ‘I’m not worthy’ – a pattern that goes way back to my early childhood and has lingered.  It has different kinds of manifestation including –not fully being visible with my life’s intention, my passions, my needs and my dreams.  It also comes through in not feeling confident in fully engaging in larger group conversations as well as often judging others for their ideas or behaviours as an aversion to not being visible with ‘me’.    All of this is blocking my highest potential and taking up ‘space’.   As Otto Scharmer the leadership guru says,  ‘Each of us can let go of the obstacle that impedes our development and release the possibilities that lie latent within each of us’.  This is such an important part of the wider cultural change process –in order to serve others, we must respect ourselves and take full responsibility for our shadows. 

Being Present

How we react in the world often stems from our memories, assumptions and habits of the past.  We also react to what might play itself out in the future.   Our brain is on overdrive and we are reacting to a past and a future that has yet to happen.  What is real is now – the present.    Being in the present allows us to shed all of the stories that cause us to be distracted, asleep, judgemental, reactive, fearful and limited.  In being present, we create more space to engage with all of the possibilities and opportunities of the moment.   When we get out of our heads, we are more awake and alive and have greater clarity of reality and who we really are.   Working through our intense daily 4 hour Yoga practice – I had no choice but to be in present moment.  The poses were challenging.   My body was being pushed to its boundaries.  Focus was essential.   After a week of practicing being present I now know what it really feels like to be centred, grounded and clear.    This type of clarity is exactly what we need as leaders in working with complex situations, challenges, and relationships.  The more present we are, the more able we will be to intuit the future that is ready to unfold.  And as John Milton, a global coach to management gurus said, “Most of the great inventions and breakthroughs in the world have arisen through deep communion with source”.   Yoga accesses source.

Being Intentional

Intention – Latin for ‘to stretch into’.  Everything that exists has an intention - a highest purpose for being.  Take a pinecone.  A pinecone has an intention to be an pine tree- it stretches into its potential without hesitation.   We all have an intention in life – we just need to take responsibility to discover it, uncover it, and fiercely be it.   This is especially important in humanity’s crossroads – as we have a choice- to move in a direction that enables life to thrive OR to passively let the destructive trajectory extinguish life on earth.  Intentional evolution.   This requires us to align to the higher universal order of creativity, kindness, beauty, love, expansiveness, abundance and receptivity.  The clearer we are in our intention, the more actively people will respond in supporting us. I have declared my intention as to ‘initiate and enable spaces for people to collaborate on systemic issue’ – like The Finance Innovation Lab.    In my clarity-   people and potentials are opening their doors.  Synchronicity is happening everywhere and I am operating from a place of abundance and possibility.   In yoga, I am intentional with my poses – moving into my fullest potential.   My yoga practice has helped me translate what it means to live life with intention.

Being the Change

Many of the yogis and yoginis on the retreat were advanced practitioners – and their poses blew my mind!  There were points in the sessions where I had to stop in awe – “how on earth is that pose possible?? “  A true human entanglement.   Although I have a long way to go, Elina and Ari challenged me to imagine being the pose.  Even if it meant pointing my toes in the direction of travel – that would be enough to start embodying the change that I wanted to be.  My cells would remember this and the pathways for change would be smoother the next time. Elina’s challenge was ‘fake it, until you make it’.   Or as Wayne Dyer, the world re-known leadership writer says ‘Change the way you look at things, and things will change’.  Taking ‘the future is here now’ leadership approach is an attractor, an enabler and an inspiration for possibilities that are waiting to emerge.   What would it mean to imagine and act as if the future of finance that we desire is right here, right now?   In all likelihood, I believe we would gravitate towards that future.

Being Practice

It is one thing to read my yoga book, and it is another to practice yoga.    Through practice you learn by doing, you evolve and you build your strength.  You experiment, you try things out, you fall down and pick yourself up again.  The week’s immersion showed me the results of what practice can do – my body has changed in as short period of time, I’ve mastered some of my poses, and I am ready for this to be a regular part of my life.  Similarly, in my work practice we are finding that the best way to develop our leadership skills as well as to help people change their behaviour is to practice being the change.   As Terry Patten, the global futurist believes,  ‘evolution shows itself through practice’.

Being Expression

Many of the poses were reflections of emotional expression. For example, there are poses which focus on opening the heart, being grounded, holding strength, letting go,  flowing gracefully, expanding outward and staying humble.  I was especially moved by my open-heart pose – during which I felt a wave of love and kindness wash over me.   It was easier to express through my body rather than through words – as words often get in the way and are limiting.   Yoga helps my body to teach the rest of me how to fully express who I truly am.   I know that as a leader, I am attracted to people who reveal their authentic feelings – there is a certain energy about these people that is guiding, inspiring and powerful.   They tend to set the tone for others in giving them permission to be themselves – and in full open expression people are able to trust, connect and do more together.  And as Dr David Hawkins has shown in his research, one person operating at a higher energy level of consciousness (developed through practices such as yoga) has the potential to influence 90,000 people operating at lower levels of energy.

Being Courage

There were points in the session that I thought I was going to collapse.  But with intention and imaging the possibilities I was able to muster the courage to go farther and further than I ever thought I could.   I let go of my old stories of fear of falling on my head in the crow position and my head-stands were even closer to reality than I expected.   In courageously pushing my boundaries and taking risks - something changed.   I have a new sense of confidence, energy and drive – which will influence everything else that I do.   As leaders in social change, it is essential that we are fiercely courageous – and that we let go of our old stories of what is possible for ourselves and others.   We are stepping into unknown territory.   As the famous philosopher Martin Buber says, ‘What will come will come only when we decide what we are able to will’. We must courageously pioneer new patterns of behaviour which rise above the current need for material identity and pursuit personal reputation and status.   Evolution is requiring us to courageously embrace our new story of interconnectivity.

So there you have it – six reasons why I think that practices like yoga are essential for our individual and collective futures.   And, speaking from experience, it is a practice that is accelerating new paradigm leadership development – check it out!

www.lumipoweryoga.com

www.huzurvadisi.com

www.thefinancelab.org

The Ministry of Meaning

The Ministry of Meaning- Marianne Williamson- April 23, 2012  

The Minister of Meaning – that is Marianne Williamson.   She is one of the most inspirational people I have ever spent an hour with.  Ok, so I was with her and 1,000 other people at an evening talk at Alternatives at St Michael’s Church in Piccadilly, but regardless of that – I was with her wholly for an hour.   She is authentic in her intent. She is fierce in her message.  She is a captivating storyteller of the new paradigm.

Love at the centre of everything - Can you imagine a baby being born an ‘evil baby’?   Humans, and all life forms, are born with Love as our natural state and we have an innate desire to see life flourish.  It is not until we are introduced to dogmas and ideologies do we start to live from a place of fear and not love.  Our Ego then takes over, as we are culturally conditioned, and gets in the way of our loving.   The universe has a pre-destined story of Love at its centre – and it is for us to slowly uncover and discover its inherent wisdom.   Just like Michaelango did with his marble “ Within the block of marble is already a perfectly formed sculpture- its just my job to chip away and reveal its beauty".   And the Universe has a plan that all wars will cease.  The Universe has a plan that life on this planet will thrive and prosper.  What do I believe the universe has in store already & what is my sculpture that I am uncovering which reveals this higher state of Love?

We need a Cosmic ‘reboot button’ - Transcending with our suffering, pain, and fear that is deeply held within our society is essential to deal with the cultural crisis we face. Our individual insanity all stacks up to our collective insanity.  We need to take responsibility for our atonement and reach a state of grace which moves us to our future.  Its time for use to ‘get off the Cross as we need the Wood’!  It is time for us all to personally resurrect and to move from a place of ‘probability’ to that of ‘possibility’.  Have I REALLY atoned the depth of my insecurities, anger, fears and shadows?  Am I ready to transcend time and space and move into my Possibility?

Human suffering is NOT acceptable in this house!- I, as the gentleman in the audience had asked in his question, often wonder:  “What would happen if, we just let humans on their path of destruction – Isn’t this just the normal evolution of things?  The Earth is a living system and will take care of itself – and if humans are this ignorant, perhaps this is what we asked for? "     If we sit here with this thought – then we are accepting that human suffering is ok.   Is it ok that there are likely to be millions of climate refugees?  Is it ok that many people are likely to starve and be caught in resource conflict?   “Excuse me Sir, in this house that thought is just NOT acceptable.  Humanity is our collective children and we have a responsibility.  This is not happening on my watch!"  Yes! I believe in that.   What are the things that are just non-negotiables for me- that I feel so instinctively fierce about?

Conviction makes miracles - In our society, we have become complacent- about ourselves, about each other, and about the world around us.  In a sense we have habitualised a perverse comfort zone in being victims of the emerging complexity of our world.   This complacency is almost as bad as ‘doing harm’ to others, as Marianne points out, through this neutral complacency ‘detrimental behaviours’ tend to rise to the surface through this haze of sleep.  So we need to Love, and to Love like we have NEVER EVER loved before.  The strength in this conviction of Love will set our humanity on a new path and turn the human Titanic away from the catastrophic iceberg that lies ahead in our not too distant future.   Part of my storytelling for the new paradigm is to be VERY clear of my personal convictions in my intention, my values, my gifts and my passions.  I intend to state my Ministry – my unique service to the Universe and life prospering.

 I am a new Paradigm Witch and a Mother Bear - My role as a woman is an important one.  As we have seen in species that are threatened – it is the fierce mother bear that protects her cubs – unconditionally and with conviction.    We, including many of the women in leadership roles, are leaving our species on a limb with no protection, no care and no concern.   My role as woman is also apparent in looking into the web of a new paradigm witch.  The origins environmentalism started as the Church and Pagan beliefs clashed.  Pagans believed in their connection to the seasons, the universe, and all other life.  I believe this.  For the Church to grow, belief that God created the universe and that Man was to control what God created for him was promoted.  This did not bode well if you were a witch- a pagan woman who worked at the centre of a community and who could sense and was vocal about the incongruence against natural systems that of which the church was imposing.  So my role is a new paradigm witch – to re-show the congruence of natural systems as a new form of prosperity.  My role is to be a fierce mother bear too, in protecting all of human cubs in their survival.

 We know what needs to be done- let’s kick some ass! We, especially we in the spiritual and environmental movement, know what needs to be done.  We’ve been talking about it for several decades now & its time that we now embody the change that we need to see in the world.  Granted this cancer that has struck us, is not like the cancer of the mid 1900’s, where things like the Germans of WW2 were easy to surgically remove such as a tumour.  Today’s cancers are much more complex and are more like lymph cancers which expand throughout the system.   We need new (w)holistic solutions now.   This includes transcending the roots of each of our own personal shame, vulnerabilities and fear (not to wallow in it) but to move beyond it. In this we will deal with our own personal Armageddon’s, and thus the collective Armageddon will take care of itself.  Every moment is a moment for our own self-actualisation and we have a choice – clear and simple- to operate from a place of Love or Fear.  Everyone of our thoughts, even those that we do not express, create form of some sort.   A reminder to remind myself to do this everyday and to continue to embody the new culture I want to see!  And to realise the importance of meditation as a form of clearing unintentional frames –this supports the Love story.