"It is our soul that suffers when, for instance we see a beautiful, wild piece of earth fall prey to yet another condo development or shopping mall. Our heart might feel compassion for this injury, our spirit might recognise it as part of the larger life and death of the cosmos, but in our soul, which loves the particulars we grieve or rage for this assault on earth’s beauty" – John Welwood, Love and Awakening
The Work That Reconnects
We are the first generation ever to live upon the earth whose future is uncertain. The multiple threats from depleting resources, climate change, destruction of the biosphere including mass extinctions of animal and plant species, peak oil, global economic decline triggering mass global unemployment and social division and war all across the world is certainly a stark picture.
This uncertainty is the pivotal psychological truth of our time and yet for the most part it remains unspoken about. The primary reason it is not mentioned in general conversation is because the extent is so broad as to be all pervading that fear is the predominant emotion. There is the fear that if we do start to look at this and let in the pain that comes with that we will be overwhelmed with grief, anger and impotence. The result is a deadening of our feelings which destroys our ability to respond to this crisis just when the world needs us most. This is why Earth Beats has come into being when it has as an antidote to the continual unravelling of the world as we know it and towards the promotion of a life sustaining society.
This is where the Work That Reconnects really comes into its own. It is the only work I know that creates a safe and supportive place that gives us permission to feel what we feel without blocking ourselves and in systems theory blocking the feedback loops that would tell us we need to take action. Doing this work we feel solidarity with our companions on the workshop, realise that everyone feels the same pain, grief, anger, shock, numbness, emptiness and outrage. That when we allow it to flow we discover that the emotions do not overwhelm us and we realise that we are not alone and that every tiny step counts in the healing of the earth and these emotions give us fuel and stamina and tenacity in stepping forward to do our own bit for the healing of the earth.
The Work That Reconnects, created by Joanna Macy and colleagues is an extensive body of work, including structures, meditations and exercises for group, pair and individual work. It arose through empowerment through grief work during the initial protests against the building of nuclear power stations. Joanna's background is as a Buddhist and advocate of systems theory, both of which, feed into her body of work.
Joanna Macy adopted the term The Great Turning to illustrate the change from the industrial growth society to a life sustaining one. There are three main ways we take part in the Great Turning:
Holding Actions - Any activity that aims to preserve life - road protests, soup kitchens, badger cull saboteurs.
Creation of Alternative Structures - studying the old systems and creating new ways of doing things. Some examples are: The Transition movement, CICs, Slow money, permaculture, study groups exposing the workings of the global economy, Gross Domestic Happiness measurement.
Shift in Perception of reality cognitively and spiritually - Activities that promote a change in consciousness. Examples are the Work That Reconnects, Earth Beats, Counselling, Gaia Theory, Shamanism, Paganism, Ecopsychology.
The Work That Reconnects is structured around a spiral that illustrates the structure that workshops take: Coming from Gratitude, Honouring our pain for the world, Seeing With New Eyes and Going Forth.
For more information read:
Coming Back To Life - Practises to Reconnect Our lives, Our World by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown and
Active Hope - How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnston.
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