How are we being with the climate emergency?

I was reminded of this poem by David Whyte the other day, speaking with a friend. It was the words “secret water,” that came to mind, though I couldn’t place them at the time.


Those who will not slip beneath
     the still surface on the well of grief,

turning down through its black water
     to the place we cannot breathe,

will never know the source from which we drink,
     the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering,
     the small round coins,
          thrown by those who wished for something else.

We were speaking about our climate emergency and she was saying that, mostly, people didn’t want to know. That made her think we probably wouldn’t make it. It’s a huge thing to say and yet you too have probably heard it from friends. I have old friends, who I mainly talk to by email now, who’s refrain after our lengthy explorations is often “we’re so f**kd.” Another, a sage old fellow with Albert Einstein eyes, doesn’t think our society can pull through either; he hasn’t thought so for a while. Personally I align with Jem Bendell’s view that collapse is inevitable, catastrophe probable, and extinction possible.

It’s hard to get my mind around the scope of this or get it into my body. The enormity seems surreal from my small town apartment that looks out over the pool hall and the street the trucks use to pass through town. I’m not always sure of my motives bringing up the question of our existential situation either. Who am I serving? It feels rude and I like people to think well of me. Yet I’m drawn back to the question like I am to a ragged tooth and I’m sure I’m not the only one. How do we be with what’s happening? It’s a social question as well as an individual one.  

If there’s some depth that’s needed in answering the question I’m sure I’m not all the way there. I’m aware of the loss of the natural world. I love birds and the wild and for a long time I’ve been aware personally that that the birds and the wild north will not be, are not there, as they were. Already, here in Canada, much of the wild has been bent to our will. A part of me sees it’s in decline, that the wild things buffeted by winds that change the context from which their strength comes. Yet another  part of me knows that whatever we call the force that brought nature into being in the first place will remain, will still be trustworthy and good. Perhaps that’s part of the secret water. The feeling is like witnessing the decline of parents as they lean toward the ground. You may spend a long time concerned for their health and you don’t really cry and don’t feel the intensity until, suddenly it seems, it’s happened and it’s over.

If you’re not too young you may remember the line from the John Lennon song, “Nobody told me there’d be days like this”. Nobody told us about the depths of the climate trouble we’re in. We discover it by ourselves, one by one, digging down through layers of  misinformation and denial. And it seems that there’s always more depth, more to let go of.

I like exploring these big questions with others. Almost always something always comes up that’s more than we could have imagined on our own.

To that end I’ll be holding Sunday online video conversations (in May 2019) for those holding these challenging questions, and perhaps wondering how others are too. There’ll be a little poetry to prompt the imagination, some speaking, mostly not by me, and some listening, which is a harder skill.

Warm thanks to the 12 who took the plunge and showed up May 5th! I’ll send out a link and reminder to May 19th call shortly.

Synchronicity strikes again

Synchronicity strikes again

There’s a new intertwining of personal and social change “out there.” It’s a deep searching for inner answers on the part of so many – very likely you. It’s also political movements in different countries, movements that are stepping out of the party-based mold and aligning around values that consciousness workers are right at home with. There’s The Alternativet in Denmark, the Initiative in Sweden, The Leap in Canada and likely more. They tend to inspire – and even include – members from beyond national boundaries.( I’m affiliated with both The Alternativet and The Leap). Key organizers from the Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn campaigns are coming to Ottawa next week to help catalyze a genuine Leap here. I will report on it later!

An increasing number of us feel that nothing less than a global transformation will do and are standing up for that. We can’t bandaid ourselves into a future because each step “ahead” in the  direction we’ve been going puts us further at risk of losing everything. As we clue into that, we start looking around for a better solution. It isn’t even conscious, that looking around – or at least it usually doesn’t start that way. Nor is it “spiritual” in the way mass change used to be thought  of – it doesn’t mean a common belief system.

What’s emerging with early adopters like yourself is out beyond the old belief systems. It’s more about shared values than beliefs, and not even a set of values that are fully articulated. They’re shared values between those who hold them as much as private values. These two aren’t fully different.

The status quo isn’t working. What’s emerging is a spontaneous upsurge of survival sense. Our personal consciousness is at the front line of that emergence.

A next Lab event is an Open Exploration I’m doing with Vihra Dincheva, Thursday, February 8th. Come join us! This video call is in line with the Lab’s core mission:

With a group that’s perceived as safe and clear enough to receive all parts of us, absolutely everything starts to move forward. This includes personal healing and evolution. It also includes social development and the enlivening of the social spaces we inhabit. Community spaces mean family and work environments but also the political and activist space.

Most of us are typically dissociated from the larger community sphere in which we are actors in the world. A good group naturally starts to reconnect this when we notice that the personal and community parts of our lives aren’t so separate. Rather they’re parts of the same larger thing. There’s good news here: We collectively know quite a bit about how to prepare the room to make a group in which we’re very well heard come alive. And we’re always learning. 

You’re invited to come in an join us in this videoconfernce call. February 8th, 1pm Eastern, 7pm CET, etc.

Click this link to join:

Two Stories of Women and Men – Part 2

women and men part 2
plwhnawIn Part 1 I shared two stories of women and men that I’d heard in the previous week.
In one story a group of men supported a group of women who were defending a sacred site in Ireland. They stood outside the circle of women, protecting it and this gift was deeply felt by the women. In the other a mixed group of men and women who were exploring inner feelings and new consciousness gradually was reduced to women only. And the question was, why was that.
What a subject! To talk about women and men is to talk about everything and all in a little blog post! And what I did write failed to mail out due to a tech glitz caused by moi!
One reason for the difficulty is that the fascinating exploration of women and men isn’t best handled analytically.
Approaching it analytically or intellectually often makes it seem to be about two sides, which is pretty much where the conversation is in the developed west. Whereas what’s most useful – and true – about women and men together is our mutuality. Much better a safe enough place to deeply hear each other’s experience.
One entry point to the analytical conversation might be the little Viking fellow above.  A man with a helmet and a shield. His right hand is held up to his chest – perhaps he’s holding his heart. He looks ahead to his future with the small pupils that suggest fright. If he’s at all typical he has a name that celebrates martial ability because that’s how we named the men of old. And we still use those names. My own name Andrew means “strong;” my father Barry means “spear” and his father Louis’ name means “loud in battle.” If the little Viking is aghast at what he sees, who could blame him? He’s dressed to kill or be killed. There’s no pension, lousy pay, and a real possibility of not coming back alive. It’s not an enticing job opening. Yet men have always done it.
The view of evolutionary psychology is essentially that he’s fighting for his community and family and that he’s been bred for that in a survival oriented world. He’s been bred to put himself on the line so they can be safer.
Back at home his wife and the women of his community have a difficult job as well. She’s continually busy with feeding, clothing and cleaning for the children and making the home a refuge as best she can. She’s got little  time for herself and very little access to the affairs of the wider world, which after all, involve the negotiations that determine who fights who. But for all that, and because of both of their sacrifices, loves lives in the family. It was enough to make it safe for us.

These survivalist roles for women and men existed for a very long time. They weren’t optional, unless public scorn and censure of the cruelest kind is what you call a choice.  The roles weren’t socially visible either. Jane Austen for example, took the view she did, rather than the feminist viewpoint that came visible 150 years later, because the more modern perspective we see today wasn’t yet evolutionarily available. The old survival-based roles largely defined reality for women and men.

What about the story of the women who were defending the sacred site while the men were defending them. My guess is that the women inside the circle felt seen and held by the men – as a group – in a way they often didn’t in their usual lives. The men felt seen and valued offering that service. Each sex felt that they had a good place and a connection to the other. I’m guessing the women were “stunned” (as they described it) because this mutuality is seldom acknowledged in our time.

The story has some power, even for us who weren’t there, because we resonate with those archetypal roles deeply and bodily.

And yes the beginnings of change are upon us.

Maybe there’s a new world coming in which women can be fully agentic and in the world without being seen, by women or men, as less womanly or worthy. Maybe there’s a world coming in which men might permit a vulnerability that simply wasn’t possible in the survival-oriented world. (In that world, the name of the man who stopped to check his feelings when confronted with the tiger was often “Lunch”, as Ken Wilber and perhaps others have noted.)

This post-survivalist partnership hasn’t arrived yet.

What about the second story, the Focusing (body-centered inner inquiry) community in which the men dropped out until all were gone? (The “fewer men in personal growth areas” is often observed, of course, not only in this community.)

The short short answer is that men’s inner sense of vulnerability is still culturally hidden from both women and men alike. It’s in a position much like Jane Austen’s feminism was in its time, still invisible.

Men are slower because it was evolutionarily functional for women to ask men for help. She gets love, help and support by asking it of men. It’s part of her traditional territory to ask for help. It’s evolutionarily dysfunctional for him to ask for help. His role has been to protect and provide and he’s socially perceived as unmanly and unworthy for asking for help. Or to notice that he might like to have it.

A few notes towards the conversation we could be having in Part 3 very soon.

(I’ll share some news about my “Euro-pilgrimage” – which is already opening more doors than I dared hope for – soon.)



Listening in to the Listening Circle!

Listening in to the Listening Circle!

Community listening circle

What happens in the Listening Circle

This listening circle might be the simplest of all forms for going deep with others. That doesn’t mean it’s easy! Perhaps a metaphor explains it best!

It’s as if travelers from many different directions meet at the appointed hour. Perhaps one or two will show up, perhaps many more.

Each of us brings a rich experience of being human and it’s our reflection on that personal experience we’re listening for here.

We could tell a history or a report or what we already know. But we could also tell what’s alive for us right now as we’re there together. As we listen to others we often notice things about our own journey we hadn’t noticed before. A group genius – a scenius – can show itself!

These guidelines – we start off with them as a sort of invocation – help put us on the same footing . . .

Take time to slow down and be with what you’re noticing in the present. See how it really is for you. Most conversations don’t make room for what’s alive in the moment so it may feel unfamiliar to make a space for that.

We’ll go around and speak in order but it’s perfectly OK to pass, to not speak, anytime it’s your turn. If you choose to pass, please say so, so that the others know that.

Listening is as important as speaking. As best as you can, don’t step away from what’s being said in order to plan what you’re going to say.

Speak to what’s true for you and let others have their experience of what’s true for them. No need to interpret for them. No need to fix, advise or rescue others – even if that does come from a good motive in us.

Welcome silence in the group should it come. Much is being said in the silence if we can rest and listen in it.

If feelings are running high, see if you can let that be OK too. There’s much intelligence in the circle that will carry us through. We don’t have to fix things.

Having others’ attention is a precious gift given to us. One way to receive that gift is to be aware that others are listening closely to you. See if you can gift them with something alive from you.

In addition to our individual perspectives and feelings, there’s also something happening in the larger “field” of us together. Each of us notices that, consciously or not. It’s often helpful to speak to what you’re noticing in the moment in “the field.”

Take what comes as an expression of how we are together at the moment. Have fun with it!

Find the details for connecting to the Listening Circle here.

What I want

What I want

what I wantI was thinking about what I want.

What I really want.

Often I’m ambivalent around what I want and what I actually get reflects my mixed wish.

Today when it’s more out in the open (like a bird that usually hides in the forest but suddenly is willing to be seen), I’ll say it clearly as I can:

I want a room with others where there’s time and space to bring what’s most true to the fore. Where it’s welcome.

A place where I discover what I really think.

Participation in a group culture where it’s cool to not know.

Where experimentation is valued and we learn to make mistakes.

Where we can speak things that there’s been no context for, but now there is.

Where the walls of what we thought was possible keep moving back.

Where we see with surprise that others are exploring the same territory as we are.

Where unexamined assumptions fade away like songs you suddenly realize you don’t like any more.

Where we continually learn new distinctions and discernments that arise by themselves and that we’d never realized were “a thing” before.

Where what we don’t know in the unknown future seems a better bet than what we do know in the known past.

Where we feel lost and somebody else has just the right thing.

Where we experience that there’s a greater whole in charge of the process. (And that it is a process.)

Where the curriculum emerges as we go.

Where we don’t totally freak out realizing that the unknown future is very much up to us and our efforts (and our non-efforts) and that what we most want is what everyone wants and maybe the only thing there is to want.

That’s what I want today! It’s a lot to want. But the clearer I say it the more likely it seems.

Click here for information about the Listening Circle open call this Wednesday.


A Transformative Heap Of Rubbish

A Transformative Heap Of Rubbish

If I heard him correctly Bayo Akomalafe spoke of the world we’re striving to awaken in as “a transformative heap of rubbish.” I love his instincts and I like this phrasing of it. It helps me today with the too rigid categories I woke up in this morning, like waking up in a jail. My little brain like a lego set in a dysfunctional world!

We like to have a neat and tidy narrative, our plan for awakening and self-improvement and saving the world. Or at least saving ourselves.

Beyond that is the world we share, vast, messy, the world of gods and demons, the ages with all their grandeur and gore. We make our hopeful structures in the midst of that, little sandcastles in the face of the sea and the tides.

I like the insecurity of that! I want to be that child on the beach, or the father looking after him.

Because the sea and the tides are smarter. They keep on bringing us back to the greater wisdom or at least the simplicity of the child playing on the beach or the integrity of how adults serve.

This transformative heap is composting, tearing down the stuff of the world and recombining it into something new that the individual can’t understand or see. It’s too big for individual us even though the narrative around being a human is that you’re supposed to and you can control the outcome, figure it out. Succeed.

Getting loose of all that isn’t something that can be done on one’s own I don’t think, because the very problem is that we think it’s something we can do on our own. It’s our illusion of control and mastery –  the ego’s quest for success as an isolated atom – that is the problem.

No matter because the transformative heap of rubbish, which is to say everything we’ve cast aside as unimportant in our endeavour, will do its magic. We’ll be abetted – I don’t want to say saved with its binary overtones – by factors beyond our control, by each other, by a fly in the room, an ancestor, a trickster.


Here’s how to do it.
At its most stripped down, a person chooses to represent another person, or a quality or anything you want to know more about and sets out on a walk around the room, as that person or quality. The representative declares two or three times, “I am now [Joe, Marilyn, my new job, my vocation, the National Security Administration or whatever]” and sets off walking around the space, noticing what he or she notices and speaking it aloud.
Simple, simple.
And incredibly useful! A great deal of information about the subject is immediately available to the Walker and s/he is verbalizing it.
You’ll see!
The list of possible topics to Walk is endless – whatever is topical for you! You can Walk as anything important to you and you certainly don’t have to limit Walking to problem areas. If you’re familiar with Voice Dialogue or other “parts work” you’ll know that the opposite of any attitude or position we habitually inhabit is likely to contain gold.
For example, you could say two or three times and then walk . . .
  • I am now my real vocation
  • I am now what my spiritual life really needs
  • I am now my Ideal client
  • I am now [my hard-to-handle co-worker]
  • I am now [the character in the book I’m writing]
  • I am now [taking care of that problem]
  • I am now elegantly dealing with [x]
  • I am now [the job I’m considering]

Do let the walk have a definite endpoint, so that you can clearly distinguish between it and your everyday self.This is good parts etiquette and helps with clarity and groundedness.

Walking takes us below the idea into the bodily reality.
A first Walk I made was as a visitor to my website. I wanted to sense how visitors were seeing my offerings. Were their needs being met and what were their needs? By Walking as them, I quickly understood, viscerally and clearly, the sense of isolation and need for connection so many of us spiritual awakeners and Evolutionaries feel. We needed to work together in community and not just solo. I’d known intellectually, I could feel in a full-bodied way and present way.
Try and see for yourself!
There’s a strong side-benefit to Walking too. Walking frees us up from rigid self-identity. I’m not just this self; I’m can explore being any self and someone else can Walk for me or any part of my life.
Walking isn’t dangerous but do take care of yourself while doing it. If something seems to be in the way, quit for the day and maybe later that’s something you could walk too, to find out more about it.
NOTE: When you’ve completed, make a point of stepping out of that role and returning to your regular self. Separate the “walking” from the ordinary self.
Walking with a partner or facilitator
You can Walk alone, with a partner or in a facilitated group.
If you’re Walking by yourself, then you, in effect, play the facilitator / observer role. When I Walk by myself, I take a time out when I want and look at the Walk from the outside. I might make some notes, or see if there’s something else needing to be Walked, asked or explored.
An advantage of Walking on your own is that you can do it anywhere and pretty much anytime. You just do it. This requires a certain independence of spirit which many don’t call forth though we can. The chief drawback to reading about walking is that you’ll not actually try it.
The advantage of Walking with a partner is that the other might see something that you didn’t. This could be something obvious, or not obvious. The hardest thing is for us to see is . . . what we don’t know we’re not seeing.
It’s true too that some partners and facilitators have a combination of experience and gift that’s worth taking advantage of. Seeing is an art and some of us see dimensions others miss entirely. One man, an important person in my life, once shared that he dreamed he was blind. But he couldn’t understand the meaning of his dream, which of course was that he was blind in some way.
We can all be blind like that, in our way, missing the obvious.
If a facilitator is able to see into the systemic aspect of things (as a systemic constellation practitioner does, for example) he or she will have access to perspectives that you’ve not thought of. That’s because system awareness is unconscious for most of us most of the time.
Another advantage of a partner or group is that seeing different Walks reminds us that we share the human journey, whatever the territory we find ourselves today. We see again that we all cross high mountains with beautiful views and deep valleys where it’s harder for us to get perspective.
If we do all of our journeys on our own, it’s easy to become private or defensive about what we’re working on. Never working on “our stuff” with others leads to the sense that ours is different than theirs, something that it’s not safe to share.
You can figure out these things as you go along. Try Walking if you like the sound of it. It provides fresh perspective – right away – and being able to take in multiple perspectives is at the heart of what helps us evolve and grow.
I’d be pleased to give the first five people who ask a 30-minute intro to Walking. It would likely involve each of us doing a little Walk and then a conversation about it. Email me back and we’ll set up a time.