This was perhaps the smallest Inner Transition open meeting, with just 10 of us, some from the Network of Wellbeing, some old hands, and some new in town.
We reflected on the long winter and the sudden shift to spring, the flow between stillness and movement, the nature of Transition and Wellbeing and their relationship to inner and outer worldviews. And we explored some big questions..
We started with walking and recalling the winter and feeling the shift into spring. Hilary Bee invited us to walk around the space, remembering the journey since last October, the clocks going back. Some felt the resistance to winter. Others remember the pleasure of drawing in, no pressure to be out and doing.. how long it was.. how cold, still in April.. more rain, more wind, more biting easterly siberian weather.. and spring brings the joy of sunshine, growth, nature bursting forth..
And for some questions like - am I ready to be going out into the world more? What if I don’t know what I’m putting my energy into?
This linked to the wider theme of action and stillness – something I’ve been exploring a lot recently. Seeing something about health – for humans, for living systems, for a project – that it needs different qualities or energies – of making things happen and surrendering to the flow, of action and stillness; of putting its message out and listening. I’ve been part of the Saying Hello group in TTT, who are deeply interested in listening, in making connections, and in being aware of both parts of communication, inward and outward. It’s been lovely to be with people who are so committed to hearing what the other has to say and building relationships across our differences.
At the Inner transition meeting we were also reflecting on the big arcs of change we are part of.. feeling the long winter as a result of climate change, the floods, the wind.. those who are outdoors more, or more rural feeling it more – is that true? The big historical arc we are witnessing, as economic growth based on using up the earth’s resources comes to an end, and our whole culture has to make a shift. The things we were talking about and planning for back in 2006 – and that many were looking at long before – are with us right now, we are living through the days and months of what Joanna Macy calls the Great Turning. Facing big questions. How to share a diminishing pie? Will some of the most rich and powerful go on taking more and more? What’s the alternative? What is the effect of all the millions of people and projects and actions around the world who are stepping forward to make a difference, to create a different way of living?
There were several people at the meeting involved in the Network of Wellbeing (NOW) project which started here in Totnes last year. We talked about well being and Transition. That Transition often starts with things like the need reducing our energy consumption and increasing how much local food we eat - and people find that they get to know their neighbours and feel better about themselves and where they live. In contrast, NOW starts with the five elements of wellbeing that NEF researched which are:
From this intention a number of projects have started involving food growing, as well as alleviating poverty and others.
There were some big questions asked – what would someone look like who had completed the Inner Transition? Is it us? (We thought, probably not..!) How about the ways that inner work are becoming mainstream – someone mentioned Mindfulness which is becoming increasingly used in business as well as schools, hospitals, and as a life skill many are learning in their own time.
I have often thought that Mindfulness – the capacity to step back from what’s happening inside and just observe it instead of reacting automatically – is the first skill of inner transition. If we don’t have awareness of what is going on we have no space or possibility to do anything different, we are simply acting on autopilot all the time. It’s the first requirement for choosing change – to be able to see the current pattern. And the first step to spiritual or personal growth.
And it mirrors the whole cultural question that Transition raises. Can we observe and then question the automatic assumptions of our culture – that we have to get back to growth. Can we ask, is economic growth even what we want now?
A second core skill also named is empathy – being able to be aware of another’s experience, and feel something with them. Perhaps “Do as you would be done by” is the one commandment we need..
Thanks to all who came for an unexpected, far ranging, stimulating and connecting evening.