“We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise.”
This quote from the Earth Charter gives an indication of where we feel we stand right now. Without succumbing to horrified apocalyptic anxiety, or an intoxicating utopianism, it is clear that significant dangers face our society and ecosystems, and yet there remains real scope for finding creative responses.
It is clear that a meaningful human response to our times must address both the transformation of society and of individuals. Our personal and social liberation are bound closely together. One without the other cannot do justice to either our times or ourselves. By working simultaneously with both we can develop a truly radical response.
Climate change, peak oil, economic precarity and social injustice are shaping the endgame of the industrial growth era. Attempts to engage with these social and ecological dimensions need to be resourced by deep awareness, self-knowledge, and emotional intelligence. Those who have tried know that trying to work for social change without looking at our own inner conflicts and unhelpful tendencies, often compounds the problems we seek to address. Meanwhile, spiritual practice that doesn’t turn to face the social and ecological conditions of our times, runs the risk of falling into narcissistic escapism. Working only on our own personal development can dig us deeper into the individualistic and alienating traps that our atomising and fragmented social realities thrust upon us. As they say “Action without wisdom is blind; yet, wisdom without action is lame.”
Working simultaneously with both the personal and inter-personal aspects of our experience can empower us and our communities. It sets up both a necessary creative tension and a supportive framework, which can bring forth the best in us for the benefit of ourselves, other people, and the other species we share this world with.
Our training work addresses three levels:
- They equip people with practical tools supporting personal and inter-personal work. These fall into four broad categories: i) Key elements of social empowerment training, such as effective decision making and organising methods, communication skills, and conflict transformation tool; ii) tools supporting reflection and analysis drawn from popular education; iii) methods derived from deep ecology and ecopsychology; iv) and body based and meditative approaches that support direct working with mental states.
- They support increased self awareness, emotional resilience, and psychological integration, which help us recognise and change unhelpful habitual patterns which undermine our effectiveness. Providing space and methods for deeper reflection on the underlying conditions of our experience, also helps us tap into deeper sources of nourishment and inspiration, finding balance, openness, and strengthened motivation.
- They help us to explore the underlying views and assumptions which we bring to our experience, and which can often trap us in limiting strategies. Asking deeper questions about who we are, how change happens, and the way we construct our realities, helps us to develop an approach that is continually open to learning from our experience and the experience of others, yet which is decisive and responsive.