Coming Alive

This world, in which we are born and take our being, is alive. It is not our supply house and sewer; it is our larger body. The intelligence that evolved us from star dust and interconnects us with all beings is sufficient for the healing of our Earth community, if we but align with that purpose. Joanna Macy

I once attended a Joanna Macy workshop in the early 1980s where we were led through various exercises to feel the pain of our reactions to nuclear polliferation at that time.  It was tough stuff but I remember it with a sense of “coming alive”.  This experience gave me the courage to join forces with Lars Steinberg and run our very first symposium of Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream  (see earlier post). The symposium is aptly called “Be the Change” in Europe.  A perfect title for what happens at the workshop.

Sixteen potential change agents sat in the circle and allowed us to help them access their hearts. The first part wasn’t easy.  After looking at moving videos of what is happening today and why, different reflections helped them sense their feelings and reactions to the challenges we face.

Some described what they were feeling in the group:  Sad.  Angry.  Hopeless. Then a man wanted to talk about what he believes is the main cause.  He became quite angry when I tried to stop him and help him find his feelings.  He said that I did exactly what so many did – they didn’t want to hear what is wrong.  “How does that really make you feel?”  I asked.  “I feel very frustrated and angry!”  “And you are not alone.” I said. “Many people feel frustrated when they try to point out what they see is wrong and are stopped or contradicted.”  This recognition seemed to open up others who began to add deeper feelings:  Ashamed.  Scared.  Helpless. Heartbroken.  Alone.  Isolated.  Empty.

I could feel my own eyes fill with tears.  I hadn’t expected this much openness and felt the whole room fill with deep sadness. You would think this is bad – but this is exactly the foundation for coming alive!

Our experience of pain for the world springs from our inter-connectedness with all beings, from which also arises our powers to act on their behalfJoanna Macy

As we continued the seminar people’s hearts became alive. More and more interaction and sharing developed. We began see the role of our hidden assumptions.  We discovered beliefs that were preventing us from doing anything:  It is up to the politicians.  It is all overwhelming.  It is too big for me to be involved.  As long as I have enough money I can buy whatever I want.  Money is what I need to balance my life.  A different kind of world isn’t possible.  People don’t care.  And many more!

As we uncovered these assumptions we found that we could turn them around and discover new potentials. Looking for potentials seemed to be the key!  When we imagined a future where our great grandchildren thanked us for helping the planet to shift to another way of living, we found some amazing images that inspired and motivated.

More videos showed us people working together to make a new world.  A list of two million organizations, part of a world wide movement for change and justice, rolled like movie credits across the screen.  The sense of being part of something bigger began to spread the light of creative thinking throughout the group. They came alive with ideas and projects!

What struck me was the potential for personal growth this symposium initiated. We all talked about how it should be run for schools, universities, leadership development programs.

We closed the symposium with a few words from each participant.  I feel my own value.  Inner worth. I feel like I can make a difference.  I don’t feel alone any more.  I don’t feel apathetic anymore.  I feel excited.  Some of the participants wanted to bring the symposium to their own arena and some were eager to tell friends and family about it.

In a just few hours each of us forgot our own little problems and worked together with laughter and fun to be part of something bigger than us –  even in this little group.  I was amazed at the connections people made with each other.  Phone numbers and e-mail addresses were exchanged.  Coffee dates were made. I loved the DVD but it took being part of the symposium in action to really get the power of its approach!

What if the whole planetary crisis is evolution’s way of getting us to Come Alive!  To wake up from our sleep of separateness – see each other with new eyes – use our creativity to bring forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on this planet!

I am adding the latest Where the hell is Matt? Dancing 2012  video because the joy, engagement and humanity that his work engenders seems to me to be a metaphor for what is emerging around the world today.





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