Photo by Brock Dolman
Ecology of Awakening is not a model or a prescriptive formula. Rather, it is a framework made up of unfolding elements that create an ecology that supports a new way of being. All of our programs are anchored by a holistic curriculum that integrates ideas and practices from various fields to produce transformative change. By weaving together the three core elements of cosmology, deep ecology-living systems and somatic resiliency work, along with a variety of supporting practices (below), we support our ability to align and partner with Nature—the natural world as well as our own deepest nature. In this mysterious and fertile ground, where our own creativity and the larger unfolding meet, we unlock our waiting potential and discover the way our unique expression fits into the pressing needs of our time.
As Gregory Bateson once said, “The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think”. If we are to create resilient and thriving communities for future generations, it is essential that we individually and collectively ‘re-story’ ourselves out of the modern industrial story that divides us and into a lived experience of being an inherent part of the larger unfolding that brought us forth.
To assist in this collective ‘re-storying’, we explore the cosmological context offered by Journey of the Universe (Journey), a body of work by Thomas Berry, Brian Thomas Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, which offers a fresh narrative stemming from modern science, humanistic traditions and indigenous peoples. Journey speaks to the wonder and responsibility of being an inherent part of an innately creative, living universe, and it invites us to discover our unique role in bringing forth an ecologically and socially just Earth community. Through Journey, we begin with the recognition that life is self-organizing and knows what it’s doing. As Swimme says, “Take hydrogen and leave it alone for 13.7 billion years and it turns into rose bushes, giraffes and humans.”
Our approach is to become more adept at listening and responding to this emergent creative force—our own deepest nature—and to directly engage with how this force is coursing through and informing each of us. We do this to support what Thomas Berry called a ‘functional cosmology’, one that invites a practical, engaged and reverential relationship with a unifying origin story. Throughout our work, we have seen that by actively connecting with this New Story, participants are transformed in a variety of ways including, but not limited to:
Regenerative Presence: When we move from a detached view of the world to recognizing that we are all kin, we connect with our desire to become an enhancing and regenerative presence to all of Life. As David Orr says, “It makes far better sense to reshape ourselves to fit a finite planet than to attempt to reshape the planet to fit our infinite wants”.
Direct Guidance: Through practices such as listening meditations, dreamwork and solo time on the land, we increase our sensitivity to the way Life speaks to us, in all its guises, and develop a direct connection to our inner guidance and instinctive knowing.
Perspective: When we re-member our deepest essence as an inherent part of the unfolding whole, we root ourselves in that which lies beyond our differences—that which continually adapts, intelligent and resilient, through the cycles of time and change—and gain perspective in our lives.
Renewal: This sense of ‘deep time’ can help us to shift from feeling overwhelmed and disconnected to being renewed and restored, inspired to face the challenges of this pivotal time.
Comfort with the Unknown: When we truly take in the creative nature of the universe, and spend time in community, opening to the wisdom of what arises, we grow more comfortable with “living the questions” and strengthen our trust in the unfolding nature of things.
Each of our programs take place on a spectacular piece of land to support greater intimacy and connection with the Earth. Through expert eyes, we deepen into the ecology of place, orienting to the way each organism in a living system adapts, in relationship and in process with the whole. Deepening our awareness of living systems while immersed on land supports us in shifting from a worldview where we exist as individuals in competition with others to experiencing ourselves as part of a community, in a continual and cooperative dance. In truth, we dance each other toward awakening by opening to the myriad ways that Life (nature, people, movement, energy…) informs and evokes us.
While many of us are conscious of our individual and collective need to change, it is one thing to know this intellectually and another to realize it in the very fabric of our being. To assist in truly embodying our realizations, we integrate somatic resiliency work in implicit and explicit ways through our facilitation and what we teach.
Resiliency skills, based on cutting-edge research about the brain and our biology, are powerful tools to support us in navigating the often challenging ‘space between stories’, where our old way of being in the world is no longer viable, yet the new way has not yet emerged. By utilizing these tools, we support ourselves and others in moving forward with renewed capacity and a greater ability to effect change, within and without.
Additionally, these skills are reliable tools that participants can integrate into the work they are already doing in their lives and communities to support themselves and others in being clear and effective instruments of change. As we continue to find our way, individually and collectively, through these pivotal times, our ability to work with our body’s natural capacity to heal increases our innate resiliency and builds our capacity to stay present and available, to ourselves and each other.
Interspersed with the three core elements of cosmological re-storying, ecology of living systems, and somatic resiliency work, we weave in community time—including council practice, dreamwork and ceremony—solo time on the land, nature-based processes, awareness practices, inner and outer tracking, bird language, movement and other time-tested methods that usher us towards dissolving our borders and discovering our deepest belonging.
The opportunity within all of our programs is to apprentice ourselves to Nature’s brilliance, within and without, in order to support a new way of being. We do this by connecting and engaging with the deep wisdom of Life in three ways: within a creative unfolding universe (cosmology), within a living Earth community (deep ecology) and within our bodies (somatic resiliency). We breathe between the macro (context) and the micro (personal) to support us in truly ‘awakening’ to reality—to actually live in the world as it is as opposed to how we see it in any one moment.
The journey involves awakening from certain aspects of our lives—our seemingly fixed identities, roles, beliefs, divisions (inner and outer), the worldviews that shaped us, etc.—as well as awakening to other aspects, too varied and vast to name. Each new layer seen through and embodied allows for a clearer expression of that which wants to live through us, via all of our actions—with ourselves, with each other and in how we serve.
Connection with the land and active facilitation from the guides and the village community create a vibrant ecology that supports participants in moving beyond an intellectual understanding, to the realization and sustained embodiment of what it is to act in alignment with life, community, and equity for all beings.
We welcome you to the journey!