We live in challenging times that are painful to face, difficult to take in and confusing to live with. From an intensification of weather patterns wreaking havoc with the land to escalating war and the stripping away of human dignity and power to a value system that places the love of power before the power of Love, all of this can be overwhelming and before we know it we can go numb and lose our will to make a difference. We find ourselves asking questions like these:
- How can we respond in a loving way that makes a difference in our world?
- How can we transform our fear and overwhelm into empowerment and inspiration?
- How can we face the mess we’re in without going crazy?
Among the many losses we face each and every day, the most serious perhaps is our loss of one another as a community.
The Work that Reconnects, as formulated by Dr. Joanna Macy, is a series of community-based experiences aimed at re-building faith in one another as an empowering community. When we come together to support and hold the space for one another – especially to allow the emotional pain and suffering that many of us experience all the time as sensitive beings, something magickal happens. We heal. Using the power of a community to heal and inspire the individual, these rituals and exercises bring about deep healing and empowerment for all.
It can be done! But it needs You and I to do it!
The Work That Reconnects is the practical application of Deep Ecology. It’s a set of exercises and experiences to facilitate the reality that we would love to see happen in the world. It is about becoming a participant in bringing about what we hope for. It is a practice, a way of living with purpose. This interactive workshop was developed by Joanna Macy, internationally acclaimed author, eco-philosopher and activist. The Work helps us transform fear and despair into inspiration and a sense of empowerment. Experience the healing power of gratitude, find compassion in honoring your pain for the world, embrace your connections with each other and with the self-healing powers in the web of life, and realize your potential to make a difference.
The workshop includes experiential practices, movement, inspirational readings and teachings, and simple rituals. This work is engaging, invigorating and gives you tools for dealing with the challenges of living in difficult times.
Some of the OUTCOMES of this powerful community work include how to:
Come from Gratitude
To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe–to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it–is a wonder beyond words. Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Furthermore, it is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.
Don’t be Afraid of the Dark
This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don’t be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, for these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings. To suffer with is the literal meaning of compassion.
Dare to Vision
Out of this darkness a new world can arise, not to be constructed by our minds so much as to emerge from our dreams. Even though we cannot see clearly how it’s going to turn out, we are still called to let the future into our imagination. We will never be able to build what we have not first cherished in our hearts..
Roll up your Sleeves
Many people don’t get involved in the Great Turning because there are so many different issues, which seem to compete with each other. Shall I save the whales or help battered children? The truth is that all aspects of the current crisis reflect the same mistake, setting ourselves apart and using others for our gain. So to heal one aspect helps the others to heal as well. Just find what you love to work on and take joy in that. Never try to do it alone. Link up with others; you’ll spark each others’ ideas and sustain each others’ energy..
Act your Age
Since every particle in your body goes back to the first flaring forth of space and time, you’re really as old as the universe. So when you are lobbying at your congressperson’s office, or visiting your local utility, or testifying at a hearing on nuclear waste, or standing up to protect an old grove of redwoods, you are doing that not out of some personal whim, but in the full authority of your 15 billions years.
Click Here for some Personal Empowerment Tools.
Background and Info on Joanna Macy
Drawing from deep ecology, systems theory and spiritual traditions, the Work That Reconnects (WTR) builds motivation, creativity, courage and solidarity for the transition to a sustainable human culture. First emerging in 1978, this pioneering, open-source body of work has its roots in the teachings and experiential methods of Dr. Joanna Macy.
The Work That Reconnects has inspired thousands of people to take heart and work together for the sake of life on Earth, despite rapidly worsening social and ecological conditions. It has also inspired people to co-create experiential practices that serve the Work in specific groups and settings.
To learn the basics of the Work That Reconnects and its distinctive approach, people come to workshops that range in duration from a day or weekend to a ten or thirty-day intensive. But the Work That Reconnects extends far beyond such dedicated events, for its methods are widely used in classrooms, faith communities, grassroots organizing, and environmental and civil rights campaigns.
For more Information about Active Hope in South Africa, contact me.
The Ecological Self : A call to expand your personal Identity
Article on Community by Joanna Macy
We can enjoy a wider sense of identity than that prescribed by the Industrial Growth Society. It is both our birthright and our necessity for survival. Here are words from Arne Naess’ ground-breaking talk introducing the concept of the ecological self.
‘For at least 2500 years, humankind has struggled with basic questions about who we are, what we are heading for, what kind of reality we are part of. Two thousand five hundred years is a short period in the lifetime of a species, and still less in the lifetime of the Earth, on whose surface we belong as mobile parts’.
What I am going to say more or less in my own way, may roughly be condensed into the following six points:
1. We underestimate ourselves. I emphasize self. We tend to confuse it with the narrow ego.
2. Human nature is such that with sufficient all-sided maturity we cannot avoid “identifying” ourselves with all living beings, beautiful or ugly, big or small, sentient or not. I will elucidate my concept of identifying later.
3. Traditionally the maturity of the self develops through three stages–from ego to social self, and from social self to metaphysical self. In this conception of the process nature–our home, our immediate environment, where we belong as children–is largely ignored. I therefore tentatively introduce the concept of an ecological self. We may be in, of and for nature from our very beginning. Society and human relations are important, but our self is richer in its constitutive relations. These relations are not only relations we have with humans and the human community, but with the larger community of all living beings.
4. The joy and meaning of life is enhanced through increased self-realization, through the fulfillment of each being’s potential. Whatever the differences between beings, increased self-realization implies broadening and deepening of the self.
5. Because of an inescapable process of identification with others, with growing maturity, the self is widened and deepened. We “see ourself in others”. Self-realization is hindered if the self-realization of others, with whom we identify, is hindered. Love of ourself will labor to overcome this obstacle by assisting in the self-realization of others according to the formula “live and let live.” Thus, all that can be achieved by altruism–the dutiful, moral consideration of others– can be achieved–and much more–through widening and deepening ourself. Following Immanuel Kant’s critique, we then act beautifully but neither morally nor immorally.
6. The challenge of today is to save the planet from further devastation which violates both the enlightened self-interest of humans and non-humans, and decreases the potential of joyful existence for all.
I have another important reason for inviting people to think in terms of deepening and widening their selves, starting with narrow ego gratification as the crudest, but inescapable starting point. It has to do with the notion usually placed as the opposite of egoism, namely the notion of altruism. The Latin term ego has as its opposite the alter. Altruism implies that ego sacrifices its interest in favour of the other, the alter. The motivation is primarily that of duty; it is said that we ought to love others as strongly as we love ourself.
What humankind is capable of loving from mere duty or more generally from moral exhortation is, unfortunately, very limited. From the Renaissance to the Second World War about four hundred cruel wars have been fought by Christian nations, usually for the flimsiest of reasons. It seems to me that in the future more emphasis has to be given to the conditions which naturally widen and deepen our self. With a sufficiently wide and deep sense of self, ego and alter as opposites are eliminated stage by stage as the distinctions are transcended.
Early in life, the social self is sufficiently developed so that we do not prefer to eat a big cake alone. We share the cake with our family and friends. We identify with these people sufficiently to see our joy in their joy, and to see our disappointment in theirs. Now is the time to share with all life on our maltreated earth by deepening our identification with all life-forms, with the ecosystems, and with Gaia, this fabulous old planet of ours.
From “Self Realization: An Ecological Approach to Being in the World,” Thinking Life A Mountain, with John Seed, Joanna Macy & Pat Fleming, New Society, 1988.