An invitation to use the deep, soulful inquiry of the Dayak-Benuaq ceremony renewing their vows as guardians of the forest as inspiration to create new processes for us in the industrial world to connect to our sacred contract of keeping the earth in balance and sustaining life. Here are a few of my favorite resources to get you started with fresh methods of inquiry into the following questions:
What is your role as a guardian of the earth? What would love do?
TRY “TUNING IN” to these questions by yourself, with a friend, or with a small group of friends. This simple but powerful form of shared meditation helps us to bypass our intellect and get in touch with our deeper wisdom, which is connected with the body. You can find a beautiful, simple introduction to the basic practice from Tesa Silvestre on her Befriending Life website, where you will also find much inspiration. Here’s what she says on her welcome page:
If we knew for certain that the fate of oceans and trees, tigers and bees, and the future of the human family, depended on our willingness to turn our attention inward, tune into our bodies, and develop our capacity to feel through the layers of numbness and closure that trap our vital energy, freeze our receptivity, and disconnect us from life within and around us, would we make it a priority?
Basic tuning in practice
HOLD A WRITING FROM THE SOUL CIRCLE using these questions as prompts. This simple practice of freewriting in a supportive group helps us to loosen up our judging mind and source deeper places in ourselves, where wisdom and connection reside. Check out the Writing from the Soul website for inspiration, writing prompts, and free facilitator kit for those who want to hold a circle. You can also do this practice on your own. From the website:
To write what matters to us most, we have to be willing to go to dangerous places in ourselves and say dangerous things. It’s far easier to write only around the edges of what matters, avoiding the dark center of our caring where there are unmet, unwanted feelings — rage or grief or forbidden attractions — that are sure to shake up our sense of who we are and reveal the unstable ground we stand on. It takes trememdous courage to tell our deepest truth, first to ourselves, then to the world. No one can do it without deep respect for their own frailty and a fundamental trust in life.
Basic writing from the soul practice
Free facilitator kit to start a circle
TO ENGAGE A GROUP LARGER THAN 12, TRY A WORLD CAFE. This is an ingenious method to allow a large group of people to hold an intimate conversation where miraculously, all are included — no matter how shy and reserved, everyone’s voice is heard. It is also a potent method for accessing collective wisdom. Best of all, it’s deep fun. From the website:
To continue to be in good conversation over our enormous and terrifying problems is to be calling out to each other in the night. If we attend with imagination and devotion to our conversations, we will find what we need; and someone among us will act — it does not matter whom — and we will survive. -Barry Lopez
Basic method for holding a World Cafe
USE ANY OF THE ABOVE METHODS AFTER WATCHING A VIDEO about the struggle in Muara Tae — there have been a number of wonderful ones made over the years by friends of the village. Here’s the Ted Talk that my friend Ruwi did to get you started.
In this talk Ruwi delivers a passionate plea to respect the forests whose very existence is inseparable from the identity of those who live around them. In the same way New Yorkers felt disoriented after the loss of the Twin Towers on 9/11, Ruwi believes the indigenous Dayak people of Kalimantan are also losing their way as their trees are cleared for plantations and logging operations.
Ruwi’s Ted Talk that features Muara Tae
Links to more videos at the bottom of this page
FOR INSPIRATION TO FEEL YOUR FEELINGS AND LET THEM LEAD YOU TO ACTION, watch this inspiring video from Clare Dakin, founder of Treesisters, where she tells the story of how she awakened to her need to do something for the earth. You’ll also want to check out the Tree Sisters website for a powerful inquiry process that you can do by yourself or with friends called the Map of Five Choices.
I was in a split state of incredulity where the arrogance of my smallness was saying, ‘you can do nothing’ and another part of me was saying, ‘This is killing me. I’m living a lie. I’m colluding in a system that is destroying this planet. I can’t keep doing this.’ I woke up in that moment. What I realized is that my insecurities, my inadequacies, my smallness were nothing compared to what was going on and I had a choice to live a life that was completely meaningful. And what I needed was to give myself permission to feel the truth of what was going on and if I could feel that truth, I would move into action and I would move into right action.
Watch video of Clare Dakin’s awakening story
The map of five choices
USE JOANNA MACY’S WORK THAT RECONNECTS AS INSPIRATION. She has developed many methods of inquiry into our big challenges of injustice and environmental destruction that connect us deeply to our hearts, to our ancestors and descendants, and to one another. Her latest book, Active Hope, is powerful, inspiring, and an antidote to cynicism. From her website:
The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world — we’ve actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves and each other.
New practices from the work that reconnects
EXAMINE HOW SIMPLICITY MIGHT IMPROVE YOUR LIFE and the life of the planet. Duane Elgin’s classic book, Voluntary Simplicity, inspired me greatly when it first came out and is now in a new edition. Duane has a website full of free resources to inspire inquiry into our lifestyles, our belief systems, and the collective stories we tell ourselves that profoundly affect life on the planet. It includes free chapters from his many relevant books. From the website:
It is important to recognize inaccurate stereotypes about the simple life because they make it seem impractical and ill suited for responding to increasingly critical breakdowns in world systems. Four misconceptions about the simple life are so common they deserve special attention.
Read this short article to inspire a conversation on simplicity
FOR INSPIRATION AROUND SOULFUL SIMPLICITY, I love the book A Different Kind of Luxury by Andy Couturier. In photos and lyrical prose, he presents eleven moving portraits of modern Japanese who left the consumer world of the big cities for rural lives of simplicity, creativity and soulfulness.
The good things of the past, that’s what we must preserve. They have passed through the hardships of history to become a tradition, and we who are alive today must treasure them, and take care of them for the future. —Ito Akira
Read sample chapter – “Ito Akira: The creative spirit in cultural preservation”
There are many, many more resources to consider. These are just a few.