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Going nowhere fast? (The hidden gift)

Sternenberg, earthuni


Recently, while cycling uphill in fog, I hit a patch of ice on the road. Suddenly my wheels were spinning but I was going nowhere fast. Sound a bit like your life this past year? Me too!

Late November, I cycled to a friend’s house for a birthday tea and walk above the fog line. Both of us live on a remote hilltop in Canton Zurich that’s high enough to keep its brow just above the white blanket that covers the valleys below for days on end. It was a cold day but the sun was shining and it wasn’t far so I went by bike. By the time I cycled home, the fog had crept up from the valley, blurring, then blanking out the trees and road ahead. My intuition whispered, “walk up the next hill” but my ego said, “Me walk? No way!” A few minutes later, on an uphill curve, I hit a patch of black ice.

The wheels of my bike started spinning without any forward movement. For a few moments, it felt like I was on a robust stationary bike bolted to the floor. Except I wasn’t indoors. I was on a mountain pass, riding a racing bike, with smooth, ultra thin tyres on a sheet of ice. To avoid falling over, I steered off the ice onto the other side of the road, a risky thing to do in fog, but I needed traction to stay upright. I swerved too far, and went right over the edge. Next thing I was on an unplanned cross-country detour, bouncing down a steep grassy slope into a narrow field. Beyond the field were trees on a precipice so I tipped my bike to one side, gave a little yelp and crash-landed in an unglorified heap, sooner rather than later.

I lay there for a few seconds, thanking heaven for the softish landing then I untangled myself from my bike and took stock of the damages: I had some bruises, but no bones were broken. My favourite beige corduroy trousers had a black oil painting of a bicycle cog imprinted on one leg. The brakes on my drop handlebars were slightly bucked but were still functioning. Not much was dented besides my dignity. So I picked up my ultralight bicycle, carried it back to the road and did what my intuition had whispered earlier. I walked my bike up the hill.

Towards the top I met three men fixing a tractor. “Why do you push such a fancy machine up the hill?” they teased. I told them I’d just hit a patch of ice. There was silence as I walked past, each of them possibly brooding over their own near-death experiences while navigating these frigid hilltop roads. How strange though to have a few Swiss farmers taunt me like that. My neighbours are normally over polite and reserved. Was it a way of venting frustration over a non-cooperative tractor, mixed with pack bravado? More likely it was totally innocent banter. They were flirting because I had looked much younger from a distance and then, as I got closer, they realised their folly. I was probably a bit over the hill anyway to be riding up this one.

What I’ve learnt over the years: if you pick up flack from others, be gentle on them, they are innocently mirroring your own internal Greek chorus. In this instance my inner chorus were chastising me firstly for not listening to my intuition, secondly for riding a summer vehicle in winter and thirdly also for walking…

Think of your ego as the air-filled tyre of a bicycle, designed to soften the bumps in life as long as its not under or over-inflated (3). The different facets of your personality are the bicycle spokes, which when balanced and working together keep your wheels turning, allowing you to make progress by constantly adapting to slight changes in the environment. But what happens to all this when the whole world locks down, frozen in fear? There’s no traction anymore and we are in danger of sliding out of control.

Fear is the ice on the road, and there are no sign posts to remind us that the road condition is a state of mind.

Last week I was back on my bike again for the first time since my fall. I noticed how cautious I’d become. Even though it was a much warmer day and there was no ice, I behaved as if there was. Every dark patch on the road was circumvented in case it was slippery. By steering off course to protect myself from imagined danger, I risked putting myself into far more danger by losing my response-ability to oncoming traffic. I slowed down and chastised myself for repeating the same experience and started thinking that maybe I ought to get tyres with studs or with spikes for gripping on ice even though I’m not likely to go cycling in icy conditions.

This whole incident makes me reflect back on this past year.

2020 gave us all ample opportunity to watch fear in action; not only to see more clearly how we personally respond to fear, or perceived threat, but also to observe the extent to which fear is used to regress and/or steer individuals, groups or even entire communities.

How much of our social and political world is in fact pure ice-scape? Structures built with frozen hearts to control others due to generations of unfelt, unacknowledged collectively inherited trauma.

Observing ourselves and how we personally respond to real or perceived threat is the hidden gift and opportunity offered to us by these times.

Explorations and Resources

Fear vs fearless? Why we might not feel fear
Fear is a debilitating foe and usually goes unrecognized because it hides its jagged teeth behind a myriad of masks: distraction, overwhelm, frustration, anger, numbness, over-pleasing, burnout, strong man or hero worship, thinking thinking thinking to avoid actually feeling (dissociation)….. The list of things we do to protect ourselves from feeling fear is endless.

How fear trips up even the smartest minds
In extreme cases, if we think our survival is at stake, fear trips up even the smartest among us through a slippery manoeuvre called “the amygdala hijack”, a temporary regression to a far younger developmental stage, by freezing our higher thinking and feeling capacities in order to run an older default survival program from our ancestral past. But what if this older way no longer works? The danger is to keep going, with wheels spinning, until we fall over.

Fight, flight or freeze.
We each have different levels of tolerance before we shut down, depending on past experience of our inherited nervous system.
This depends not only on eary childhood experiences but also our family’s unique survival pattern. Also bear in mind the hidden faces of fear: which of the many ways (distraction, overwhelm, anger etc) do you attempt to keep your mind spinning in overdrive in order to avoid feeling fear all together?

As I look backwards for clues on how to move forwards, I notice how many of my decisions over the years were fear based even though I didn’t think so at the time. For much of my life I thought of myself as fearless. But now that I start to pull off the various masks that fear hides behind, I see examples of disguised fear, such as noticing how distracted I have become, or how much over-thinking I do to avoid feeling, or when I’m isolating myself instead of reaching out, or closing my heart to avoid risking vulnerability. Each of these is a form of wheel spinning, doing whatever worked in the past, over and over even though it no longer works. Each of these actions may have been intelligent and effective at an earlier stage, but now isn’t appropriate or effective In extreme cases of perceived threat, I have witnessed myself going into freeze mode even though this is certainly not in my best interests. Right now our very survival depends on the opposite – the recovery of deep feeling: our sensitivity and capacity to feel ourselves, each other and the needs of other species.

My biggest take out from this last year is how crucial it is that each of us learns to identify, observe and manage “the amygdala hijack” phenomena – moments when we are being (or have been) regressed to earlier developmental stages in our lives due to perceived threat. And remind ourselves to breathe, or change how we are breathing, in order to take back our agency individually and collectively in order to recover enough sensitivity to survive as a species. This is probably the most important work we can do individually to support life and biodiversity on this planet. More about this.

What I’m exploring regarding the amygdala hijack: Stephen Porges on Polyval Theory. Here’s recent embodiment podcast with him with tips, such how to cultivate a sense of safety in our own nervous system. Here’s an audio book on befriending your nervous system by clinician Deb Dana, using polyval lens.
I’m also exploring Thomas Huebl’s recent book: Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds.
I found this podcast discussion between Thomas and Terry Patten useful.

Also re-listening to calls with Markus Hirzig (most senior student of Huebl). many of these are in the Earthuni free auditorium on this theme last few years.

As a daily practice I recommend transformational breathwork and/or Systema. Any form of yoga, dance, consciously coordinating breath and movement or breathing technique will be helpful in some way to bring some of us out of our minds and more into our bodies.

I plan to unpack this theme more for myself and others. Register here for notification of future interviews on this topic. ( and bookmark this site for more articles exploring my own experience of the hidden faces of fear, such as distraction, overwhelm, over pleasing, over thinking …)

2. Exploring the bigger picture regarding the question “Why am I here?”
To find out more about your purpose and build a balanced wheel of support to keep moving,
instead of wheel spinning, visit my other site on hands and purpose Here’s a recent interview I did with 2 very talented podcasters, Celine Foster and Jeremy Glazer on this topic.

3. For more cycling stories. “Feeling Stuck? Think like a cyclist.” read here

New Start?

Perhaps one day, we’ll look back on this period of our lives and say, “Hallelujah!” Even though we don’t yet know why.

If you google “Hallelujah” (as I just did to check my spelling) you will find Leonard Cohen’s spine-tingling “Hallelujah” on Youtube and straight after it, another Cohen classic: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”, with birds gliding over Victoria Falls.
there's a crack in everything that's how the light gets in

In Africa this waterfall is called “the smoke that thunders” because you can see and hear it from a great distance, long before you experience it fully as a place where the world cracked open.

It takes standing on its fractured edge, with water thundering in your ears, getting drenched while peering down through the rainbows, along with the very real risk of tumbling over the edge, to be filled with awe.

This is what the present is for most of us, a jagged edge running through our hearts, minds, lives. We’ve been cracked open. A new start? Perhaps an opportunity for more light to shine through each of us towards each other and the fragile interdependent web of life of which we are part. Dare we whisper hallelujah?

How can art triumph over violence?

“Remember that your nations measure you by what you create and not by what you destroy.”

What to do about the growing number of disappearing journalists, the escalating violence towards environmentalist activists, or concerned citizens who dare to speak up about pipelines going through their sacred grounds, or about their disappearing butterflies or virgin forests, and now #BlackLivesMatter protestors risking life and limb for social change. Is there a way for humanity to survive and thrive and even leap up to the next level of co-creation instead of fighting violence with yet more violence? And what to do about “Silence gives consent”? How can we actively contribute without becoming yet another statistic? Or without stooping down to the same level as the perpetrators of violence? Or instead of numbing out and flicking to the next channel? (Question I’ve asked myself for decades.) This article explores two ways each of us can take positive action to ensure a better world for ourselves and future generations.

About a year ago I watched a youtube video of Jordan Peterson giving a talk on his 12 Rules for Life, an antidote to chaos. (Petersen is a highly controversial figure and I’ve been advised to cut him out of this story as he isn’t really relevant to what I’m writing about here. Maybe I will in future, in a shorter version of this piece, but for now I’m leaving him in so you can follow how I got to re-discovering Solzhenitsyn.) This video (which you don’t need to watch) led me to getting his book by the same title (which you don’t need to read) plus a copy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Experiment in Literary Investigation: The Gulag Archipelago” which Peterson mentioned while discussing the 8th rule in his book, which is Always tell the truth, or at least don’t lie. (This part, inspired by Solzhenitsyn, is about 56 min into his video.)

Solzhenitsyn in Sternenberg, Switzerland Summer of 1974

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Sternenberg, Switzerland Summer of 1974. Solzhenitsyn Center

I’ve been sitting with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel prize acceptance speech on my lap ever since. Almost to the point that its burning holes right through my feet.

This incredible speech, written 50 years ago, feels like it was written for us now, as a call to action.
The truth of it rings in my ears but still I feel frozen. What to do?

I feel a strong affinity towards Solzhenitsyn because, after he was expelled

from Russia, he spent a few months of 1974 hiding out in the hills above Zurich, in a remote rural farm cottage in Sternenberg, belonging to a fellow writer and historian, the then mayor of Zurich, Sigmund Widmer. We moved to this region three decades after Solzhenitsyn’s brief stay, but still his spirit lingers here. As I write this, I can see his old rooftop peeking through the forest on the next hill across the valley. It feels as if he’s gently reminding me to read more of him, follow his guidance, put my head down and do my bit. His books are enormous volumes, each nearly as wide as they are high, and quite daunting just for that fact, never mind what’s in them, taking us to places we wish to never visit in this lifetime nor in any parallel or future lifetime either. And yet his work is about the ascent of the human spirit against all odds.

Solzhenitsyn needs to be read now, least we find ourselves going down the same slippery totalitarian slopes he and his countrymen explored during the last century. Solzhenitsyn’s epithany, after a decade in hell, was to connect the dots backwards to how seemingly petty lies and deceit about one’s own life, due to a desire to fit in or survive, lead to bigger lies and eventually participation in, compliance or turning a blind eye to massive crime against humanity and our planet. This process of decay and how it happens is really something for us to look at both individually and collectively, irrespective of ideology (which itself is another danger that he points to and thoroughly dissects).

In his Nobel prize acceptance speech, after he winning the Literature award in 1970 for the novel “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich“, Solzhenitsyn lays out two ways we can each take positive action whoever, or wherever, we are in the world.

  • Firstly to look inwards, to observe and then clean up our own “fake news” or petty lies and deceits or bigger transgressions and participation in lies
  • and secondly, to allow whatever creative inspiration we’ve received as a gift that’s attempting to work through us to come forth despite all odds and be a force of good. To use our craft to make the truth indisputable and to help others rise instead of sink, by sharing our own personal experience in a way that gives others a direct experience across space or time and thereby perhaps able to make the next big leap rather than go all the way into hell too.

I personally found it useful to access Solzhenitsyn’s thinking though Peterson’s pre-digested material because Peterson shares his own personal stories about attempting to tell the truth and stay in integrity and also because he ingeniously put the guts of Solzhenitsyn message, an essential call to action, onto the first page of the forward he wrote for the abridged edition of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. By presenting us upfront with a well chosen extract from Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech, he manages to condense Solzhenitsyn’s vast body of work into a bite-sized meme for today’s easily distracted audience. This extract touched me so deeply I’m still pondering Solzhenitsyn’s words and wondering and experimenting with how I can apply these principles in my own life.

Here’s a small part of this extract from Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel speech so you can get a taste:

“Once we have taken up the word, it is thereafter impossible to turn away: A writer is no detached judge of his countrymen and contemporaries; he is an accomplice to all the evils committed…

“…what can literature possibly do against the ruthless onslaught of open violence? … violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with lies.….

“The simple act of an ordinary brave person is not to participate in lies, not to support false actions, His rule: Let THAT enter the world, let it even reign supreme – but not through me.….

“…but it is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie! For in the struggle with lies, art has always triumphed and shall always triumph! Visibly, irrefutably and for all! Lies can prevail against much in this world, but never against art…”

“…..One word of truth will outweigh the whole world.”

Shortly after reading Solzhenitsyn’s words, I saw the power of art demonstrated by Saudi artist, Abdulnasser Gharem, through his brave and impressive artwork at the Basel Art Expo last year titled “The Safe” which alludes to the death of his fellow countryman, journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul,Turkey, on 2 October 2018. And in the wake of his death, the enormous lies and coverups and inter-governmental deceit, collusion and expediency that is still on going. (9)

There was nothing to point you to Gharem’s masterpiece in the Expo hall except a long queue curling back on itself while it shuffled steadily towards a huge white box, about the size of a shipping container, with a single entrance: a closed white door, under a rather plush, Georgian over door canopy, also an untainted white.

The door was guarded by two expo officials who warned each visitor that what they were about to see might be disturbing (so you could opt out if you wished) before being ushering into “The Safe” alone and left in there for a 40 second solitary experience. What was inside? A white, soundproof padded cell smeared with blood red rubber stamped messages all over the walls, hospital bunk and stainless steel basin.

Rubber stamps inside the Safe - Abdulnasser Gharem, #abdulnassergharem, Remember that your nations measure you by what you create and not by what you destroy

Rubber stamps inside the Safe – Abdulnasser Gharem

Messages such as:
“Remember that your nations measure you by what you create and not by what you destroy.”
“Security without freedom is slavery”
“The difference between a terrorist and a martyr is the media coverage”

and several other messages, also some in Arabic.

While inside one could privately contribute to the artwork by replicating the rubber stamp messages or pen your own in red ink.

Abdulnasser Gharem’s larger than life art work is a brave act and a brilliant example of how art can triumph over lies. He is a beacon for artists and writers worldwide, not to crumble into despair or anger under systemic racism and oppression, but instead rise and soar — to become beacons for others… through art. To inspire us to self- reflect, see through the lies, have more contact with each other (7), open our hearts, feel and accept the numbness borne of generations of receiving or dishing out abuse, and in so doing inspire even more of us to create new ways of seeing and feeling; so that we all step up a few notches and into the highest possible versions of ourselves.

The best film example I’ve seen recently, of art triumphing over lies, is a true story about fake news called Shock and Awe by Rob Reiner This film gives us a glimpse of the enormous hurdles journalists are up against in today’s world. It premiered at the Zurich film festival in 2017 and is a true story about journalists Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, John Walcott and Joe Galloway trying to stay in integrity and do justice to their craft against all odds, in the wake of 911 during the lead up to the war on Iraq. I think it’s a must watch for us today, particularly while we are in global lockdown. If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt in the last few months it’s not to take any information at face value, no matter how respected the source. The whole lockdown experience seems a tailor-designed phenomenon for each of us to each earn a PhD in fakes news, specifically how to tell the difference between our own and everyone else’s. (3)

But what about all the artists or writers who can never hope to make it into an art gallery let alone the Basel Expo or into a box office hit or the pages of prestigious magazines or publishing houses without selling their souls via social media or to whoever is paying the electricity bill? How can they follow Solzhenitsyn’s advice?
We will explore ideas on this later.

And what if you don’t feel inspired to create anything?

As mentioned before, there are two parts to Solzhenitsyn’s advice. And the second point is really just the tip of the iceberg.

The first part is: What action we can take right now as mere mortals (every one of us) to shift our lives in the right direction. We can come back into integrity with ourselves by taking note of, and clearing up, our own “fake news”. The real groundwork to be done by all of us. And we can practice not colluding in nor condoning or turning a blind eye to lies in order to get ahead. Let’s not forget, any work done with an open heart and genuine intention to help is love in action (4)Besides, great art doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It requires collaboration, support, publishers … “Every tiny screw, cog or spring is needed to make a clock.” Eileen Caddy (5)

Triumphing over expedience

Certainly, all of us need to find a way to survive, or feed our families and perhaps the only reason we are here today is because our ancestors grovelled, complied, obeyed, or sold their souls outright in order to belong and therefore stay alive or because they turned a blind eye or prostituted themselves in some large or small way for survival of themselves or their offspring. But do we need to still carry on this soul barter?

Solzhenitsyn says no. That the “…the meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but…in the development of the soul. From that point of view our torturers have been punished most horribly of all: they are turning into swine, they are departing downwardly from humanity. From that point of view punishment is inflicted on those whose development..holds out hope.”
(Bwah! What a thought!)

A page further on Solzhenitsyn continues: [What I learnt from my prison years was] how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states or between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an uprooted small corner of evil. … it’s impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.” (6)

This sounds a bit like something Markus Hirzig said recently during a private call: “As soon as you realize that the whole game board is alive and responding to your every step, you make the next evolutionary jump. Your neighbors change. The game board expands.”
He spoke of this from an energetic perspective, adding that when we contract our energy due to fear from a younger period we literally make the game board smaller. “..and with millions contracting, the whole game board contracts
 and we don’t have so many abilities anymore. 
What was thinkable before (democracy, for example) is no longer thinkable.
We then have three choices says Hirzig: (2)

  • to go with them and also contract (making the game board even smaller.)
  • to leave/ not go along with them (through disassociation for example) and therefore also make the game board smaller(!!)
  • Or we have a third choice. which is to stay fully present but not contract with them through fear or shame or anger. Then we have the possibility to look around clearly and see what the next adjacent possibility is? What agency do I have? What’s there for me to do? (2)

So, knowing all this, why do I still feel frozen regarding taking action?

Starting where you are now

In his article, Turning toward our blind spot: seeing the shadow as a source for transformation Otto Scharmer writes that required action depends on where we are in our own process.

Scharmer points to a turning point in global consciousness, like the last straw that broke the camel’s back: “Something changed when we all watched the same images — 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the killing of George Floyd. During that unbearable experience, something broke down and broke open in our hearts, in how we relate to one another, and in how we want to live together.”

Says Scharmer, “What is ours and what is mine to do? How can I contribute to the pathway that we are building together?
Answering these questions may require us to look in the mirror at our individual and collective shadow and ask:

What am I not seeing? (Where is my view distorted by a frozen mind?)
What am I not feeling? (Where is my sensing distorted by a frozen heart?)
What action, grounded in this deep seeing and sensing, am I not co-initiating yet? (Where are my actions distorted by a frozen will?)

This is what I’m working on at the moment. Noticing when I’m distracted, or numb or the degree to which my heart is still closed…

A couple of years ago a friend sent me a video and later some books by Japanese/American artist Makoto Fujimura. I’ve watched this video a number of times and have shared it with many friends and clients. It’s an empowering message about culture care, about seeing “the gift” versus seeing everything in the world as a commodity. Like S’s message, about what we can each do, Fujimura talks about winter and preparing the soil for future generations. And this is exactly what art asks of us…and needs from us. Feeling what needs to be felt. And freeing this energy so that it can be repurposed. This is what our generations can and must do now.
Here is his empowering message to artists regarding expedience and what to do about culture care and honoring one’s “gift” in a world that sees everything as a commodity.

Fujimura echoes Solzhenitsyn when he says that the real power of art, literature, dance, poetry “is to help one climb into someone else’s skin and walk around… it helps us develop our empathic capacities; to be other-centred rather than self-centered.”
But he also points to art and culture’s current decay. Fujimura mentions the work of TS Eliot between the wars and of Ralph Ellison, author of The Innocent Man, who said, “If the word has the potency to revive and make us free, it also has the power to blind, imprison and destroy.” Ralph Ellison

Fujimura asks, “Is it possible that in the beginning of the 21 century art has missed something? …Has art been imprisoned?…Have we forgotten art’s potency to revive and set us free?”
“What is happening in our culture when a scientist cannot be a scientist, when an artist can’t be an artist? There’s something wrong”
“…Can art be part of the effort to set us free?”
(30 min into video)

” The artist appeals to that part of our being which is a gift and not an acquisition…and therefore more permanently enduring.”
Joseph Conrad.
We have forgotten our gift. Or misused it. (8)

Fujimura’s advice: (refers to the book The Gift by Lewis Hyde)

“When the native Americans managed the waters they took the salmon as a gift…
Western forces came in and treated it like a commodity.”

“[Nature] is a gift. Culture is a gift…Always do work that is not going to be sold or published. Let it be a gift to the world…there’s magic to this. Give what has been given to you, deeper intuitive layers of love that the you have tapped into. That first love is so intoxicating. People say you can’t be an artist and you cannot stop. You know there is a reality you must serve and so you write, at 3 am without anyone knowing that you are writing poetry…
“Emily Dickinson took care of her garden…few people knew she was writing..”

Be like Emily Dickinson - do your work as a gift for future generations

Fujimura continues:
(41.40 into the video) “Emily’s desk was only 17.5 x 17.5 inches. I tell younger writers, that’s all you need but you have to dedicate yourself to that space. Do not let anything else go on at that table. Let your being remain on that space so you always have a place to go home to. You can always be inspired to write the last paragraph, last stanza of a poem even though you are coming back at 2 am in the morning. You are vice precedent of general foods…and have to get up at 5am you still write.”

“..…[Dickinson] was a gardener and knew a good bulb sometimes takes years to take root. If the soil conditions aren’t right or winter is coming good seeds will wait. She buried her poems into the soil trusting they would come out when the time is right.”
She wrote as if she was writing as a gift to us today.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn also wrote as a gift to others. When he had nothing to write on he memorized his work by structuring it as rhyming poetry. Victor Frankl, Auschwitz survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning also wrote for future generations. So did many others. They wrote as a gift to us today. Let’s open and unpack their gift now rather than postpone humanity’s blossoming until another season, century or species picks up from where we are now.

Preparing the soil

And if we feel we have no seeds to sow and we think winter is coming, what can we do?

We can prepare the soil for future generations.

How can we do this? This is the work of Thomas Huebl, Otto Scharmer, Porges, Peter Levine, Michael Brown, Judith Kravitz and many others all working in the field of digesting collective trauma.
We can digest what needs to be digested after two world wars and a lot more. While there’s work to be done on a collective level there’s also work that can be done on a personal level.
As one of Scharmer’s students put it: everything in your life has prepared you for this moment in history.

Without truth we can’t have democracy.

We can take Solzhenitsyn’s advice: see the mirror, reflect on our own lives and clear up our own personal toxic waste and come back into alignment with ourselves and our inner calling. We can do our own private “truth and reconciliation” process and write or share about our own experiences, even if only for ourselves or our close family. And we can not support lies and corruption on any level, particularly in our leaders or companies. This calls for a maturing in each of us that is quite difficult to see and requires reaching out for help to see our own blind spots. (1)

Today we are at a crossroads. One path leads towards a totalitarian possibility the likes of which we have never seen before. The other path leads to the flowering of humanity, through the renaissance and transformation through how we relate to our environment and each other on every level. (13)
Which path do you choose?
This is what I plan to do. Start from the inside out. Crack open my own heart and reach for the higher ground, and in so doing perhaps inspire others to do likewise.
And look towards art from others for inspiration, like this beautiful love poem to our Earth from Lindi Nolte, to keep our eye on the stars instead of the mud below.

“ The future is not somewhere we go to, it’s what we bring here now.” Thomas Huebl

Notes plus resources

Some resources I have found useful: Read more

Attentional Violence

penguin turning away from humanity, attentional violence
Photo by Francisco Arnela on Unsplash
Attentional violence. This is what we do to the “uncool” people. To the foreigners. Or to all those who we took for part of the furniture when we moved in. To the rare birds who make us squirm in our grey-feathered sameness. To the too dark or the too light. Hearted. To the too bright, too different, too “other”, thereby breaking the cookie-cut order and sweetness, shaped by the fear of not fitting in. To the marked or the damned or to our own daemon when she wakes us up at 3am in the morning with a seemingly good idea. This is what we do when we turn our back on friends because we don’t know how to help or we can’t deal with our own discomfort. This is what we do when we ignore our babies reaching out, or to our children when they no longer try, and focus instead on the continuous stream of chatter on our phones, the pings and pongs calling for our attention. Or what we do when we leave someone out in the cold, or out of our family tree or bibliography, because we think they don’t count or because they matter too much. This is what we do to Mother Earth when we turn a blind eye to what we’re doing and keep doing what we have always done. Attentional violence. This is what we do to ourselves. To our inner child. Who calls and calls and is never heard.

This post was inspired by Otto Scharmer who writes about three types of violence: direct violence, structural violence and attentional violence in his recent article on Turning Toward Our Blind Spot: Seeing the Shadow as a Source for Transformation.
Attentional violence enables and seeds the other two forms of violence, says Scharmer: ” This form of violence is less discussed, but equally important. Not being seen for who you are and who you could be — your highest future possibility — is a form of violence that diminishes your ability to act from that capacity. Perpetual attentional violence is collectively enacted — against others, but also against ourselves — every single day. The poor-quality public education available to most young men and women of color is just one example.”

Scharmer invites us to explore what we are not seeing, not feeling or not taking action on. (Frozen mind, frozen heart or frozen will.)
I like what he and Thomas Huebl are exploring together regarding collective healing through presencing in large groups.

The Return of Jennifer

Screen Shot 2020-08-24 at 11.51.59Suddenly the name Jena feels too tight. And Jennifer has returned home, to remind me to step into a bigger, more authentic version of myself. She was a gift from my parents and only called on when it was “time to really get serious”. Therefore I’m happy to have her back. She’s needed now more than ever. Deep down all of us know that, “Everything that has happened to us until this moment, prepares us for what is happening now.”

What to do about all Jennifer’s diminutives?
Love and embrace them all!

Jena is my professional hand reading persona
Jenni is my previous life sports identity
Jen and Jenny are for people who have known me forever

Feel free to call on whichever person you prefer.
We’re one large family. And all of us open the door.

Markus Hirzig on fake news

Extract from a rough transcript from a 6 May 2020 private group call with Markus Hirzig

“The game board is alive. When we make the next step the game board changes.
The moment you notice that, you make an evolutionary step
. Your neighbors change
, the game board expands. Your perspective, the perspective of the whole game board changes. The whole thing is alive.
With millions contracting, the whole game board contracts 
and we don’t have so many abilities anymore.
 What was thinkable is no longer thinkable.
If you make real step the whole atmosphere changes.
The truth changes. It’s different.
 The perspective changes.
 Otherwise we need to do it again and again and we won’t arrive.
Making a step means we move.
Does the next step create a bigger game board or a smaller one or more of the same?

29.30 re fake news:
 believing there’s a force out here not for us
, we have no agency, 
and the world will not care.
And then we take facts and create a story around that.
It means we are not able to create democracy
. It’s a young view
As long as we project power and choice to others it is a bit young.

God only gives us the playground but we create a game.
The inertia of the game board is karma, decisions we haven’t taken responsibility for and we don’t look fully
and then that might look like a conspiracy. The facts may be true but how have we (twisted the facts into a fake story that reflects our younger self’s perception)?

 Good is in the eye of the beholder. How our system interacts with that. And if we can let go of good or not good we might notice the expansion or contraction of the universe.
 When someone’s transmission contains energy that means she’s in resonance with the creative process. And, if her mind, body and emotions are sending a congruent message, that will enrich our system and it will open the game board. The universe grows. Literally. 

If someone brings up a fear from a younger period (such as “I have no agency and the world doesn’t care” ) they contract and try to reduce the game board. If we go along with them we also reduce the game board. If we don’t go along and we pull out our energy we also contract the game board. But there’s a third option
which is to stay fully present but not contract with them through fear or shame or anger. Then we have the possibility to look around clearly and see what the next adjacent possibility is? What agency do I have? What’s there for me to do? ”

Is the best vaccine “I Sing the Body Electric”?

tuning forks to create nitric acidThere’s a tectonic shift taking place in biological science. A change in perspective from a chemical model to an electrical model, particularly after John Beaulieu published his research into sound impacting healing/spiking nitric oxide in 2002. Source 1: Source 1
Source 2

Further studies followed.

Now the gold rush:

Quote by Lynne McTaggart : “In the last six years, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has set up two pharmaceutical companies: Calico (2013) and Verily Life Sciences (2015). Verily went on to partner with GlaxoSmithKline to create a third innovative drug company called Galvani Bioelectronics. In this way, Google can essentially harvest patients for Verily. Say you type in ‘alternatives for arthritis.’ What won’t immediately appear any longer are actual alternatives.”

Other pharmaceutical companies have joined the race. Source

And now a fresh idea

What if the new vaccine that everyone is searching for (against Coronavirus, Covid-19, C19 or any illness) isn’t new at all but is as ancient as human collaboration? What if it isn’t a chemical substance at all, but instead it produces a chemical substance (in our bodies)? Sound or music, or preferably, the musical note C128 to be exact. A sound already known to science way back in 500 BC and called by Pythagoras “the perfect 5th”.
After 40 years of experimenting with sound and it’s impact on people’s health, this is what John Beaulieu intended when he set out to prove scientifically that sounds impacts health. Instantly. Playing this single sound to organic material has now been scientifically proven to spike nitric oxide (the sign of good healthy cells) in all living, organic matter. (See notes 4) And big biz is trying to commoditize this.

Where can healing sounds be found? Read more

Shaken Awake

We are being shaken now. Perhaps shaken until we awaken. And some of us may feel more shaken than others. Some of us may feel overwhelmed. Uprooted, plucked or perhaps even dashed.
If you are at the front line of the pandemic, my heart goes out to you. Thank you for being where you are right now, and for all you are doing in service to others and your community.
The rest of us each have our own response-ability. The responsibility to help the frontliners as best we can, through innovation or material support or by containing the numbers through staying at home, the response-ability of making and wearing home-made masks (in case we have the virus and don’t realize we are spreading it), the responsibility to presence all the feelings arising in ourselves and others and the response-ability to hold enough space for these feelings to be digested or to settle.

How can we do this?
Here are some drawings that may help.

Image A: This is where we are now


Image: Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa (1829)

Image B: This is where we are aiming for

thousand headed snake of eternity

Vishnu, as himself, as the thousand headed snake of eternity and the cosmic ocean

Now squint your eyes.
Do you notice any similarities between the two images?

It’s probably the same place! Just Image B is a higher resolution. (Has more clarity.)

In image A we feel swamped. Totally overwhelmed. Our solid ground is in danger of disappearing. Overwhelmed by feelings. And/or overwhelmed by information.

In image B we feel more on top of things. Perhaps we are starting to wake up to the game.

Here, the enlightened one, Vishnu, sees the game, (the thousand headed serpent, Ananta-Sesha)
and that he is the game
and the master
at the same time.

All of us are somewhere between A and B right now.
And perhaps there is also a battalion of angels hanging around to help us. Actually we all are these angels. We just haven’t noticed yet because we are so busy playing our unique part.

Our part in what?

Being Wind or Air (spreading wild or calm thoughts)
Being Earth ( solid ground for others…. perhaps resistant to change.)
Being Water (feeling, nurturing, flowing. Or sometimes flooding. Perhaps driven by Wind to re-carve Earth.)
Being Fire (spirited, transformative, innovative, re-creating through destruction.)

Which role are you playing now?
Earth, Air, Fire or Water?
Or are you holding space by being pure presence. The void. like the gap between 2 exponential curves, an open window for infinite potential to come through.
To give yourself and others more space to calm down. And more space for a higher level of intelligence to land.

These are all ways you can help others, or hinder them if you over-play your part.

What to do about fear?

Some of us may feel frozen by fear.
If you feel frozen right now, honor and thank your ancestors. At some point way back, this is how they survived. You are here now because this strategy worked for them then. But it may not work for you now. It may be time to shake out all that fear and reclaim a rich inheritance of energy from your lineage.

If you feel you are being shaken more than other people, again thank your ancestors. It could be that your predecessors put stronger survival structures in place that were really successful and perhaps useful for eons. Some of us need a bit more shaking now to free ourselves from old habits or to dissolve old structures that are now no longer useful.

What’s really going on and who is to blame?
There is no time for blame. (2)

In our hearts we’ve prayed for this
For our precious Earth to keep its forests
For the oceans and poles to stay cool
For us humans to wake up
For us all to open our hearts
To find the courage to put shame aside
and dissolve old grievances…
To connect with each other, collaborating beyond space and time….

Moving from Freeze to Fight or Flight or Flow.
Which way are you going to go?

Join us for two free calls with Markus Hirzig

Topic: Digesting Fear with Markus Hirzig

Many of us don’t feel fear, instead we project it onto others as danger, or blame. Or we numb ourselves with alcohol or news or dissociate in order to feel safe due to past experiences. The problem is, fear shuts our minds down so we can’t do anything new or think in new ways to bring more intelligence and innovation into our community or the world in general.
What can we do to become more conscious of what we are feeling, or not feeling, and how can we digest these un-integrated feelings so as not to project our past onto the future?
Markus is a senior mentor who has been helping people digest and integrate fear for many years.

Wednesday 8 April
Access the replay here

Some tools and resources

1. Know yourself

a. Your inner GPS
Gratitude (for what is)
Pattern Recognition (of what is) (understand your polyvagal ancestral program or your fingerprints pattern)
Surrender (to the feeling)

(Be here now without thought. Feel whatever is arising and allow it to pass through you. You are the sky not the cloud passing through.)

b. Know your current role
Are you being Earth, Air, Fire, Water or the Void (Spaciousness/pure potential)?

Are you being the wave (feeling overwhelmed) or the same Water with more space and less thought (wind) ?
Are you being the solid rock or mountain (old habits or structures now feeling threatened)?
Are you being the wind (stirring up the storm with frenzied thought)?
Are you being the fire (transforming and re-creating)?
Are you being the Buddha (feeling awake and response-able)

What is your response-ability?
Are you able to respond: To reach out to help. To reach out for support. To take positive action. To be a global witness? To hold space? To bring a higher future into the present moment?

2. Build resilience. This video by Thomas Huebl is helpful:
Honoring Our Fear, Finding Our Resilience In Times of Crisis and Pandemic
watch here
Some key points:
“….We have been thrown into a river. If it feels too overwhelming we reach out to support each other while we are swimming. We don’t have time to look back and point fingers. We are all swimming in this river together and need to be fully present and support each other to survive.” He also said our spiritual practice is our resilience. It helps us swim. we have far more intelligence as a collective. Regarding under equipped medical teams, he said we need to provide relational support to the care givers while we are locked down. We need to be present for each other without trying to give advice. Just being there and feeling each other’s presence we co-regulate each other. Advice often separates us. Heartfelt connectivity creates relaxation. What can we do about fear? “Ground yourself in the body through breath. I slow down my exhaling and follow my breath into my body. Presence allows me to digest my overwhelm….Yes there is collective fear but it shows me my own fears which are often related to past trauma. The collective trauma field is speaking all the time and it has clouded our thinking. The work for many in lockdown is to both individually and collectively presence and help integrate undigested collective trauma from the past. Co-regulation and group presencing enables tremendous healing for all of us. For example, as laid out in Otto Scharmer’s book TheoryU Also, the medical teams need to take time each day to attune to each other as a group. When you have more coherence in the group you are more intelligent and effective as a team.”
The replay of this call is on the website

Or check out the flow research collective on building resilience.
Created by a bunch of futurists and neuroscientists yet still teaching gratitude, breath work, and how to achieve flow states.

3.Set a clear intention. A couple of years ago I watched a panel discussion hosted by Sam Harris, on when AI might take over. Elon Musk really impressed me because, unlike everyone else, instead of giving a date or a length of time, he said: “Well, what would you like to happen?” Now that’s what I call clear thinking. Start with the end in mind. Then work backwards from there.
Here’s an excellent book on solving climate change that takes this approach. And is totally. do-able. A must read while in lockdown.
The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac.
Thoughts, feelings and body sensations In Sync: Another must read is Winslow Eliot’s fine book Be Still on bringing the elements within you into sync. She’s completely in sync with Huebl’s 3 sync/4 sync approach.
4. Improve your mindset. Here’s an excellent post by futurist Peter Diamadis: Why I am hopeful, even optimistic As Peter points out, for the first time in millions of years of human history, people are working together against a common enemy. Scientists are sharing data and findings with each other before going to publication. Peter is coauthor of The future is faster than you think. Another must read during lockdown.
Perhaps the next big Xprize in planetary abundance could be how to connect humanity globally while enhancing our health and intelligence at the same time. (See next post on this.)
5. Also scroll down for other posts such as Safeguarding your family against covid, global social witnessing or the case for masks.
6. Lastly, an exercise from me from 2015 on turning up the dimmer switch in your heart.

There are no mistakes

Life happens for you not to you

“I said: what about my eyes?

He said: Keep them on the road.

I said: What about my passion?

He said: Keep it burning.

I said: What about my heart?

He said: Tell me what you hold inside it?

I said: Pain and sorrow.

He said: Stay with it.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

― Rumi