When I was a child there was an extraordinary show on the TV called Jeux Sans Frontières! (Games without borders!). In the early days of the European Union it brought together people from different countries to compete in ridiculous physical games involving huge inflatable cartoon characters, and a lot of people splashing around in jets of water. The ways we connect across our countries has moved on, I’m happy to say, and the amazing technology of the internet allows us to have rich, deep connections with people around the world without any need for travel or crazy made-up sports.
About a year ago I started hosting on line conversations for people involved with Inner Transition in different countries. Three times a year we meet to share news of our activities, and talk about the challenges and interesting edges of the work. Most powerful for me has been simply to hear the different ways we experiment and the different challenges to those in England. We’ve heard from someone in Japan about how people are dealing with the fear and uncertainty of living with radioactivity after Fukushima; from someone in Spain, about the aftermath of economic collapse and from groups doing beautiful, connecting things like meetings in nature, for fun and for support.
We have a gentle structure – for the first hour we just go round and hear from each person – what is happening to do with inner transition for you personally, in your initiative, and in the wider community or country? Sometimes this has taken us around the world, from Australia to Brazil via Japan, Europe, Canada and America! I have to remember that those in the southern hemisphere are in the opposite season, celebrating midsummer when I’m in the depth of winter. The go round is rich in details – people’s personal struggles, successes, joys – as well as the wider picture.
After a five minute break we take one or more shared questions or topics and discuss them – not trying to get any answers, or create any action, just hearing the different perspectives.
I am always struck by the paradox of how different things are in different countries, cultures and languages, and, yet, how similar. In some cultures it is easier to include feelings in our conversations. In others it’s more acceptable to include some reference to a spiritual dimension. Some are very reluctant to include anything that is not totally rational or scientific. In some initiatives, Inner Transition is seen as foundational, in others it has been almost totally rejected.
In every country that participates, I’ve heard reports of some places where there is a challenge or resistance to including inner work in meetings, activities or initiatives. I also know that in each of these countries, there is also a whole movement of “inner” going on – personal growth, spiritual practice, self development, communication and group tools to mention just a few. And people involved with these practices also want to be included in Transition, and have a very relevant skill set to making Transition work well.
So it’s a great opportunity to know that the challenge of integrating inner and outer is not a local phenomenon, or a result of poor communication or personal failure. It’s just how this industrialised modern culture works, that there is often a rift between our inner and outer lives, and putting them back together can be difficult.
Here are a few highlights from the stories we collected over the last call in February
In Japan, there have been workshops in the Work that Reconnects, and participants from this are stepping into facilitating Active Hope workshops. In addition, non-violent communication and art therapy workshops were offered to Transitioners last year. These workshops helped participants to become aware of their patterns, needs, focus and an opportunity to learn the application of new patterns in a way to help them fulfil their intrinsic/innermost needs. And, at a national level, we are experimenting in our meetings with “sharing opportunities”.
In France, there was an intense dialogue about words that can introduce the ideas of inner transition without alienating those who feel uncomfortable with the language. Someone in the group who finds the language challenging went through our material and underlined every word that was a problem. In the end we found words like:
- Care for the children and grandchildren
No one can argue with that!
In Portugal, they are adapting the UK One Year in Transition course for young people – there is a lot of interest because many young people see emigration as the only possibility so they are exploring how to include inner skills in the four weeks during the year when the group will come together.
Would you like to be part of this conversation?
The next call will be in June 2015. It’s my intention to create a regular blog from the news and updates we share.
We’re looking for more people to join this conversation – especially those who have some energy and time to give to building networks in their region or country, or linking into their national Transition organisation.
You can join a wider group to share updates via email and documents, or be your national rep to join the live conversations. If there’s already a representative for your country perhaps you can share the workload of joining. Please get in touch for more information about how to take part.
Bringing Inner and Outer together for a stronger movement
I want to end this blog by honouring all of you that are working on this edge of bridging the inner and outer aspects of the transition we want to see, to a sustainable, thriving future for everyone. Sometimes it can feel easier to stay on one side or the other – at home in the personal or spiritual growth realm, learning or doing our practice with others who see the world in the same way and share the same language. Or staying with those who see the need for outer change and are comfortable with the digging, building, composing, and physical work, avoiding the touchy feely stuff! Bringing these together can be really challenging, but for me it is absolutely the integration of inner and outer which will make something which is far more powerful, more alive and more lasting.
For more information about the Inner Transition International group email Sophy. Inner Transition workshops are running this year in Sweden (April), Portugal (May 9 – 10th), in Italy (probably July 4 – 5th) and UK (London in November, dates to be confirmed). Email for more details. If you’d like to host an Inner Transition workshop or other event please get in touch.