- One of the gifts of travel is the opportunity to step outside your own culture, and see the world from a new perspective.
My first distant adventure was 4 months spent in Japan in my early twenties – mostly volunteer working on organic farms out in rural areas. This was a radical departure of lifestyle from office work in IBM.
Exploring a new place is compelling and mind expanding. The unexpected surprise was the severe culture shock I experienced when I returned to England. I remember my first morning ‘home’ staring blankly at the toaster wondering where the breakfast rice was. I remember the brick buildings and churches seemed solid and heavily suffocating after the sliding wall paper houses of Japan. I learnt a lot more about the assumptions of my own culture than I did about the new one I’d visited – the shock part was discovering certain daily “facts” about life where not universal. But how far can we really go to get out of our own cultural mindset?
Lynne Twist has a wonderful TED talk about the importance of changing our collective dream. The indigenous Rainforest tribes she visited had a clear message – that from their perspective we are all stuck in collective trance, disconnected from the world and nature. She considers that our problems with economy, money, resources are fed from this dream, and that a key part of transforming those problems is to create a new dream for our global community.
I really liked Lynne’s idea of acting as a hospice for the ‘old’ world, while being midwife for the new one – which is currently being born through us! I’ve often looked around the world and despaired at the whole situation – or felt an angry rage and desire to destroy it to find something else. But to hospice someone is not the the same as to kill them! Perhaps we don’t need to fight to destroy the current world, with wall-street cocaine economists, greedy bankers, corrupt politicians – because this old world is already dying?
Lynne’s message is one of hope – that our efforts should be to assist in that dying, with love and compassion, whilst simultaneously focusing on birthing and nurturing the new life-giving ideas and world. I see this new world emerging in diverse ways – it is as wide ranging as supporting new environmental food practices, such as buying locally where possible — to new money systems such as Bitcoin or peer-to-peer currency exchanges (I use “Currency Fair” all the time) that bypass the banks and their charges completely.
I decided when I finished my Cognitive science degree (and was an optimistic 21 year old!) that I wanted to dedicate or offer my life in service to the world – but I didn’t know at that point if it would be focusing directly on nature, the environment – or if it would be focused on working with health and people. I followed the second path but my view now is that the two are really woven together. When people are tranced out, suffering mentally and physically, caught up in their traumas or disconnected from their body-truth – we don’t really know, think or care about the environment beyond perhaps a moral or intellectual interest. In contrast, the journey back into your body brings all manner of new awareness. For example – when you start to feel the effect of nourishing food vs chemical processed food on your thoughts and world – then you begin to reallyc are about where your food is coming from and how it is made. It has become personal, not abstract.
The feeling of separation from Life IS an illusion, a core part of the trance we sustain ourselves in, or try to escape from. This I know to be true, even though I forget when in depressions or fear. When we feel intimacy with ourselves, others, the world around us- joy and presence fills us. The experience of the world shifts, and we start to truly notice and care. It can be easy to look around us at the mess of an industrial world we have, and despair – to feel that working on changing ourselves is insignificant, if not self-absorbed.
Actually starting with ourselves is essential! We are the one part of this existence we can have real control and influence over, if we take some self responsibility. We are like fragments of the hologram that is our whole humanity – each containing the image-dream in complete form. Perhaps if enough of us change our inner fragment, the overall picture will shift – a new dream is born. It is happening already : how many times do you find yourself reading something on the internet written by a person across an ocean from you – and found yourself deeply resonating with their words? A great joy with my friends and clients are those moments when deep understanding and mutual recognition occurs – moments when you realise that you are not alone.
[infobox]Would you like support in finding a new dream? I’d love to help! [/infobox]I also love seeing people emerging out of that heavy trance – sometimes it can be as sudden as dog shaking away the water, fluffing out in an instant. Other times it is a slow effort-full shift like pulling yourself out of sticky, sucking mud. It is much easier when you have a new dream to move into.
Often I see and hold that new dream for my clients, when all they can see is the pain or heaviness of the muck around them, or caught in the anxiety and fear of the old familiar world-way of being dying. Lynne’s metaphor – to be both hospice and midwife – is as equally valid for our individual healing journey as for the whole world. I agree with her in that courage and compassion are key. It took me a long time to realise that sometimes courage and compassion is knowing when to ask for and allow ourselves to receive support.
What is the dream you are living in? What would you change if you could? Is creating a new dream for your life critical fuel or a distraction from facing reality?