Work That Reconnects
Despair & Empowerment Work for Healing our World
Mental & emotional wellbeing in times of change & uncertainty:
Work That Reconnects supports us to deepen our connection with and care for ourselves, each other and all life. Awake to our interconnectedness with the web of life, we are empowered to participate in the Great Turning.
We are alive at an extraordinary moment in time: It is a time of growing uncertainty, as climate catastrophe looms, the sixth mass extinction accelerates, and the wounds of inequality and inhumanity are laid bare.
It is also a time of great possibility when creativity, courage, and collective action can change the political and ecological landscape for future generations.
A time when many of us are seeking ways to reconnect to one another and to the living Earth, and to bring forth our particular gifts to contribute.
Work That Reconnects is a transformational body of work developed by and based in the Buddhist and Systems Theory teachings of Joanna Macy. It includes theories and interactive practices enabling us to reconnect to our own true nature, the web of life, and to our human community.
Opening our hearts and minds to the love and the grief we feel for our world empowers us to act on behalf of Earth.
We use experiential practices, poetry, ritual, song, movement and silence to guide our journey through the four stages of the spiral of the Work That Reconnects.
Deepening Connection for Positive Action
The four stages of the spiral are; Coming From Gratitude, Honouring our Pain for the World, Seeing with New Eyes, and Going Forth.
Each of these stages leads naturally to the next. The journey helps us experience first hand that we are larger, stronger, more creative – and more deeply interconnected – than we knew.
The Spiral begins by coming from gratitude, because that quiets the frantic mind and brings us back to source, stimulating our empathy and confidence. It helps us to be more fully present and opens psychic space for acknowledging the pain we carry for our world.
In owning and honouring our pain for the world, and daring to experience it, we learn the true meaning of compassion: to “suffer with.” We begin to know the immensity of our heart-mind. What had isolated us in private anguish now opens outward and delivers us into the wider reaches of our inter-existence.
Experiencing the reality of our inter-existence helps us see with new/ancient eyes. We can sense how intimately and inextricably we are related to all that is. We can taste our own power to change, and feel the texture of our living connections with past and future generations, and with our brother/sister species.
Then we go forth into the actions that call each of us, according to our situation, gifts, and limitations. With others whenever and wherever possible, we set a target, lay a plan, step out. We don’t wait for a blueprint or fail-proof scheme, for each step will be our teacher, bringing new perspectives and opportunities. Even when we don’t succeed in a given venture, we can be grateful for the chance we took and the lessons we learned.
And so the Spiral begins again, with gratitude. There are hard things to face in our world today, if we want to be of use. Gratitude, when it’s real, offers no blinders. On the contrary, in the face of devastation and tragedy it can ground us. Especially when we’re scared, gratitude can hold us steady for the work that must be done.
In addition to forming the container for Work That Reconnects workshops, the Spiral may also unfold naturally over the span of a project, over the course of a day, several times in one day, or even over a whole phase of one’s life.
The Spiral is fractal in nature. The sequence can repeat itself in ever new ways. Sometimes the whole sequence plays out within one particular stage. We come back to it again and again as a source of strength and fresh perspectives.
In each workshop and in each stage, participants are invited to navigate, express and share their own emotions and insights about the state of the world, and the resources and tools available to them to work towards what Joanna Macy calls “The Great Turning”.
Rather than offering its own analysis of causes and solutions for the crises of our time, the Work That Reconnects invites us to take a fresh look at what we see happening around us. The model of “Three Stories of Our Time” helps us do this. Each of these stories reveals a profoundly different lens through which people understand the world we all live in. Taken as a whole, they assist us in both making sense of what we see and experience, and also in choosing how we want to live our own lives and engage in the work of change.
These stories are Business as Usual, the Great Unraveling, and the Great Turning. While all three simplify vastly complex global realities, they can help us to See with New Eyes and clarify our commitment to collective human liberation and the living web of Earth.
Business As Usual - The 'Industrial Growth Society' and the European-based colonial empires. It is the dominant enforcing mechanism of the corporate financial military industrial complex that perpetuates patriarchy and white supremacy for the profit and power of a few. Many people caught up in the Industrial Growth Society assume this story to be the only reality.
The Great Unraveling - The story told by many scientists, journalists, and activists, who have not been bought off or intimidated by the forces of the Industrial Growth Society. Drawing attention to the disasters caused by Business As Usual, their accounts give evidence of the on-going derangement and collapse of biological, ecological, economic, and social systems.
The Great Turning - We hear the story of a Great Turning from some who see the Great Unraveling and don’t want it to have the last word. This is the story of the transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life Sustaining Society. Attitudes shift from exploitation to respect, from extraction to regeneration, from competition to cooperation. More and more people join together to get out of destructive Business As Usual, and invest ourselves more fully into what we care for, accepting uncertainty and the unknown with compassion in our hearts. We come to see how interwoven we areas peoples, and recognize that solidarity with one another is a way through these crises. So we join together to act for the sake of life on Earth.
The story of the Great Turning involves the emergence of new and creative human responses, as well as a reawakening of sustainable indigenous traditions. We gratefully acknowledge the wisdom of indigenous traditions that came before us, and are re-emerging today, bearing strong witness to the interconnectedness of all life. Let us also borrow the perspective of future generations and, in that larger context of time, look at how this Great Turning is gaining momentum, accelerated by the choices of countless individuals as they band together in networks and campaigns all over the world.
Though the Great Turning is not guaranteed, it is well underway even as the great Unravelling accelerates. We can see this Great Turning happening simultaneously in three dimensions that are mutually reinforcing: 1) actions to resist and slow down the damage to Earth and all its beings; 2) analysis and transformation of the socio-economic foundations of our common life; and 3) a perceptual, cognitive, and moral shift to biocentric values and world views that affirm our human responsibility to life in all its richness and diversity and to future generations.
All of the three dimensions are necessary for the creation of a life-sustaining and just society. Acting in or committing to one or more of these dimensions, we get to understand that others are inspired by and committing to other dimensions, which together make up the totality of the Great Turning.