From Inward to Outward: Creating and Realizing a New Order

In a number of forums, Ginny Whitelaw, author of Resonate: Zen and the Way of Making a Difference, expressed concern about society today and the global (dis)order.  She attributes much of what is happening to an “extractive mindset” – extracting earth’s resources, taking for oneself at others’ expense, wasting needlessly, endangering the planet with pollution and failing to restore the endless damage that is occurring through relentless consumption.  She suggests that underpinning this extraction mindset is acquisitiveness – greed driving the need to have more (money, food, status, power, influence, and/or land).  Businesses extract resources from developing countries and do not replenish them while, at the same time, exploiting cheap local labour.  There is an increasing desire for larger houses (with more in-built facilities) and cars with more room and power.  People have lost the art of “knowing what enough is”.   Facebook and other social media feed off and reinforce these acquisitive desires by rewarding the number of followers/likes you have and making you feel bad if you are not an “influencer’. 

In her presentation as part of the Masters Series of EVO Sports Collective, Ginny addressed these issues and spoke of them as the “crucial work of our time”.  She argued that these destructive trends have arisen because we have “dual consciousness” – separating mind from body and ourselves from others.  Associated with this is the disconnection from nature and the failure to understand and appreciate our connectedness to everything and everyone.   

Seeing ourselves as separate from nature and others, and viewing our mind as separate from our body (contrary to the experience of trauma), leads to a dualistic mindset that contributes to the disassociation and destruction of the current social order.  Ginny argues that we need to “feel the earth and sense the waves” to restore our balance through renewing our relationship with nature.  This sense of oneness with nature is cogently and emotively expressed by Lulu & Mischka in the video of their mantra meditation, Stillness in Motion.

A way forward to creating and realising a new social order

In her EVO presentation, Ginny argued that the adoption of non-dual consciousness and Perma-leadership represent the way forward to a sustainable social order.   Connection with nature and its healing power can be one way to develop a non-dual consciousness and contribute to self-care in these uncertain and challenging times.  Mindfulness practices such as loving-kindness meditation and reflection on our emotions (e.g. resentment) can build the sense of connectedness with others and heighten our empathy and compassion.

Ginny reinforces the view that effective leadership and change works from the inside out – from changing our energetic pattern to impact the world around us from a different “place of connection”.   She refers to Kevin Cashman’s book, Leadership from the Inside Out, as a point of reference.  Kevin, drawing on neuroscience research and the characteristics of high performing teams,  points to the need for leaders to strengthen their awareness, be authentic, enhance their courage, build character, develop agility and make a contribution through service of others in pursuit of a life purpose that demonstrates their authenticity.

Ginny suggests that we need to “re-think, re-look and re-invent” to create the future we want – one that optimises outcomes for everyone, rather than maximises wealth for a few.  To do this we have to become re-connected to nature, to our bodies and to others so that we can operate from a stable place, being grounded, and sure of who we are.  People of like minds can create a “tipping point” – the Pandemic of Love, initiated by Shelly Tygielski, is an example of this.  Ginny encourages us to “insert ourselves in what is going on” – just as Shelly Tygielski did from a rich lode of inner work and exploration of her inner landscape.  As we develop new energetic levels through inner integration and alignment, we are able to act on the world in an authentic way and make a contribution that aligns with our life purpose.  Ginny is a great believer in resonance as demonstrated in her Resonate book and the exercises she provides within it to help us centre our energy.

Perma-leadership as a way to engage

Ginny explains that the concept of Perma-leadership is based on the principles of permaculture –   caring for people, the planet and the future.  It develops from a deep mind-body connection and profound connection to others where, in line with indigenous wisdom, we recognise ourself in the other and the other in ourself (no separateness or duality).  Perma-leadership is an iterative process  involving both feed-forward and feedback – where an earlier step is repeated in the light of new insight.  Ginny illustrates the stages in the cycle (from both individual and collective viewpoints) in a Forbes article titled, What Globalization Taught Leaders and What They Need to Learn Now.

The four steps in the iterative Perma-leadership cycle are:

  1. Connect and Remember – initially it may involve remembering something in nature that one loves and reconnecting with it, e.g. by becoming lost in its beauty, sounds or touch.  This oneness with nature can build into oneness with others – feeling connected to others, not separate from them.  Mind-body connection and connection to others deepen over time and provides the impetus for turning practice into action.  Practices such as hara (lower abdomen) breathing and the music of chakras breathing can help to achieve this immersion and sense of connectedness.  The latter process involving the chakras can be enhanced by employing three levels of activity for each chakra – (1) as you tone the sound for the chakra envisage the sound and breath reaching into the chakra, (2) expand the sound and breath out to the whole world and (3) tap into the depth of emotion experienced within the chakra (as illustrated in Ginny’s EVO Masters Series presentation at 1.20 – note access to this series and other resources are free for people who register with the EVO Sports Collective).
  2. Shift and Reimagine – here the focus is on a challenge, project or purpose that one wants to act on in a different way from what has been happening to date.  It involves shifting our perspective on the endeavour and re-imagining it in the light of the permaculture principles mentioned above – caring for people, the planet and the future.  It means working from a deep sense of connectedness and shifting our perspective and action to align with a desired future rather a depleted past.  It may involve exploring “the ripple effect of your life” and choosing to change the effect you have.
  3. Energize and Inspire – this may involve developing a self-care plan incorporating wellness strategies to enhance our energy and using the resultant energy to show up for community care.  We can seek inspiration from people like Shelly and energize ourselves by completing her online course, The Power of Showing Up (which I am pursuing at the moment).  Part of this process is overcoming the self-messages such as “I am not good enough, know enough or skilled enough”.  If we pursue our purpose with energy and authenticity we will create resonance in others and inspire them to participate and contribute from their own centredness (just as Shelly did with the Pandemic of Love).
  4. Create and Realize – this involves converting intention into action and manifests “attuned human beings, listening, adapting” to realize the future in the present.  This requires having the insight to perceive present opportunities for personal contribution and building personal resilience and concerted action one step at a time in line with Permaculture Principles.   The cyclic action involved in Perma-leadership also resonates with the principles of action learning

Reflection

Ginny throws out a challenge to us to create and realize a new order, one intervention at a time – within our resources and in line with present opportunities.  As we grow in mindfulness through mindful breathing and other mindfulness practices, we can gain the necessary insight, courage and resilience to make a contribution to realizing a better world within our local community and/or on a broader scale (through inspiring others and creating a “tipping point”).

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)

Disclosure: If you purchase a product through this site, I may earn a commission which will help to pay for the site, the associated Meetup group, and the resources to support the blog.

Undertaking a Life Review

In a previous post I discussed the life review process when it occurs during a near-death experience or when a person is dying.  While millions of people have reported near-death experiences (NDE’s), not everyone has the privilege of having this experience.  If we wait till we are dying, we may find that we are overwhelmed with regrets, rather than experiencing the joy of having created positive ripple effects in our life, especially in our latter years.

It is possible to undertake a life review at any point in our life and to benefit ourselves and others we interact with as a result.  The life review process, even self-initiated, can be a forbidding task.  People find that early in life (especially as teenagers) we tend to be more reckless and less sensitive to the needs of others.  Jeff Janssen, in his video podcast interview with Kirsty Salisbury offers two questions which may be too daunting as a starting point:

  1. Which events/situations would you look forward to seeing and feeling again?
  2. Which events/situations do you dread seeing and feeling again?

We can build towards a situation where the events/situations we look forward to re-visiting (in all their visual and emotional elements) dominate our life review towards the end of our life.  This can be achieved by beginning on the path to a complete life review – taken in your own time and own way.

Chunking to manage the life review task

You might adopt a process of chunking up the life review task – breaking it into manageable chunks.  Shelly Tygielski, in her online course on the Power of Showing Up,  decided to focus on self-care in her life review after receiving a diagnosis which indicated that she would go blind without radical medical treatment – which subsequently failed.   She adopted the process of chunking up the self-care life review by looking at the different spheres in her life, e.g. work, home, social and community.  Community was included because she believes strongly that self-care is ultimately for enabling one to participate in a unique way in community care.  The result of such a review could be a comprehensive self-care plan that serves our needs and, at the same, time contribute to the wellbeing of others that we interact with daily.

Using role reversal to access others’ perspectives.

Jeff also adopts another approach to a life review by using a role reversal process.  He suggests for example, that if he was in his son’s place, how would he view his father?; or if he was in his wife’s place, how would she view him as a spouse?  We can ask similar questions in relation to our colleagues, family members or clients/customers.  This can be enlightening in terms of the ripple effect of our words, omissions and actions and can identify ways to ensure that we are choosing to create positive rather than negative ripples.  

Life purpose review

Consistently we are told that pursuing a life purpose beyond ourself adds meaning to our lives and is foundational to achieving happiness, joy and self-fulfilment.  In a life review, we can explore how we are pursuing a life purpose that engages us in community care.  We can ask ourselves two basic questions:

  1. What is my unique combination of experience (including trauma), skills, knowledge and abilities?
  2. How can I better use these to advance community care in my immediate environment and/or the wider community?

If we answer these questions honestly and pursue the insights gained we can begin to generate more positive ripple effects in the lives of others (and our own life).

Questions from lessons learned through near-death experiences

In the summary of his book, 10 Life-Changing Lessons from Heaven (based on reported NDE’s), Jeff provides a series of questions around each chapter that addressing a separate lesson or recommended way of living our life.  Even without reading the book, you can use the questions as a form of life review (of course, if you read the book, you will gain so much more meaning, insight and “how to” information).  You could for example explore these sample questions or others provided by Jeff:

  • How have your fears held you back and limited you?;
  • Where in your life do you need to summon the courage to jump?
  • Can you think of any situations where the Ripple Effect of your actions have had a negative effect on others? What was this effect and how far did the ripple effect extend?
  • Which individuals or groups might you not fully understand or accept?

Reflection

There are many approaches we can use to begin on the path to a life review.  Undertaking a life review is a massive task and can be managed through chunking up the task by choosing a manageable focus and starting point (e.g. self-care plan, role reversal reflection, life purpose review, or specific lessons from NDE’s or from death and dying).

We can engage in self-pity and get lost in the adversity caused by our past words and/or actions, or offer ourselves self-compassion and forgiveness and move forward with a life review process that engenders a commitment to creating positive ripples in our life and that of others in the community.

As we engage in mindfulness practices, we can grow in mindfulness in every aspect of our daily life, gain self-awareness and insight into our impact on others and have the courage to change for the better.

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Image by Public Co from Pixabay

By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)

Disclosure: If you purchase a product through this site, I may earn a commission which will help to pay for the site, the associated Meetup group, and the resources to support the blog.

The Ripple Effect of Your Life – Choosing What Effect You Will Have

Authors who have reported research into near-death experiences (NDE’s) invariably describe the “life review” as an integral part of the experience, along with many other elements.  While researchers and writers in the area of NDE’s confirm that every near-death experience is different in its dimensions and intensity for everyone (no two are exactly the same), they consistently report on the high level of incidences of people experiencing a life review during their NDE.  The character of the life review is typically individualised also.

The nature of the life review is richly described by Jeff Janssen, author of Your Life’s Ripple Effect: Discover How and Why Your Life Really Matters.  Jeff has researched more than 3,500 NDE cases and reported in depth on their nature and their impact on the individual involved.   He discusses his research findings and his book in a video podcast interview with Kirsty Salisbury.  Jeff explains the nature of life reviews along a number of dimensions and provides illustrations of each dimension from actual near-death experiences.  The dimensions include microscopic focus, panoramic view of the ripple effect of a person’s life and the resultant profound understanding experienced by the individual involved:

  • Microscopic focus: Jeff describes the level of detail experienced by many people undergoing a life review during their near-death experience.  He explains that the life review can encompass a person’s life from birth to the present day (or periods within) and entail highlighting every thought, word, action and feeling experienced by the individual involved over the span of the review.  Not only does this involve vivid recall but what is also exposed is person’s reasons for acting (or re-acting) in the way they did.  This microscopic view means that the individual involved cannot hide the real reasons through self-justifications, lack of self-insight or unfounded assumptions – the underpinning motivations and precursors are in the spotlight.
  • Ripple effects: Not only are the individual’s words, actions and reasons exposed but also the impact that these have on individuals who are directly impacted by them.  This is experienced in high definition – feeling the physical impact of a slap or punch, experiencing the pain, anguish, frustration and anger of another resulting from the focal individual’s words and actions.  So not only do you experience your own thoughts and feelings but also those of people directly impacted.  The ripple effect is disclosed through being able to observe what the impacted individual does as a result of the interaction with you – passing on their anger, resentment or other feelings to family members, co-workers and anyone else they interact with.  Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Mary Neal in her book chapter, Death on the River,  discusses her life review during her near death experience and explains that no event or words in her life were seen in isolation but starkly in terms of their “unseen ripple effects”.  She saw the impact of her words and actions on others “dozens of times removed” from the immediate situation and understood that “every human interaction” has a far more significant effect than we can possibly imagine with our limited vision and insight.  The effects of words and actions that express love and kindness towards another person appear in the life review as amplified feelings of joy, gratitude and appreciation by the recipients and others.
  • Profound understanding: people who report having a life review during their near-death experience also report that if there are witnesses present who can see the life review (in all its high definition visuals, e.g. in shared death experiences), they do not judge the person having the review.  Jeff confirms that this is true also of other beings who are seen by some people to be present, including the Supreme Being (or “God” for some people).  There is no external judgment as the life review proceeds, only one’s own evaluation based on full information, understanding and insight that is engendered by the life review process.  Kirsty and Jeff suggest that the life review serves to identify areas for learning and development – what they describe as “soul purpose”, e.g. to develop greater patience or empathy.  The life review can also throw light on one’s life purpose and may even show the way forward by identifying a unique way to contribute to the welfare of the broader community and the world at large.

Choosing the effect you will have

There is little we can do about our past words, actions and omissions other than seek and/or give forgiveness – a forgiveness meditation can be helpful here.  Research into life after a NDE and life review indicates that people affected by the experience tend to change their words and actions so that they will have a positive ripple effect in their interactions.  Jeff describes these changes on his website and I have summarised them here:

More of:

  • Focus on living a life of contribution and personal meaning
  • Courage and fearlessness to live authentically
  • Offering unconditional love
  • Purposely living life to the full
  • Peace, patience and joy.

Less of:

  • Being a victim and passive in the face of challenges
  • Focus on materialistic values
  • Hatred and envy of others
  • Being stressed and overwhelmed
  • Concern about what others think about them.

As a result of this changed orientation to a positive ripple effect in their lives, people left soul-destroying jobs, increased their connectedness with others (family, friends, colleagues) and ceased to gossip about or bad-mouth others. Some even chose to work with the dying in a hospice setting.

In his earlier book, 10 Life Changing Lessons from Heaven, Jeff identifies how we can increase the positive ripple effect from our words and actions – we can choose what kind of ripple effect we will have in the rest of our life.  The lessons include learning, loving, trusting, and appreciating without limit while fearlessly pursuing a purposeful life in the service of others.  These lessons from near-death experiences resonate strongly with what Frank Ostaseski describes as the “lessons from death and dying” – gleaned from providing end-of-life care to over a thousand people who have died in a hospice environment.

Reflection

Throughout his book on the 10 lessons, Jeff offers exercises to make us think about what we need to change in our lives.  He also offers a series of questions on his website that address each of the 10 lessons, including “accept non-judgmentally” and “appreciate regularly”.  He encourages us to explore these with our friends or a community of care.

Even small acts of kindness have a positive flow on effect and cause ripples that may improve the quality of other peoples’ lives.  One small example of this is the daily ritual of the “waving man”, Peter Van Beek,  who waved to everyone who passed him in a car as he stood near a roundabout with a broad and welcoming smile – the positive ripple effect of this small action was reported recently on his death.

The challenge as Kirsty points out is to avoid being obsessed with our past life and things that we cannot change but to look ahead and change our words and actions while pursuing a life of purpose, meaning and contribution.  As we grow in mindfulness through reflection, meditation and other mindfulness activities, we can develop the necessary self-awareness, insight, courage and fearlessness to make our life matter for others.

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Image by Peter H from Pixabay

By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)

Disclosure: If you purchase a product through this site, I may earn a commission which will help to pay for the site, the associated Meetup group, and the resources to support the blog.