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Letting Go To Let Come - A Cultivation Of Quiet Spaces

What emerges in the quiet spaces. A reflection of key ideas, thinkers, books, and various content that challenged, inspired, and motivated over the holiday period.

Credit - YouTube - The Psychological Drivers of the Metacrisis: John Vervaeke Iain McGilchrist Daniel Schmachtenberger (clicking on the image will link to the Youtube video)

Cultivating and creating the quiet spaces.

As 2024 slowly emerges into view and its potential for newness begins to hatch, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity of this gentle period to capture in a post what has been unfolding for me over the holiday period. Even though the period from Christmas Day to New Year's Eve is seen as the holiday time of rest and recuperation, I actually love these first 2 weeks of January as it's a sort of 'liminal' space. It's a time when most are still in holiday mode, kids are still off school, roads are quiet, and business in general isn't quite firing on all cylinders. 

The liminal space is an opportunity to further integrate what has been reflected upon over the holiday period, and start to generate some potent intentions and visions for the year ahead and plan for the rest of Winter, getting ready for the new energies that come with the springtime. A side note is that over the last few years, I have been experimenting and moving more and more to align my personal and professional activity with the Seasons and natural Planetary cycles. This will be a blog post in and of itself. 

Once the Winter Solstice hit at the end of last year I completely downed tools, wrapped up any engagements or meetings, and settled in. This time of year in a natural sense is one of being inside, keeping activities to a minimum, quiet, peaceful, and honoring the Sun as it hits the lowest point on the horizon and the days slowly start to become longer. When we truly look at nature at this time there is stillness and dormancy and for me, it's important to acknowledge that and honour that stillness and dormancy within ourselves. Be the stillness in the storm of Society and its rampant consumerism, consumption, and general Christmas chaos.

This last period in particular, I have raised the level of stillness and quiet time compared to previous years, as intuitively it felt important somehow. There was a calling to do so and a pull to go into full retreat. I kept communication, connecting with others, and social media to the bare minimum. Immediate Family was the priority, plenty of sleep, lots of meditation, solo time, nature walks, ocean swims, and connecting into the deepest parts of Neil. Experience shows that in such spaces and places, there can be a receiving of gifts from within and without. These are gifts of ideas, insights, memories, connections, realizations, and emotions to be processed, not the physical gifts so commonplace at this time of year.

Reflection/Question #1 - What, where, and how do you create quiet and reflective spaces in your own life?

Reflection/Question #2 - If you don't create these spaces, why is that? What gets in the way?

Quiet spaces and gifts.

Leading into those fallow periods I had already started to cultivate and nurture the quiet space and a couple of key items/connections emerged - 

  • Revisiting an old book - Leading From The Emerging Future - Otto Scharmer (1)

  • A conversation with a good friend who I metwhom in New Zealand, albeit Welsh by roots and now living back in God's Country - DK (2). The gift of Daniel Schmactenberger (3).

Otto Scharmer is a personal hero of mine and a key influence which would again require a series of blog posts to explain how this connection emerged and unfolded. I first became aware of Otto in my early 30's (I'm now 45) however it wasn't until my mid 30's when I moved to New Zealand that I became activated by his work. Otto is a Senior Lecturer at MIT and arguably most widely known for the development of Theory U, an awareness-based method for systems change. The key word here is awareness, as it was this that turned on the light for me as to who this man might be. For context, before moving to New Zealand in 2014, I had been working in Banking for many years which left me feeling empty/burnt on many levels and this was one of the catalysts for getting out of Corporate, decoupling from mainstream society and heading to a far-flung corner of the world - New Zealand. 

Synchronous to that whole period pre-NZ was a widening and deepening interest in mystical, esoteric, and occult philosophies and teachings, the origins of which came after a particularly colorful period in my life in my late Teens/early 20s. A substantial awakening also happened in my early 30's that in effect became an accelerator for me shedding the Corporate life. It was this underpinning and worldview that offered me the opportunity to 'see' Otto in a way that others maybe generally couldn't. Here was a man operating in your typical Corporate environments however was operating from a much deeper place that I had never experienced in my environments. 

I'll say no more about Otto and Theory U and will let Otto speak for himself

The importance of tipping my hat to Otto during this last period was acknowledging that something deeply intuitive was pulling on my coattails, and very much trying to get my attention hence re-reading the book, as well as the pre-cursor text - Presence (4). For some months I had been holding an internal space for the question 'What is my work? where in the system am I most needed, and where can I be of service with the context being the Liverpool City Region, my home? I was starting to receive signals from a deeper place in the form of ideas, clearer visions, and connections to people like Joanne Anderson the ex-Liverpool Mayor, and organizations like Capacity and Kinded LCR. I was also re-membering connections to progressive organisations from my time in New Zealand like Enspiral and chance multiple encounters with a peer of Otto's - Nicanor Perlas. (5)

Back in 2017, I trained directly with Otto in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the Theory U methodology, yet I have never been able to fully activate the methodology to this point, although it has very much informed my work. As I sense into and become aware of what is happening around me whether it be climate change, or the mental health crisis among many others, Theory U has bubbled right back up and the time feels now to bring this work into greater awareness in the City region. I also see now how Theory U has very much influenced my movement into Family and systemic Constellations work and bringing that into the City region too. More updates to come as we move through 2024 on how this emergence continues to unfold.......Thank you Otto 

The gift of Daniel Schmachtenberger.  An end-of-year catch-up with a dear friend yielded something unexpected and altogether life-changing. Another one of those 'aha' moments that essentially altered the course of my Christmas.

Every 2-3 months, DK and I take the time to deep dive into where we're both at in different areas of our lives and offer deep reflections and recommendations, a true friendship. As I was reflecting on where I was at that time around the Winter Solstice, I again was talking about Otto above, which is a nice segue into what comes next. My focus of the conversation was awareness-based systems change and the ability of an individual, a family, a community, an organization, or any system to be able to 'see' itself. The theory is that you can only change something that you can see, observe, and acknowledge. I was connecting it to the deep work I'm currently offering through my Family Constellations Work. Upon hearing these reflections DK mentions he has something that I may be interested in.....Enter stage left, Daniel Schmactenberger, John Vervaeke, and Iain McGilchrist (see main image at top of post).

DK offered me this outstanding generative discussion between 3 eminent thinkers on what Daniel Schmactenberger calls the Meta-crises. See the video here - 

In a time of short quick dopamine hits in the form of Instagram and TikTok videos, this 3+ hour video is almost biblical however it is very much worth the investment of your time and energy. It looks specifically at the psychological drivers that underpin the dangerous situation we currently find ourselves in collectively as the human race and the state of the wider planetary ecosystem, which humans and human systems are doing their best to wipe out. 

There is so much to unpack in this video that I can't do it justice here how this video was a very loud clarion call for me to step up, and be much more active than I have been. I felt like I had been sleepwalking for a couple of years since returning to Liverpool from New Zealand, however now very much waking up to what is. 

I would say the key very high-level takeaways from this video are threefold -

  • The importance of sensemaking and the ability to understand what is happening around us.

  • The loss of sacredness.

  • The psychology/inner place from where we operate when engaging with the world and the consequences of that place of operation. It can be argued that individually and collectively we're operating from a place of systemic trauma, with the effects essentially being catastrophic and self-terminating.

The last point links to something that Otto mentions in various Theory U literature and is attributed to Bill O Brien from Hanover Insurance. The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.

Reflection/Question - As you look at yourself and your way of showing up in the world, what is the typical inner condition that you show up with, whether it be work, family, or friends? What are your potential blind spots?

An Indigenous Elder once commented that how we see the world is how we shape the world which very much talks to the above and how Otto says that we collectively create results that Bobody wants in the form of climate change, social fragmentation, fear, and divisive politics. How present are you each and every day? How do you cultivate presence and a connection to the sacred in your day to day?

For me it's through meditation and a connection to nature, spending lots of time outdoors in Mountains, Hills, Forests, and Crosby/Formby Beach. It helps bring me into the present moment. Being more present means I can hold more and be more for those people around me. 

I'm very much focussing on Daniel in this particular post as the way he articulated his ideas immediately resonated with me, although I will get an opportunity to dive deeper into the other two speakers' work, Iain McGilchrist (6) and John Vervaeke (7) at a future stage. A large portion of my downtime over the festive period was dedicated to watching more of his videos on sensemaking and the meta crisis. He's a remarkable man and trust that I will get to meet him at some point in the future.

This is a core section of Daniel's content I consumed over 2 weeks. Listening to and consuming Daniels's ideas will very much inform my work for 2024 and beyond. First and foremost this will be going deeper with my inner work, working with systems, being more intentional and disciplined with my spiritual practice, as well as being more balanced and refined in my sensemaking process....Thank you, Daniel.

Letting go to let come.

Bringing all of this together, my reflections from this fruitful period have been numerous however the core highlights are - 

  • Gratitude for all that I have, to myself, to my family, and my home city.

  • Understanding the importance of fostering and creating presence and quiet spaces as containers for deeper insight, and knowing to emerge. This for me is no longer negotiable. It's a given.

  • Cultivating awareness using meditative practices throughout my day.

  • Establishing a strong position of service and positive influence within my Community and wider City region, being an active Citizen.

  • Practicing non-attachment. Letting go of people who don't uphold values recognise me or respect me for who I am. Trusting that new people who resonate with where I am will come into my life in the right way at the right time.

  • Challenging my belief systems and values, and seeing/holding many different viewpoints/perspectives. Checking my own biases and finding mirrors to reflect my blind spots.

What are you letting go of in 2023 to let come in 2024 and beyond? 

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