A New Global WE

We are entering a new stage in our human journey that we might call A New Global We. The fact is that this – WE – has always been our reality, as our ancestors intuited. However, our more recent capacities to understand and manipulate has fostered the illusion that we humans are separate from and even superior to the rest of the members of the world community, which we have come to see as a ‘collection of objects.’ It is this illusion that has brought us to our present crisis where we literally stand on the threshold of possible extinction in a degraded earth-home. This threshold, though, can still be the doorway into a new and enhanced world for us and for the entire earth community. It is what we long for in our deepest soul – with a longing that the shock of our present crisis has ignited in a powerful way that may indeed be strong enough to propel us into this new stage of a New Global WE. It will be a stage characterized by radical belonging at every level, radical love without judgment, radical participation by every perspective, and radical commitment to a new society that will reflect the ‘communion of subjects’ that we all are. For this to happen, however, we will have to remember who we are; relearn how to relate to one another; recreate all our relationships and structures to reflect this reality of INTERBEING.

Our website is part of this great vision and contributes to the movement toward its realization, specifically through the practice of Mindfulness-Dialogue; through a YouTube platform we are calling our Spirit Gathering that will highlight how and where this is already happening and through other resources like our Blog that will allow us to support each other along this road by sharing our experiences of and insights into this great work of our time.

I live my life in ever-widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the ancient tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years,
and still I do not know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a continuing great song?

Rainer Maria Rilke

Accelerating a Paradigm Shift Towards InterBeing

Change, Evolution and Paradigm Shift

Individuals and human society change and evolve in two fundamental ways that are related to how we create meaning by expanding our awareness, and how we live into this expanded awareness through our perceptions, stories, cultures, institutions and the decisions we make in our daily lives. Usually, circumstances and the challenges they bring allow for developmental adjustments and adaptations to the way we think, live and organize ourselves.

At times however, the magnitude and pace of change require a radical shift – when the normal responses of adjustment and adaptation no longer work. In these times, the structures of society simply break down under the weight of the new challenges. The outcome is chaos and collapse, or a radical shift, what Thomas Kuhn calls a paradigm shift. We are at this point in our society today.

A ‘paradigm’ is a set of concepts or thought patterns that describe reality: a worldview. A paradigm shift, then, is a new – expanded – worldview that is able to address the challenges that the old system cannot and takes the system itself to a new expanded level. At first, society and its institutions typically reject this expanded world view and its implications, either out of special interests that benefit from maintaining the status quo, or simply out of cultural inertia and habit. In fact, the new worldview is often perceived as heretical and is either actively discredited or destroyed. However, the continuing challenges, the corresponding chaos, and the collapse of the old system, eventually trigger a drift towards the new worldview. Gradually – or perhaps suddenly under the right conditions – this worldview becomes the center of a new paradigm.

InterBeing

The emerging paradigm today is interbeing, which defines everything as interconnected and interdependent. For us humans, this expanded awareness has implications at every level. At a personal level it challenges and transforms all our perceptions and relationships with everyone and everything. The awareness of interbeing begins to heal the sense of alienation and isolation that the old paradigm fostered, along with its tendency towards xenophobia, blind prejudices, assumptions of privilege and superiority, and all the unexamined ways we relate to each other, the biosphere, the earth and even the cosmos.

At a group/interpersonal level, this new paradigm challenges our collective assumptions about differences, whether gender, religion, class, ethnicity, physical or mental ability, education, experience, age, etc. It pushes us to examine how we make choices that either break or bridge our relationships; how we include and exclude; and who gets to decide. This new paradigm forces us to reconsider our basic need and drive to belong.

At a societal level the new paradigm challenges our understanding of our most basic principles and cherished virtues of liberty, equality, and justice as they manifest themselves in our collective lives and institutions.

Conflict and Transformation

Conflict can be a critical nexus of transformation. Conflict has convening power: it creates the conditions for new groupings to emerge that were not possible, let alone conceivable, prior to the conflict’s emergence. Conflict also has transformative power, for when new, diverse groupings come together, and a safe place – a container – is created, transformation can occur in the form of new shared understanding that emerge from the tension that arise when group members hold and explore their differences with a measure of skill.

The work of transformation naturally progresses in four stages that reflect the evolution of this container:

  1. Instability of the container: when there is little trust or understanding or skill.
  2. Instability in the container: when there are some skills but differences emerge that are hard for the group to hold.
  3. Inquiry in the container: where there is growing skill to explore differences and develop mutual understanding.
  4. Creativity in the container: when new shared meaning emerges out of the tension generated by the differences along with real agreements on which to build a new way forward.

This container serves as a microcosm and a model for the eventual transformation of the society at large. Through these stages of transformation, the group is able to reimagine a society that is able to address the conflicts faced but also realize new possibilities together.

Accelerating an Emerging Movement – A New WE

A new WE awareness is already growing out of the ashes of the old system that no longer serves. But in the face of the magnitude of the challenges we face to today, this new awareness can – and must – be accelerated at every level.

At the individual and group levels, WE consciousness can be accelerated within the ‘containers’ that the Mindfulness-Dialogue method creates. At the societal level, even with limited resources, this transformation can also be accelerated through a ‘critical who.’ This ‘critical who’ is defined as small diverse groupings who, when convened and helped with their own transformation, can draw many more along with them. These groups are typically made up of mid-level influencers and leaders who are positioned between the power elite and the grassroots and have influence with and on both.

The ‘critical who’ serves as a model and a catalyst for societal change as they expand their own circles of identity. There can be many such groups that are able to focus on particular aspects of society – justice, freedom, the environment, etc. – and work to bring others along in the corresponding social movements that arise. These expanding movements and their expanding values become the underpinnings of a new society, including new institutions for its self-organization and realization.

Mindfulness-Dialogue

Becoming a WE again will first require that we learn how to connect deeply with our truest selves and with each other. We begin this journey by sharing our stories from a place of centered vulnerability. We then learn to listen more deeply to each other to better understand each other’s fears and concerns. As we forge this deeper understanding, we experience an emerging sense of wholeness and belonging.

Mindfulness-Dialogue is both teachable and accessible. It brings together two practices: Mindfulness – which is essentially about presence (through attention), and Dialogue – which is essentially about interaction (through connecting, exploring and discovering). When these elements are brought together, participants are changed from being mere passive and dispassionate observers, to active, ennobled participants in the emergence of new shared meaning as the foundation for justice. This actively engaged and deeper consciousness is the key to a renewed humanity for it enables us to see the world and others more clearly and begin the healing journey of becoming a WE again.

The Practice

Mindfulness-Dialogue

Connecting – to create a place of safety and trust where everyone participates:

  • Using mindfulness to help us connect with our deeper and more authentic selves.
  • Sharing personal stories from this authentic place (with transparency and vulnerability) to establish the foundations for our shared humanity.

Exploring – to deepen mutual understanding:

  • Using art in the form of poems, readings or music to help catalyze the exploration.
  • Using mindfulness to deepen this exploration.
  • Using simple techniques, like sharing in sequence, without interrupting or ‘rehearsing,’ to promote full participation.
  • Using fundamental skills, like active listening, and skilled vulnerability to deepen mutual understanding and appreciation of differences.

Discovering – to generate new shared understanding and meaning:

  • Holding the tension of differences that surface in the exploring stage to generate new shared understanding.
  • Listening FOR and giving voice to this new meaning that surfaces in the form of insights or images, and building new and often surprising – agreements
  • Determining next steps, individually and/or together to create momentum.

21 Day Mindfulness-Dialogue Training

The following 21-Day Mindfulness-Dialogue Program will allow individuals and groups to learn the concepts and practices of Mindfulness-Dialogue over a three week period while making this way of being a regular habit. With each 15 minute exercise, users will be guided on how to integrate these concepts and practices into their daily lives and routines as a foundation for creating together A New Global WE.

Week 1 – CONNECTING

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Week 2 – EXPLORING

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Week 3 – DISCOVERING

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