Before the COVID pandemic started causing lock-downs all over the world a group of people took themselves out of city life to participate in a retreat in Russia and consider how do we continue as we face difficulties due to climate change challenges and societal collapse. A group of us met online to watch the movie and have an online discussion about it.
Control and chaos
From the beginning I was immediately struck by reflections on loss of control and acceptance of chaos especially since that had been something in my immediate reality that had been very important and challenging in the last year. I wrote more about that in my last article here. My body responds to that thought with a shrinking tunnel vision and rising anxiety from my stomach into a gulp stuck in my throat. A deep breath allows me to sit with my discomfort for a moment as my mind races ahead of me and then finds a good spot to stop, my current reality is that I am already coping with these elements with varying degrees of success. In fact it is not just me who is coping I share the same predicament as the next person who shares my privilege.
A realisation that past coping strategies of planning ahead and strategizing are no longer effective perhaps and how challenging it is to change long establish coping conditions into new practices.
The deep adaptation forum agenda is to enable personal and collective transformation that might help us to prepare for and live with societal collapse and unpredictable future — in truth how predictable was the future before we realised we are walking into possible human extinction?
Embracing the unknown
Nonty Sabic eloquently and with tenderness said: We have to practice intellectual humility… to embrace that we do not really know what will happen and have to trust in the process of life.
There’s something beautifully comforting but equally painful about hearing a call to humility as the ego feels pricked into a reaction. How difficult it is in my personal and professional spaces to show up with that spirit of unknowing curiosity and for that to be welcomed rather than the closed door that is certainty or a basis for discredit.
As humans in a changing world we have limitations and acknowledging mystery as we go through these experience what would it be like to do so with acceptance that we don’t need to understand everything?
The fear of going into the unknown is shared, Andrew said to live as our authentic self that cares about connecting in the circle around me and expanding that even as you drop the fake niceness and raise the voice for sacred outrage that comes from love and holding this with fear of the unknown once you see you cannot unsee, a collective beating of the heart when there is resonance.
Grief as an experienced emotion not trauma
Nonty calls for a need to make peace with our trauma and our grief, oh how I grieve, tears rise up from the deep wells of my being and stand still perched on the precipice of my eyelids. It strikes me then that there is a fundamental connection between our disconnection and the trauma.
The way we hide ourselves from others in our grief and in so doing it becomes this overwhelming traumatic experience instead of an opportunity to experience grief as an integral part of life in community. After all death is a part of life we all share and experience. We have somehow picked up along the way a kind of shame in being authentic when we are struggling and so we struggle alone.
One beautiful metaphor in the movie was the story of the pumpkin and how something new sprouts of the dying or decaying of another process, just like a pumpkin rots down and cracks and from within it the seeds sprout for the cycle to start again — how afraid we are of death, but what if we considered it an opportunity for metamorphosis?
There is so much to unpack here and I wonder when grief and trauma may as Nonty said live in the same house in peace.
Dis / connected
All throughout the film, this theme of connected-ness is in fact a recurring one in the reflections as we hear about reconnecting with nature, ourselves and each other.
The loss of connection to our own selves and everything else hiding behind a mask of how we want to be seen — how to work on healing this disconnect, to be authentic and connected.
In the discussion group we also touched upon Ancestral healing, it might be the last opportunity for our ancestors to clear up some of the trauma that has been passed on without previous resolution, this practice could be a way to reconnect and apply some balm on the burns of current reality.
It is magical what these spaces of discussion have been able to create by way of connection and dispelling the loneliness that disconnection has created. It feels so precious to be seen and heard.
There is a sense of the collective reaching for a connection, a different way of being for more authenticity, freedom of being oneself without judgement or with a welcoming.
There is value in choosing a way to be right now without external input to sit with the discomfort and process that without the need to rush out and find a distraction elsewhere. To decide in the moment whether there is emotional capacity to process something now or to put it away for later. To acknowledge that some experiences and some emotions are may be too strong for that moment and in a particular setting.
Yet it is so ingrained in me this inner guard and mask that in order to show up authentically there are key ingredients of trust and a level of comfort that is not always possible out in the world. I catch myself making myself small, retreating often, I silence myself in order not to name that discomfort, to hide hurt feelings or fear, lest I might appear any less than I present myself to be as a constant despite acknowledging that I am human with human limitations.
The collective journey
Dorian quite rightly says we should not mull over the 4 questions on your own, just like grief this is in the most part a collective journey of reflection. The Deep Adaptation Forum offers free spaces for conversation for reflection, consideration and taking collective constructive action based on this.
As usual after a Deep Adaptation event I leave the space and enter back into my life with a sense of calmness as if I had been meditating, I still have a lot to unpack but I have expanded my capacity to do so and can hold onto this process lightly picking it up and letting it go when I need to.
Appreciation goes to Ilja Lehtinen, Diederik Saeijs, Nontokozo Sabic, Igor Polsky, Andrew McMillion, Helena Frida Wolf, Elena Skibina, Katerina Po, Masha Kulyasova, Tatevik Gukasyan, Antonina Kulyasova, Valeria Bukina, Dorian Cave who freely shared their reflections in this movie and for Sasha Daucus and Tatevik who held the space to discuss this film.
The Deep Adaptation Forum’s (DAF) overarching mission of is to embody and enable loving responses to our predicament, so that we reduce suffering while saving more of society and the natural world. It is an international space to connect people, online and in person, and in all spheres of life — to foster mutual support, collaboration, and professional development in the process of facing societal collapse.
About - Deep Adaptation Forum
Deep Adaptation refers to a paper written in 2018 by Professor Jem Bendell. The paper explores the personal and…
This event was part of the Deep Live Gathering which will continue until the 27th of October.