The Work that Reconnects
Aims of the Work That Reconnects (WTR)
The central purpose of the Work That Reconnects is to bring us back into relationship
with each other and with the self-healing powers in the web of life, motivating and
empowering us to reclaim our lives, our communities, and our planet from corporate
and colonial rule.
Upcoming WTR events:
ENV650 course: The Work that Reconnects
Inspired by Joanna Macy's The Work That Reconnects, which draws from deep ecology,
systems theory, and spiritual traditions, this course asks participants to engage
the strong emotions resulting from the ecological crisis and work with transformative
practices. Building on mindfulness training, the course introduces specific practices
of loving-kindness, non-violent communication, active listening, and group experiential
engagement. Participants will work with the arc of The Work That Reconnects: opening
to gratitude, owning our pain for the world, seeing with new eyes, and going forth.
This course includes a nonresidential weekend intensive. Prerequisite: ENV 600 Inner
Work for Resilient Leadership or permission of the Instructor. Required for MA Resilient Leadership students.
Undoing oppression & the work that reconnects:
In the past few years there has been a growing community of folks who are interested
in the Work that Reconnects and who have also committed their time, energy and hearts
into organizing and educating themselves around decolonizing the Work that Reconnects.
From this movement many resources, materials and ways to be involved in this "Evolving
Edge" have been cultivated. For more information about this Evolving Edge, how decolonization
is viewed through the lens of the Work that Reconnects, access to online resources
and education, and how to become involved please click here.
Joanna Macy's Recommendations on Anti-Oppression Work within the Work That Reconnects:
the Work That Reconnects:
- provides practices and perspectives drawn from systems science, Deep Ecology, and
many spiritual traditions that elicit our existential connectivity with the web of
life through space and time.
- reframes our pain for the world as evidence of our mutual belonging in a relational
universe, and hence our power to take action on behalf of life.
- awakens stamina and buoyancy to live with full awareness of both the Great Turning
and the Great Unraveling, historically and in present time, and to embrace the uncertainty.
- awakens us to the systemic injustice, racism, and oppression of the Industrial Growth
Society, and generates our commitment to transform all our institutions for the benefit
of all humans, whatever their color, culture, religion, gender identity, and history.
- affirms that our intention to act for the sake of all beings, and to become allies
to all oppressed or marginalized people, can become organizing principles of our lives.
- helps us identify the strengths and resources we can mobilize in our commitment to
the self-healing of the world.
- presents the Great Turning as a challenge that every one of us, in collaboration with
others, is fully capable of meeting in our own distinctive ways.
Core Assumptions of the Work That Reconnects
- Our Earth is alive. It is not a supply house and sewer for the Industrial Growth Society. As most indigenous
traditions teach, the Earth is our larger body.
- Our true nature is far more ancient and encompassing than the separate self defined
by habit and Western society. We are as intrinsic to our living world as the rivers and trees, woven of the same
flows of matter/energy and mind. Having evolved us into self-reflexive consciousness,
the world can now know and see itself through us, behold its own majesty, tell its
own stories—and also respond to its own suffering.
- Our experience of moral pain for our world springs from our interconnectedness with
all beings, including humans of all cultures, from which also arise our powers to
act on their behalf. When we deny or repress our pain for the world, or view it as a private pathology,
our power to take part in the healing of our world is diminished. Our capacity to
respond to our own and others’ suffering–that is, the feedback loops that weave us
into life–can be unblocked.
- Unblocking occurs when our pain for the world is not only intellectually validated,
but also experienced and expressed. Cognitive information about the social and ecological crises we face is generally
insufficient to mobilize us. Only when we allow ourselves to experience our feelings
of pain for our world, can we free ourselves from our fears of the pain – including
the fear of getting permanently mired in despair or shattered by grief. Only then
can we discover the fluid, dynamic character of feelings. Only then can they reveal
on a visceral level our mutual belonging in the web of life and free us to act on
our moral authority.
- When we reconnect with life, by willingly enduring our pain for it, the mind retrieves
its natural clarity. We experience not only our interconnectedness in the Earth community and the human
community, but also mental eagerness to match this experience with new paradigm thinking.
Significant learnings occur as the individual re-orients to wider reaches of identity
- The experience of reconnection with the Earth community arouses desire to act on its
behalf, as well as on behalf of humankind. As we experience our essential desire for the welfare of all beings, Earth’s self-healing
powers take hold within us. For these powers to function, they must be trusted and
acted on. The steps we take can be modest ones, but they should involve some risk
to our mental and social comfort, lest we remain caught in old, “safe” limits. Courage
is a great teacher and bringer of joy.
The best way to find out more about the Joanna Macy Center at Naropa is to join our
mailing list and attend our events. For any other questions please contact Program
Manager, Rivi Marcus.
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