Issue 49: May 2022
Discernment or distraction?

Dear friend,

Have you noticed how easy it is to be distracted by the media? Do we really want to spend much time on Partygate or Mrs Sunak's tax status? My focus in this issue is to highlight some of the deeper questions of our times, to assist your discernment. I'd welcome hearing back with your reflections!

With blessings,

Feature blog: Making sense of the covid time

I’m writing this in April 2022: we’re into the third year of the covid time, and over 70% of us in the UK have had covid at least once. This is the biggest global pandemic since 1918… so what can we learn from it?

Probably all of us have had many conversations where someone tells us they’ve got covid, or lament the ongoing impact it’s having. Mostly, I hear people meeting covid with a sense of resignation, treating the whole pandemic as some big, random, unfortunate event. I prefer to believe there’s a meaning and purpose to most things, so this blog is my search for this in covid.

Read more

Blog: How adaptive networks can help future resilience

There's a widespread view that strengthening local communities will be crucial in the years ahead, to help us all to live with increasing levels of disruption, e.g. to food supplies, utilities, weather patterns, and probably social cohesion. During a recent week-long pilgrimage walk in Italy, I was slowly pondering how we can learn to live with the impacts of the climate crisis and the many other troubles of our times. The idea that is bubbling up for me is adaptive networks.

I spent several years helping to set up a couple of cohousing communities, which in theory would be a good form of adaptive community, but in practice is extraordinarily difficult to get started in the context of the UK planning and property system. Hence I am more interested in how one could create adaptive communities as a subset within existing communities. I am deliberately using the word adaptive to link this to Deep Adaptation, because I believe we are now at a time when the breakdown of societal and economic systems, predicted by Jem Bendell in 2019, is starting to happen, and sadly is likely to accelerate. So we are approaching a time when we will need to apply Deep Adaptation principles in daily life, in our local communities.

How a pilgrimage can help discernment

As life keeps getting more complex and confusing, I've found that pilgrimages are a good antidote, a way to feel renewed, re-centred, clarified. The tradition of pilgrimage goes back many centuries, and has seen some revival in recent years, with Santiago de Compostela in Spain as a top destination, and more pilgrimage paths set up in many countries.

This blog describes a recent pilgrimage walk I did in Italy (travelling by train!), which certainly helped my discernment. It also offers general pointers about what pilgrimage means, and how to explore it in the UK.

To see full blog, click here.

Events update

Soul Resilience Circle
Online group
Wed June 8, 7.30-9.00pm

If you are new to exploring soul insights, or want to go further, this group is a good opportunity. We will explore different ideas of what soul is, and ways to contact it, to find soul guidance about staying positive, connecting with joy, and finding our life purpose in these troubled times. Free of charge. Limited to 8 participants. If you would like to reserve a place, or want more details, contact Alan.

Tailored Retreats in the Welsh Mountains
A tailored retreat means that an individual or small group choose their own dates for exclusive use of a magical small retreat centre in Wales. Alan will run a couple of sessions each day, tailoring the retreat to your issues and questions. You will have most of each day free for walks in the extraordinary surrounding landscapes, or just to rest and reflect.

These retreats will be held at the Trwyn Tal mountain retreat centre where you can cultivate wellbeing and resilience through parallels with nature, drawing deep inspiration and insights from the beautiful setting. A retreat here offers you the chance to relax, immerse yourself in nature, and slow down the pace of life in a spectacular setting. The location is Capel-y-ffin in the beautiful Llanthony valley on the eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons, easily reached by train to Abergavenny.

Alan is offering two themes for tailored retreats:
Natural Happiness retreats: Grow your wellbeing by learning from Nature
Soul Resilience retreats: How your core self can guide you through uncertainties

If you are interested in a tailored retreat, please contact Alan.

Workshops available for group bookings
Alan and his team have several workshops and series available for a group or organisation to book: most can be delivered online or in person. Contact Alan for more information.

Grow your own Happiness
Cultivate your wellbeing with gardening skills!
Click here for details. 

Future Conversations
Raising group and community resilience through a series of guided conversations.
Click here for details.

Book blog: Your Brain on Nature

This is an important and exciting book in my view, as it gives extensive research validation for the natural happiness approach, and the aims of Hazel Hill Wood as a natural learning centre. This will be a longer blog than most, because I’d like to highlight the main insights from the book.  

This book was first published in 2012, and could not have been written even ten years earlier. It’s only very recently that research is emerging about the effects on our brains and bodies of the much longer time many people spend in screen world – smartphones, computers, televisions etc.

Read more

Bonus blog: Discerning at the end of life

Guest blog from Palden Jenkins

Something is beginning to come together, and that's a relief. I went through a big loss and crisis nearly three months ago, with my world disintegrating and hope plummeting, but I plugged on through it, taking it day by day. A blessing arose in that darkness that I didn't see at the time. As my health and spirits sank it felt as if I was coming close to dying. As I mentioned in my last blog, we're all partially dead, and at that time I went from (perhaps) 50% to (perhaps) 80% and started feeling pre-death shutting-down feelings. (Today I'm back around 50% again.)
There comes a point where you have to accept that you could be going. However, what I find is that, when I reach that place, everything changes. I go further toward dying, or my homoeostatic, self-healing capacities kick in, and a revival of some kind follows. You might have experienced this yourself in a breakdown or overwhelming crisis with death-like characteristics, even if it was mainly a psychospiritual wrenching out of the past and a squaring with the present.

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