What is Bringing me Joy right now?
Thinking about Lucia and Louis dancing. Being in a nice warm house with some really great house-mates. Feeling quite chilled compared to how I felt this morning, listening to Frank Ocean, thinking about squirrels, a delicious tibetan lunch with my friends, kindness.
I have written some reflections on mindfulness, what’s written in the AJ book is ok, but doesn’t quite work for me and slightly misses some things i have learnt that feel important to emphasise.
Mindfulness is a set of practices, e.g sensing the body, breathing, contemplating death, looking at phenomena in terms of pleasant/unpleasant/neutral (Vedana).
Practices that we can do over and over again, that lead to particular insights and freedoms.
The word ‘Sati’ that is often translated as mindfulness in the west. It’s root meaning is something more like to remember/re-collect/contemplate.
When we spend time contemplating the body, the breath etc, we simplify our experience, we investigate, we make more space to choose, especially choices that allow more joy into our lives.
Mindfulness allows us to integrate the experiences we have into our lives, rather than being pushed and pulled around, we can start to respond to life wisely.
The “Don’t miss it” practise is a good example of integration, allowing experiences to permeate into our being. We also begin to integrate things when they are difficult and challenging, and we can find more freedom in those times.
As we practice we also start to observe impermanence, that things come and change and go, we learn to enjoy things when they are present, and when difficult things arise, we can be more at ease with them knowing that they will fade.
The more we practice contemplating and recollecting this practises, the more ‘mindful’ we will become in everyday moments. Mindfulness becomes a frequent visitor.
Mindfulness offers a way for us to slow down and investigate our experiences with care and wise attention. We become interested in what is happening and the impact it is having on us. In this potent pause we can ask: “Is how I am thinking and feeling contributing to suffering or to freedom?” - Ruth King
I love the concept of uni-tasking from the AJ book. I have been practising this the last few weeks, just doing one thing at a time, and actually enjoying it, or at least finding something enjoyable in it.
Orienting Towards Pleasure
I have just started reading adrienne maree browns pleasure activism.
Before the book came out I was experimenting with orienting myself towards pleasure.
In everything I do, what can i find in it that is pleasurable?
Live pleasure streaming ::::: Right now I am rushing and typing because that is a habit I have built being on computrers. If i take a second to tune into what’s pleasurable about my experience, I can feel a heavy grounding tingling in my legs, I decide to adjust my posture so I am comfortable and my shoulders more relaxed, I slow down just a little and listen to the tapping of the keyboard, i breathe a little more. My body feels softer.
Quickly I get caught up again in rushing, but the more I practice orienting towards pleasure, the more I will find myself there.
Intention: The first session we ran
The first session went well, we have had good feedback from the group, it is a lovely group, mostly close friends so it feels like a safe space to practice. It’s been nice having more conversations about joy with people when I have seen them.
Lesson plan and structure below
How is the training going?
I’m finding it a bit hard to keep up - I have had a lot going on these past few weeks, but i am managing, it works better for me to stay up to date than to let things run over, this means focusing some time every week to keep up to date i think.
I am also creating more work for myself by doing these blog posts, but it’s something I really want to do, it helps my learning so much pulling strands together and creating something.
Second call with James
Working with the self that can arise in a leadership position - identifying with the role.
This is an opportunity to practice anatta (no-self) trying ways of looking like - the dharma is coming through me.
Let wisdom come from the group! Collective wisdom. Ssking great questions so people access their own wisdom, reflecting back to people what you hear them say, give them time.
Tune into the wise part of them, look for what is wise in them - see them in that way and speak to that part of them and they will feel seen.
Intention: keep going back to this! Keep bringing it in
In August this year, Land in Curiosity joined Classroom Alive for their second bootcamp, a space to organise and plan walking-learning journeys. Whilst at the bootcamp, we met Alan (<3) , a founder of Open Masters, he told us about Emergent Strategy (ES), written by adrienne maree brown (amb), and highly recommended that we read it. So as a group, looking for clearer ways to work together, we made a commitment to do so. This blog post explores parts of how emergent strategy fits into the year long walk that LiC is organising starting May 2019, questions about how we could use ES, and examples of how we have used ES within past walks and working together.
"To see our own lives and work and relationships as a front line, the first place we can practice justice, liberation, and alignment with each other and the planet." amb
What is Emergent Strategy?
- “Strategy for building complex patterns and systems of change through relatively small interactions”
- “Plans of action, personal practices and collective organising tools that account for constant change, and rely on strength of relationship for adaptation.”
Land in Curiosity’s walking journeys involve living outside and studying whilst on the move, so by their very nature, involve having to adapt to constant change.
For example, changes in resources, landscapes, the local communities, weather, group numbers, abilities, and seasons. Land In Curiosity designs group roles (eg. facilitator, learning coordinator, food team etc) so they are open to change and regularly have new people taking them on. amb speaks of ‘intentional adaptation’ as opposed to change. This question of intent is profoundly important. How do we meet constant change and stay in touch with our deeper purpose? We agreed that sometimes our purpose, or the purpose of a discussion, might need to change. That’s okay, but it’s important to acknowledge. (eg. we come to a discussion to process a conflict, but what is really needed is a space to grief. We acknowledge this, change purpose, and can come back to process the conflict at a later date)
“I'm talking about the combination of adaptation with intention, where in the orientation and movement towards life, to is adaptation. this is the process of changing or staying in touch with deeper purpose and longing.”
Conflict circles, daily check-ins, sit spots, learning together, play, awareness around dominant structures, embodiment through walking; these are some of the collective practises that help us to adapt
Education is free and accessible.
Education is malleable to an individual’s or a group’s needs.
Learning is influenced by our passions and sparks.
Learning is guided and supported by our commitments,
harvested and shared by it’s application in the world.
People learn at all ages.
Learning can be our purpose.
We are learning how to learn.
We are learning what to learn.
Education that isn't certified is valued and acknowledged by proof of the person, projects or applications created
We have learnt beautiful ways of living together, constantly
deconstructing violent ways of being inwardly and outwardly and with the natural world.
We play, love, work, enjoy, collaborate,
meet conflict together.
We recognise our interdependance.
We support each other in 1000 ways.
Humans are not seen as separate from nature, but as a vital part of a beautiful and intelligent ecosystem.
We aim to live harmoniously,
we have full and meaningful perceptions guided by nature.
We are in a vital collaboration.
We do not abuse nature, suppress or exhaust their resources.
Nature is teacher and a refuge.
It can also be cruel. We respect it all the same.
The term nature doesn’t exclude technology.
It’s not opposed to cities, buildings or human-made systems.
Nature exists in all of those things.
Likewise, ‘living harmoniously’ doesn’t need to exclude things like flying in a plane, cutting down trees, eating animal products, etc.
What it does mean is that we need to pay close attention to the impact our tools and systems
have on ourselves
and the web of beings we are are connected to,
and adjust when the bad outweighs the good.
Example of how Lic uses Emergent strategy
“Many of us have been socialized to understand tha constant growth, violent competition and critical mass are the ways to create change. But emergence shows us that adaptation and evolution depend more upon critical, deep and authentic connections, a thread that can be tugged for support and resilience. The quality of connections [is] between the nodes in the patterns.” - amb
LiC started with around 40 people on a mailing list, mostly friends of friends who had shown interest in the project. We were told, and we thought, that we needed to grow, to ”up our game.” We would need thousands of followers to make this project a success (hello constant growth and critical mass!)
Through reading ES, we are realising that the connections we create as a nomadic community - between the organisers, with those who join, and with those we meet along the way - are deep, authentic, and critical, making them more meaningful and more in line with our purpose than the amount of likes on Twitter.
Example no. 2: Competition > Collaboration
Land in Curiosity has been massively supported and inspired by the folks at Classroom Alive. They have beautifully modelled a collaborative relationship and we have learnt a lot from them (and continue to do so). In the current capitalist paradigm, it would be easy for us to see each other as competition; but by collaborating, we both deepen our relationships, our understanding, our knowledge, potential, and learn to recognise the unique value and quality of the two organisations. When we drop the competitive narrative of “my idea” or “my territory” and step up as leaders in collaboration and decentralisation, we support each other to move together towards shared goals. Pleased to say that LiC will continue to collaborate with Classroom Alive during the year long walk.
See also: Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organisations
Relationships and connection between the core team has become central to our perception of the project working. Our interactions, our ability to ride and swim in waves of conflict, to determine how this project will run, rather than a solely focusing on how much work we can get done. We’re thinking that how we work together and structure this project is what will make the project successful or not, and will affect how LiC will ripple out into the world.
Leadership > interdependence
“When Canada geese are migrating, they take turns at the front of the V, being the leader, the weight carrier, being the follower, the rester.”
I have seen us do this beautifully so far: in planning for the year long, as each of our capacities and workloads change, as one person takes on more paid work, or needs a month to rest, others pick up the parts they can no longer do; as someone finds themselves short of cash, others will pay a greater share. So far It seems to be a fluid and natural way of working together. There is not one leader, between the five of us organising, the balance of leadership moves and shifts like waves.
We were considering setting an amount of time to commit to working each week, this was suggested to us by a mentor. I think what would be more beautiful and connective would be to open up a conversation about how much work we are each doing or not doing and how we feel about that and the impact it has on us as individuals and the project, and to recognise what each other is bringing when we have less space to work.
How to we create pleasure when we meet, on walks:
Dancing, singing, playing games, making music from the things round us, walking, embracing our rhythmic bodies, following seasonal cycles, hugs, sitting by fires, looking at the stars, swimming in Oceans Lakes Rivers, living outside, being always a part of nature, making delicious food, eating together, following out curiosities and learning always, learning as our purpose.
I asked my fellow organiser Sam how we could bring more pleasure into our work. This is what he said:
Sam: Personally, I find pleasure is abundant when I let it be. Not pleasure from stuff I want (like chocolate). More pleasure from life in general (like, well, anything really: the wind, people, a piece of string, etc.). Sometimes I forget this, and think that pleasure comes from the things that have previously given me pleasure. But this is a mistake. It shuts me down to further experiences of pleasure - making it something that is no longer abundant - rather than opening myself up to all its sources. I don't always open myself up to pleasure because I think I have better things to do. Sometimes this is true, but not always. I find that making room for pleasure - by simply doing nothing - can be a great thing to do. So, for me, in answer to your question about how we could create more pleasure when we meet, or as we walk together, I think we need to a) acknowledge that pleasure is abundant when we let it be, and b) make room for it by having time to do nothing.
I am left with many questions to explore in our organising and living together as a nomadic community:
How do we want to be in the world, and is this reflected in the way we work?
I think that reviewing dominant ways of working weekly, could help us bring into awareness how we are working, and keep these questions and explorations alive. It also feeds into our commitment to work towards liberation from dominant structures.
As my meditation teacher and amb say:
Onwards and onwards and onwards.........
THANK YOU TO THE FREAKIN AMAZING AND CONSTANTLY INSPIRING ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN!!!!!
Exploring Land in Curiosity's part in apocalypse.
Original post here
These last months I have been listening to the podcast "How to survive the end of the world" by adrienne maree brown and Autumn Brown, two sisters and science fiction writers (among the many incredible things they bring to this world). The podcast is about: learning from the apocalypse with grace, rigor and curiosity.
I have never really thought about apocalypse, i have felt like my world has ended before but i never framed it like an apocalypse.
Apocalypse comes from the Greek word apokalyptein and translates; uncover, disclose, reveal. In the Cambridge dictionary it is defined as "a very serious event resulting in great destruction and change."
To my mind it brings images of devastation and fires and zombies and floods and guns and looting.
Autumn and adrienne talk a lot about skills and practices that inform and enable survival, how tradedy tends to bring people together rather than pull them apart and against each other (until the state steps back in that is).
I've been thinking about Land in Curiosity and apocalypse: What will our role be in the coming (and already happening in many places in the world) apocalypse? I am pretty certain now, there are many more to come. We are facing such an extreme global ecological crisis and a mass extinction.
I've been thinking about "survival skills" (Bear Grylls style), how different that feels to what LiC is all about. We are learning not just practical skills, but skills that bring us together, that build trust and community and grow deep respect and acknowledge the inherent interconnection we have with the natural world and our fellow species who also (are struggling to) inhabit this earth.
to establish a nomadic community,
to sleep under the stars, the clouds, under simple structures,
to carry everything we need,
to cook on fires made with wood collected from the forest floor,
to learn to identify, responsibly harvest and prepare wild food,
to be constantly on the move, moving, walking,
to be meeting change consciously, daily, as a norm,
to engage with and be inspired by those we meet,
to be deeply affected by the land, by animals, plants, trees,
to build deeply interconnected relationships with our fellow travelers,
to sing together, to be woken by song each morning,
to swim and wash together, naked bodies belonging,
to create our own learning pathways,
to follow our inspirations, our flame, our passion,
to grow our capacity for honesty, accountability, conflict, care, community,
to learn what we want to learn, what we love, away from institutions,
to sleep through frozen nights, together warm and snuggled.
I am grateful for this re-frame, for the apocalyptic voices of the Brown sisters, my view is twisting from one of zombies and guns to one of opportunity, abundance and collaboration. My view is twisting from the Cambridge definition of apocalyptic disaster, to root of the word: uncovering, revealing.
I feel resilient learning and growing with LiC, I feel I am growing skills for life whether apocalypse comes or not.
And who knows... we might have to keep walking forever.
After a 4 month meditation retreat this winter at Gaia House, I decided to walk from West Ogwell back to Frome, around 100 miles, alone.
"Alone?" "Aren't you scared?" "Are you sure it's safe?" "Where will you sleep?" (etc etc).
Yes alone, yes i was a bit scared, I had no idea how safe it would be, and i didn't know where I would sleep (I had my bivi bag and tarp in my bag and a few friends to visit along the way)!
My first night sleeping up on Denbury hill, a local dog walking spot about 1 mile from the retreat center, I was terrified, I sat on the top of the hill surrounded by the forest and darkness, luckily I had 4 months of meditation practice at my back so I sat and felt the fear infiltrating my body, pulsating and tingling and driving my mind explore the world of scary men, rapists, ghosts, wild animals with sharp teeth and whatever else it tends to throw up in fear! I called my mum for a chat and pretended I was ok, then got in my bivi bag and went to sleep. That night I dreamt endlessly of rolling down steep hills in my sleeping bag, being woken up by strangers and land owners asking me to move on.
My first day full day of walking was intense, I went the wrong way quite a few times as i only had a rubbish map I printed out from the internet to get me to my friend Laurence's house (from there on I had OS maps), my bag was very heavy, i had totally over estimated how much food I would need. I ended up by a lake in a soggy field in the garden of a manor house, (my feet are soaked by now) I was definitely trespassing but had no idea where the footpath that was supposed to be around here (?!), i don't think it actually existed, i hopped a fence into someones garden that had about 50 sheep in it, they all decided that they were the shepherds and I the sheep, so they decided to chase me out of the field baaaing very loudly baring their sharp scary teeth and big tounges pink (yes they look cute in the picture but really they were evil). I stopped off at a mare and foal sanctuary for a cup of tea and watched small children riding around on sad looking ponies. I made it to my friends house in Berry Pomeroy that afternoon, after a slightly stressful but none the less adventurous day.
From there I made my way to Buckfastleigh, where I spent the night in a beautiful meadow where I go to a buddhist camp in the summer, I slept by the holy brook and listened to it bubbling away all night.
The next day I went to visit Buckfast abbey, I spent hours in there meditating, and buying beautiful postcards made by christian nuns and monks. I met a chistian nun in brown robes and thought about being a nun again (I've been thinking about it for years now). I was meditating quite a lot throughout my walking days, normally around 3 hours a day, often sitting in beautiful fields or churches on my sleeping mat for comfort. Later that day I met my friend Matt and stayed with him for a day or two, we went walking on the moors, and tried to work out why crows kept trying to brake into his barn.
I left Matt and walked up on to the moors, that night I had a magical night on Mel tor. The mist was so thick I could only see about 20-30 meters in front of me, the path was quite clear underfoot and I wasn't too far from civilisation, so I felt confident to continue, I definitely wouldn't have gone onto the moors in the mist if that hadn't been the case. I slept so so well that night, I had been to Mel tor before so I knew there was an incredible view behind the mist.
That night i slept in a beautiful beech forest up on a hill, I thought it best to put my tarp up so all of my things stayed dry... clever.
That morning I got to Chagford, and went for a well deserved fry up in a little wholefood cafe, I was sat reading the newspaper (I hadn't seen the news for nearly 6 months!) and a familiar face walked through the door! It was my lovely friend Andy! We had been on a LiC walk exactly a year before and had a fry up in the exact same place, he didn't even live in the area so it was quite magical that we met. We had a coffee and a catch up until he had to leave.
So by now I am getting quite speedy, I had gone from doing about 7km a day to about 20, my feet and shoulders were getting a bit sore but I was loving the walking. I walked through miles and miles of beautiful forests along the Teign river to my friend Chris's house, Chris was on the LiC walk in Sweden with us, and is a serious fire god, he can make a fire by clicking his fingers. As soon as i arrived I was offered a bath, and it was probably the best bath I had ever had in my life, and very much needed to soothe my sore feet and muscles, I slept in a very comfortable bed and was fed and watered and given lots of hugs from him and Simone and their two cats.
Another time was a similar situation, it was outside Tiverton on the canal, it was late afternoon and I needed somewhere to stop and camp as my feet were sore and I had been walking a lot that day, and there wasn't really anywhere. Two men with fishing rods were hanging around, the same thing happened as before, I said hi and they ignored me. What is it about the lack of connection that brings so much fear up in me? I guess if anything happened, if they tried to approach me or anything I would have nothing to work with, when there isn't connection, if there is just cold emotionlessness then how can you see someones humanity or allow them to see yours? How can you allow the vulnerability of each being to be seen and acknowledged? A part of me feels so sad that this was my response to these men. After that I spent my days practicing Metta (a befriending meditation practice) on everyone who walked by me. This really helped me to unfabricate the perceptions of fear I had, it built a perception of care and trust, everyone I met when I practised seemed to be incredibly friendly and helpful and caring. Interesting.
I was very grateful to all of the churches I passed on my walk, they were safe spaces, to shelter from pouring rain or hot hot sun, benches to sit on and cook, seats to meditate on, friendly people to talk to, beautiful imagery, artwork, and stain glass windows to look at.
I soon arrived at my friend Josh's caravan (he also came on a LiC walk!), he lives on a beautiful permaculture site near Glasto, him and Joana were away in Portugal but arriving back late the next day. I stayed in his place and spent the day sitting and reading and meditating and drawing, I was trying not to move around too much to rest my feet which were very very sore by now. I felt like I had arrived home, to my beautiful friends and all the familiar things in his caravan. When they came back we spent the day catching up and sharing stories about all of our adventures, we drank lots of tea and made delicious food.
This was the end of my journey! I was happy and ready to return back to Frome. Now It's about a week and a half since I arrived back, and my blisters are just starting to fall off, eww.
Filled with hope, we started part two of the experiment to make barista oatmilk.
It started well, we tried with a batch of milk we had made the other day, we put it in the sonifier.
1. Does it froth?
2. Does it seperate in coffee?
It didn't froth. Devestating.
We have a rule, that we wait ten minutes until we decide whether something has seperated or not. It was looking promosing. Arran was very excited. I kept saying, "wait Arran, we don't know yet."
"Have we cracked it! Have we? Is this it? Is this the moment we have been waiting for? Is this the start of our careers as sonifying oat milk makers?" we were excited.
It's good to mention here that between each batch we had to wait for 20 minutes. (We did a lot of waiting, luckily i had made pizza, so we had a distraction for a while.)
Batch no. 2 and 3 didn't go well. They both seperated and neither frothed.
Three hours later, after waiting and waiting and waiting, frustration and almost tears, we decided there was only one thing to do...
We feel defeated, hopeless, and worst of all, sad.
All hope was not lost, we managed to create a new recipe.
Take a batch of your oat milk,
mix it with shit loads of chocolate, date syrup and coconut sugar.
Written by Arran Brough and Lauren Goodey
It was his first time trying Barista oat milk and he was converted instantly.
He got really excited and wanted to help develop a home made Barista milk.
It's best to mention here we were lucky to have a resident chemist around (my mum) and a plumber (Arrans dad), proffesional problem solvers!
I’d already soaked the oats and blended them with water, I’d added some rapeseed oil, so what next?
How did it taste? “Well not discusting, but very lumpy and watery.”
Then we strained it through some muslin cloth, and as it strained, it started to go quite creamy! Looking good!
(It doesn’t look creamy in the picture - but thats because we were leaving the samples to settle to see if they would separate: which it did)
How did it taste? Much better than the unstrained milk, quite creamy and almost delicious, but it definitely didn’t have the same sweetness as the barista.
Why not? We thought it could have been the oats. Maybe Swedish oats are sweeter?
So we heated a sample, It got a lot thicker, perhaps too thick, and you can see from the picture that it didn’t separate.
How did it taste? “It tasted yummy! Almost perfect!”
It didn’t work. WHY? Why didn’t it work?
We did some research and we found out that fats make it frothy.
So we added more rapeseed oil, but it still didn’t froth.
I'd had a conversation with my friend Chloe and we thought maybe adding flour (corn flour) might help. It didn’t. It turned it into a custard.
How did that taste? “It tasted alright, it would have been nice with sugar because it would have been a dairy free custard.”
So what was our favourite experimental sample?
Oat milk, strained, boiled, watered down, with coconut sugar.
(It needs a good shake before using, and does separate a bit in hot drinks)
Here is the recipe (more or less, it was an experiment!!):
A handful of oats
3 cups of water
3 table spoons of rapeseed oil
A pinch of salt
A teaspoon of coconut sugar
1. Soak the oats (preferably over night)
2. Use a blender of some sort to blend it up, until smooth
3. Get some muslin cloth and strain it, squeeze out as much liquid as possible
4. Add rapeseed oil to the liquid, add salt and coconut sugar, blend again, for as long as you can: this helps the oil to mix in well
5. Heat the milk until it starts to thicken
6. Add some more water: so it’s the thickness you like.
7. Leave to cool in the fridge
8. Shake it up
9. Drink! (yum)
We asked her if we could borrow it... she said yes.
TO be continued.....
Written by Arran Brough and Lauren Goodey
I found her on the pavement, I picked her up in my hands, she wiggled around and cheeped. She was trying to fly, turning in circles, her neck twisted, grasping the skin of my hands with her claws. She flapped her wings and fell into a lavender bush, caught in the restful tangle of the bright purple flowers and the wiry stems. I lifted her out and she twisted her body into my palms, tired and close and trusting. I walked down the road with her held against my chest, to the vets, grey and clean and smelling like bleach, I said I would come back in an hour.
I never got to say goodbye to little KiKu, they gave her to me in a small cardboard box, a black floral pattern around the edge. She was wrapped in a piece of blue tissue - the type you get in hospitals. She smelt like chemicals. I walked up the road, tears all over my face. I passed her family and friends, they sang her name from the eaves of the houses. "Ki" "Ku" "Ki" "Ku"
I picked blackberries from the bush where she would have eaten from, leaves from the copper beach she would have landed in on her way to the top of the hill. Blueberries and Marigolds from my garden where she would have come to drink water on her way to the overgrown hazel bushes where her house sparrow community live. I lay her down and left her for 3 days.
I have never been so affected by the death of a little sparrow, I cried for days, I was totally grief stricken, and totally in awe of this interaction with her, her precious life and soulless death. I am in an intense relationship with the birds that live all around me. For days and days after she died, sparrows would come to my garden in their dozens. Landing, singing, flying around, eating, drinking, celebrating summer.
Wow, what an adventure!! We have just spent two months in Sweden on an epic walking learning community building adventure. I want to write some more about all of the organisation and everything that we put into it - but perhaps another time. For now here's some pics of how it looked, and here you can find blog posts on the LiC website, with reflections from the journey.
First 2 weeks:
"This workshop offers a range of tools, collective and personal, which can make our activism more effective and sustainable. These methods can help us avoid burnout and stay in it for the long haul, adding continuity to our movement building. They can be used to ensure the collective and organisational dimensions of our activism exemplify the values we’re struggling for. A ‘regenerative’ approach goes beyond sustainability to explore how we can organise in ways that actually renew or revitalize our own resources and those of our groups – this can help us stay inspired, nourished, & more creative in our tactical approach."
This is a place for me to collect and show explorations, observations and creations. Doing this helps me to reflect and remember all of the amazing things is have been a part of. Some of this work is very personal, some purely observational, some practical things i don't want to forget.