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Soul-Navigating in China

“We all have an inner wise navigator that is reliable and trustworthy. Our mystical traditions are unanimous that we all have a still point: a raised perch on the boat from where our soul-navigator can calmly whisper to us… where we are… and describe the vision of the island beyond the horizon, even when we are voyaging through rough confusing seas.”

Last night, I was graciously invited to speak for an hour to a crowd of over 700 leaders, entrepreneurs and community activists in a remarkable hotel complex just south of Beijing, China. These were some of the words that I voiced as I shared a set of stories, reflections and a guided meditation on the theme that was entitled “Holistic Navigation”. The gathering was given the hopeful title of the ‘Holistic Wellness International Forum’. The forum was co-hosted by both an inspiring organization I have visited in Beijing- Bene Wellness– and also by the global Holistic Centers Network. It lived up to the billing of being holistic and international.

To end my four months of facilitating in China with this opportunity was a gift. To be given a chance to express what is on my heart as this chapter closes and to speak aloud some of my learning in the form of soul metaphors, meditations and stories encouraged me to tap into a creative language. It evoked what skills I possess to ‘read the waves’ when voyaging in a culture that is unknown to me and to share this voyage with remarkable new friends.

As I write these reflections from the Vancouver airport after the long direct flight from Beijing, I am aware that this inspiring forum is continuing for another few days. Several honored and deeply respected Chinese scholars, philosophers, community activists and psychologists have already shared with us in the first two days that I was able to attend. And by the wave of participants seeking selfies with some of these speakers, it is clear that some of them have ‘rock star status’ in China! I am part of a team of international social thinkers and leaders of holistic centers who are also bringing our experience into the mutual learning. Simultaneous translation assists us as we alternate between English and Chinese.

I am saddened to be missing the remainder of the forum and would have dearly loved to have heard from all those on the schedule. Yet, this regret is tempered by my gladness that due to a serendipity of our travel plans, I was able to respond to the invitation.

It was inspiring to hear more about the pace of social change and how people are responding with creative solutions. One of the speakers offered an overview of the growing work of caring for seniors and of the growing hospice movement in China. The acceleration of creative ecological projects and environmental activism is breathtaking. This good work tries to match the frenetic pace of industrial development and the compounding stress on the life systems we all depend on. I was aware of how, as humans on this planet, we are both the pathology and immune response. We are pathological in our destructiveness and, at the same time, we are also active as part of the immune system of the organism that is interconnected life. Stories of despair and hope were honestly described in words and visual images. The overall thrust was the value of personal development, of building community and of increasing our resiliency.

The invitation I was provided was to contribute a contemplative and personal experience for the participants as they assimilate the rich content of the other sessions. It was to be an end-of-the-day mini-workshop-feel. Perhaps a simple summary of my talk is the description I provided for translation for participants:

“Our lives are lived in constant tension and transitions.

We live in complex and confusing times; it is easy to become disoriented and lost in the stormy seas of rapid societal change. Holistic living involves the art of skilled navigation. It is a developed awareness of where we are and where we want to go. In this workshop, as fellow practitioners of holistic living, we will consider the experiential learning of ancient and contemporary Polynesian culture: the ‘wayfinding’ practices of the Pacific Ocean. In our imagination, guided meditation and in shared stories, we will explore how to better navigate our lives.”

After the session ended, and as we prepared to leave for dinner, several participants came up to me to ask questions, to express appreciation for the brief introduction to the wayfinding tradition, to share about their own projects, and to connect on WeChat and take a photo together, of course! It is China.

I also encountered a keen interest to learn more! I am glad that I was able to offer an invitation for a deeper exploration in soul navigation that I am co-facilitating in February-March 2019 on the Pacific Coast at the beautiful yoga and surf holistic center of Sansara.

My fellow guide for ‘Navigating My Life’ is Marcia Wilson. Marcia brings her wisdom and lovely presence to weave in yoga and ayurvedic practices alongside my teaching and personal life coaching. If you are reading these words, know that you are also invited to join us for this program that is more than a program. It is a week of healing, renewal, personal reflection and re-orientation. Please contact me if you would like to know more! Link:


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