Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Sustainable Living Amping Trip

How do you love to live? Are you on your way in the unending process of defining, redefining and refining your own personal answer to this question, or have you not yet begun this process? Wherever you lie on the continuum, one event that helped me in my own answering process was the life envisioning workshop, lead by Seth Braun, held at the Abundance Seed Center, on October 1st during Block break. Seth Braun’s workshop was the morning segment of the Sustainable Living Amping trip, organized by Sustainable Council members, James Schleppenbach and Soangela Hardt. 

Without knowing the specifics of what lay before us, a group of Sustainable Living students, as well as students from other departments, met in the morning of October 1, 2011 at the Sustainable Living gardens and piled into the SL white bus to take a ride to the Abundance Seed Center at the Eco-Village just two miles north of MUM, off Highway 185.

The morning was crispy and sunny as we got off the bus and walked into the Seed Center. In front of us were tables with large pieces of paper on them. We sat at the tables in small groups, and Seth introduced himself--he is a local author, speaker and coach--and then he placed his workshop in the context our own lives and what is going on in the greater outside of the world. Seth quickly introduced us to his worldview, Integral Theory, which is a guiding viewpoint that seeks to integrate the best of the worldviews that have come before this time. Integral theory aims to draw a thread of incorporation into our current times, that ties together seemingly fragmented aspects of our society--the separation between production and consumption, as one example. 

My interpretation of the basis of Seth’s workshop is this: we all know that we are college students here, and college is just a stepping stone between the person we are now, and the person we are to become, but as we work on our daily assignments and worry about the exam we have on Saturday morning--and Saturday morning exams do happen!--we may fail to see our college experience as located in the context of the greater whole of the career path we’d like our life to follow. How would you like to use your education as a resource, a stepping stone in “riding the wave” of your life?  “Riding the wave” is a new definition of “career” that Seth presented with us this Saturday that actually came from a long ago definition of the word “career.” This new yet old definition, is considerably more free and expansive than the connotation of “career” to which most of us are accustomed, and grew up possibly loathing or stressing out about.

The first activity of Seth’s process was a group activity, which was a practice in eliminating the hesitation we have within ourselves when asked to brainstorm ideas. In timed sessions, we were asked to come up with as many different uses for a golf ball as possible. Each session we competed with other groups to see who could come up with more ideas, and it did not matter if the ideas were good, what mattered was how quickly we could come up with them.

Next, we used our newly worked-out brainstorming muscles to do the same kind of quick envisioning work, but applied to what we want to use our education to help us do in the future. While I jotted down my dreams, I noticed that I did not care if my vision was expressed in a clear way. I wrote down the ideas, and let it all flow out, until slowly, it synthesized in my mind, that I want to use my education to help me become a better story-teller. This has been in my heart and being for years, but until this workshop during the SL Amping trip, I had not been able to so clearly define it.

The third and final step of Seth’s process was to help each other brainstorm the resources available here at MUM and in the larger Fairfield community, resources that can help take our dreams from ideas to goals, which will eventually lead to actions. Individually, we made a list of all the resources we think we need, whether they exist or not, to help us on our way. Just as I was writing the word “Mentors,” Seth asked me to come to the front of the group and be an example in workshopping my dream of story-telling.

I explained that what I desired was to tell stories that inspire others.  Quickly the whole room was full of hands raised, hands of peers, teachers and SL department members, all having ideas of resources available to me, while Seth wrote down the ideas on a large piece of paper. It was extremely amazing to get over my fear of sharing my dream to a whole group, and then to feel the abundant power of a bee-hive of thoughts, all flowing to help me in my process.

We broke into pairs and did the same process with each other that we all did for me in the large group exercise. What I found, after the whole morning of warming up, was that my ideas were so active and creative, I was making connections and offering them without worrying about whether or not they were good ideas, or if I “should” say them. They were all flowing from the desire to help.

If you are not yet aware of the thought habits you practice that keep you in the same holding pattern, that keep you from expanding your horizons, I would highly suggest participating in a dream-envisioning workshop like the one I have described here with Seth Braun. These levels of self-work are related to our Consciousness-Based education here at MUM, where we learn that the level of thought is the basis of all creation. If your goals are not being supported at the groundwork of yourself by the thoughts you practice, then your goals are not resting on a sustainable internal foundation. Even if you have begun learning (and unlearning) the thought habits that prevent you from moving in the direction of your goals, I highly urge/suggest/recommend a life envisioning process with Seth Braun or one (and many) like it. May you soon begin to learn the power of practicing to allow your thoughts to continuously guide your life in an inspiring direction. 

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