‘When a system is far from equilibrium, small islands of coherence in a sea of chaos have the capacity to shift the system, to a higher order’
– Ilya Prigogine
On attending a required Masters module, ‘Wisdom & Creating a New Civilisation, 2016’, my perspective around ‘the state of the world’, was transformed. Here, the notion of our living in ‘White Water times’ came into view; and indeed that White Water was ally, and co-creator.
‘White Water:The Era of Natural Consequences’, a metaphor for describing our planetary condition.’
– Garrison & Taegel
The crux for me was sensing that, “We, Humanity and the Earth, are far, far from equilibrium and we are living extremes on multiple fronts. Humanity has engineered a hyper-complex situation where multiple, polarized, conflicting conditions are interacting at such speed, intensity and impact, that now, civilization and the planet is shifting toward breaking point. The state of the world is one of extreme, distress and examples and experiences are clear and far-reaching. Equally, there are multiple actions and visions of hope, unity and consciousness.”
This study module, ‘Wisdom & New Civ’, with study and post-paper submission, was pivotal in deepening the foundations and transforming the nature of my ongoing study, work, and MA ‘We-thesis’ of Collective Alchemy. Excerpts from the post-paper are woven within the writing shared here, hence the presence of an ‘academic’ tone.
“These are White Water times, times when we are no longer being called to ride singular waves, but in series – with challenges, learnings, disturbances, opportunities in ‘cluster’ – thereby experiencing wave-action at individual, collective and field levels. As Pinkola Estes wrote, “We were made for these times, being summoned to stand as ‘Souls on Deck” — and, in my explorations, to hone a steady presence and navigational capacities for wave riding the waves of change occurring at multiple levels of scale, personally, and as a collective. [‘Soul’ is defined as our ‘personal energy vibration’, [Penny Pierce].
What if these White Water times were affording humanity the conditions whereby:
‘Creating a new civilization is a function of our collaborative capability, with all life. Therefore, when coherent Islands co-create with conscious collective intent, the ripple effects have the possibility of generating waves of positive transformative impact, capable of re-balancing the whole.’
Yes, these are times of fundamental disequilibrium, and yet, ‘The fluctuation of non-equilibrium is the source of (new) order’ [Taegel, The Mother Tongue: Intimacy in the Eco-field, p.287]. In phase transits such as these, where ‘The quantum waves become more steep, amplitude increases’ [p. 244] there is oftentimes a retrospective recognition of the enormity, and reasoning for change. Such times are not for the fainthearted.
‘Give me a lever and a place to stand, and I will move the world.’
Navigating and wave riding from soul-centeredness is ‘lever’, and ‘soul on deck’, our place to stand. With waves being high, belief in and practice of soul-centeredness will be challenged, and forged – sometimes to breaking point – through pivotal transits and rites of passage, and yet the benevolence of the universe and commitment to journeying in service of wholeness and conscious evolution, will be deepened and solidified.
Learning to embrace ‘the larger logic’ utilising the ‘extended brain’: tapping the Akasha and attuning individual and collectively to the human and more than human realm, ‘embraces tension and chaos, and eventually creates the possibility of coherence’, [Taegel p.245] With this, is the recognition that larger perspective is essential for navigating these times.
To leverage this larger perspective is to embrace the essential understanding that: the ‘balance-point’ of soul-centredness – both at individual and collective levels – is frequency and ‘point’ from which to attune, and take action from. Honing individual and collective practices and capacities anchored at soul level, are essential for navigating these times of The Great Turning: ‘the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization’. At meta level (see The Two Loops, below) and fractal levels (observed and experienced), this might be what is termed by Taegel as: turning from the ‘Era of Natural Consequences’ into the ‘Era of Natural Birthing’.”
In such times, it is wise to have Maps to refer to and navigate by, and navigating transition.”
[In the context of the post-paper, The Two Loops Systems Change Map was referenced, shared below. Here, three additional Maps are shared: Wave Riding Map; Living Wholeness Route Map; The Four Rooms.]
An overarching Meta-Map, core framing and navigational aid is The Two Loops, a Map for Systems Change [Deborah Frieze and Margaret Wheatley, The Berkana Institute], and specifically, a model-adaptation, Changing Roles in Changing Times, by Peggy Holman. Within the original systems’ map, four key roles were originally expressed (Protector, Hospice worker, Illuminator, Trailblazer), whilst in the adaptation, a fifth is added – the wave rider – those taking the leap from ‘old’ to ‘new’; ‘consequence’ to ‘birthing’.
This fifth dimension revolutionised my understanding. Indeed, it is role and soul stance I now navigate the waves as practitioner and guide, including within the work offerings I now host.
It is therefore a key contextual framing for supporting on-the-ground tracking – in full recognition of hyper-complex conditions at play. As a System’s Map, it has been widely referenced as a guide for creation new cultures: locally and globally, internally and externally, in different contexts and levels of scale. It is also a Map that I and many others in the Berkana translocal learning field and communities of practice, from which the pattern evolved, and therefore have offered co-creative seeding-energy into the mix, and with this, a story-thread that interweaves my own unique tapestry.
From my experience, between the waves of ‘old’ and ‘new’, a ‘vortex’ exists; and is the space where wave-riders are learning to dance; by being present to, and sometimes holding the tension between the wave-action and system-dynamics. There resides the confluence of multiple streams dynamics and polarities. The challenge is in accessing and then staying attuned to our own still-point – and for me, soul-centred presence – whilst staying attuned to the wave action beyond, and within. Through action research, I now see that core to wave riding is the capacity for field-listening, witnessing and continuous attunement; being both divining tool and a ‘still point’ for tuning into multiple levels – taking constant readings from multiple sources of the Akasha; wisdom, energy, the spoken, the unspoken and more – for then sensing the word, the movement, the action that will best support conscious, intentional evolution.
‘The Akasha expresses the ʻsacred unity and profound interconnectednessʼ of the world’
Understanding the skills and capacities for wave riding, navigating transition with skillful means, is perhaps the most important leadership capacity of these White Water times, and the sphere of practice within which the greatest potential for newness resides. Cultivating the capacities for ‘tapping the wisdom of everything’ is key. Such a capacity is ‘Sphere intelligence’, a term used in ‘wayfinding’ (a navigational practice from Polynesia) characterised by recognising multiple ways of knowing, roundedness and holism. [See Wayfinding Leadership].
“Yes, “We are made for these times”, and we are being made by these times.”
This Wave Riding Map articulates the practice-dynamic of navigating from soul level, by attuning Soul and Future Self as navigational ‘reference-points’ whilst traveling the space/time continuum. The Map crystalized during the action research of hosting a Wave-Riding Workshop Series journey, with concept prototyped at Harvard, 2016.
For many years, my interest and artistry had resided in navigating and guiding within the realms of the subterranean and the subtle. Within this work, I worked with ‘Timelines’, and specifically, the honing of skills and practices for attuning and evolving trajectory and frequency-vibration of Timelines ‘travelled’ within the space/time continuum; so discovering our role in consciously evolving soul-centredness in service of the whole, and the most benevolent outcome.
Soul is our essential nature – our ‘home frequency’ and ‘personal energy vibration’, [Penny Pierce] – oftentimes occluded, in a process of healing from trauma, or fully ‘illumined’, ‘visible’ and engaged, for journeying through life with consciousness. Our capacity to navigate from this pure-soul vibration and soul-centred stance rests within the infinite NOW, and within the defining expressions and experiences of the space/time continuum. Future Self is the aspect of Soul that has travelled through these times – a frequency-vibration and ‘version of us’ that is our ‘higher self’/ ‘best Self’, existing in future reality … in another moment or ‘point’ within the space/time continuum. This aspect is supported by the research of Syntropy.
Viewed from this perspective: ‘the tendency towards energy concentration, order, organization and life’ and the ‘result of retro-causality leading to persistent and more complex organization’, is the ‘solution-aspect’ of energy ‘corresponding to a ‘backward in time’ or ‘negative time solution’ (-E) and the converging toward source over time and toward future causes’, Luigi Fantappie, 1941. This ‘negative time solution’ governs life, is somewhat akin to the dissipative structures concept developed by Ilya Prigogine, postulated in ‘Order Out of Chaos’, Prigogine & Stengers (1984).
“Connect, contemplate, and trust that the cosmos has a plan for this planet and won’t abandon it’ … continuing, ‘the seeds have been sown in the soil of our longing for a different world.”
– Anne Baring
Living Wholeness offers a framework for integrating living systems beyond theory and concept, into living practice. It is a framework for being systemic at every level, with ourselves in our work and communities, and especially in relationship to all of life. It offers us a means to experience ‘being systemic’ by widening the scope of what we mean by systemic and framing our work not as ‘ﬁxing’ systems external to us, but ﬁnding new alignment with our inner and outer worlds. We can then translate what we become to our work, communities, families, homes, government, social innovations, businesses and new initiatives that can shift systems. This is the long-term work of systemic transformation: the evolution of a new culture–or new cultures–whose values, beliefs, behaviors, assumptions and meaning-making are aligned with life–cultures which function as living systems.
Through our work in the world and living wholeness as a life practice, we have been discovering that Living Wholeness is both a worldview and a tangible fabric that weaves together qualities, practices and pathways. This practice offers a systemic transformation architecture and practice that activates breakthrough collective intelligence around radically new ways of working and living. It works on the core premise that in order to transform our systems we need to learn, individually and collectively, by cultivating a new set of assumptions.’
The Living Wholeness Route Map was action-researched and galvanised in practice, through the co-hosting of ‘Living Wholeness Immersions’, 9-day in-person ‘laboratories’ for catalysing systemic transformation, collective alchemy at a soul and cellular level, within a learning ecology, to then transmit and amplify efforts in local spheres of influence.
 Living Wholeness Institute founders: Maria Scordialos, Vanessa Reid, Sarah Whiteley, with collaborators Yitzhak Mendelsohn, Kamyar Houbakht and Linda Mitchell.
‘The Four Rooms’ was supportive of immersion learning experiences for practitioners around the globe who were already engaged in systems change work, and felt it necessary to connect with resonant colleagues and teachers. Living Wholeness Immersions were laboratories for catalysing systemic transformation at a cellular level, within a learning ecology to then transmit and amplify efforts in local spheres of influence.
One context applying ‘The Four Rooms’ in service of systems-change was a process, focussed on finance in the UK: The Finance Innovation Lab (FiLab). As one of the partners within a wider collaborative field, The Living Wholeness Institute brought The Four Rooms model to the table. Deemed helpful, the FiLab core team adapted the model, to serve their process and context. According to ‘A Strategy for Systems Change’, published in 2015 – that chronicled the journey that start some six years previously, it stated: ‘The Finance Innovation Lab empowers positive disruptors in the financial system. Our vision is a financial system that works for people and planet. One that is democratic, responsible and fair.’
 The FiLAb ‘Theory of Change’ also included ‘The Two Loops’, and enacted by use of The Four Rooms for systemic transformation.
We are living in extraordinary times: times of immensity, intensity, uncertainty, and creativity — with potentiated vortex, and wave action occurring at multiple levels of scale. The Era of Natural Birthing borne from this vortex of “global ‘hyper-complexity’, and consequence, from a ‘crisis of knowing’, [and] is now demanding a new kind of mind with new ways of thinking and capacities for perceiving the nature of reality.” – Hickman, [Neuroscience & Eco-field Experience].
Wisdom is a co-created impulse arising from the field of potentiality coming into form, moment-by-moment, supporting an ever-enlarging and enlivening field of awareness and action. It is collaborative and emergent and draws from the living systemic wisdom of the field.
With this vortex, we have an extraordinary opportunity for transformation, for bringing and being our best, for the benefit of all beings: our source-connection, our uniqueness; our role, our skill-set, our experience, our connections, our creativity; our community, our presence in the collective; being one and many in the larger whole; light-bringers, co-creators, wisdom collaborators. This may be confronting, challenging at times, but being willing to say “yes” to what we know to be true, while saying “no” to what we know is not right … is the potentiality, and portentousness of our times. It is time to stand, and to ‘stand the standing’.
A few years ago, a prescient moment emerged during one of my MA mentored-sessions with Dr Will Taegel, (Dean of Wisdom School & Elder of Earth Wisdom Academy) where he reflected to me, that according to philosopher David Bohm, author of ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’: white water, the bubbles on top of the wave, were the miracle of the Universe.
At the time, it shook me.
Since, and actively participating in the White Water Era – riding the ‘Wave’ and the ‘waves’ within ‘waves’ – I have come to ask: What if we are being called to hone, as Will proposed: ‘the primary capacity, as field guide(s) […] being the ability not only to live in chaos but to thrive in the white water, surf the waves, and delight in the ceaseless motion’?
What if this asks we participate as ‘bubbles on the wave’, adding life force to the Wave, as ‘miracles of the Universe’?
And, what if, WE – humanity – are yearning for the connection to water, not only metaphorically, but physically … and White Water Era is our time for surfing, thriving and delighting with the birthing of new Earth?
What if, this is our personal and collective quest?
I also wonder, what if
‘Creating a new civilization – a new earth – is a function of our collaborative capability, with all life; where coherent Islands co-create with conscious collective intent, the ripple effects have the possibility of generating waves of positive transformative impact, capable of re-balancing the whole.’
We will see.
While it is clear that opening the space and offering navigating transition is right timing, much remains invisible and unknown. The Offerings, Books & Publications, and Reflections are ways for engaging, and for surfing the waves; invitations to us all to journey into practice and inquiry, and engage ever more strongly with our evolutionary and creative potential in personal, collective, planetary and cosmic ways. These invitations also include becoming ever more intimate with the transformative nature of white water, as teacher, ally and co-creator. I perceive, at its heart, white water is ragingly powerful and infinitely subtle, and in continuous movement.
So as we begin exploring, experiencing and action researching what is means to be navigating transition, we can take heart that The Great Turning: (‘the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization’) is ongoing, and we are participating in it!
‘Don’t follow the smaller version of rational human-centered thinking. Good news: when you give up being the centre of the eco-field, then you do not carry the burden of change. Phase transitions are already in the making, and your task is to identify, align, and participate. Then, you open the door to being part of an attractor force within the field.’
– Will Taegel
navigating transition © Sarah Whiteley, July 2022
Dedicated to Dr Will Taegel – Elder, Mentor, Advisor
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