A time of differentiation

This is the second attempt at writing an editorial for this newsletter. I was satisfied with the first. It sat on the computer for a couple of days while a few other pieces assembled. And then… suddenly became hopelessly left behind by events. A sign of what we are living through.

Major events now unfold at a rate unprecedented in my life. The landscape – political, social and economic – we have walked through, which we somehow assumed would be so solid, melts into air. If you are not in the UK, you might nevertheless be aware of the widespread crisis our society is experiencing following its unexpected decision to leave the EU. A crisis that has touched with little gentleness into deeper veins of feeling and identity, confronting us with uncomfortable truths and unanswerable questions about who we think we are and where we wish to now go. In particular, a terrible spike in the incidence of racist attacks has followed in the wake of the vote, a glimpse of nightmare possibilities should we get the next steps wrong.

It seems we are living in a time of differentiation, in which whatever new unities we are seeking to forge are not yet clear and certainly not fully born.


The hope, and sometimes arrogant claim, of the embodiment community is that it has something to offer individuals and our communities as they face into their lives, seeking to contribute wisely and compassionately amid the many difficulties.

I see the urgent need for two things, both of which the embodiment community has some useful contributions to make through its practices and experience.

There is a necessary role for people to speak up, to take a stand for human and compassionate values in the face of whatever contracting ideas become tempting when we are faced with threat and uncertainty.

A need to empower people to speak up in defence of their safety, integrity and dignity. And to speak on behalf of others who for structural reasons are absent or excluded from the collective conversation. A need to sometimes speak against the ‘sword of death’ by wielding ‘the sword of life’.

Yet there is an equally desperate need for deep and open listening. To understand better our own position, how we came to it, along with its own richness and deficiencies. And, most importantly, to understand the position of those future, but necessary allies we now disagree with. To listen in particular, with great curiosity and humility rather than defensiveness, to those who feel that we have not so far been listening.

To speak and to hear.

The triangle and the circle. Both.

Simple, but not, in any sense, easy to hold in the body .

Yet in this commitment to a process of continuous conversation no matter what the difficulties dwells the possibility of binding ourselves together a little more even when so many things seek to tear us apart.

It would be very easy to collapse into only one or other of these two modes. Only to speak, only to declare our righteous position, only to transmit and project. Or only to listen, only to be open to all, only to be humble, only to receive and absorb.

The greatest challenge is to hold the two equally.

Yet I suspect we will not get through this next period of history in a good state if we do not find ways to exercise each of these two fundamental human capacities with more commitment, determination, skill and wisdom.