Partnering with Nature in Borneo

I’ve just got back from a fabulous trip to Borneo, bringing some Way of Nature and nature communication practices to a conservation and circular economy-orientated NGO called Forever Sabah. As part of it I ran a 2-day ‘Partnering with Nature’ training for a group of 13 staff. I wanted to share a bit of it with you to give you a sense of how this work can be used in the organisational context.

On the first day we covered basic principles and practices to establish a foundational connection with nature and the second day we got into direct communication with nature/spirit to listen and receive guidance from nature, then we wrapped it up reflecting on how conscious practice in nature enhances capacities required to do the work they do and mapped that against the framework for systems change provided by Theory U.

They were very into it, the concepts not being unfamiliar. One guy who works in their elephant team actually communicates with elephants in order to mitigate conflict between villages and elephants!

The types of capacities that can be enhanced by time, practice and communion with nature that the group recognised were:

  • Understanding permission and relationship
  • Remembering our wild capacities
  • Trusting and affirming the messages from our own inner nature
  • Receiving guidance. Interesting reflection was that the answers from nature were seen to represent the ‘best evidence’ i.e. closer to truth.
  • Helps develop eco-literacy
  • Listening
  • Enhancing openness with people e.g. enhancing your approachability
  • Dealing with high-pressure situations

Some of the ways they will use this in their work –

  • Dealing with stress and strong emotion given the sometimes intense nature of their work dealing with government officials, impacted communities and witnessing destruction of forests and even entire species.
  • Including nature as a stakeholder to co-create strategies for projects
  • Partnering with nature to co-create the future of their leader’s home base in the forest.
  • Healing and nourishing – This was a nice reminder for me too, I had designed the training to focus on the more obviously practical applications of partnering with nature, however right from the beginning it was obvious that a few of them deeply needed the nourishment sourced from deep relationship with nature and simply allowing our physical and energetic being to soak in the healing energies of nature.
  • Learning from nature to inform how to be with humans – i.e. to listen directly to nature requires a certain state of being and that is extremely instructive of how we can listen and connect with humans. (Generative, Level 4 listening if you like to use Theory U terminology).

One of the organisers sent me this message the day after the training and I think it is a beautiful choice of words, “Thanks again for taking the time to join us here. You have helped reveal a profound layer we’ve been aware of but not fully connected with.”

This was a seeding event. I’ll be back there later in the year to hold a quest with members of the group as well as bringing in international people who work in similar fields so there is cross-pollination and development between countries and cultures of people doing such important work. We’ll also focus on the participants continued development and perhaps even include ceremony and shamanic work to engage with spirit/nature in relation to one of their many critical projects.

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