Day 3 – Taking Heart in Tough Times with Joanna Macy – Concluding Session

This is the time when we come full circle in the spiral to coming forth the fourth and final phase. In closing this workshop, Taking Heart in Tough Times, Joanna began, it has been a rare and beautiful thing to have this resonating connection with you and your attention.

The most important thing about going forth, in Joanna’s mind, is that we garner the insights and openings we’ve made through the other three phases. She wants us to focus on the essence of the magic and power of intention, the flow-through of knowings. “You don’t fight change,” she cautioned, “and it’s not about just going with the flow. You steer with your intention.”

Joanna used to think that what really mattered was what she had accomplished, being effective. Then she realised not to take for granted her motivation, her caring — to let it matter. It’s partly Buddhist practice that taught her to prize that. In Buddhism it’s called Boddhichitta — awakening — you want all species to survive. You’re so connected that the welfare of all beings matters. You can’t control the outcome, but you can be steered and guided by that Boddhichitta. Treasure it in the sanctuary of your heart-mind. We’re given this capacity to care. This is the wellspring of the intention that steers you. Make your peace with uncertainty. It’s going to call forth your passion and your creativity. The one thing you can count on is your intention — cherish it. She believes it comes form the heart of the earth. That caring is a blessing and it can break your heart so you can hold the whole universe.

Her closing exercise, which you may want to engage in yourself at home if you’ve been following along with us throughout Joanna’s workshop, and which I highly recommend, gave us an opportunity to begin to reflect on all we have been learning and to reach into our heart-mind to harvest one action we feel inspired to take for The Great Turning. Mine was to reclaim my warrior, my fire, my passion for the Earth and it’s welfare. One of the statements that stood out for me in particular throughout Joanna’s talks, and stayed with me to the end was, ‘The warrior stands and demands no guarantee of a happy ending.’ It was as if she had reached right into the depths of my being and rekindled that aspect of me which has felt dampened down a little. As a result I have committed to giving much more space to my warrior, learning more about the work that reconnects and seeing where that leads the activist in me. This also put me in touch with my father’s recent death and my commitment to honour the gift of life he has given me by not wasting one moment of my precious human existence.

If you’d like to try this exercise at home, please do so and be blessed.

“Corbett,” A Going Forth exercise:

Sit together in groups of four.

During a couple minutes of silence, each person allows something to come to mind that they want to do for the Great Turning. If several possibilities arise, choose just one.

Decide who will be Person A. The first round begins as Person A shares what they desire to contribute to the Great Turning (2 minutes). The other participants listen attentively without comment.

The others in each group now have opportunities to respond, one by one, to A’s offering, while everyone else listens without comment. First, the person on A’s left speaks as the voice of Doubt, stating reasons why A may not accomplish their intention (2 minutes).

Next, the person across the circle responds as an Ancestor, sharing the feelings and thoughts that arise upon hearing what Person A will be offering to the Great Turning (2 minutes).

Now, the person on A’s right responds as a Future Being, sharing the feelings and thoughts that arise upon hearing how person A will be participating in the Great Turning (2 minutes).

Finally, person A has an opportunity to reflect aloud on what they’ve heard, inviting verbal response from others in the group if they wish (2 minutes).

The role of Person A moves around the circle, with the same sequence of responses.

Upon completion of the 4th round, allow a few minutes for circle members to share with each other.

This work represents the culmination of a lifetime of devotion and dedication which I have come to respect and value in Joanna Macy. I am grateful for the gifts she has brought to us and continues to bring to the world through her workshops and writings. To find out more about Joanna and the work that reconnects, visit:

Please join us tomorrow when Richard Olivier takes centre stage with his mythodrama work.

– Mattie Porte –

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