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Finding Stability in Fluidity

NO Naomi Orbegozo Public Seen by 45

Indra talked on the zoom call last night about needing to reach a state of independence before one can truly experience inter-dependency. This resonated strongly with me and I wanted to share my experience of this as I feel it has helped to equip me for feeling able to participate in a project like this and generally respond to the world better.

For most of my life, I have been desperately trying to peg my identity on to something fixed...from contemporary dance, to men, to specific causes, to organic farming...you name it. These were very intense relationships in to which I put everything and when the disillusionment arrived (which it inevitably did) everything came crashing down and I came out feeling like a dried husk of emptiness having to build an identity from nothing again. It is only recently that I have realised, (through many hours of meditation, and reading and listening to many wise words articulating the same idea in different ways) that for me, true independence comes from having a liquid centre. That I feel so much stronger when I am acting from a place of 'response-ability' rather than defending a fixed ideology to the death. This has changed the way I interact with others so much. For the first time, I feel like I can truly collaborate.

I felt this relevant to share as it seems to me, that AUK embodies this principle in the political forum. With a centre of values to guide the 'how' rather than a fixed ideology or policies...a 'what' to impose and defend. I love the idea that this 'stability in fluidity' could be fractal in nature.

If anyone has a moment, I would love to know if I am understanding this correctly.

IA

Indra Adnan Mon 30 Mar 2020 6:28PM

Hi Naomi - sorry it took so long to reply: I was trapped in the AUK ID! I loved the way you expressed this - it resonates deeply. Reminds me of the Buddhist idea of emptiness, yet still present, flowing. Also the psychological idea that we are a cast of characters - our own soap opera - constantly in conversation. But it adds up to something even more agentic. Can you say a bit more how you got from empty to fluid to response-able to fractal.

ps feel free to invite people into the conversation, otherwise they have to ask to join

NO

Naomi Orbegozo Tue 31 Mar 2020 12:46PM

Thank you Indra! I'm working on this, bare with me :)

NO

Naomi Orbegozo Wed 1 Apr 2020 1:50PM

Ok, so I may have got just a bit carried away... the process has been great though, thanks for the question! If you have time, I would be so interested to read about your process Indra.

I managed to identify 3 'mindsets' that I went through that seem important to the realisation of these ideas...of course it was all much more jumbled up than this but I didn't want to tell my whole life story (even though I kind of did)...

1. 'Humans are Rubbish'


Trying to think of solutions to big problems, I kept finding new layers of crap hidden beneath my fads and theories that would negate them. I found that the festering corruption at the top levels seemed to be reproduced as I scaled down. I never seemed to reach the root of the problem...until I got down to the level of the human psyche. I suppose this was my downward fractal journey. I spent quite a long time at the bottom, feeling paralised and pretty hollow (emptiness seems a confusing term in this context). I decided that humans are crap and we are corrupting the innocent beauty of the natural world. I completely withdrew and decided to concentrate on improving myself as it seemed to be the only meaningful change I could make.


2. 'Sacred Bitch' (a phrase coined by my husband...in good humour of course)


I went to India to do a yoga teacher training and was exposed to the incredibly rich yoga philosophy. I decided the world would be a much better place if everyone became yogis. I saw yoga in everything. If I found similar ideas in other philosophies, I would exclaim, "You see! Yoga is everywhere!" I thought I could spread the word by teaching a 'special' style of yoga accompanied by my 'magic' words that would inspire people to change their lives and give meaning to mine. I tried to live a strict ascetic lifestyle and would feel like a failure if I didn't stick to my routine. If people attacked my lifestyle, I would get horribly defensive, climb up on my 'holier than thou high horse', and shout criticisms down at them. Inevitably, I soon fell off. The ideas of response-ability and fluidity are certainly encapsulated in yoga philosophy, especially in the 'Yamas and Niyamas' (ethics of yoga) and the meditation practices... so these ideas were floating about on the peripheries of my being and I could see the value in them, I just hadn't taken the time to do the deep work necessary to 'install' them so to speak. I had been wearing them as a kind of virtuous badge and preaching something I wasn't practicing. I'm not sure I could see this at the time. I think I blamed my circumstances and the people around me for my misery. I any case, I pretty much ran away from my entire life. 
Some other strong inspirations during this time, that I tried to squidge in to my yoga paradigm were: 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle, 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' by Steven Covey, especially the idea of a 'values based centre', 'Nonviolent Communication' by Marshall Rosenberg and the ideas of Jacques Fresco, especially this quote: "It is your own expectations that hurt you, not the world that you live in".


3. 'Privileged Me Time'


So off I ran back to Mummy and Daddy's house in the country, worked part time on an organic farm and spent the rest of my time 'searching my soul' and this is when I started to gain the tools I needed to embody the values I had been trying to preach. I went to therapy and learnt how to be honest with myself and to examine the intentions and needs behind my actions (which helped me to finally understand the principles behind Nonviolent Communication)I did a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation retreat, where I learnt to lengthen the gap between my 'reactions' and 'responses', which was incredibly empowering as it gave a new meaning to the word 'choice'. This was my first conscious experience of 'response-ability'. I attended an incredible course with Manda Scott at Schumacher College called 'Rewilding The Soul', where she proposed the idea of a 'Conscious Evolution' and the need for the ability to 'jump empty handed into the void' if we are to face what is coming.  As preparatory reading, we were offered 'Active Hope' by Joanna Macy and 'A New Republic of The Heart' by Terry Pattern. Many small explosions happened in my brain as I read, and the flowery concepts I had perceived as a 'Sacred Bitch' started to grow roots. The marrying of spirituality and social/ecological responsibility took on new meaning. I joined Manda's 'Accidental Gods' movement and I suddenly found myself in a community with a purpose I was passionate about. In this safe space, I could recognise the values of different ideologies and perspectives without feeling threatened and for the first time, see the potential of the liminal space between them. I learnt how to hold ideas lightly and not with an 'all or nothing' attitude. I could practice my new found 'response-ability' without fear. (I think it was around now that I started my upward fractal journey as I could see the inner work I was doing reflected in my personal relationships and in this community)
Through Accidental Gods, I heard about the 'Emerge Podcast', which widened my net even further...so many backgrounds and perspectives with ideas that resonate so deeply. The episode in which Bonita Roy shared her 'source code analysis of trust' contributed greatly to my idea of 'stability in fluidity'. The idea of trust not being directly related to predictability, rather in the ability to respond well, even if it goes against a promise you have made...in my mind, this speaks directly against dogma and pure ideology (if that exists). This helped me to identify the new found trust I was feeling for myself. This podcast continues to produce wonderful fruit! It is the reason I joined AUK and started to read exciting books like 'The Listening Society' by Hanzi Freinacht, 'Holacracy' by Brian J Robertson, which both greatly reinforced my fractal ways of seeing. I love this idea communicated in The Listening Society: "Within each single individual, the many processes of society come together in a whole. By means of the individual, all of society can be integrated into a microcosm". 

Again, this is all much easier to see in hindsight. The real realisation that my inner architecture had changed came when I was able to go back to the life I had run away from with pretty much the same people and circumstances that had 'made' me so miserable and choose not to be miserable...to use the tools I had gained to listen, accept and see value where I hadn't before, to watch my reactions and scrutinize them, and to experience my own 'response-ability'...definitely not always successfully, but with much more humour and compassion for myself and others. I am under no illusion that this is an end point or that I have found 'the answer' (I don't think there is any danger of turning back in to 'Sacred Bitch'). It seems more like a starting point because I am feeling intrinsically motivated, genuine curiosity for the first time in my life. I like this quote from Ken Wilber: "The best theories are the ones that lead us to the next one".

AC

Alex Cooper Mon 30 Mar 2020 6:28PM

Hi @Naomi Orbegozo thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts - life is such that no 2 individuals will be on the same path at the same time and at the same stage of development - we can all learn from each other, nobody has a monopoly of experience and wisdom.

The way I think of it, is that independence is an intermediate stage - the liminal space you mentioned in another thread (a new word to me, I like it ... and the expression "learning out loud"!).

In different areas of our lives, we can be simultaneously dependent, independent and interdependent. Usually we'll work hard to become independent from a state of dependence, but equally it may be right to withdraw from a state of interdependence if we've made the wrong commitment to a person, a group or a purpose.

The thought I put into the change.org petition arose from the political response to the coronavirus epidemic. In a time of crisis everybody wants to be seen to be doing everything they can for our common best interests, looking out for each other and recognising our interdependence and our duty not to act selfishly, but to do something more for our friends, families, neighbours communities.

Why does it take a crisis to recognise that?

Why in ordinary times, does it seem that the main political parties are focused on personal and party advantage rather than the common good or national interest?

The "Declaration of Interdependence" was primarily aimed at out political leaders, but is also a call to all of us (myself included), to remind ourselves that when this crisis is over, there will be an opportunity to reset our thinking and become less insular, partisan and polarised in the way we address complex political issues.

So when seeking independence, I wonder "independent of what or whom?" Is it a lone existence that is being sought, or another partner, group or cause to join, where our interdependence is an asset to be valued and built upon.

NO

Naomi Orbegozo Tue 31 Mar 2020 7:40AM

Hi Alex, 

Thank you so much for this response and for helping me to deepen my understanding of the interplay of the '3 dependences'. Bringing in to consciousness the idea of holding all three simultaneously and recognising when each is needed really widens my lens. Of course you are right that true independence does not exist in the human (or any other living thing) context. Perhaps 'autonomy' and/or 'agency' would be a more accurate description of what I was going for.

Thank you also for going in to more depth about the ideas behind your petition. I find the questions you are asking challenging and beautiful and will certainly add my support.

This might be a naive question but do you think it has something to do with common interest/experience? In 'normal' life, it seems to me that people do display this willingness to work for common best interests but within much smaller contexts and within smaller groups of common experience ...these could be anything from families, feminists, white supremacists, political parties, religious groups etc. I would dare to suggest that this attitude does exist within all of these groups even if the 'common interest' they are working for might be short sighted and detrimental to other groups?? What corona virus seems to have done is trump all these causes and blur the lines between 'tribes' so that working for common interest in this context now includes everyone...I guess this is a strategy often used by politicians...there seems to be nothing more effective than the creation of a common threat (terrorism for example) to unite people. 

I'm not sure whether these observations are accurate, extremely obvious or even useful. It is the thought process that was triggered by your post and I hope you don't mind me exploring them out loud here.

AC

Alex Cooper Tue 31 Mar 2020 9:26PM

Hi Naomi, I wouldn't want to give the impression I'm an expert in this field (I'm a software developer!) but as a "free thinker" I'm happy to explore ideas and "learn out loud".

A single word can carry different emphasis and meaning for different people - maybe you think achieving independence is more about personal empowerment (autonomy, agency, maybe assertiveness) rather than the simple desire to become separate? To me the word independence carries more of an overtone of separation - which at times will be a good thing (a young adult becoming independent of parents or a state becoming independent of a colonial power). But in an ideal world there will be an ongoing relationship after independence is achieved and mutual interests can still be served.

When I think of all the groups seeking to empower themselves and their members, I wonder at the wasted opportunity to see common ground with other groups. It's perhaps comforting to seek identity in race, gender, religion or sexual orientation and to come together to seek recognition for the one thing that binds that group together. To me there's a danger in that approach, in that it divides lots of people into separate "silos" that are more easily labelled and kept from away from the levers of real power.

Putting a label on ourselves and fighting for one cause may feel empowering, but it doesn't always take into account a bigger picture, where the "system" is very slow to change and serves the already powerful.

Which is why I see the idea of interdependence as being important - it's possible to be BAME and concerned for the environment, a feminist and concerned about the housing crisis, working class and pro EU, middle class and concerned about corporate tax evasion. There are so many areas where we can explore common ground rather than looking at a label and only seeing difference.

There is strength in our interdependence and there's a glimmer of recognition in that during the current coronavirus crisis. It would be a pity to see that good will evaporate when we all return to "normality" after this crisis.

NO

Naomi Orbegozo Wed 1 Apr 2020 1:36PM

I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say here Alex. I think maybe we are heading in the same direction but I didn't express myself very clearly in my previous post. I didn't mean to place emphasis on the value of the different causes or tribes themselves, rather on the intrinsic value of the collaboration within them. I would like to see hope that the foundational behaviors do exist in 'Normal life'. I agree that it is a huge shame that our views tend to narrow drastically when there is no perceived immediate common threat (I guess the imminent destruction of our habitat and species because of climate change just doesn't quite cut it) and that these beautiful common instincts seem to be misdirected. I love that you are digging beneath these causes and the lines between them, just when they are blurred by this strange situation, to reveal the undeniable presence of inter-dependency, and to bring it in to consciousness and memory...and hopefully future learning!

I have attempted to reflect back to you my understanding of your post here...I would be curious to know if you feel 'understood' :)

NO

Naomi Orbegozo Wed 1 Apr 2020 12:58PM

AC

Alex Cooper Wed 1 Apr 2020 9:40PM

I thank you for doing a great job in reflecting back your understanding - and our "beautiful common instincts" need to be nourished within and between groups.

Have you played the Evolution of Trust game? https://ncase.me/trust/ More info on AUK https://www.thealternative.org.uk/dailyalternative/2020/2/9/the-evolution-of-trust

NO

Naomi Orbegozo Fri 3 Apr 2020 10:05AM

No I haven't but it looks great! I will definitely have a go. Thanks!

ATS

Alfie Temple Stroud Sun 5 Apr 2020 11:03AM

Naomi, thanks so much for your reflections here and in the other thread you started about embodying values. You use so many useful expressions, and trace a path that sounds so familiar in many ways (learning though yoga, therapy, listening...), but is populated with your own inspirations and findings.

There are so many thinkers and ideas and movements that it often feels daunting and confusing, so Ken Wilber's quotation is a helpful place to leave us! But one mood or concept that seems important to you that I don't understand is 'fractal'. What is that stage or approach that you have reached? The word is still kind of 'empty' of meaning for me.

NO

Naomi Orbegozo Mon 6 Apr 2020 9:54AM

Hi Alfie, great to hear that you have found some use in my ramblings. Can I tempt you in to doing some ramblings of your own?

Your question about fractal makes me panic a bit because I feel like I am only just starting to 'fill up the meaning' for myself. (hence the question mark at the end of my first post) I guess this is the space where new learning emerges though....so here we go. 

My understanding is that fractals are patterns that repeat smaller and smaller copies of themselves. So in social terms, this could mean that the interplay of systems in a global society, (such as education, economy, politics), and the priorities and patterns that these encourage (perhaps profit, growth, win-lose interactions) would be replicated as you scale down, from national societies, to communities in cities and towns, to businesses, social groups, families, then right down to the individual where you find an embodied and complex interplay of all these systems that produces similar patterns to the larger scales...perhaps an individual who prioritises material wealth and getting to the top of her game no matter the price for others. This is extremely simplistic, but just an illustration... 

What makes this idea exciting for me is that (in my understanding) it can work in all directions and constantly is doing so. So on a smaller scale, let's say an individual starts to find more harmony within herself (through whatever technique). She then takes this more 'harmonious way of being with herself' in to a group she is a member of and encourages a different style of communication. Perhaps this then triggers other members of the group to work on there 'inner communication', this in turn strengthens the harmony within the group and perhaps they are then able to start communication with other groups in the same way. The other groups might then review their communication style and the pattern repeats itself. Again, extremely simplistic...and maybe idealistic and terribly obvious...

Can you tell I'm feeling insecure about this? :) Trying to explain it makes me suspicious that I am using it as a fancy word for something that is already very apparent OR a justification for the amount of time I spend 'working on myself' OR I've misunderstood it completely :) Thanks for making me look more closely at this!

I would really love to hear other people's understanding of this concept! 

...after writing this, I had a sudden realisation that (in this contaxt) perhaps'fractal' isn't a fact that needs to be explained. It is more a way of thinking and seeing that can be very generative I think...

IA

Indra Adnan Mon 6 Apr 2020 9:47PM

Love the way you describe that as a realisation, rather than an abstract idea. Very much echoes my experience. You make the embodied part of this very easy to understand. Seeing internal patterns of emotion and responses moving into harmony. I often talk to my therapy clients about their internal soap opera - multiple characters within the one personality, coming into relationship with each other.

Looking outwards, I see patterns in ways of working that are replicated around the world. You may see something happening first in one country but then it springs up in another without any direct relation. Like the common dynamics on the leading edge of development. I rarely think any more about scaling: I think more about working on good prototypes - e.g. citizen action networks. If they can be copied easily, it's because the same conditions / dynamics occur in different parts of the world.

NO

Naomi Orbegozo Tue 7 Apr 2020 2:45PM

I really like this idea of 'the internal soap opera' because it also allows there to be an observer as well, who doesn't have to get too involved with one particular character. For me, it could also invite humour and lightness into the 'show' that is our lives. I think I might have some fun with that, thank you :)

ATS

Alfie Temple Stroud Sun 19 Apr 2020 9:40AM

Thank you both for continuing the conversation and sorry it has taken me some time to respond. Your reflections on what a fractal sort of development or growth would look like are certainly enlightening. I recognise what I think I have perceived in good things, projects that sustain themselves out of some sort of intrinsic energy, as opposed to heavy arrangements that need some unspecified outside agent to 'scale' them, or whatever. Conditions, empathy and a natural human kind of mimesis...?

I also definitely identify with the sense of manifesting or embodying a changed attitude or will - one which is sometimes even obscure in its origins in me (or you) - and feeling its outward effect; or not feeling its effect on others, but feeling the experience of a social or practical situation transformed by this slightly new-feeling outlook. Maybe I haven't fully integrated this sensation or realisation personally, in the way it seems to have formed a new stage in a sort of personal development for you, Naomi. For various reasons, I'm a bit less socially embedded than I have been in the past - or rather, I was anyway, before we were all confined to our homes! Perhaps this work is more productive when negotiating community dynamics.

Anyway, I can see nothing for you to feel insecure about. If it was easy to explain, it would be easier to come by!