“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”
Activists for social and environmental change focus on transforming the outer world. The personal growth movement focuses on the inner world of mind, feelings, and body. TNDG fosters both outer and inner transition, believing that they are interconnected: the outer creates the inner, and the inner creates the outer.
For many, the scale of outer problems can be overwhelming. Inner Transition helps us face a world that is changing faster than most can imagine or absorb. We learn to empathize with our feelings instead of denying them or pushing them away—then we can more easily empathize with others. Inner Transition offers tools to help us work together, bridge differences, and depend on each other more as current resource intensive systems give way to more local lives and a greater need to share.
Changing our worldview from separate to interconnected, from scarcity thinking to enough for all, from competitive to collaborative, are all part of the Inner Transition landscape. Understanding the process of change and our responses to it helps us to return to a place where we feel empowered and able to take action.
The inner perspective draws inspiration from, and weaves together, these three strands of personal transformation:
- Insights from the fields of psychology and psychotherapy in the West, which seek to understand the roots of human destructiveness and dysfunction and to heal the wounded, and wounding, human psyche. More recently, ecopsychology has brought insights about the human-environment relationship.
- Insights from teachings and the practice of transforming human consciousness, often drawn from Eastern traditions, such as meditation.
- Insights from many indigenous peoples who still remember, and practice, Earth-centred wisdom.
Transition NDG has had the opportunity to learn from several programs that support the inner journey, including the following:
- Transition Network guidelines, which support Inner Transition activities as part of regular meetings. (Research shows that groups that devote time to creating a positive culture, attend to group dynamics, and favour social time together do better in the long run.)
- Non-Violent Communication (NVC, or Compassionate Communication), founded by Marshall Rosenberg, which is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or behaviour that harms others when they don’t recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs. It focuses on three aspects of communication:self-empathy (a deep and compassionate awareness of one’s own inner experience), empathy (understanding and sharing an emotion expressed by another), and honest self-expression (expressing oneself authentically in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others). NVC is not just a communication technique, however; rather, it is a set of values that can change the way we live our lives and bring about social change. (See: https://www.cnvc.org/)
- The Work That Reconnects (WTR), founded by Joanna Macy, which draws from deep ecology, systems theory, and spiritual traditions. It builds motivation, creativity, courage, and solidarity for the transition to a sustainable human culture. WTR has inspired thousands of people to take heart and work together for the sake of life on Earth, despite rapidly worsening social and ecological conditions. It has also inspired people to co-create experiential practices for specific groups and settings. (See: The Work That Reconnects Montreal facebook page and practice group):