How can mindfulness deepen our activism?

This chat on spiritual ecology with Flo Scialom is a beautiful exploration of how we can use mindfulness and compassion practices to deepen and sustain our activism and relationship to the Earth.

Flo is a passionate facilitator, mindfulness teacher and community-builder. She holds an MA in Anthropology + Sociology from Leiden University, and currently works as Communications + Events Manager at a UK charity called the Network of Wellbeing (NOW).

She also has experience running mindfulness sessions for a wide range of people – from new mums to community activists. She loves writing and reflecting on her experiences, particularly around how mindfulness relates to social change.


Check out Laura and Public Love Enterprises
Website: www.laurahartley.com
Instagram: @laura.h.hartley
LinkedIn: @laura-hartley-

Check out Flo & her work:
Spiritual Ecology Netherlands
Mindful Change Blog: 
Instagram: @mindful.change

Check out this episode!

TRANSCRIPT: Please note this was auto-generated and has not been edited, and may contain errors. 

Flo Scialom – Deep Ecology

[00:00:00] Flo Scialom: And so it’s a tool that can be used in many different ways.

[00:00:03] And in order to embed it in a kind of social justice and social change narrative, you need to bring that ethical framework back in. And for me, a part big part of that is acknowledging the compassion element of having a practice. That it’s not just the focus, it’s also the practice of generating compassion.

[00:00:26] Laura Hartley: I’m Laura Hartley and welcome to the Public Love Project. This podcast is all about re-imagining and remaking the world, creating the conditions for social healing and collective thriving. Each week, we dive into topics around resilience, social change, birthing, and more just, and regenerative world and how we can use our head heart and hands in action. Before i introduce today’s guest and topic though i have one request head on over to apple podcasts or spotify wherever you’re listening and hit subscribe rate and review it helps us work to reach new listeners

[00:01:06] Hello. Hello everyone. And welcome to this episode today of the public love project. So we are speaking with a good friend of mine Flo Scialom. So Flo is a facilitator and mindfulness teacher, and she works with the Network of Wellbeing as a communications and events manager. She’s also the co-founder of a new project called Spiritual Ecology Netherlands

[00:01:27] together with our friends and colleagues, Maaike Boumans and Annick Nevejan. Flo loves to facilitate groups and transformative processes. It is one of her strengths. And much of facilitation work is focused on Active Hope and the Work that Reconnects. She holds a MA in Anthropology and Sociology from Leiden University in the Netherlands and a BA in International Relations from Sussex University in the UK.

[00:01:53] You can find her on her blog. @mindful.Change both on instagram and online in the show notes below but welcome to the show today.

[00:02:03] Flo Scialom: Thanks so much Laura. It’s really lovely to be here.

[00:02:06] Laura Hartley: Ah, thank you for coming on. So Flo uh, to give a bit of context, we met back in 2016 in Bhutan. We were both looking at gross national happiness, and it’s been really exciting to see where our paths have traveled since then.

[00:02:19] And towards what you are looking at now, which is spiritual ecology. So can you maybe start us off with a little bit about what spiritual ecology is and how it works with environmental activism?

[00:02:31] Flo Scialom: Yeah, sure. So just to say, yeah, it’s really lovely and special to be speaking with you and be on that journey together since meeting in Bhutan and uh, what an incredible trip that was.

[00:02:43] And yeah, I think that uh, Bhutan journey was part of my own personal Journey through looking at the intersection between inner practices and how they have a kind of impact on the wider world. So what can practices like mindfulness um, how can they make a difference to work, change making and to work to try and make positive change in the world?

[00:03:07] So spiritual ecology is one like branch of that ongoing journey of discovery that I’m on, and I’m really excited to [00:03:20] be working on this new project, Spiritual Ecology Netherlands with Maaike and Annick. So in in a nutshell spiritual ecology is about really acknowledging that life is both sacred and deeply interconnected.

[00:03:34] So the sacred aspect is really like deeply appreciating the, the beauty of the natural world around us and, and, and really stopping to have a sense of awe for all that that offers us. And the interconnectedness is, is about a sense of responsibility that comes with that that we. That we don’t exist as, as individual beings on, on our own little islands, that we, we rely on each other for, for everything in our lives.

[00:04:04] And that we need to have practices that acknowledge that interconnectedness in order to empower us to take that responsibility and act in ways that, that are kind of respectful of, of that interconnect.

[00:04:21] Laura Hartley: You know, and this interconnection, I think is a really fascinating place to actually dive into a little bit because it’s something that, you know, we’re deeply missing in our culture a lot of the time.

[00:04:32] I think we’re kind of inheriting like centuries and millennial of disconnection. So how do we go about really fostering and facilitating this interconnection and what is that experience like?

[00:04:44] Flo Scialom: Yeah, great question. Just to kind of share about like the, the, the frame of spirituality and spiritual, I think that that, like many things has been a little bit co-opted sometimes to be very over individualistic that people think when I have a spiritual practice, it’s something I do on my own.

[00:05:04] And just to say I’m using spiritual in the most inclusive sense. It’s essentially practices that can acknowledge the sacredness of life. It doesn’t have to be linked to any kind of organized religion or . It can even be compatible, you know, with very secularism. But people associate that spirituality or can do in our kind of capitalist, modern society with this very individual framing that I’m doing my practices to make myself feel better in order that I can be more productive.

[00:05:38] That is a part of having an inner practice, but that’s very much like a small part of the story. And actually having a genuine transformative inner practice is about generating that energy within you to, to Experience, like you say there, that interconnection within yourself in, in your kind of inner world.

[00:06:04] So I think that the, the question of like, how, how does that work? I think you, you can have practices that explicitly focus on acknowledging that interconnection. And for me it’s also vital do these practices in community in order to be able to kind of share and reflect and experience that interconnection together as part of the wider sense of practice.

[00:06:31] Laura Hartley: What are some of these practices? You know, I know when we’re coming together, there’s a lot of different spaces that we can be working. You know, whether it’s reconnecting to the earth, [00:06:40] reconnecting to each other, reconnecting to our own hearts. But when we’re looking at this idea of spiritual ecology and this work of, you know, really healing some of the crises that we’re facing in the world at this kind of deep level, what are these practices that you’re looking.

[00:06:56] Mm.

[00:06:57] Flo Scialom: So my kind of background in practice comes very much from the engaged Buddhism so my entry point into practice was a sense of engaged mindfulness and sharing in community. And that means, you know, very simple mindfulness, awareness of breath, walking meditations and also.

[00:07:21] Sharing what’s on our hearts in community so that we can kind of more effectively handle our emotional worlds, and that helps to support our wider engagement. And we can explore that a little bit more in depth if you’d like to. And in addition I’ve been, like I say, I’m on an ongoing journey.

[00:07:40] What’s been added to my practices, particularly in relation to the spiritual ecology frame and linking in and out to change is the, the Work That Reconnects, Active hope. So the work that was inspired by particularly Joanna Macy and Active Hope is a, a book written by Joanna Macy, together with Chris Johnston, which is actually.

[00:08:02] I love it so much, and it’s just been a new edition has just been released for their 10 year anniversary. So yeah, I I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ve updated. So the subtitle of that book is How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy , And I think it’s very, very apt necessary.

[00:08:20] Yeah, very necessary. And actually there’s a whole set of practices behind how to maintain a sense of active hope over time. And that’s built on the work that reconnects, which is at its core got a spiral that people can travel through, which starts from a real sense of gratitude for, like I was talking about earlier, the sacredness and the beauty of the world.

[00:08:43] And then travels through kind of honoring our pain for the world. And then through that combination of gratitude and honoring our pain, we can kind of see with new eyes, have a new perspective and then go and take action in the world. So often in spiritual ecology practices, we’ll be drawing on that work of the spiral and of the work that reconnects.

[00:09:07] There’s other practices, but I think that that’s a really powerful and a really prominent one.

[00:09:11] Laura Hartley: I, I remember when I first came across the work of Joanna Macy, and it was actually a little before I got involved in kind of more direct activism, and I, I just saw this book on my neighbor’s shelf and I was like, Oh, this looks interesting.

[00:09:24] Can I borrow this? And it was like, Mind blowing, like every page I was like taking notes and you know, underlining sentences and like taking photographs. Cause I was like, damn, I can’t underline it. Actually I need to hand it back. But it was a really life changing book for me. Yeah. But you know, I’d love to actually dive.

[00:09:44] A little bit and hear a little bit about how you came to this work, when did you start thinking yourself about this intersection of inner and outer change? Because I know you’ve obviously been looking at outer change, looking at your degrees for a long time. So where did this intersection begin?[00:10:00]

[00:10:00] Flo Scialom: Actually, Discovering the power of personal practice. That’s where my interest really begun. So I, I began practicing, like I say, in the kind of Thich Nhat Hanh tradition and what’s called Wake Up, which is kind of the young person’s like 18 to 35. I’m, I’m just past for that young person Mark now.

[00:10:21] But you know, 10 years ago was still well in there. So I, I joined a Wake up sangha. A sangha is essentially a kind. The, the Buddhist word for community. Although the wake up sanghas and generally the Plum Village Thich Nhat Hanh tradition is very open even if you’re not kind a formal practicing Buddhist.

[00:10:40] So I joined this, the sangha, and I was just blown away by the beauty or like the beauty of sitting to practice together with people. And also, like I say, the combination of practicing mindfulness and then also being able to share with a community of people like out inner emotional world. It just really helped me overcome a sense of isolation and insecurity and fear that I was just the only weirdo that was worried about this or that.

[00:11:11] And due to the like positive energy that I generated in myself during those practices, I really became fascinated with like, okay, how does this relate to. Looking at the wider world. We’re facing so many challenges right now, so how does this, how do the two interconnect, how can we use this, this beauty of the inner practice to serve all of the challenges we see in the world?

[00:11:37] And obviously that’s a question many people have asked, you know, like, Thich Nhat Hanh the, the founder of this community that I I joined was very much about engaged Buddhism. He was a Vietnamese monk. He actually had to leave Vietnam due to his peace activism during the Vietnam War. And he was very Active, and he very much saw mindfulness practice as being a fuel for engaged action in the world.

[00:12:05] So really like delving a bit more deeply into that, that side of mindfulness, that side of Buddhism, and also that took me on the journey to Bhutan, like we’ve touched on, like looking at, okay, how could this, A kind of more systems level, you know, like Gross National Happiness in Bhutan as an alternative to gross domestic product.

[00:12:27] So they decide to measure their societal success in happiness rather than kind of constant growth and consumption. So that was a part of my journey as well of seeing. That’s a very Buddhist country, they very much focus on their inner practices, and that’s led to them saying, Let’s manage our government in a different way.

[00:12:48] So , since I started kind of really actively practicing in community almost 10 years ago, I’ve just been looking for different ways to kind of deepen that sense of connection between the inner practice and the outer change we’d like to see in the world.

[00:13:04] Laura Hartley: how has this influenced your activism now?

[00:13:07] I mean, do you think, you know, if you hadn’t found this practice or you weren’t using this practice, where would this kind of difference be? How has it influenced or shaped what you are offering today?

[00:13:17] Flo Scialom: Yeah, well I think [00:13:20] that, and I wonder how many people relate to this, but in terms of my own like activist practice, I always feel like I could be doing so much more.

[00:13:31] You know, so I feel inspired by what Joanna Macy says, You don’t need to do everything.

[00:13:37] Do what calls your heart, effective action comes from love. So I love that. Because I do, I do ,think right now, There’s so many things that , I feel like I could and should be doing and want to solve and, one person and I wanna do what is being called of me from inside out.

[00:14:00] And that means that my activism often looks like a little bit less frontline, like I go on the protest and I let my voice be heard, but often my, like more regular day to day activism looks like supporting the wellbeing of activists. So running Active Hope workshops, going into like protest groups, seeing how I can support their emotional, psychological wellbeing.

[00:14:26] In a way that is my activism. Like I say, I feel like I always want to do more, but that’s like the main way that I try and show up and support. Because at least it’s something that I can do with my skills. And I know that it’s something that’s needed actually because .

[00:14:43] Activists, changemakers, people that are really on the front lines can feel so overwhelmed and hopeless. So I think if I can help be part of that wider community by supporting emotional, psychological wellbeing, then that’s a small but significant role to play.

[00:15:01] It would look completely different probably if if I hadn’t gone on that inner journey. It

[00:15:07] Laura Hartley: reminds me, there’s a Joanna Macy quote that I love where her definition of an activist is anybody who’s active for a purpose bigger than personal gain. And you, you know, as somebody who’s been involved in lots of different forms of activism, it’s.

[00:15:22] It’s a definition that I love because I think it actually is what you’re speaking about. It gives us permission not just to show up in the way that the world dictates, or the way that culture dictates, or the way that a movement dictates, but to show up in the way that is true for us so that whenever we’re acting in whatever capacity, you know, for something larger than ourselves, that we are committing to a form of activism.

[00:15:46] But I wanna circle around to something you were talking about there. You know, this. The importance of mindfulness in what we’re doing because, you know, at the beginning we were saying, spiritual practices, mindfulness, they do seem like they’re just for us, right? We’re kind of sold to them by capitalism, by the wellness industry as things that benefit us.

[00:16:05] You know, if you just practice mindfulness or you meditate or you, you know, fill out your gratitude journal or whatever it is that you will feel better or you’ll be more resilient, or whatever it may. But how are these practices really serving the world? You know, if, if we’re an activist, if we’re trying to make a change, you know, what do they offer us when we’re working with social justice?

[00:16:27] Flo Scialom: So this is, I find this question fascinating because like you say Of course there can be a lot of critique that mindfulness can be co-opted and repackaged out as an individualistic [00:16:40] consumerist capitalist production maximization project. And that’s not what I’m

[00:16:46] hoping to engage with or talk about when I’m talking about mindfulness. So how can it serve um, a kind of wider sense? I think there’s, first of all, we need to acknowledge that mindfulness is In like in its roots where it comes from Buddhist practice, it’s in combination with compassion. So some teachers talk about mindfulness and compassion as like two wings of one bird.

[00:17:13] So mindfulness practice is the focus on the present moment, the kind of training of that focus and compassion a kind of understanding of suffering and a wish to alleviate suffering in the world. Both of those are practices. What, what has been done very much in the kind of individualistic understanding is to.

[00:17:35] Take out the compassion to strip that down and then just focus on the focus. And so, so look at the benefit, like, and that is, that can be a very individualistic thing. Look at

[00:17:46] how

[00:17:46] Laura Hartley: your concentration will improve, you know, you’ll, you’ll be so much more productive, you know, if like you stop multitasking, you actually get more done.

[00:17:54] Flo Scialom: Exactly. Exactly. And and you know, if you just really, you know, also some teachers talk about, you know, mindfulness could be used to train someone in the military to more effectively, kill essentially. And so it’s a tool that can be used in many different ways.

[00:18:12] And in order to embed it in a kind of social justice and social change narrative, you need to bring that ethical framework back in. And for me, a part big part of that is acknowledging the compassion element of having a practice. That it’s not just the focus, it’s also the practice of generating compassion. In Buddhism, you know, there’s a like kind of a metta practice where you generate compassion for yourself and for those around you and for the wider world that, that, that is part of practicing, that you need to embed that into how you practice mindfulness.

[00:18:50] So that’s a part of it. I think If you see practice in that way it can offer changemakers, but also changemaking movements, different things. So it can offer a sense of fuel in a way for activism. So it can be very easy for people to become overwhelmed and burntout out by wanting to create change.

[00:19:16] But then, You know, trying and starting, and then immediately like realizing they can’t possibly do everything, and then stepping back again because it’s just too much. So I think having a practice can help to kind of sustain activism over time. So I, I love like Angela Davis who’s like obviously a well known.

[00:19:38] Classic activist says, “Anyone who’s interested in making change in the world also has to learn how to take care of herself, himself, themselves”. And uses like mindfulness meditation as an example of that. Self care. So this is self care understood as embedded within wider movements for change and reframing it , as a [00:20:00] fuel.

[00:20:00] So that it’s not just like, Okay, I’m gonna just take care of myself in this little bubble, but I’m gonna fuel myself so that I can keep that interrelationship with between my, my own sense of kind of self and health and how I can then show up in the world.

[00:20:20] Laura Hartley: Well, I’d love to talk a little bit as well. When we’re looking at climate activism, we’re looking at environmental activism, and I’ll dare say any activism, any form of changemaking that we’re doing, but I will frame it in this kind of climate and environmental sphere- there’s a lot of emotions. That come with the work that we do. You know, there’s grief, there is anger, there’s rage, you know, and learning how to navigate these is challenging.

[00:20:44] You know, there’s a lot to hold that is too much like in my experience or in my opinion, for one person to hold. So what do these practices offer us when we’re looking at first the rise of eco emotions, rise of, you know, grief and anxiety, what the world is going through, but also then in our own work and our own spaces

[00:21:05] Flo Scialom: as well.

[00:21:06] I think this is like vital cause it, you know, we can’t see ourselves as, , machines that can just keep going and keep going , on the activist treadmill. And then we are kind of recreating this Production extractive mentality that we’re trying to get away from.

[00:21:24] So um, I think to do things in a different way, to do activism in a different way, we need to acknowledge that we’re emotional beings and we need tools to help us deal with the intensity of the emotions that come up when you are staring in the face of ecological collapse and, and feeling the intensity of, of the heat waves and reading about all of.

[00:21:47] Um, Evidence of climate breakdown that we can see already in the world. Of course, a lot comes up in your system and inner practices can help you to hold that. I think one kind of core message is to feel it I think it can feel so huge that oftentimes when those kind of emotions come up there, can we check out, Can be.

[00:22:14] Yeah, we wanna check out, we wanna repress it, we wanna put it back in a like box so that we can kind of cope basically. And that’s understandable. You know, that’s a coping mechanism. What having more kind of conscious practices, particularly in, and, and again, I come back and back to community cuz I do think, you know, this isn’t something that we just do

[00:22:35] only alone. Of course, you can have a personal practice, but In my experience, it’s so much more powerful if you embed this in, in a kind of community of practice. But I, if you are able to have that, those practices, they can help you to feel like in the Joanna Macy’s spiral, Honor your pain for the world.

[00:22:54] So really go into those emotions and allow them to be there. And also see that as, Information and energy. I think also with anger, there’s a really great book called Love and Rage by Lama Rod Owens. And he talks about, and other, other thinkers. I’ve spoken about this well, about anger as a kind of energy and it’s it’s a friend, it teaches us [00:23:20] and it’s got information in it that we can use to inform us. But if we just repress it, then, then we are kind of stagnating that energy. Whereas if, but if we just. Don’t take care of it. If we don’t have kind of practices as containers to allow us to safely hold and explore and then transform those emotions, then it can kind of just spill out in a way that’s not supportive or constructive.

[00:23:48] So I think that being able to practice together, have that supportive community around, can help you to hold pain like grief for the world anger and rage for the world in a way that then allows you to, again, coming back to Joanna Macy’s Spiral, see with new eyes, like gain a new perspective on what that emotion is trying to tell you.

[00:24:13] And often it’s something’s wrong and I, and I wanna act. And that doesn’t mean you individually have to change the whole world. That means, you know, that means different things to different people. But in the broadest sense, it means you wanna take action for the world that you hope for, rather than the breakdown that you see around you, and that that’s important and powerful to listen to rather than to ignore.

[00:24:35] Laura Hartley: I think that reflection on anger is really important. I, I have a long and a complex history with anger as an emotion. You know, it’s, it’s the one that I still default to the quickest that, you know, I, I, I go to anger very, very quickly and it’s certainly one that when I didn’t have containers for it, when I didn’t have the skills to know how to work with it, it would

[00:24:58] build up until it would spill out, you know, and it would spill out at small situations at, people that it wasn’t necessarily directed at. And that was because I hadn’t really learned how to actually use anger. That anger is an informer, that it tells us things, it tells us what we care about. It tells us that we hurt, you know?

[00:25:16] And that anger also has a fascinating relationship to power, and to how it actually manifests into violence and into rage, just and into shame is really with, its link to power. Which, you know, is the link that I’m kind of curious to make here, because sometimes with mindfulness and spiritual ecology work, there’s kind of still a narrative that it’s simply about staying with long haul work.

[00:25:41] It’s simply about doing the work that we’re doing or doing activism that we’re doing, but staying with it for longer so that we don’t burnout. And I’m curious, is it that, or is there also a transformation in the way that we’re making change? Is this a different way to approach it entirely?

[00:25:58] Flo Scialom: Yeah, so it’s, it’s a really good point and I think that there is that risk.

[00:26:03] And I think that a part of finding containers for emotions is a part of doing work in new ways. Because if we are just seeing ourselves as just kind of wanting to continue on, continue on, continue on, that’s again like a bit of a machine like mentality. Whereas if we

[00:26:22] embed that understanding of us as emotional beings. That’s already starting to do like changemaking in a different way because it’s acknowledging Us and the way that we’re engaging in the work, rather than just kind of trying to extract the labor of individual [00:26:40] changemakers. And I think what you say there about anger is really interesting in your own personal experience.

[00:26:48] Cuz for me, and this might be a little bit of a Diversion from your question, but it, it will circle back, but it, it, it comes up in response to your, how much anger resonates for you because for me it’s often sadness and I’ve found that anger can be quite hard for me to tap into and hold. And I think that this is and like obviously, you know, we are both.

[00:27:13] Wow. Wow. I say obviously I, I’m female identifying and I know that you are. And so I see this as a kind of culturally embedded thing that I’ve been, and so that’s why I found it really interesting that you, like anger is more accessible for you because for me it’s been much more accessible to look at sadness and to to cry and access my grief and to access anger.

[00:27:36] And I’ve seen that as a kind of socialized thing and related back to power. I think that often there’s in power structures that are made invisible about who’s allowed to feel what, who’s allowed to express what how we should engage with things, that when we take the time to

[00:27:56] do activism work more slowly in a way. And, and I know there’s this, this tension like there’s this feeling that we urgently you need to slow down. The program that we did in Bhutan was called like slow change. There’s this tension. We’re facing urgent challenges, and part of what we need to do is slow down.

[00:28:15] But in that slowing down of inner practices, you make those power structures a bit more visible and you empower yourself and your movements to challenge those power structures that are coming up. Those power structures can very easily replicate themselves in movements where you see

[00:28:32] someone identifying as, as white male, having the most prominent voice again and again in, in discussions. And so,

[00:28:41] Laura Hartley: And do you see the women taking on the admin roles as well and more and more of all the like, Oh, we’ll do up the minutes or will you know, I’ll do the agenda this week? Absolutely. These dynamics.

[00:28:51] Play themselves out in like every circle that we’re in a lot of the time, unless we’re very conscious

[00:28:57] Flo Scialom: about it. Yeah, exactly. And that’s why I’m also really interested in um, mindfulness teachers, people of people of colour that are also sharing about the racial dynamics of this, You know, Lama Rod Owens, um, Rhonda Magee also wrote a book about mindfulness practice and racial justice, um, Angel Kyoto Williams.

[00:29:18] A lot of teachers are bringing this aspect. So I think that that’s in a sense um, helping us to create change in a new way. I like this concept of like prefiguratives. It’s a academic term for more, like embodying the change you want to see already in the world.

[00:29:38] So you, you don’t just say, Okay, we just have to power through and it doesn’t matter about the inequality in our movement. It doesn’t matter because this is the goal. You need to create change in the way that you then want to see the world becoming. So you need to embed that already in the way that your, your movements, your organizations are structured..

[00:29:58] Yeah, the way

[00:29:58] Laura Hartley: we make change is just [00:30:00] as important as the change itself. You know, the way, the way we make change is change exactly. To get a little bit meta with those levels there. Yeah. I wanna ask, you know, what does it mean for the world to be sacred? You know, how do we acknowledge that in the way that we exist in the world?

[00:30:16] Flo Scialom: Ah, yeah. Even you asking the question just makes me like, take a breath because it’s something that. This is why it’s a practice, because I can sit here with you and talk about these things and yet, like it’s a practice for me to tap into that on a, on a regular basis. Mm-hmm. . So what it means for me is slowing down and really experiencing life through my senses and .

[00:30:44] You can practice really slowly, like drinking a cup of tea or eating your food and actually really tasting the food. You know, saying a, a kind of blessing before the food, not in a, a religious way, in a way of like honoring all of the work and labour and love that’s gone into creating, putting this food in front of you on your plate and then really taking the time to like taste that and be with that.

[00:31:11] It sounds really simple, but it’s in the experience of that practice that you really can to become overwhelmed with the sacredness of life. It’s one of those things that it, it can be quite hard to verbally articulate if you haven’t experienced it. But if you had it, it can be such a surprise because you so often we go through life on autopilot, like, Oh, I get up in the morning, I get my coffee, I’m eating my breakfast quickly.

[00:31:40] I’ve gotta do this, I’ve gotta do that. Actually taking the time to honor, like all that goes into you being able to eat your breakfast, the sun shining on your face in the morning, the birds singing outside the, the plants growing around you. Like, that’s what’s meant by the sacredness. It’s actually taking the chance to just open, open our eyes and experience life through our, through our senses and, and honoring the beauty of the planet that we live on.

[00:32:09] Laura Hartley: Yeah. And the paradigm that we live in is, you know, very colonial, neoliberal, you know, western mindset.

[00:32:16] There is sometimes this idea that the sacred means, you know, that it’s air fairy or, or a nice to have, but that it lacks substance or it lacks reality. And for me, really what underpins the idea of the sacred is awe,, It’s beauty. Yeah. It’s wonder, Yeah. You know, that experience of, of being there and being open and being grateful for what it is that we’re experiencing in our physical bodies.

[00:32:42] Exactly. I wanna ask when we’re looking at this idea as well of. You know, spiritual ecology is just one example of changing the narrative around making change. You know,, what are some of the ways that new narratives and new values have been put into practice in the world?

[00:33:00] Gross National Happiness is obviously one example in Bhutan that we’re both aware of. That’s how we met, exploring a different idea of what success is, of what a successful economy is. But what are some of the other networks or what are some of the other examples that are happening in the world that you know of?

[00:33:16] Flo Scialom: So I think that this is [00:33:20] really exciting to see the different places this kind of understanding can be put into practice. And like you say, there’s so many different frames. My work alongside Spiritual Ecology, I work at the Network of Wellbeing, so I spend a lot of time looking at the kind of wellbeing movement and wellbeing understood as, you know, people and planet thriving together.

[00:33:41] Not an individualistic understanding of wellness, but a kind of embedded systemic wider understanding of wellbeing. And I, I think there’s then, One kind of concrete inspi inspiring example is the Wellbeing for Future Generations Act in Wales that really is a, a public policy in, in the country of Wales.

[00:34:03] That means that all policies have to consider the wellbeing of future generations as part of policy writing. So each policy that’s created, it’s like, okay. You wanna create this, you wanna build this new road, how is that gonna affect the wellbeing of future generations? Okay. You wanna, you know, change the, the school system, how is that gonna affect the wellbeing of future generations?

[00:34:25] And they’ve got a commissioner, Sophie Howe, who’s I’m excited. She’s gonna come and speak at one of our Network of Wellbeing events, whose responsibility it is to, make sure. That is a, a strong policy consideration. So I think that’s, you know, you see examples like that and you you realize that that this thinking is being translated into kind of concrete policy action in some cases, obviously not everywhere.

[00:34:49] And then I think in more movement building, more activism quite inspired by Extinction Rebellion Regenerative Culture aspect into the way that they do work. And kind of looking at regeneration as, as part of the changemaking. Obviously with all examples, you know, with spiritual ecology, with XR, you know, no example is absolutely perfect, but I feel inspired by seeing that type of thinking embedded in a wide, wide scale move.

[00:35:19] Laura Hartley: I feel the same. And you know, actually seeing it come to life in different structures, in different circles and different spaces, you know, for me takes it out of the individual and actually into the collective. It means that we’re starting to explore what it looks like together. And I find that really exciting.

[00:35:38] Yeah. But you know, as we’re doing that, it also comes with a lot of this territory or fear of going into new spaces, right? So, Actually, I wrote a blog on this the other week about starting before you’re ready because sometimes we have this idea that, you know, we need to be ready to do the thing and I’ll be ready once I have that degree, or once I, you know, have finished this next course or, you know, in a couple of months when I’m a little bit more practiced or whatever it might be.

[00:36:06] There’s, there’s a million stories depending on the situation, but that feeling of ready never quite comes. And I saw that you had a blog recently where you were talking about this same thing, going into spaces and not feeling prepared. So how do we navigate this? How do we, you know, work with this feeling of, okay, I, I want to do this thing.

[00:36:24] This is exciting. Yes, this aligns, but also. Oh my God, this is terrifying.

[00:36:30] I’m

[00:36:30] Flo Scialom: Yeah, so relatable. I think. It can be terrifying to try and step into [00:36:40] those spaces, even if you really feel that call um, from inside.

[00:36:43] In fact, that can be the most terrifying cuz it really means something to you. So this uh, this summer I co-facilitated a spiritual ecology retreat for the first time. I facilitated retreats before, but this Spiritual Ecology project in the Netherlands is fairly new. So it was the first time that I’d stepped into that space and it’s quite intense because going through this spiral of Joanna Macy, there’s the gratitude honoring our pain, it can be quite an intense, Um, overwhelming emotional retreat space. And that really came up for me in the facilitation role that I, I had those thoughts and feelings of like, who am I to do this and am I really good enough? And a lot of like self criticism and, and self doubt and what really helped me in In kind of being with that was I was co-facilitating with Aneke and to be able to have a space with her where I was able to kind of vo give voice to that, to like we were saying earlier about emotions, rather than pushing it away, , you know, Part of me wanted to just be like, Shut up.

[00:37:49] I’m here. I have to just carry on. But being able to give voice to and actually feel that, and then you know, through holding that together, you know, with Aneke and, and holding it in myself, being able to then transform it and be able to like tap into my inner mentor.

[00:38:05] So we all have a kind of inner critic and an inner mentor, you know, and I really love that you can, Listen and listen to and acknowledge them both, and you can try and actively nurture your inner mentor. So, you know, if it’s more my mentor, it’s like I’ve been, you know, practicing for 10 years.

[00:38:24] I’ve done so many trainings. I like, this is what I love and care about and I wanna give my heart to it. And of course more that I could learn and that’s what I’m doing. I’m learning through doing, like that’s a part of the process, you know? And that’s okay. And you know, being able to like go through that process to, to not avoid, to feel it, hold it, and then transform.

[00:38:50] It was really powerful for me because it helped me to then hold space in a more genuine, authentic way for, for those that in the retreat that were also going through their own processes. Cuz of course we all have, you know, these doubts and uncertainties that come up for us. And you know, Is, is being with that so that we can transform it.

[00:39:10] So I actually found it really powerful and then it, it, it resulted in me like writing a poem that I then shared at the end of the retreat with the other participants. And it felt like such a. Powerful and transformative experience for me that came out of that kind of, deep sense. Are, are you willing to share

[00:39:29] Laura Hartley: that poem with us?

[00:39:30] Because I would love to, as we move towards the end of this conversation, I would love to hear it from you.

[00:39:37] Flo Scialom: I would love to, if that’s uh, Okay. And I appreciate you asking.

[00:39:42] Laura Hartley: I have a love for poetry, so you know, I’m always very open to having poetry on the podcast.

[00:39:47] Flo Scialom: And you know what’s ironic, like just in you asking and me preparing to read, I have the same like, oh, insecurity come up, you know, this is terrible poem, and that’s what the poem’s [00:40:00] about.

[00:40:00] So it’s a really beautiful synergy. It’s called to speak.



[00:40:45] Flo Scialom: That

[00:40:45] Laura Hartley: is beautiful. I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. I love that vow to use our voice to speak. And, and so much of what you’re talking about there. Actually, I love that idea of an inner mentor because that’s not something.

[00:41:00] I have really articulated before, and to have that capacity to do that I think is

[00:41:05] Flo Scialom: really powerful. Yeah, I think, I think both, you know, like not being afraid of the negative and, I saw from Sharon Salzberg another mindfulness and compassion teacher that she talks about, like sitting down to tea with your inner critic and just like hearing them out, you know, you don’t need to be like, Oh, why am I still criticizing myself?

[00:41:26] Just like, be with and ironically, or like counterintuitively somewhat, that takes away the power because you think, Oh, I can’t let it in. Uh, But actually allowing it to be there, naming it, like making light, light of it, but being with it takes away the power and Yeah, and I really love this concept.

[00:41:44] I learned the concept of being a mentor from um, a friend of mine, Adanna, who does writing coaching her name. She’s @invictawriters writers on Instagram and I love her work and she. Really like encourages people to like be with both. So, you know, be with that inner critic, sit down with them and be with that inner mentor.Like what would your inner mentor be called? Like what are they trying to say to you? How can you kind of support and nourish them, give them voice as well? Obviously you don’t wanna have too many characters in your inner world, but it’s I think it’s a helpful counter narrative to the inner critic that’s much more widely known.

[00:42:24] I

[00:42:24] Laura Hartley: think it is. I agree. I wanna ask one last question to kind of close this out today. This podcast is all about remaking the world. So if you could remake the world in some capacity, what is your vision of a more beautiful, a more just, a more regenerative world or community that you can picture?

[00:42:47] Flo Scialom: What a beautiful and huge question. So I think that I would bring us back to how we started in this understanding of life and the world as sacred and deeply interconnected. And my vision of a more beautiful world would be. A life that like acknowledges that on every level. So a world in which people deeply experience this sense of awe and beauty that we talked about on a daily basis as something that’s just kind of a given of being [00:43:20] alive on this planet and that we, that was combined with a.

[00:43:25] Deep respect and honoring of our interconnectedness. A, a real respect for the natural world, the systems on which we, or the natural systems on which we all depend, and a real kind of honoring of that in the way that we, that we live, that we eat, that we work, that we conduct our lives. So I think a more beautiful world would be built on, on sacredness and interconnection.

[00:43:51] I love that.

[00:43:52] Laura Hartley: Thank you Flo so much for coming onto the show. I’ll have your details, so your links to Mindful Change and to Spiritual Ecology Netherlands in the show notes below, if anybody would like to check it out. Is there anything you would like to say before we finish up or any place that people can find you online?

[00:44:09] Flo Scialom: Just thank you so much, Laura. I find it really exciting that you are doing this podcast project and I love these types of conversations and thank you everyone listening. I think it’s it’s really powerful to just be on this journey collectively. And, and I, like I’ve said, for me kind of community connection is so important and that doesn’t just mean like the people that are immediately living close to you.

[00:44:34] For me, that means the people that are on that journey with you together. And so, feel free to connect with me more if you would like to. Oh, I’m like, I’ve got my Mindful Change blog and @mindful.Change on Instagram as well, and I’ll share the links with Laura. So we’d love to.

[00:44:52] Laura Hartley: Wonderful. Look, everybody, thank you for listening.

[00:44:54] I do love it when you’re able to suggest guests to have on the show. So please reach out to me and let me know what part of the world you would like to remake and who you would like to hear from. So you can follow more on Instagram at @laura.h.hartley, or check out our online school for changemakers at www.Laurahartley.com and we’ll see you next time.

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