Archive | Indigenous Values RSS feed for this section

Wishing You a 2015 Full of Wonder

It’s New Year’s Eve in England and the clock is counting down to midnight. I am have been invited to a curry dinner with neighbours – it feels so good to be part of a mini community that does welcoming things so spontaneously.

But before I go, I want to say a heartfelt thank you for all your support and comments over the past year. They have sustained me and inspired me in my current  endeavour – to write the book explaining why we need to change the way we do tourism and share some suggestions as to how we can contribute to a Regenerative versus extractive Economy – one that that is environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling for all participants – not just a few.

I am convinced that when you dig deeper, past all the individual challenges and crises – be they economic, environmental, social or political – you will find that the root cause is our application of a mindset or our addiction to a story that no longer help us make sense of our world. Regardless of name,  it is, to use current, common parlance, past its sell-by-date. It most certainly fails to reflect all the amazing discoveries that science has laid at our feet since the turn of the Century. “The book” will examine this is in detail because, by understanding how we got onto this particular stepping stone of history,  we might better launch off onto a new one.

I believe the travel, tourism and hospitality sector has the potential to play a vital role in shifting us from an old, out-dated view of a material, hostile world in which we,  separate beings, compete for scarce resources to a new view that sees only connections and interdependencies and that recognises greatest evolutionary progress has occurred when we collaborated and used our intelligence to co-create abundance.

Source: Jeff Willius  www.OneMansWonder.com

Source: Jeff Willius
http://www.OneMansWonder.com

One of the most important contributions that tourism can make is to transport people to places where they can experience a sense of wonder, awe, place and purpose and, thereby open their eyes to nature’s wonders all around them at home when they return. Nature is not a problem to be solved but the source of all life – we can learn so much from her if we have eyes to see and souls open enough to hear.Our task is not to waste and destroy its bounty but to sustain a balance so that Nature can evolve into higher levels of beauty and complexity. We are her partners not her master.

With the author’s very kind permission, I am sharing his words below as a way of expressing my gratitude to your support of Conscious Travel as an idea and of me as a colleague. The words below are a Pledge to Reclaim Wonder which I encourage you to take into 2015. It comes from Jeff Willius and his web site: www.onemanswonder.com that has filled me with joy since he started. He offers his readers a free, framed version of the pledge and I encourage you to subscribe. The absolutely gorgeous flower image is also his.

RECLAIMING WONDER PLEDGE

Source and (C) Jeff Willius –  www.onemanswonder. Pl

I believe I’m surrounded by wonders great and small, all the time, wherever I am.

I understand that many of those miracles lie hidden to first glances.

I will open my spirit to wonder. My eyes, my ears, my heart will follow.

I will make time for awareness, curiosity and wonder.

I will turn off the television, put down the book and start looking, learning and living first-hand.

I will decide for myself what entertains me and, more importantly, what nourishes my soul.

I will notice and celebrate the power of presence.   

I will carefully examine the myth of certainty, and value learning more than knowing.

I will be more aware of the miracle of grace that resides around and within every person.

I will shine the light of my own spirit, and will give other people the chance to shine too.

I will try to experience everything as if it were for the first time.

I will approach each day with faith in Nature’s instruction, and with gratitude for being Her lifelong pupil.

I will be patient, not just with Nature, but with myself, celebrating small steps in the right direction.

I will seize every opportunity to help a screen-bound child reconnect with Nature.

Hopefully you are with friends and or family this night and the coming days will be filled with joy and peace.
Anna

PS Apparently, this is my 100th post on this blog!!

On the tip of the tipping point – when ecology is understood to be spiritual, there’ll be no going back.

A core tenet of Conscious Travel is an understanding that each place is alive and sacred.

Host providers will develop truly sustainable livelihoods that benefit their communities when they come into right relationship with all life.

penan-quote-large_photo_story_large

Our indigenous brothers and sisters have always understood this and now find themsleves on the frontline of a global clash in world view:

  • one perspective considers all it views to be dead matter that exists for our manipulation and exploitation  (even divine intelligence is considered to be “out there” and separate);
  • the other knows  all is alive and interconnected and pulsating with the same energy that shapes all existence urging it forward in its evolution.

Two important events are occurring right in the middle of 2013 (i.e. July)  that I believe will help tip us towards a wider embrace of the second view of the world. They will help accelerate the shift in values  (towards greater meaning and purpose) that has been described throughout this blog such that when a critical mass wake up to the fact that ecology is not just physical, there’ll be no going back.

The first event is publication of a book of essays called Spiritual Ecology as introduced in the trailer below. Edited by Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee, it comprises diverse perspectives from such luminaries as Chief Oren Lyons, Thomas Berry, Satish Kumar, Thich Nhat Hanh, Vandanna Shive, Joanna Macy and Pir ZiaInyat-Khan.

The second is completion of the Sacred Land Film Project (SLFP) –  a four-part film series for public television titled Standing on Sacred Ground. Here’s its trailer:

Winona Duke describes Sacred Places as spiritual “re-charge” areas. Given that the root of travel is hospitality which, in turn,  is all about regeneration, re-creating (recreation), making whole, healing and re-charging, then we too are involved right on the frontline of this change in views. As hosts who welcome guests into their “their unique, special and sacred place” we have the chance to help them  come in touch with the magic and mystery of all places. But to do that we must have developed a sense of the sacred.

Author’s amendments August, 2014

Here is an excellent review of the Sacred Land Film Series by Leslie Sponsel.
Click here to access trailers of each film with ease.

On Honouring Time as a Sacred Gift

At WINTA’s Indigenous Tourism Forum held as the concluding day of the Adventure Travel World Summit 2012,  my role was to explain why Indigenous Tourism is an approach whose time has most definitely come (slide deck here). When guests are received and hosted by indigenous peoples they have an opportunity to look at life through perceptual “lenses” that are not only different to the prevailing western worldview but are more likely to ensure our survival and prosperity as a species.

It’s my belief that only when a critical mass of people become aware of the lenses through which they perceive the world (ie their unexamined assumptions, values and beliefs ) and  wake up and become conscious will a real shift in collective human behaviour occur and we’ll start to live in harmony with Mother Earth. Travel and tourism can play its part in achieving this Shift. It was exciting to hear the Secretary General of the UNWTO position the 1 billion travellers as providing a huge opportunity to accelerate the shift in consciousness provided that the tourism community woke up themselves and assumed a role as guides along this adventurous journey!

The good news is that “waking up” is exactly what is happening on virtually every continent of this beautiful Planet Earth as you can see from this post by the Pachamama Alliance – an organization that has had a direct and, I think, very positive influence not just on my personal worldview but on my commitment to supporting “the Big Shift.”

In order to achieve their core mission of empowering the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture its leaders have understood that their success depends on the extent to which they can convince the western world  of the relevance and power of a worldview that has sustained these first inhabitants for thousands of years.

Ben Sherman Addressing WINTA Indigenous Tourism Forum

The article titled New Moon Action: Honor Time As a Sacred Gift expresses and affirms the values that Ben Sherman (from Lakota Territory in the USA) spoke so eloquently about at the WINTA Forum – values of love, respect, reciprocity, and gratitude.

The Pachamama Alliance author points out that one of the most precious gifts of all is time – it is not a commodity that should be spent or even saved but a gift that should be consciously received (by stopping rushing and being still); shared (by focusing attention) and celebrated through acts of being rather than doing..

I’ll keep this article short because I know most of my readers consider themselves time pressed so rather than read my words please read the Pachamama post. When you start to think about time as a gift it puts the concepts of “voluntourism” and “slow travel” in a much deeper context with powerful implications for how tourism is practiced. As the indigenous worldview sees both time and space as a sacred gift, it’s less about spending time than investing time. People help each other using what has been described as “currencies of caring” i.e., “the mutual respect, relationships built on trust and the joy of sharing your gifts and talents” that Ben Sherman described as central to the indigenous world view.

“We’ve all been given a gift, the gift of life.

What we do with our lives, is our gift back”
Edo

And if you find these ideas inspiring, then I am sure you will be similarly encouraged by the concepts that a very bright young man, Charles Eisenstein, has presented in his latest book, Sacred Economics  as summarized in the short video positioned at the end of the article. Right at the beginning, Eisenstein distills in a few profound words how the old stories, which we have been telling about ourselves in our world for the past 300 + years,  have shaped our actions and our institutions:

Every culture has a story of self and answers the question “who are you” “what does it mean to be human?” Our current story says that you are a separate being among other separate beings living in a universe that is separate from us as well. You are not me; that plant is not me; we are each something separate. This story of self creates our world.

If you are a separate self and there are other separate selves out here and the universe is fundamentally indifferent to you or even hostile then you definitely  want to control and have power of these beings and those whimsical forces of nature that could extinguish you at any time. This story is becoming obsolete. It is no longer true and we don’t resonate with it any more. It is generating crises that are insoluble from these methods of control. That’s what is clearing space for us to step into a new story of self. Transcribed from video

The values articulated in the Pachamama article form a key part of the Conscious Travel model as simplified in this expression of the 7 new Ps of tourism.

Conscious Travel Operating Model

Each guest experiences the gift of a unique place (space) at a unique time as seen through their own unique set of lenses. Conscious Hosts are encouraged and enabled to slow their guests down so that they can use all their senses to experience their surroundings (Pace). Even time can stretch when we are so immersed and captivated that we lose track of it and enter “the zone”, or “flow” and another state of consciousness. In other words, instead of needing to discount products as commodities, we have the opportunity to realize and release true value associated with enabling our guests to expand their consciousness through their travel experience. To quote the Mastercard advertisement – the travel experience that transforms- priceless. This is the essence of Conscious Travel.

Some More Relevant Reading From This Blog

The Role of Indigenous Tourism in Creating Conscious Hosts

Where Do You Stand?

Changing the Dream – Why Mindsets Really, Really Matter

The Legend, Prophesy of the Eagle and the Condor

Tourism – Whats the Point Part 3 & links to Parts 1 & 2

Changing the Dream – Why Mindsets Really, Really Matter

The failure of Rio + 20 provides the strongest evidence to suggest that despite hundred of conferences, inquiries, studies, policy tweaks,  and investigations, the global and national agencies have not yet grasped the deep nature of change required if humanity is to avert a catastrophic interruption to “business as usual”.

Over the coming months I guarantee that the words “paradigm”, worldview,  mindset will be used with increasing frequency as we realise that “tinkering around the edges” of the challenges will do little good, will likely delay any progress and make matters worse. Let me share four examples.

Example 1: In a recent interview with Dr. David Suzuki, the eminent Canadian scientist, who has done so much to raise awareness of ecology, expressed his exasperation:

Dr. David Suzuki….

….If we don’t see that we are utterly embedded in the natural world and dependent on nature, not technology, not economics, not science—we’re dependent on Mother Nature for our very well-being and survival. If we don’t see that, then our priorities will continue to be driven by man-made constructs like national borders, economies, corporations, markets.

And the leaders in that should be the indigenous people, who still have that sense, that the earth is truly our mother, that it gives birth to us. You don’t treat your mother the way we treat the planet or the biosphere today. If we don’t make that fundamental shift, then we’ll just go on: “Oh, we got to be more efficient. We got to have a green economy,” and all that stuff. But we haven’t fundamentally changed our relationship with the biosphere.

A link to the video interview is included at the end of this post and  it’s well worth a watch for two reasons – Suzuki doesn’t mince his words and refers us to the recent article published by over 20 internationally recognised scientists in the journal,  Nature,  whose data suggest we’re very close to a major phase change or tipping point and, secondly, because he is joined by his daughter Severin who rendered the United nations speechless back in 1992.

Example 2: Another environmental expert who laments the lack of progress is the Swedish environmental scientist  Johan Rockstrom of the Swedish Resilience Institute.  Dr. Rockstrom points out that  modern humans have just experienced “10,000 years of grace,” an interglacial period capable of supporting human development. He tells us we’re currently putting the planet into a “quadruple squeeze” through pressures of human growth and inequality, climate change, biodiversity  loss, and the problem of surprise as natural systems can collapse with remarkable speed when a tipping point is reached.

Rockstrom and his colleagues have identified nine planetary boundaries that can be monitored to ensure that we don’t slip into collapse and of the nine, we’re already transgressing three. Again, I  leave you to watch the lecture – Rockstrom’s lively, extremely informative and, despite the content, so entertaining he’ll sustain your attention through a mind blowing 15 minutes. But note: towards the end he declares – surprise, surprise:

So there is — no doubt — opportunity here, and we can list many, many examples of transformative opportunities around the planet. The key though in all of these, the red thread, is the shift in mindset, moving away from a situation where we simply are pushing ourselves into a dark future, where we instead backcast our future, and we say, “What is the playing field on the planet? What are the planetary boundaries within which we can safely operate?” and then backtrack innovations within that. But of course, the drama clearly shows that incremental change is not an option.

Example 3: in a recent newsletter, Shaping Tomorrow,  from the British futurist, Michael Jackson comes the following observation:

Although the shift towards new purpose in business builds on the triple bottom line, it goes far beyond. First, it is about transformation i.e., deep systemic change rather than reformation, trying to make current outdated systems work better; and second, it will involve significant changes in our own personal beliefs, mindsets and behaviours. What is happening in the world today may turn out to be no less than a paradigm change.

Having staked my career and livelihood on a belief that Suzuki, Rostrom, Jackson and a growing number of others are right, I take comfort from his observation. Conscious Travel is the only program that addresses the need to change mindsets first. It’s also based on a belief that tourism providers are the ones who will make the shift – provided that they commit to learn together. These are the change agents – the yeast in the dough called the tourism ecosystem. They don’t need some distant agency telling them what to do; they need support to access the information, tools and each other.  And finally, let me respond to those so-called “hard-nosed” entrepreneurs who dismiss this talk of paradigms as academic. We’re clear about our reason for structuring the program in this way – our objectives are about as  practical as you can get – to increase hosts’ profit; increased net benefit to the host community, reduce erosive volatility and increase resilience. Why else would we bother?

Example 4: while it’s taken western analysts, thinkers and doers a few hundred years to

“get it,” most indigenous people understand instinctively the power of mind and mindset to affect our world. If I am committed to Conscious Travel it is partly because of a tribe of people living in the upper Amazon – the Achuar – whom I have never met. Having asked and received help from some Americans to fight the oil rigs encroaching their territory, they had no qualms about extending what we might think to be an impossible challenge – to return home and “change the dream of the north”. These so called primitive people, who had lived in harmony with their environment for thousands of years, knew that we, in the north had lost our way and our ability to see the reality the way it is. We need to change our dream – our way of seeing. The Americans – John Perkins, Bill and Lynne Twist co-founders of the Pachamama Alliance –  didn’t flinch and went on to develop The Symposium – a one day program that has now reached thousands of  people in 60 countries and which I am a facilitator. Conscious Travel is my contribution to changing the dream of the north by helping the tourism community respond to the Achuar challenge. 

Dr. Suzuki’s Interview with Democracy Now