Reflecting on my experience of our AR+ Gathering in Brixen/Bressanone…
By Ilaria Di Stefano, PhD.
It took some time for me to land in our shared gathering space nestled within the Dolomites. Life-with-little-kids constraints brought me to begin the journey on zoom, and join in person only later the same day after a 4-hour drive to Brixen/Bressanone from a little further south in Italy. That felt like a bit of a whirlwind, and at the same time I was so grateful for the hybrid form of the Gathering!
The first connections with some of the participants on zoom became moments of landing into intimate connection in the midst of chaos. Entering the first break out room with Louise (from Australia) felt like entering a sacred space which helped me feel into the intention I was bringing in connection with the bigger intention of the gathering, namely nourishing self and soil. I felt profound reverence for all the people coming together from different parts of the world, and for our planet hosting us all, patient with our own settling. That rekindled my flame for being love in action in our world.
Then, arriving at the bio-social-farm-monastery where we were co-retreating, my heart was warmed up again by the joy of meeting in person with long-time, remote developmental friends. The calmness of the night stewarded by the majestic Alps was enlivened by the effervescence of the relational field coming into greater coherence after the shared inquiries of the day. As group coherence kept strengthening in the days that followed, I was progressively becoming part of a collective co-creation on behalf of all living beings, including our planet.
Our experiences with embodied ways of knowing and relating to one another and “the space between” brought me on a journey that felt deeply personal and universal at the same time, with our group becoming the link holding the whole together. Connecting, through systemic constellation work and then through a beautiful, shared walk in nature (see the photo), with the felt sensed experience of planet Earth (both Mother Earth and Father Earth!) at this time of meta-crisis, allowed me to more deeply ground myself in my own human experience as a being of the Earth, quietly integrating my own personal grief a little bit further. The more I integrate my grief, the more love is liberated from the experience. After all, love is what grief is made of…
The beautiful waterfall on the land [see blog by Alex and Simon], which we reached in our walk with Alex, helped me get in touch with the loving flow sourcing from within and beyond me, and longing for reaching and rippling out into the world. At that point, I re-membered being love in action in an embodied way. I felt the immediate regeneration of the joy of feeling deeply connected with all that is, and rekindled in my commitment to create and hold spaces that honor difficult human experiences and their transformative potential.
During our days together, one way I felt nourished was through drop-by-drop furthering of the embodied integration of my lived experiences. The intensity of what we shared was inviting me to make time and space for the weaving of the different themes emerging within our group and myself, to taste the sense of wholeness that comes with living fully in the present moment, being genuinely curious about what wants to be born from it. I didn’t force the process of meaning making. Clarity at the cognitive level arrived in waves or flashes from the heart, the gut, “the space between”… At the end of the experience together, what was very clear to me was the feeling of sourcing and outpouring of love in my heart area.
And at the collective level, I could sense the rippling out of our shared, powerful, loving energy into the universe when we completed in meditative humming together, both from the monastery and beyond, from zoom.
Returning to my life, I felt more deeply grounded in a vaster belonging, with a sense of amplified spaciousness to more spontaneously, more bravely take care of what matters to me within my communities. I still carry this sense of determined fluidity to this day, one month after the completion of the gathering. I feel very engaged in my life and work’s labors of love, honoring the miraculously unique features of each circumstance, and enjoying feeling and sensing (in an embodied way) into the possibilities for evolution. The inquiry and the nourishing are also continuing in developmental friendship through the Climate ART Cafe, where I feel supported as I bring to fruition my experiences, especially by opening spaces to hold grief (particularly Earth’s mothers and fathers’ grief) and regeneration, in communion with nature, in my eco-system.
In the joy of sharing as a way to give thanks for our experience, and to a beautiful continuation of our nourishing self and soil together!
- Action Research for Transforming the Poverty Field. ARJ Special issue is out! - March 4, 2024
- Starting March 12 coLAB: From Chopsticks to Tchaikovsky: Developing repertoire for personal and systems resilience at a time of planetary crisis. - February 27, 2024
- Framing AR+ community activities for 2024 - February 23, 2024