A Journey Towards Flourishing

Overview

IntentionS:

To plan and implement a series of actions to begin the journey to my essence by addressing my addiction to caffeine.

The journey to my centre. Inner work. A pathway to becoming animal

Pattern disruption

To involve myself in a series of explorations that lead to the identification of a number of actions that bring me closer to having a healthy and well relationship with my body.

To find myself feeling energised by the natural balance within my body, feeling open, connected.

To begin to take better care of my body.

To situate my body more full in the living world.

Date: 20 October – 15 December 2022
client: Personal project
Site: My body, zone 00
Assessor: carla moss
status: implemented
principles: principle 0, Cultural Emergence , Patrick Whitefield’s Principles, designing regenerative cultures principles
Ethics: Earth Care, People Care (Self-care), Fair Share
Framework/Design process: Dancing with Complexity
Domain: health and Spiritual wellbeing
tools/Toys/methods: 

Images/art-making, Wordmaps/Design Web Anchor Points, Holistic Decision Making, Principles, 8 Forms of Wealth, Input/Output, Cultural Emergence Core Routines, Reflective Journal, Organ Map, Imaginal Landscapes, Four Questions.

Resources/Support:

Carla’s Design Forum, ‘Sand Talk’ by Tyson Yunkaporta, Doughald Hine’s ‘Regrowing Living Cultures’ course, Looby’s Cultural Emergence book, Wolf Willow Institute for Systems Learning ‘ Imaginarium‘ day long course, Carol Sandford’s Regenerative Life Principles, Nora Bateson video The Necessary Unseen

Context:

I have been holding a question about what it might mean to become indigenous, to become animal.

I see that the beginning of the process of becoming animal is to come into good relationship with, and to feel at home in my body. To do the inner work.

In the process of this design I identified key areas where I could begin to make shifts in how I am living in order to feel my way into better relationship with my body.

The design is about cultural conditioning, releasing old patterns, creating new, more healthful ones.

Framework

Dancing with Complexity: A design process framework. Emerged by Sally Hughes, December 2023

Holding Question:

What might it mean to become indigenous, to become animal? 

What do I mean when I say ‘becoming indigenous, becoming animal’?

Nora Bateson – poiesis autopoiesis, sympoiesis, polypoisies

When I say ‘body’, I mean the whole of me I am able to perceive through my senses and self-awareness, including my mind, thoughts, spirit, intuition, creative force of universal energy. I aim to overcome the harmful, perpetual duality between mind and body, the Cartesian split. I acknowledge the permeable edges between myself and others in the world, asking ‘where do I end, and you begin?’ I perceive my body to be one unique expression of the whole pattern that is human being, nested in the greater whole. I acknowledge oneness, and non-duality, and ask ‘how do I become myself?’

Articulating Context

Observation & Aspirations

In this phase of the design I was sensing, perceiving, noticing what I aim to breathe into. The tools I used here supported me to read my internal landscape, sensing the body system I find myself in, in order to come into greater awareness, and draw attention to what is going on in the field of my inquiry, my body.

Wordmaps/Design Web Anchor points
wordmap images

I used Looby’s Design Web Anchor Points as a tool for observing context. I attended to the anchor points over a period of time, from 20th October to 6th December. This exploration supported me to identify where I am starting from. Later on in the design in the sense-making phase, I return to the wordmaps, using them to define a set of supports, guidance statements………..

Where I am starting from – Identifying Baselines

What does it feel like to be in my body?

  • Low energy levels
  • Dependence on addictions to get through
  • Poor sleep
  • Unhelpful thoughts, anxiety
  • Aching body, holding stress
  • Overweight
  • Feeling like I have to meet everyone else’s needs, before I meet my own

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Principles

You can read a full exploration of the principles in relation to the design here:

The  Principles Thought Piece enabled me to tease out what the design aspirations are; making the aims and intentions clear. I thought it was about giving up caffeine, in order to be able to feel how I feel at my centre, to find my essence. But it turns out to be so much more:

Holistic Decision Making
holistic decision making images

The final phase of the HDM process involves bringing all you have discovered together into a mindmap. I was feeling a bit worded out at this point. So, instead of repeating all the words from the previous phases in a mindmap format, I used symbols to create the image below, which I have titled ‘Becoming Whole’.

I created it by allocating a meaningful symbol to each of the phrases from the Purpose (purple centre), Quality of Life Statements (smaller green circles), Enabling Actions (larger circles, in blue, but you can’t see the colour on the scan), and finally, Future Resource Base (large green circles on outer edge). I then put up the image on the wall above my desk to enjoy as a visual reminder of my aims and intentions.

Each symbol, with its own ascribed meaning, works with all the others to weave an image that represents the whole. I was inspired by the symbols Tyson Yunkaporta expresses in his book ‘Sand Talk’. I also used some pagan and witchy symbols, plus some I generated my self from the feeling that arose in response to the words. 

Becoming Whole. Symbolic representation of HDM process outcomes. Sally Hughes, October 2023.

I used the holistic decision making process to define the purpose (function) of the design:

To move myself from and unhealthful relationship with my body, where I am caught up in unhelpful behaviours and addictions to a more healthy relationship, where I take care of my body and welcome the experience of feeling well. 

Where I would like to be – Finding Touchstones

Identifying aims and goals – Where I would like to be

I am caught up in addictions, caffeine being a particularly persistent interrupter of the natural flow of energy in my body. I use caffeine to create a microclimate. It’s use brings more energy and concentration, especially for my work writing on the computer.

I’m trying to get back to the source of myself, my essence. I feel like I can’t do this with my body/mind masked by the effects of caffeine, so I need to wean myself off it, and welcome other things into my life now – to live more deeply into who I am becoming.

Two new questions emerged. What would being well feel like? What would it involve to get there? 

Playful Explorations

Holding Questions

8 Forms of wealth images

I identified the resources I have available to support me on my pathway

input/output image

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core routines image

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reflective journal image

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Pattern images

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Organ Clock image

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Imaginal landscapes image

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Sense-making

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Distillation

I identified that one of the key things holding me back from tapping in to my essence is my use of caffeine to create a microclimate for more energy.

That which is presented here is a distillation of a much larger design process, which you can view via a navigation map here:

Next right step

Herb Tea

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Fire Ritual

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Giving Up Caffeine – Timeline

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Life pattern

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Evaluation

Were your project aims met through the design solution created?

I aimed to plan and implement a series of actions to begin the journey to my essence by addressing my addiction to caffeine. The actions I have undertaken include:

  • Using the tools to glean insights and learnings to support my endeavour
  • Using herb tea as a help/support
  • Creating and enjoying a ritual fire to set my intention
  • Creating a timeline, then making another one 
  • Making a Life Pattern, like the timetable we used to have in school, a way to frame my days to make space for all the things I’d like to do
  • Writing in my reflective journal

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Did the design work? How do you know that it worked?

In lots of ways the design did work. I am not finding myself caffeine free at the point at which I am submitting it for assessment. However, there are a few areas that were very effective, especially the drawings I made, including the symbols for the holistic decision making and the Becoming… drawing. There was something about using the medium to carry the message that I enjoyed. 

At the end of the design I find myself with deeper awareness of the barriers that stop me from overcoming my addiction to caffeine. The need to do all the work of my diploma being one of them. The landscape will be different once I have finished. 

I’ve drunk a lot of hawthorn and chamomile tea, rooibos and chicory, which have become favourites. This brings forth my propensity to get hooked on things, my addictive character. I have a long way to go to heal. 

I also come away from the design with rich learning about what it might mean to become indigenous to place, becoming animal, particularly that art making is a way in to that inquiry. I explore this more in the Principles Thought Piece, and also much of the thinking has carried over into the Reflection I have written as I come to the end point of my diploma.

My reflective journal writing has helped me be better at identifying my feelings. I notice my sense of smell has become heightened. I also notice that I’m finding more thoughts in my mind around how grateful I am for things, and I note I am finding ways to express that with people more. 

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What went well?

I enjoyed making the wordmaps. I’ve enjoyed the whole design, it’s been very creative. I has been more of an indulgence, a chance to play, than a productive process for identifying solutions to a problem. What I learnt was that I don’t have a problem, I have a predicament. And predicaments can’t be solved, they require deep processes, varied perspectives, and small interventions overtime that change the energy of the system. This has been such an intervention. I’ll only know in time what the effects will be. 

Using the tools, I really enjoyed the HDM and 8 Forms of Wealth. Finding the branching pattern and the idea of pollarding my unwanted behaviours, in order that new behaviours can regrow was very satisfying. Yesterday at the Christmas Tree Festival when we were putting up our tree, I found this tot of joyful information hanging on one of the other trees. I have been angsting over tools for a long time. This find brought some freedom to my thinking, and closes a loop as I come to the end of my diploma, wonderful. 

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What was challenging?

Falling off the wagon, resisting feelings of failure. This is a hard process, it will take time. I must be tender with myself. There were days when it was very dark emotionally for me in the process of reducing my caffeine intake, and I have had a headache for most of the time. That’s why, when I try again when I have space, I am going for cold turkey, not slowly weaning off. 

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Becoming Animal…Finding Essence

At the end of the process of writing up, I wanted to see if I could whittle the design down to one statement for each of the anchor points, and one for the ethics, playing around with this idea of what it might take to become animal. I feel the insights gleaned offer the keys to the door of finding my essence. They are also the essence of the design!

I worked these into an image Becoming Animal…Finding Essence, which then became the main body of the design. I’m interested in the long process of distilling the essence of this design, and see it as akin to the long process of overcoming addictions in my pursuit of becoming animal, as I distill the essence of my being.

Reflection

Framework

The way I have presented the framework on one page in the Navigation Map on Canva, with the anchor points in a web surrounded by images from the whole design, feels satisfying. It feels like the pattern of the design, offering ways to engage more deeply into the detail in each anchor point, and then more deeply again through the original wordmaps I made in the whole design.

I prefer using the design web as a tool, like I did in design 7The fact that there is no place specifically in the design web framework for ethics feels like a bit of a flaw in the framework for me. I also found the 12 phases to be too many. I enjoyed the non-linear nature of it, flitting from one phase to the next, like a butterfly. I fear this makes write-up a little incoherent, as the times at which things happened are not in the right order. I note that this has come up for me before. I do like to be able to document things in the order they happened in the cycle, because one thing grows from another in an iterative process.

Radial reverberation

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Tools/Toys

Wordmaps – The wordmaps offered an effective, deep, visual way of exploring each anchor point in detail. I used a colour key, each colour represents the day I added the statement. This shows the non-linear approach I used when attending to each anchor point.

Holistic Decision Making/Holistic Context – Whilst I don’t think I used this tool to it’s full potential, it was hugely generative for clarifying my vision. The symbolic representation of the outcomes fills my heart with joy, I felt so engaged in the process of creating it.  

8 Forms of Wealth – Used in the helps phase to identify all the resources and support I have available to me. It is a good tool, many of the things I gleaned using it I carried with me thought the rest of the design. Fruitful arisings indeed. I put it in the helps phase because its about what I need to do in order to achieve my ambition.

Input/Output – In the Reflection anchor point, I noted that at the beginning of the design I was feeling old in my body, full of aches and pains. I asked myself ‘what do I need to do to feel better in my body?’, one thing I can do is to give up caffeine.

In the Vision anchor point, I state that my hopes for a caffeine-free life will bring better sleep, more energy, which is natural and balanced with my innate rhythms and cycles, and clearer awareness of what’s going on with my body.

This was a small gestural use of the input/output tool. I noted what I would need to put in: time, energy, self-care etc, in order to cross the boundary into what I hope I will get out of the process, or where I hope I will find myself when I am caffeine-free: calm mind, healthful thougts etc. The feeling I get within me when I imagine being the person I could be feels hopeful. I look forward to this day. It helped clarify my vision. 

Cultural Emergence Core Routines – There’s something interesting that I can’t quite name yet going on around tool stacking. It became clear that I use the core routines I chose as tools in my designing, though they are subtle, and not named explicitly as tools, but they are there. The process helped me see that this design is about: pattern disruption, engaging imagination, visioning, self-care, creative expression and supporting emotions to flow (these are the core routines).

Reflective Journal – Writing in this way enabled me to see how my feelings and thoughts were coming up as the process went along. I gained clarity from this process. 

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Principles 

I loved my deep dive into the principles in my  Principles Thought Piece . This is where I really dig deep into what this process of becoming indigenous, becoming animal really means for me in practice at this moment in my life.

The writing feels so nourishing, and has a reflective quality to it. So I’ll just say briefly here, I find the cultural emergence principles don’t satisfy my hunger for learning about the way the more-than-human world lives. I enjoy using metaphor to make alignments between my own human experience of living and the living that happens for other beings. 

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Ethics

I found it hard to attend to the ethics with any significant depth in this design. Maybe that’s because they don’t have a specific place to be held in the process. So I turned to Looby’s Cultural Emergence book, and learnt that the ethics are so entwined in the cultural emergence process that they don’t get a mention specifically, except where she talks about writing the book about the people-ethic, and where she describes each ethic in one sentence early on. The self-care element in this design is so strong, maybe it doesn’t need mentioning specifically….(I doubt this, I’ll add more after forum discussions and feedback).

I am interested in what came up around Ethics of Care, Contexts of Care and Aesthetics of Care, but I have written enough words so will attend to them later, I’ll leave them as a breadcrumb for future writing.

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Four Questions

What’s going well?

The design picked up a thread around my using caffeine to create a microclimate which emerged in design 9. I have enjoyed the deepening into this. Bill’s invitation is to ‘start from your back door and work outwards’. I perceive the back door to be the deepest darkest part of my inner landscape. I have enjoyed the inner work this design has enabled me to begin. I am looking forward to continuing weaving this thread in the months ahead.

The richest learning came in the exploration of the principles, in the Principles Thought Piece, where I was able to identify ways in which the principles resonate with my thinking at this point in my learning. The power of cultural conditioning came to the fore, and the challenge of overcoming it, as I work to create a culture of belonging in my body, and to the earth, in a process akin to decolonising my mind. So, it feels true to say, part of becoming indigenous to place as I become animal involves a process of decolonising my mind.

Writing this, I see there are 12 phases in the design web, which calls to mind the 12 steps of AA, which Doughald referred to, he thinks they are helpful (I struggle with the God stuff, maybe I’ll rewrite them). Doughald talked about how we are prone to self-anasthesia, that our addictions are a way to numb ourselves to our pain, rather than learning from the feeling. Learning to sit with pain is a part of the process of healing I am interested in exploring more deeply. Maybe I’ll call my recovery project for 2024 ‘Finding Sobriety’. In fact, I see that perhaps this design has been a bit of a moral inventory of myself, and I am beginning to have an experience of awakening.

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What’s been challenging?

Keeping the design small. The original intention was for this to me a micro design. As is my way I indulged, and it become too big. Carla’s invitation towards the end of the process of write-up was to reduce the design, working with my deep intuition to move into the important details from each anchor point. That is why you see this navigation map here: it navigates the terrain of the much larger design, honing in what has been really important. Gratitude to you Carla for the gift of the challenge to ‘go with your deep’. Interestingly, I note that it is a design about finding my essence, in which I have also worked to find the essence of the design.

Old, ingrained patterns are super hard to shift. Ingrained patterns of behaviour that have shaped my entire diploma (getting up early to write on the computer whilst it’s quiet, season extension, creating a productive microclimate with caffeine, writing too much). I fall down, reset my intention, and carry on.

Healing from addiction is a thing that needs more than a short design process which I’m holding in the run up to Christmas (the worst time of year for me and my addictions, so much to do, so much sugar around as my family enjoys the seasonal over-indulgence). However, what I have done here has highlighted some supportive practices and intentions for change. To really become whole, back to the root of myself as I find my essence, is going to take a long time. I also note that I haven’t yet mentioned the influence of Carol Sandford’s work on my pursuit of ‘finding essence’, a thread I picked up in Design 8.

And the healing is going to take a lot of writing/righting. I have, alongside the work here, set myself an intention to begin writing a Substack on becoming indigenous. I have fixed myself up with a writing partner, someone I have met through Doughald’s course. We can offer each other support and encouragement to get the writing done. I’m feeling excited about that. 

I’ve set myself up with this design for more opportunities for healing as time goes on. In particular I am fixing up for a mutual support arrangement that will potentially offer a good deal of external support through a co-counselling process. It feels right to me that healing in community is the right way forward.

The other thing is, this design is being held in a public forum. To really begin the work of healing, I feel like it needs to be more private, and not published for all to see on the interweb! So I will invest in a beautiful book in which to quietly carry on with my recovery. I’ll share the bits that feel shareable in my writing. I must go tenderly with myself, as I go about undoing 46 years of cultural conditioning. Hopefully this inner work will set me up for 40ish more years. I hope that by the time I am 86 I have a big body of writing which I have found ways to share with others. That’s a big, bold, and very clear intention.

I’ll do nothing to hide my misshapen pollarded form, as I find ways to rewild myself in my becoming animal. Bearing witness to the scars of the past feels important for healing. My wish is that in a small way, by healing myself, I also heal the world, as I unfold further into life’s mystery. 

I feel like I won’t really be free to attend to any of this properly until my diploma is done.

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What’s the long-term vision?

This potentially leads into a bigger ‘Life Reset for Recovery/Finding Sobriety 2024’ design. I won’t know the actual shape of things until I am truly finished with my diploma. 

I want to grow:

  • My body to be more flexible
  • More creative expression to understand emotions
  • Learning about plants
  • Connecting with the living world
  • My capacity to lose weight
  • Eat well, good organic home cooked food
  • Clean and tidy clutter free home
  • Bright mind
  • My writing
  • Body of work – sharing on social media
  • Contribute to household economy, save money for yoga retreats!
  • Relationships 
  • Community 
  • Peace, stress reduction, balance energy
  • Work – edges – collaboration, influence

What are your next steps?

  • Corrections
  • Set up my Substack, aim for first piece of writing to be published in week beginning 8th Jan
  • Finish writing my final presentation, set the date, invite people, then enjoy the celebration!
  • Arrange Certified Educator status
  • Enjoy working on a collaborative design for Liz’s PDC
  • Enjoy being involved in the visioning weekend with the Paramaethu Cymru folks
  • Enjoy planning permaculture sessions with Poppy at Global Gardens and for CoedFest
  • Make more art
  • Get paid!