How to Persevere as We Restore Sanity

This is a six-week course to develop the skills to persevere as you work to restore sanity.

Restoring sanity is the work of this time. I define sanity as that which creates possibility, behaviors that awaken our innate and glorious human qualities.  Insane behavior is that which destroys possibility, that denies or ignores what we humans are capable of.  My newest book Restoring Sanity, Practices to Awaken Generosity, Creativity & Kindness in Ourselves and Our Organizations is a practice manual for how to create and sustain Islands of Sanity, places of sanctuary and possibility.

An Island of Sanity is a place of refuge and potential, created by people who realize they can no longer do their good work alone.  We realize we are drowning in toxic seas, increasingly  exhausted, overwhelmed, lonely, even despairing.  Our work is important, our desire to contribute is still strong, but to do our work we must separate from the destructive dynamics, policies, and behaviors of this time. We must come together, no longer casual about community, willing to do the hard work of building healthy relationships, committed to staying together to do what we can, where we are.  We know that humans can get through anything as long as we’re together.

Mother Earth knows to create places of refuge: 

Refugia (reh-FU-jee-ah) is a biological term describing places of shelter
where life endures in times of crisis, such as a volcanic eruption, fire, or
stressed climate. Ideally, these refugia endure, expand, and connect
so that new life emerges.

Restoring sanity is meaningful and joyful work. And it is challenging work.  We are calling people into conscious community at a time when cultural dynamics of self-preservation, fear, polarization, and withdrawal predominate.  We need to be prepared to deal with these destructive dynamics: people will disappoint us; our faith in the human spirit will be tested; we will experience exhaustion, sorrow, despair; we will doubt why we’re doing this work; we will forget who we have chosen to be.

These are known obstacles on the path of profound change. Fortunately, there are practices to overcome them or diminish their impact on us.  And if we know to expect them as common to the path, we will not take failures and setbacks personally.  These practices give us the strength and capacity to persevere.

Perseverance is not resilience. Resilient people are caught in the game of “Whack-A-Mole.” Whatever knocks them down, they bounce back up. They aim to survive. Persevering people focus on contribution, not survival. They’ve identified their contribution and path of service. To persevere, they need skills to overcome obstacles, set-backs, exhaustion, and loss of faith. They learn how to stay on the path, to maintain direction, to stay steadfast in their purpose, and to keep going. They also know when it’s time to stop pushing the river and find other paths of contribution.

In this six-week course you will develop capacities to meet obstacles, both known and unexpected, as you engage others to develop Islands of Sanity. Most of these obstacles and dynamics are well-known, easy to identify, because millions have persevered before us. Once identified in your own direct experience, simple practices can be learned that diminish their influence.

Humans have a responsibility to their own time, not as if they could seem to stand outside it

and donate various spiritual and material benefits to it from a position of compassionate distance.

Humans have a responsibility to find themselves where they are, in their own proper time and place,

in the history to which they belong and to which they must inevitably contribute

either their response or their evasions,

either truth and act, or mere slogan and gesture.

– Thomas Merton, Catholic monk, writer, activist

Course Format

We will meet for 90 minutes every Thursday for six weeks. (This is the fast track to perseverance!) In every session, from Meg’s teachings and your own direct experience, we will develop greater skill in minimizing a particular obstacle or dynamic. In the interim each week, there will be one simple practice to do.

All sessions are live on Zoom at 12:00-1:30 Eastern, 18:00-19:30 CET. They will be recorded and made available the following day for your convenience.

Dates:
Thursday, April 18th
Thursday, April 25th
Thursday, May 2nd
Thursday, May 9th
Thursday, May 16th
Thursday, May 23rd


Two books will be required texts:
Perseverance and Restoring Sanity: Practices to Awaken Generosity, Creativity, and Kindness in Ourselves and Our Organizations.

Both are available in print or e-book with a 30% discount using the promo code WHEATLEY30.

Curriculum

April 18: The Path of Perseverance

The Chinese character for perseverance (also patience) is a knife suspended over a human heart. How do we walk this path aware of its built-in dangers to harm us, and its inherent blessings to cut open our hearts to release infinite compassion?

April 25: Strengthening our Faith in People

Faith requires constant renewal and revitalization. We begin with experiences that confirm our faith in the human spirit, but then we experience disappointment, betrayal, aggression, and confusion. Here you will learn what to do in moments that test your faith.

May 2: Dwelling in the Heart of Sadness

Strong emotions are evidence that we are awake in the world and to the increased suffering of this time. Yet how do we keep our hearts open and not be overwhelmed and enervated by intense emotions? These emotions are not problems to be ignored or solved—they are invitations to dwell in the “Heart of Sadness,” a place beyond personal emotions that offers us the capacity to stay present and available.

May 9: The Colors of Compassion

Compassionate action takes many forms, but there are two major categories: Idiot Compassion and Discerning Compassion. We will explore these in detail and become aware that “compassion begins at home.” It becomes natural to awaken to others’ needs when we are confident in ourselves. As we extend compassion to ourselves, we become trustworthy.

May 16: The Two Gestures of Life: Open or Closed

As we open to the world as it is, we discover more opportunities to serve. Only when we see clearly can we act wisely. But it takes work to stay open as we experience overwhelm, compassion fatigue, and wavering faith. Noticing when we close down, being gentle with ourselves, taking time to rest and refocus are essential to sustaining our presence in the world.

May 23: From Hopium to Clarity

When do we get ambushed by hope? How do we use these moments of hopefulness as a means to reclaim clarity about our right work? It’s important to note that as we try to serve this time, no matter how hard we work and how strong our intention to serve, what we do will never be enough–we live in constant disappointment.  But as T.S. Eliot wrote in the Four Quartets:

There is only the fight to recover what has been lost  

And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

– T.S. Eliot

I offer this course based on my experience of what it takes to persevere in meaningful work. At this time we need many more people dedicated to restoring sanity, knowing what this work demands from us, and eager for the rewards of joy and fulfillment that it offers us.  Please join me.

We are offering two different price points because we want to make this course available to as many people as possible. We also have a limited number of scholarships available. Requests can be sent to warrioradmin@berkana.org.

If you can contribute to our scholarship fund, we are grateful. Thank you!

$600

single payment

$620

2 installments of $310

$400

single payment

$420

2 installments of $210

An offering from