We need leaders who recognize the harm being done
to people and planet through the dominant practices that
control, ignore, abuse, and oppress the human spirit.
We need leaders who put service over self,
stand steadfast in crises and failures, and
who display unshakable faith that
people can be generous, creative, and kind.
Margaret Wheatley

Why do leaders need to be Warriors for the Human Spirit?

To be a life-affirming leader or activist has become increasingly difficult. Forces beyond our control have created a global climate of fear and conflict.

Leadership skills that worked well in the past no longer are sufficient.

Warriors appear in every culture when hard times come upon the people. Warrior weapons can be aggressive or peaceful, yet they share one value: They commit to protect and preserve what must be saved.

Warriors for the Human Spirit train to develop the qualities and skillful means necessary to protect and preserve the human spirit and the spirit of life.

They have only two “weapons”—compassion and insight.

You’re ready to train as a Warrior for the Human Spirit if:

You want to continue to make a difference with your work and life, but are frustrated by your inability to lead or promote your cause effectively.

You are aware of the increase in fear and conflict but refuse to succumb to these.

You care about your community and want to contribute to its wellbeing.

You feel grief, sorrow, and anger for what is being lost, from individuals to species to the planet. Yet you still have faith in people’s potential for generosity, creativity, kindness, love.

You have chosen service over self-interest many times before. You refuse to give up—you are determined to find a path of meaningful contribution.

You yearn for a community of people who seek to nourish life, with whom you can console, celebrate, strategize, exclaim, grieve, laugh.

This world needs leaders to be Warriors for the Human Spirit

To be a life-affirming leader or activist has become very difficult. The skills and methods that once worked now hit up against strong barriers:

People are withdrawn in fear and self-protection–they are less willing to contribute or participate.

Senior leaders react to uncertainty and lack of control by demanding more control from staff through plans, objectives, and guaranteed outcomes.

Policies and governments shift frequently and incoherently. It is rare to reach consensus; partisanship and politics destroy the future.

The leadership skills that worked well in the past no longer are sufficient. New skills and qualities are necessary now:
Patience, perseverance, presence.  Insight, clear seeing, discernment.  Compassion, caring, availability.  Trustworthiness, honesty, humility.

Forces beyond our control have created a global climate of fear and conflict. Leaders hold onto power by making us afraid of one another. Greed and corruption predominate in politics and business. Elites take everything for themselves. People seek security in tribal behaviors. Values about the common good, morality, caring for one another no longer summon people to work together.

These dynamics occur in every civilization at the end of its life cycle. They will intensify, causing more problems and greater suffering. As leaders, activists, and citizens who have made a difference, who still need to make a difference, what can we do? Can we define a role for ourselves that truly contributes for this time?

Throughout history, when times grow dark, Warriors arise to protect and defend what is being threatened. Their weapons are either aggressive or peaceful. But they share one core value: to train themselves as protectors for what is being lost. To fulfill this role, to prepare for greater challenges, they commit to training to develop their skills. They bind together as a community dedicated to this purpose. Today, we name leaders who make this commitment Warriors for the Human Spirit.

Warriors for the Human Spirit train to develop the qualities and skillful means necessary to protect and preserve the human spirit and the spirit of life. They have only two “weapons”—compassion and insight.

  • They learn how to calm situations of conflict and distress by offering their presence and equanimity.
  • They learn how to embody sanity by being responsive rather than reactive, conscious rather than compulsive.
  • They learn to see beyond their filters and judgements so that more information is available for decision-making.
  • They learn to see what’s needed rather than imposing their own needs on a situation.
  • They learn to trust themselves, to act with confidence not burdened by arrogance.
  • They learn to see clearly so they can act wisely.
  • As they train together, they develop a strong and reliable community for support, ideas, consolation, humor, and grace.

Taking our place in history

When we consciously commit to train as a Warrior, we are taking our place in history. Countless others have gone before us to serve the needs of their time. Personal family lineages are filled with Warriors: those who went to war, who migrated, who endured poverty, injustice, conflicts, dislocation, natural disasters.
Without their valiancy, we wouldn’t be here.

Standing on their shoulders, we find strength and determination. Looking forward, we discover a path of meaningful contribution. We commit to doing what we can to serve the needs of our time. We join this lineage of brave, generous, and noble people who offered their hearts, hands, and spirits for what they believed in, for what they knew must change.

It’s just our turn to serve the world.

February to June 2022

The Berkana Institute began training Warriors for the Human Spirit in March 2015. Over 400 people from 35 nations have trained and many continue to deepen their skills and practices and also stay together as a community. We have learned that the outer work of life-affirming leadership requires us to do the inner work of self-knowing. Only then can we develop the clarity, confidence, compassion, and equanimity to serve the needs of this time as leaders, activists, parents and citizens.

This form of Warrior Training is intentionally designed to benefit individual participants, their organizations, and their local communities and regions. Over six months of working together, it develops a cohort of dedicated and sane leaders who have the skills and capacities to contribute meaningfully to the needs of their communities and organizations. Training together, they also create a community of Warriors that supports them to persevere and overcome the obstacles and challenges of leading in this difficult time.


Warrior Training focuses on three essential areas


Skills and capacities

  • Skills for dealing with situations of high conflict and polarized positions
  • Skills for dealing with situations of high volatility and strong emotions
  • Perceptual tools to see what we fail to see because of blinders and judgements
  • Systems thinking to understand webs of interconnections and the consequences of ignoring these in decision-making
  • Practices to create Islands of Sanity within one’s sphere of influence


Skills and Capacities:

  • Meditation practices to cultivate a stable mind that is less reactive, more responsive
  • Self-awareness practices to know one’s triggers and judgements; with awareness, reducing their influence on how situations are perceived
  • Practices to act with compassion and insight rather than aggression and fear
  • Practices to transform negative emotions –anger, grief, sadness–into energy for intelligent action
  • Practices for mind/body awareness
  • Role formation as a Warrior for the Human Spirit that strengthens the ability to act with clarity and integrity in all situations
  • Confidence to step forward as a role model and mentor of the best human qualities of sanity, generosity, insight, patience, compassion


Warriors rely on their cohort-community to endure the loneliness, criticism, setbacks and failures that are part of this path. Warriors know they can call on each other at any time, that they will be there for each other. In forming their own community, they learn the skills necessary to build healthy communities.

Skills and Capacities

  • As a community of practice, developing new insights and competencies through shared experiences and exchanges
  • Learning firsthand what supportive community demands from each member
  • Learning, as a leader, how to create the conditions for healthy community
  • Strengthening personal capacity to grow and persevere as a member of a supportive community
  • Thriving on moments of clarity, humor, joy and grace that are always present when humans work well together, no matter how difficult the external circumstances

Please listen to Meg Wheatley describe more about Warrior Training



As a participant, you will be part of a cohort of about 20 people. We will do our best to create these cohorts regionally so that you have the possibility of meeting in-person if conditions allow. As a cohort, you will work together during both the live sessions and the interim weeks between sessions, facilitated by trained Warriors. Everything you do together will build a supportive community. From time-to-time, cohorts from different continents, nations and regions will meet together; we are a global community and we want you to know one another.

Live training sessions occur once a month for five months on a Friday (see calendar) from February through June 2022. The live training day is eight hours; two hours are live interactions with Meg Wheatley and other faculty. The remainder of the time is group practices with your cohort. We know well the limits of Zoom and design these days for lively participation and the avoidance of Zoom fatigue.

We will have a Welcome Session on February 5th, 11:00-12:00 Eastern, 17:00-18:00 CET. (if you cannot attend this one session, it will be recorded.)

The Training for 2022 is closed and currently in progress. Please sign up on our mailing list for information about future trainings.


We invite you to enter a contemplative process to discern whether Warrior Training is right for you. Choosing to be a Warrior for the Human Spirit is not a casual decision. Warrior Training is not a one-time leadership development experience. The training sets you on a path of meaning and service that you will continue walking with other dedicated people well past the initial trainings. It is deeply rewarding, often joyful, and requires commitment and discipline.

This contemplative process has three steps to lead you to a decision. It invites dwelling mind rather than linear mind. Linear mind is great for dissection, logic, and analysis, but it excludes essential ways of knowing such as feelings, intuitions, sensations. In dwelling mind, we relax our grip, we don’t have to figure things out or make an immediate decision. We stop grasping for answers, we trust that they will come as we open to the spaciousness of dwelling mind. Contemplation becomes a restful and restorative process filled with insight.


Here are resources for you to go more deeply into the role of Warriors, why Warriors are needed at this time, and what Warrior Training has made possible to those who trained before. View Resources


Please contemplate the following questions. Take time with these, even a number of days. Find a space that supports contemplation where you won’t be distracted, where you can settle in and let your mind relax and open. Then put the question into the space of mind and let it roam free. Many images, concepts, insights can emerge immediately, but giving sufficient time for the mind to play is important. What seemed perfectly obvious early in a contemplation will recede, fade, or morph into something else. As we release ourselves from the need for instant insight, we discover the feel and taste of contemplation: it is relaxing, spacious, fruitful. And it gives us what we need to make this decision.

Question # 1: Please reread the description of Warriorship and this training. What in the description most attracts you or speaks to you most powerfully? What questions and/or doubts does it raise for you? Why do these particular things get your attention? (When we notice what gets our attention, it reveals what’s important to us or issues we’re dealing with.)

Question #2: At this time, what in your work, life, and relationships is calling you to be a Warrior for the Human Spirit?

Question #3: Are you willing to make the commitment of attention and time required? If you need to shift things in your life/work for this to be a priority, will you do that?

Commitments Consult the Schedule posted above for dates, times and location of monthly sessions (if in-person).

  1. Participate in each monthly session (knowing that Life may intervene).
  2. In the month intervals between sessions, do the assignments as given.
  3. Extend yourself to your cohort.

Thank you for you interest in Warrior Training. The application process is now closed. 

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