“It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
This is the vision which lights me up and my mission is to be part of manifesting such communities into being. I’m passionate about the transformational potential of a community based on a culture of trust and compassion as I believe that a culture of trust allows us to be safely transparent and vulnerably honest about who we are – even the parts we fear are ugly and unacceptable. It is incredibly liberating to step into our wholeness – also a lot more fun than pretending to be what we’re not!
A society which allows each individual to flourish into their fullest, most authentic and alive expression of themselves brings enormous personal joy. And I am confident that this is also a pathway to peace on a much larger scale. When I am supported in bringing compassion and expression to all parts of myself I start to see the same humanness in the behaviours and actions of others, and it destroys the kind of fear which sets me against another person (and myself). Once I release my judgments and step into a field free from ideas of right and wrong, I arrive in a natural state of compassion and there is no more room for violence.
Living and sharing the principles and process of Nonviolent Communication is, for me, one of the most potent and meaningful ways to contribute to this vision. I came across Nonviolent Communication for the first time in 2013 and since then it has been gradually unfolding into my life. In 2016 I took a deep dive into embodying and practicing NVC and started sharing NVC through workshops and offering 1-on-1 empathic support sessions. From how it has touched me so far, I’m inspired to share this consciousness with others as part of my larger vision of birthing communities of the next cultural evolution. Along with other practices such as yoga and meditation, NVC has allowed me to more deeply and courageously navigate myself – both by way of making peace with my own inner conflicts and also by celebrating and expressing my own authenticity. In connection with others, I’m repeatedly amazed and inspired by how such a simple 4-step process has the potential to reveal the tender heart of each other’s souls.
“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
– Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I was born to England but from the age of two I was raised, and continue to live and learn, in many other parts of the world including Nigeria, India, The Netherlands, Singapore, Cambodia, Australia and Guatemala. In November 2016 I moved to The Netherlands again and I now live in Utrecht.
In previous life chapters I was looking for ways to contribute to peace and justice on a political level as a student of International Development & Geography at the School of Oriental & African Studies (University of London). I graduated with a BA in 2012 and decided to follow my heart and take a more ground-roots approach to making positive change. I took a Permaculture Design Course and went to live in permaculture communities in Australia for 2 years to learn to live in an ecologically and socially sustainable way (the latter seeming to be far more challenging!). Meanwhile I also started teaching yoga and meditation, recognising that we can only live out the amount of peace which exists inside of us. The next chapter involved a lot of inward journeying as I headed to Guatemala for further yoga teacher training and took a deep dive into bhakti yoga (devotion) and karma yoga (service) for most of 1.5 years, particularly while living for 6 months at the Mahadevi Ashram as a permaculture karma yogi. My search for how to make a meaningful contribution to the world had brought me to Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings: “Your own Self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.“