Autumn has always been my favourite season, and over recent years it brings additional succour, signalling time to start preparing in earnest for the winter’s Deeper Dive.
This now-annual tradition has become a real highlight of my year, as a new small group capped at just fifty folk gathers to reflect meaningfully on our tumultuous times, and the ways we might choose to move through them. Starting in January and running online for nine weeks, I find it the perfect complement to the reflective energies of winter.
That said, I must check in with some of our Southern Hemisphere participants and alumni about how it feels to be doing it in the summer! For that is one of the great joys of the experience, that over the past four years we’ve drawn participants from over forty countries — on every continent our planet has to offer — allowing the sharing of experiences and perspectives not only from different places but, in a sense, from different times.
Friends will know that I love this line from William Gibson (even if I perhaps read it differently than he intended):
“The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed”
And to the extent that that’s true, it allows for time travel…
For one early participant — now friend — from Venezuela, it allowed her to again meet folk from those times back when ‘collapse’ seemed a hypothetical future possibility, rather than simply her lived experience.
And when our guests join — we have already confirmed Iain McGilchrist, Vandana Shiva, Lyla June, Rob Hopkins, Isabelle Frémeaux and Nate Hagens for this winter, with another couple to come — it allows us to meet folk who powerfully embody different impulses we might feel for responding to these tumultuous times. Perhaps there are competing parts of each of us that feel an urge to activism, or to retreat, to restoring Nature, or to spreading awareness, to building community, to making peace, to fighting back…
Each of our guests represents, to my eyes, a life lived beautifully in the context of today, and as we get to meet them and talk things over face-to-face, they tend to become sort of ‘avatars’ for these different impulses in us. We get to hear the reality of the challenges and joys of their diverse paths, with each member of our group inevitably resonating more with some than others, informing us as we set — or reset — our own compass.
And then — the most important part — we get to talk it all over together, as we deepen into our months and friendships together — our hopes, our dashed aspirations, our grief, our longings, our commitments, our fear, our aliveness. With eyes fully open to the predicament that our times represent (and an understanding grounded in the late David Fleming’s work), we get to find our way to meaning, together.
For one could read into that aforementioned potent line from William Gibson the dangerous idea that the future is already written and beyond our influence. But I believe the below comments, from last winter’s participants, tell otherwise…
“It was terrific to be able to engage with other people from all over, live in conversation. The intimacy with which we were able to connect with guest speakers was invaluable. Shaun was available far beyond what I could have imagined.”
“The impact of this course in enabling me to hold my relationship to this ‘new’ world unfolding in and around me, has been — and will continue to be — profound beyond words. I intend to hold onto this like nothing else I’ve ever encountered. Immense gratitude. The entire experience exceeded my expectations.”
“I feel more grounded in what I’m able to do thanks to your course. Thank you again so incredibly much.”
“I have come to count on this enduring community for information, inspiration, comfort. We need each other, and courage, as we learn to face the future, to acknowledge what is true and to navigate the stormy seas ahead. Grateful!”
“It’s difficult to find the words that would fully capture what I’m taking away from our 8 weeks together. I feel like my daily experience with life has become much deeper and more peaceful over these eight weeks. I have been seen and heard in a way that is so rare, especially when discussing the things we’ve discussed here. This has been a profoundly meaningful experience, thank you!!!”
“Much gratitude to you for this beautiful journey, and especially for the trust-based pricing (I know this really made a difference for several of us, including myself).”
“I started this course with grief, sadness even rage at the way things are going, at the total destruction our human-made systems are wreaking with terrifying efficiency on the natural world, and a sense that those around me weren’t really concerned about it much at all. At the end of this course, I feel more understood.
And a desire to channel the energy throbbing in these emotions into greater courage, to step into life more, with greater conviction, and do my best to question whether each step is bringing me into a more relationally rich, nourished way of living. I already feel different.”
The programme itself is varied in terms of both content and format, including weekly materials, reading suggestions and discussion questions, our online forums, the video chat rooms and several weekly seminars, with the explicit invitation there not only to choose the formats and materials that you’re called to (and disregard those you’re not!), but also to actively co-create the format.
Many of the most valued features of the programme — including the quiet ‘half term’ week we’ll enjoy in the middle for the first time this winter! — were originally suggested by participants, and we make a deliberate habit of co-creating things as we go, reconfiguring the spaces as we need.
Accordingly, each year’s programme feels quite different, with a new world context, some new materials, a new group shaping the space, and of course several new guests!
One of those this winter will be Lyla June, to whose work I was introduced to by one of our alumni, and who introduces herself rather powerfully below:
A real privilege that comes with holding these spaces is that when I discover someone as inspiring as this, I can reach out to them and invite them to join one of our adventures! As you can imagine, I was thrilled when Lyla agreed, and look forward to connecting and learning more of her story.
And another first-timer will be Professor Iain McGilchrist, whose work was a major topic of conversation during the previous Deeper Dive. As such, I’m excited to connect and get to know him this winter:
For more on Lyla, Iain, all our guests (I’m excited too about the invitees yet unconfirmed!) and much more besides hit the course details button below, though first I also wanted to share the webinar below from April, where I and several former participants discuss the Deeper Dive experience.
If you’re curious — or just interested to get a feel for things — it may well tickle your fancy:
As I write, a third of the places for the upcoming Deeper Dive (Jan 8th – Mar 10th, 2024) are spoken for, with experience suggesting that the rest will go over the next month or two. So if you feel called to be among the strictly limited number of souls joining us this year, I wholesouledly encourage you to click the button below and get yourself enrolled. You will find FAQs and full details there, including our trust-based pricing system, designed to ensure that finances are not an obstacle to anyone‘s ability to participate.
Equally, if time is more of an obstacle than money for you, we also offer a separate self-directed course — A Path Through Tumultuous Times — which is available all year round to take entirely at your own pace. In fact, over the past month I’ve given it a full update, which existing participants are already getting their teeth into! It offers live interaction with me and other members of our Surviving the Future community for those who want that, but can also be taken as a solitary venture, as and when time permits, 24/7:
And I much look forward to hopefully welcoming you to our growing Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time community over the coming months, as we feel our way through the future, together.
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