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Life Itself Newsletter – June

Hello and welcome to our latest newsletter! We’re halfway through the year now, and there’s so much to update you on. The team at Life Itself have been working hard on many exciting projects, so read below to find out more.

Compassionate Mental Health

Liam Kavanagh, head of the Life Itself Insitute, co-curated a three-day virtual gathering alongside Compassionate Mental Health. The event was called Coming Home to Ourselves, and ran from June 21-23. Read more about it here

Collective Wisdom in the West – Shadows of the Enlightenment

Last time around we were excited to announce the pre-order for Collective Wisdom in the West, Liam’s brilliant and thought-provoking book which exposes our blindspots and challenges our wisdom. Now, the book is out and available for purchase.

Western society is deeply attached to ”Enlightenment” ideals of rationality, individualism and equality. These ideals have become dogma, taboo to even question, yet inability to discuss their limits creates blindspots central to the ecological and political crises we face. By looking into these three blindspots we can rediscover our capacity for deep intuition, collective action, and politics motivated by love.’

You can buy the book here.

Touching Reality – Plum Village

Touching Reality is a specially curated 5-day retreat for scientists and meditators led by some of the most senior disciples of Thich Nhat Hanh and guest scientists.

Liam had the pleasure of running his own discussion during the retreat, alongside Ruth Lanius, entitled: The Sense of Self in the Aftermath of Trauma: From Neurobiology to First Person Experience.

They explored the evidence for changes to the self-concept in the aftermath of trauma and the implications for healing, and development of trauma-sensitive approaches to mindfulness and meditation.

Ecosystem Mapping

We’ve embarked on a new project, which we have called Ecosystem Mapping. The aim for us is to map the space that organisations such as our own are working in. We know there are many individuals and organisations working hard to change the world for the better. But what is this space called, and what exactly are the actors up to within it? 

We want to build a database of the space, with the ultimate aim being to make this public, so that we can help to foster a collaborative network, and all be stronger together as a global unit working towards similar goals. 

We have begun the project by speaking to exciting people, such as Joe Lightfoot and Robert Cobbold of Conscious Evolution. You can read our conversations by clicking the above link.

If you have any ideas about the project, and if you can think of any people that we should be getting in touch with, then please do let us know!

Wiser Policy Forum

Yet more exciting news comes from the launch of our Wiser Policy Forum, in collaboration with our partners at Untitled and UCL Professor of Collective Intelligence, Geoff Mulgan.

The first session was on sustainable wellbeing, for which we were join by many esteemed guests: Heather Grabbe (Director of the Open Society European Policy Institute), Cassie Robinson (Deputy Director of Funding Strategy at the National Lottery Community Fund), Tomas Bjorkman (Founder of Eskåret Foundation), Outi Kuittinen (Leader of the United Initiative at Demos Helsinki), and Jamie Bristow (Director of the Mindfulness Initiative, and Clerk of the UK Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group).

The discussion we had was framed in terms of planning for a worst case economic scenario from climate change, to explore how it might be possible to still achieve the highest one decade well-being increases in recent history even under conditions of shrinking GDP. 

It was fascinating and exciting to embark on this project, and we can’t wait to see which direction our discussions go in. Watch this space for further developments. 

Life at the Berlin Hub

Recently, the residents of the Life Itself Berlin Hub came to stay with our Core team at the Bergerac Hub. Ilja (Hub Manager) reports that since they returned home, they took their time to process and integrate their experience in Bergerac, and indeed to make use of everything in the world opening up again. Because of that, Community Life was slower than usual, especially in light of a feeling of acceleration in the surrounding world.

The Fate of ‘The Master and His Emissary’

Delving deeper into the academic side of things, we have uploaded an essay by Liam Kavanagh onto our site, which you can download in full here.

The essay is on the reception and fate of Ian McGilchrist’s masterpiece, ‘The Master and His Emissary’. McGilchrist’s extraordinarily ambitious book applies contemporary neuroscience to the trajectory of Western culture. Liam’s essay discusses why the book did not seem to have the widespread impact on the intellectual mainstream that many had predicted. 

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