Global warming, social injustice, and economic disparity --just a sampling of the prevalent issues that representatives from more than 60 organizations addressed at an intimate retreat at the Chopra Center and Spa at the Dream Hotel in New York City on June 26, 2007. Co-hosted by Deepak Chopra of the Alliance for a New Humanity and Diane Williams of the Source of Synergy Foundation, the gathering tackled a question that triggered intriguing dialogue, “How Can We Collectively Define, Map and Create Momentum for a New Emerging Consciousness in Social Change So it Becomes a Greater Force for Transformation?”
Opening the retreat, Diane Williams set the tone for the meeting saying, “I believe we are all here today because we each recognize that there is a movement gaining force ...This movement doesn’t have a name yet, but I think we each instinctively feel it unfolding… We are unifying more and more profoundly across issue areas, nations, religions, cultures etc.” She explained that the goal of the retreat was to emerge with a real sense of not only how our society has evolved in consciousness, but also how to utilize our collective soul force to move forward.
Deepak Chopra built on this idea of the importance of the collective saying, "there is a rift in our collective soul. Deeper experiences of consciousness are needed to influence change.” He shared that the “consciousness behind our thoughts is the same consciousness behind the intelligence of the universe,” and in order to have deeper experiences of consciousness one must enter the “universal field of infinite possibilities, synchronicity and the place where quantum leaps in creativity happen.” Chopra offered some inspiring thoughts on leadership, insisting that all participants were powerful leaders in their own right. He led a brief meditation to help the group come into silence and open to a deep sense of alignment.
The various segments, each of which produced a lively discussion, were presented by retreat planning committee members, Deborah Moldow, Judy Martin, Emily Squires, Katherine Katsanis, and Gerard Senehi.
The retreat proceeded with a series of processes to map the history of the emerging consciousness movement, facilitated by Deborah Moldow and Judy Martin, to take the participants back in time to moments of spiritual awakening or a shift in consciousness, both personal and historic. Deborah led a process of paired sharing based on Appreciative Inquiry to create a timeline, mapping significant moments in history starting from the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations, and including the Civil Rights Movement, the first landing on the moon, the rise of the Internet, and 9-11, up to the present. Judy Martin then recalled that “great forces of transformation have resulted in revolution – a great turn around – and/or renaissance – rebirthing of the way we do things.” She led the group in a discussion of the trends and qualities in consciousness of these past shifts in terms of bringing forth another leap in consciousness that might accelerate global transformation. One participant stated that we must have a “view from 50,000 feet up” to be able to usher in another great leap in consciousness on the planet.
Following an historic chronicling of emerging consciousness, the group projected five years into the future, to 2012. Katherine Katsanis and Emily Squires begin by stating that: “The 26,000 year Mayan cycle ends on December 22, 2012, and the belief is that the closer we approach that time, the more people will experience an accelerating collapse of linear time-based, or fear-based conceptual structures.” The participants described how the next level of enlightenment might manifest itself, and how we as a collective may have helped to bring it about. One participant stated that we must “change the collective narrative” to accomplish our vision.
The final segment facilitated by Gerard Senehi with Deepak and Diane addressed next steps for amplifying the movement’s momentum. Gerard led a contemplative exercise on the design of what a collective engagement might look like, and the steps we can take together to get there. He reminded the participants that we all came together because we intuit that something more is possible, something that will unite us more powerfully to impact the world in these urgent times. Artist Alex Grey compared this movement to the transformation of a butterfly… as it involves the breaking down of one consciousness to get to another consciousness. He said we need to recognize that we are together to help build a “new human soul.” Ideas on the direction of this collective group were shared including how a follow-up retreat would help to deepen the dialogue process. Deepak offered the Alliance for a New Humanity’s new communication platform to keep everyone connected.
The Planning Committee felt that the half day retreat was a success as we not only had established the importance of coming together, but also began the process of engaging together as global leaders to explore what that means and what direction it might take.
In an interview following the meeting, Deepak Chopra said: “If there is any hope for us, then it is to take advantage of the fact that we are the only species that is conscious of our consciousness. Being conscious of our consciousness allows us for the first time to literally consciously imagine and seek the next phase of our evolution. We could be the force and the elements of the universe that shape a reality not only for ourselves but for life on this planet.”
Diane Williams and Deepak Chopra closed the retreat by asking everyone to suggest leaders to be invited to the next event, and to make a personal commitment to take action steps. Their comments were written down and placed into a “common pot” in the center of the room. This pot was symbolic of everyone’s shared commitment to a consciously envisioned future, and sat next to a small Peace Pole. And so the movement took a meaningful step forward – and now it falls upon all of us to fuel the momentum.