Section 11, Topic 3
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Honor our pain for the world

Ravi Resck 30 de January de 2023
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At this stage of the Spiral of Work that Reconnects, this is what we do.

We raise awareness of our internal responses to the suffering of others and the destruction of the natural world - responses that include dread, anger, sadness and guilt.

These feelings are healthy and inevitable - and usually blocked for all the reasons explored in chapter 2 of the book, including the fear of being permanently mired in despair. Now they can appear without shame or excuses.

We do NOT try to inspire or instill these feelings in people, because compassion - the ability to suffer - is already flowing in us, like an underground river.

All we do here is help the river to reach daylight, where its currents mix and gain momentum.

We don't need to scold or manipulate people for what we think they "should" be feeling if they were moral or noble; we simply help each other to discover what is already there.

Only honesty is necessary. Then we discovered, as Thich Nhat Hanh also said, "pain and joy are one".

The fear of “negative thinking” makes some people resist this aspect of the Reconnecting Work, for fear of reinforcing negativity and making things worse.

This concern often comes from a misunderstanding of the New Age saying: "We create our own reality" and results in a reluctance to see what is really going on.

It is a type of magical thinking that cuts off the feedback needed to heal the system.

This step of the Reconnecting Work involves the following steps:

    Recognizing our pain around the world

    Validating it as a healthy response

     Letting us experience this pain

    Feeling good about expressing it to others

    Recognizing how widely it is shared by others

    Understand that it stems from our affection and connection.

In almost all workshops, after the first practice in which people express their pain around the world, Joanna makes the following observation in a strong, measured and practical tone of voice.

I want to draw your attention to what is happening here.

Notice the extent to which the concerns you have just shared extend beyond your personal ego, beyond your individual needs and desires.

It says something very important about who and what you are. It says that you are capable of suffering with your world.

This ability to suffer is the literal meaning of compassion, a central virtue in every spiritual tradition.

It says that you are a compassionate being. Another word for this, in Buddhism, is bodhisattva.

So do not apologize for the tears you shed or the anger you feel for what is happening to other beings and our living world.

Your tears and your anger are just the other side of your belonging.

Of course, these are Joanna's words. You will find your own way of linking our pain for the world to our mutual belonging - a great liberating secret of the Work that Reconnects.

Open Sentences

This exercise provides a quick and easy way for people to express their felt responses to the condition of our world.

Its structure helps people to listen with total receptivity and to express thoughts and feelings that are usually censored for fear of comments or adverse reaction.


People sit in pairs, face to face and close enough to meet each other fully. They avoid talking until the practice begins.

One is partner A, the other partner B - this can be determined quickly by asking them to hit each other on the knee; who touched first is A.

When the guide speaks each unfinished sentence, A repeats it, completes it in his own words, addressing Partner B and continues to speak spontaneously for the expected time.

Partners can switch roles after each open sentence or at the end of the series. The listening partner - and this should be emphasized - remains silent, saying absolutely nothing and listening in the most attentive and supportive way possible.

For each open sentence to complete, wait a few minutes. Give a brief warning each time before it's time to move on, saying "take a minute to finish" or "thank you".

A small bell can lead people to silence, where they rest a few seconds before the next opening. phrase.

Here is a series of examples of open sentences. Feel free to create your own, remembering to keep them as impartial and non-leader as possible.

    What worries me most in today's world is…

    When I see what is happening to the natural world, what breaks my heart is ...

    When I see what is happening to our society, what breaks my heart is ...

    When I think of the world that we will leave our children, it seems that ...

    The feelings about all that I carry with me are ...

    Ways to avoid these feelings are ...

    Ways to use feelings are ...


The “open sentence” format adapts easily to different situations.

    With groups of organizational or professional colleagues, phrases can help articulate difficulties straightforwardly, as well as renew inspiration. For example:

    What inspired me to work for the Environmental Protection Agency (or become a doctor or canvasser ...) was ...

    What I find difficult in this work is ...

    What keeps me going on this job is ...

    What I hope can happen for us in this job (or organization) is… ”

    In a couples workshop, these phrases can be included:

        Sometimes I am reluctant to share my pain around the world with my partner because…

        The effect of these feelings on my relationship with my partner is ...

    Working with teachers or parents, this practice can include:

        If I retain my worries about the future from my children, I do it because…

        If I tell children my concerns about the future, I do it because…

        When I talk to the kids about the news, what I want is…

The Wailing Mount

By knowing the depth of this sadness, the participants can know the depth of their belonging, where the power comes from to endure difficulties and to act for the well-being of all.


It is usually done outdoors, although the process can also be done indoors. Invite people to walk alone, remembering a specific part of your world, a place or being precious to them that is lost now or disappearing from your life.

They find an object - say, a rock, a bunch of leaves, a stick - to symbolize what they regret and bring it when they join the group.

When everyone is seated in a circle, the simple ritual begins.

One by one, people randomly appear, walk to the center and place their object. As they speak, they speak.

They describe the loss that the object represents - family farm, concrete paved over the stream, neighborhood store - and their feelings about it; then they formally say goodbye.

As each offer is made and the objects pile up to form a pile or "pile of stones", everyone in the circle serves as a witness and recognizes the speaker saying, "We hear you."

The ritual can end with people sitting in two or three to more fully express the pain they felt when objects were added to the pile of stones.

Or you can close with people holding hands while they sound together.


When natural objects cannot be collected to represent losses, such as when working indoors, use squares of paper (post-its).

Let people take three or four squares in which they can write words or draw pictures to represent the losses they would honor.

Place an open basket in the center of the circle. People bring one square at a time to the basket, describing the loss it represents - blue sky, a loved tree, birdsong.

This method allows for a variety of creative expressions, some people writing short poems, others drawing.

We thank Kathleen Rude for this variation.

The bowl of tears

This simple ritual can be adapted to groups of any size. The ritual emerged from a group of 60 participants on an intensive 30-day journey from Joanna and Fran Macy in Western Australia in 2005.

People shared their sadness around the world by passing a bowl of water around the circle, each person taking a little water and letting it flow between their fingers as they said, "My tears are for ..." The bowl was then placed on the altar.

Then, with the lights down, images of collapse in our world were projected onto a large screen, while a wordless chorus lament (from the same CD “My Heart is Moved” by Carolyn McDade) played over and over.

In the large central space of the hall, there were three large glass bowls half filled with water.

People, slowly and randomly, descended from their seats around the aisle to kneel by a bowl and let the water run through their fingers as they spoke their sadness for the world ("My tears are for ...").

As their shapes moved in the semi-darkness, everyone seemed to be caught in the music, the murmur around the bowls, the splashes of water.

Then, following three people carrying the bowls, the whole assembly slowly proceeded out of the hall and gathered around a pond in the garden.

There, the bowls, one after the other, were formally emptied into the lake with words that reminded us that the pain we feel for the world is not a particular pathology; connects us with Earth and each other. "Let's remember: our tears for the world are the tears of Gaia."


Fill a clear glass bowl with about a third of the water and place it in the center of the circle on the floor or on a table.

The water represents our tears for the world. Everyone is invited to come to the bowl while on the move. Dipping a hand in the water and letting it run between their fingers, they can say: “My tears are for…” and speak of specific beings and places.

After everyone is finished, the group processes any bodies of water nearby, or a garden or natural area where you can pour the water, saying something with the effect of: "Our tears for the world are the tears of Gaia."

Variation: Place a small ceramic bowl of salt next to the water bowl.

Then give instructions for this purpose: Salt is essential for life. It is in our oceans and in our tears.

Since our tears are also essential for life, we add a pinch of salt to the water. After dipping your hand in the water and letting it run through your fingers, you can say, "My tears are for ..." and talk about beings and places you regretted.

Translated from the siteWorkthatReconnects