21st century soul
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21st century soul

Image by Mary Thorp: http://www.rawmixture.co.uk



Being broken isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a step on from being troubled and it can be a relief just to accept that nothing can be done to heal or mend.

Why am I writing this? Well, I was talking with my wife Mary about my new course, Deep Wellbeing and Soulmaking, and how to describe it. I’ve been talking and writing about the Troubled Times we’re living in, and have using it as a framework for this work. It seemed to me that living with ‘trouble’ requires an important set oif life practices — ones that involve healing, regeneration and activism.

However, after we’d been talking, she went away and came up with this striking image for the course leaflet*.

She is right: we are not living in troubled times so much as broken ones. This is an important distinction — and its not about following an agenda of doom (it’s easy to be drawn into fear and apocalypse), but it is about accepting the inevitability of something that can’t be fixed.

Climate breakdown is the obvious context for this — but other things are broken too — our politics, our economic system, even our ways of thinking about our ‘self’. And we start to become broken ourselves in the midst of all this.

Human beings are imaginative and creative animals. The best of being human emerges from our ability to be empathetic, compassionate, courageous and inventive. If we accept that things are broken, we will still have these characteristics — these strengths and virtues as the Positive Psychologists put it — but the tasks and meanings of our individual and collective lives may also change.

If we are troubled, the temptation is to try to fix things — to fix ourselves, to fix the world. If we are broken, we walk away from the broken pieces — pain and all — and try to forge new lives for ourselves and for our communities and cultures. The archetype is of transformation, perhaps, creating something new from the pieces forged in the furnace of alchemy.

In reality, our times are both troubled and broken. Things are never this or that, they are every-changing: constantly in flux — constantly connected — always moving within, beyond and between the systems we are embedded in as humans in our world. And ‘broken’ can also mean ‘separated from’ — and this gives us a hint about the task of reconnection that will be needed.

Accepting the broken nature of our world means we have the opportunity to be deeply imaginative and creative about what comes next. And this requires us to harness and integrate the best and authentic parts of our selves.

So this work — my Deep Wellbeing and Soulmaking course and related coaching, counselling writing and teaching — is about helping each individual (sitting within their own framework within frameworks, context within contexts) to find the tools to live with the troubled and broken present and to prepare to craft a simpler, more connected and compassionate way of life into the future.

There are no simple answers — and being ‘broken’ can feel painful and sometimes unbearable, — but it is still possible to live well and — through living well — to be more connected with and embedded within the human and other-than-human world we evolved to be an integral part of.

Deep Wellbeing and Soulmaking is a new course programme exploring personal wellbeing and development for troubled — and broken — times. The course will run from October 2019 through to July 2020, starting with a day retreat on October 5th. You can join the course as part of a face-to-face group meeting in St Davids, Pembrokeshire meeting monthly on Thursday evenings, OR as a supported online programme. Download the prospectus from HERE book a ticket at www.ticketsource.co.uk/21soul

Note that there are three price bands to encourage access. Please contact steve@21soul.co.uk to discuss this, or any other aspect of the course.

*Mary’s woodblock printed slogan is on a background lay —the fly cover of Baseline Magazine, Issue 49, 2006, — a Herbert Matter poster and quote from 1930/31:“The goal is :1. to find life; 2. to perceive its pulsation; 3. to establish lawfulness in life”



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Steve Thorp

Steve Thorp


Integral counsellor & poet. Warm Data host. Edits Unpsychology Magazine & COVID Poetics on Medium.