Last autumn I was contemplating my travel plans and juggling a proposed visit to the Community of Living Ethics in Italy and International Peace Initiatives in Kenya. Then an invitation to give a presentation in China arrived and I listened to where I felt most called. It would be my third visit to China over consecutive years and from the very first I was curious about the emerging eco-holistic impulse that was positively tangible. In recognition of the support we’d received since hosting our first Gathering in Beijing in 2015 and the possibility of new doors opening, there was an inner nudge to prioritise the visit to this vast continent.
I stayed a few days at the Orenda Village, 80km northwest of Beijing, and in my dual role as Network Weaver of the Findhorn Foundation and ED of HCN, offered a talk and meditation circle in the Psychosomatic Medical Museum and then returned to the city. My dear friend Sean, a wonderful bridge between east and west after being closely involved in the personal growth movement in China for over 20 years, introduced me to Bene Wellness Institute. He had been personal friends with Songlin, the founder, for over 10 years and their families often shared holidays.
We shared an informal day together, meeting the members of the Bene Board and enjoying a traditional lunch. I then offered an in depth overview of the Findhorn Foundation to the entire team, followed by a meditation and sharing in the beautiful sanctuary in their modern office which overlooked the neighbouring church. There was a sense of warmth and resonance that has continued to grow in the 12 months since.
Sean and I then travelled to see his family in Xi’an and while he enjoyed seeing his brother I was awed by visiting the Terracotta Warriors, one of the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a fascinating insight into Chinese history. We travelled by bullet train onto Chengdu and I was delighted to have a whole day at the Research Base of the Giant Pandas, viewing them closely, enjoying the antics of the young ones, the relaxed nature of the mature ones, and understanding how they’ve played such a role in Chinese diplomacy over the years.
Sean and I enjoyed many conversations along the way and I asked him about becoming a Board member of HCN. He felt very open to this, the only challenge would be co-ordinating calls across different time zones with other members in the UK, Canada and USA, both east and west coast. As a group we’d been holding this idea for a while and after returning from the trip it felt the right time to move in this direction. In our February HCN Board meeting there was unanimous support for the proposal and we’ve been delighted to enjoy Sean’s presence in this new role ever since.
In May, Sean and Songlin attended the Centers Gathering, hosted by the Omega Institute this year, a great opportunity to connect with leaders from other centers around the world and learn from each other in the spirit of collaboration. HCN was then invited to co-host the World Happiness Forum in Beijing in November. Songlin is closely connected to Tsinghua University, (the Oxford and Harvard of China), and the Department of Positive Psychology, and also the Gross National Happiness Project in Bhutan, a country he’s visited a few times.
In June, Songlin travelled to Scotland with a group of 22 people from various cities in China to participate in Experience Week at Findhorn. Sean’s presence as one of the translators was vital, along with his niece Shishi, a foreign student at Berkley, California. The group ranged in age from mid 20s to early 70s and included an elderly couple with two of their grown up children. It was touching to witness the care, respect and open communication that was evident in the family unit in a very refreshing way. I was moved by one young man, an entrepreneur in his late 20s, sharing how it was hard for him to find a partner. Growing up in a one child family he felt he hadn’t developed the necessary social skills. There were cultural learnings for all of us and I remember their sense of joy and generosity, thirst for learning, and growing recognition of the importance of being over doing.
As our connection deepened with Bene Wellness the ideas for the conference have grown in shape and form and it’s now become the Holistic Lifestyle Conference. The entire Board of HCN are being funded to attend and we extended an invitation to other members of the network. We now have a group of 14 people offering a range of keynote talks and experiential sessions, along with Chinese speakers, established in the fields of academia, health care, business and the environment.
The theme for the five day event is The Power of the Heart Moves Us Forward into a New Era.
10 – 14 November, 2018.
The first three days will each have a focus within this;
- Developing Wellbeing in Individuals and Families.
- Developing Wellbeing in Business and Organizations.
- Establishing Communities of Wellbeing and the Path of Personal Growth and Ecology.
Experiential workshops will be offered on days four and five.
Keynote talks include:
Peter Moore: HCN Board President and Business Director of Breitenbush Hot Springs.
Universities Of The Soul In A Network of Light: How Holistic Centers Extend Across the World.
Sean Feng – HCN Board Member and Education Director of Bene Wellness Institute.
Exploring the Inner Power of the Heart.
Ralph White – HCN Board Member and Co-founder of the New York Open Center.
Evolution of the Holistic Impulse:
How holistic living and the sustainable environment are an integral part of the whole.
Rachel Davey – HCN Board Member and former Executive Director of The Haven.
Separating and Uniting: The Haven and the Art of Self-Responsible Relational Living.
Carol Donahoe – HCN Board Member and Program Director of Omega Institute..
Transformative Programs: The Omega Institute & the Art of Inspiring & Educating Audiences.
Werner Brandt – HCN Board Member.
Active Hope and the Work That Reconnects – Including video from Joanna Macy.
Christine Lines – HCN Executive Director and Network Weaver of the Findhorn Foundation.
Following the Inner Call:
The Findhorn Foundation and the Transformation of Consciousness – People and Planet.
Terence Gilbey – General Manager and CEO of Esalen Institute.
Esalen and the human potential movement – past, present and future.
Dorota Owen – GEN Ambassador.
Global Ecovillage Network: Connecting Communities for a Sustainable World.
Dan Hines – International workshop leader, small group facilitator, and leadership consultant.
Holistic Organizations: Identity and Creative Tension-Holding in Dynamic Times through Courage and Renewal.
Ratna Jennifer Sturz – Mount Madonna Center Board Member.
A Journey of Inspiration, Education and Transformation.
Jeffrey Williams: Breitenbush Hot Springs Faculty.
Finding your Center: Expanding the definition of a center, establishing what each of our centers is and what is happening in our brains and bodies when at a center.
Nick Fortino – Mount Madonna Center Faculty.
Transformation: The Psychology and Neuroscience of Yoga.
Vance Martin – President of Wild.
The values of nature and wilderness and the benefits for human communities.
Doshin Roshin – President and Abbot of Integral Zen.
Integrating the collective wisdom of the east with the scientific knowledge and individual creativity
of the west, for the benefit of all beings.
Songlin Liu – Founder & Chairman of Bene Wellness, Vice Director of Tsinghua Positive Psychology Research Center, Founder of Jucheng Corp. & lifelong Honorary Chairman.
Happiness is an ability that can be improved.
Kaiping Peng – Dean of School of Social Science and Director, Department of Psychology, Tsinghua University.
What is needed in future is the kind of ability that AI can never replace.
Dr. Hailan – Founder of Hailan Family Well-being, Author, Beauty is not Perfect.
Managing Director of China Family Education Association.
Happiness begins with meditation and self care.
Shugong Fang – Secretary General of Shifangyuan Elderly Hospice and Mind Care Center.
Ten great skills of Soul Care.
Huiping Tian – Founder of Beijing Stars and Rain Autism Institution.
The life inspiration and awakening caused by Autism.
Xiaoyi Liao – Founder of Beijing Global Village Environmental Education Center.
Happy families bloom in an Ecological Society.
Feng Liu – Chief advisor to the American Institute of Holographic Life Sciences.
Multiculturalism & High-dimensional Wisdom.
Hong Liang – Former China central television presenter. Founder of public welfare lecture hall.
Zhanjun Wang – Founder of Tai Ji, Wangzhanjun. Vice president of Henan martial art Association.
Tai Chi performance.
We look forward to sharing photos, video footage, news and stories afterwards. We’re excited about our second event this year, six months after the annual Centers Gathering which takes place each May. Ralph White has attended every Gathering since they began in the mid 80s and was recounting memories recently of Gatherings in Eastern Europe in the post communist days of the 90s right after the Cold War.
‘I love this work in China,’ he says. ‘I had this experience in the 90s of reaching out to people who are deeply other who you really perceived as hostile to our interest or whatever it might be. It was a chance to meet others, the sense of an emergent, holistic culture after 50, 60 years or 70 years of communism, of hardcore materialism, of repression. People became free to explore spirituality and consciousness more openly.’
Gatherings took place in Budapest, Moscow and Warsaw. Now 30 years later in Beijing. The international dimension of the holistic impulse is important and now we’re together in China. Who would have imagined?