Embodied Transformation & Evolution

A Whole New Rhythm… and a new Earth

Posted by on Aug 14, 2018 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 4 comments

A Whole New Rhythm… and a new Earth

The times are urgent, let us slow down
Bayo Akomolafe

Eckhart Tolle speaks about a new Earth; I see that new Earth arising from a whole new rhythm that we begin to embody in our human lives. When times are as challenging, disruptive and chaotic as they are these days, the sense of urgency becomes acute. It can so easily activate our sympathetic nervous system: the impulse to fight or flee. If we don’t find ways to integrate these energies, our nervous system puts on what Stephen Porges calls ‘the dorsal brake’ and we feel overwhelmed, close to collapse or shutdown.

We need to turn toward ourselves at such times and discover a whole new depth of self care. This movement can feel counter-intuitive, or counter-instinctual. When the world is on fire, how do I care for myself? This is especially true for those of us who have an interest in activism, in participating in the creation of something new here on our planet.

A new rhythm asks us to deeply question the very nature of activism. Here is a part of Bayo Akomolafe‘s beautiful inquiry:

“As the world ceaselessly metamorphosizes, other conceptions of social justice become accessible and intelligible. At a certain point in time it might have been heretical to make such a suggestion, but I have to believe that singing my daughter to sleep, telling stories to my one-year old son while he yells his confusion, learning to hold my wife in deep love and commitment to her sensuous mothering, and straddling the thin places between a morbid acknowledgment of my own failings and the hubris of believing I am implicitly a good person, are a form of activism today.”

We held a lament on Sunday here in Victoria for Tahlequah, the world famous orca whale who lives in our waters, who lost her baby after it was born and then carried it with her for 17 days as she grieved. This is a whale who belongs to a pod that is losing their food supply and finding it more and more difficult to reproduce. Quite a few people at the lament spoke to me about their inability to weep, even though they feel deep grief about what is happening to our planet. This is a perfect example of how the nervous system shuts down to protect itself. And how our activism  hits a wall. As one woman said to me, “When I am not able to grieve, the flow of my action also gets frozen.”

I spent almost a whole day on Saturday inquiring with a dear friend into what this new rhythm could be. I don’t think we really know yet-we’ve been pushed and pulled for so long by survival energy, by fear, competition, by the ‘I win, you lose’  perception of reality. I do know, from my own deep inner explorations, that the soul has another way of moving. She flows, but not in a chaotic way. To discover this flow, we have to be willing to align ourselves, our whole life, with the priorities of the soul, of our essential being. This is a risky business, or so it seems to our survival brain.

The people I’ve met with lately who are opening themselves to this new rhythm feel deeply courageous to me. I believe we need this kind of courage, on the precipice where we are currently standing. I see these people swimming upstream like beautiful salmon, leaping towards something very new, moving against the whole flow of our post-modern culture and it’s frantic disconnected pace. I notice that they are able to do this because they are supported. They are not trying to do this alone. This is such an important part of the new Earth, the new human rhythm.


A Whole New Rhythm

It seems to me that the only way we can embody this new rhythm, which respects the inner movement of the soul, is to create subcultures that are dedicated to this. We might want to change the whole culture–I certainly would like to. We need to start, as David Whyte says, “close in,” with something that is sustainable. We can learn how to be encouraged, held and lifted up by people who are interested in a very different relationship to time and space. And we can learn to do the same for them.

This is not philosophy! I’m talking about embodiment. I’m talking about turning to face what is going on, and finding a different response. A response that emerges from a transformation of the nervous system. Many scientists agree that we have entered the sixth mass extinction on planet Earth. It’s not that action is not called for. We need action, desperately. Action sourced in a new energy, a new consciousness. Everything is asking us for this.

We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

~T.S. Eliot

I want to acknowledge and thank my friend Karen Sherman for helping me understand more about the Polyvagal theory of Stephen Porges. Deep gratitude to my friend Mary McAlister for calling us into a lament for Tahleguah, and for everyone who showed up.  And great thanks to my friend Tara Williams for sitting for hours and hours on a rock with me at Uplands Park and engaging in passionate inquiry. I am very lucky to be living inside an evolutionary eco-system. My friends are more than friends, they are allies and courageous companions.


With love,


Photo by Andreas Wagner on Unsplash


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Michelle Wilsdon

    First it speaks by a whisper
    then a tap on the shoulder
    then the truck knocks you down
    recover your soul
    the help comes from many hands and hearts
    (I am recovering from actually being knock down by a truck, concussion to the part of me which ruled, without heed to body and soul. flight did protect my existence now silence and dark restoreth )my soul)
    Carer learns to accept care, humble and grateful.

  2. Leo Sofer

    That is beautiful and very inspiring Shayla. I feel very similar about this. Our “activism” is likely to look quite different now, as I wrote in my latest blog: https://storiesofthejourneyhome.com/surrender-and-political-activism/
    I find that the stories i tell need to include more amd more of what is going on in the world around us, while at the same time staying rooted in inner wisdom. A balancing act tbat yoir blog points to beautifully. Thank you!

  3. Yogita Bouchard

    Dear Shayla this is again so beautiful and the word beautiful does not give justice to the “rightness” of what you shared and how you shared it.
    In my heart a resonance is felt, within this a YES i hear and from there once again pause and pause again and feel this sharing settle somewhere deep so it can move in the deepest places within me. Thank you, Namaste to you. Yogita

  4. Doug Hayman

    Your words speak deeply to me Shayla. Thank you – working in that space between radical acceptance of what is and our responsibility to creweate the future.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *