Blogs >> Letter from Greece - by Jonathan Dawson

Letter from Greece - by Jonathan Dawson

jonathan-dawsonFor the last 13 years, I have had the privilege of living and working in holistic community-based educational centres: first Findhorn and now Schumacher College. During this time, I have watched waves of new students and course participants make their entries and take their leaves, generally on a weekly basis but sometimes on longer study cycles of up to eight months, as with the Economics for Transition postgraduate programme that I am currently leading. And as I watch, I am struck by how uncomplicated are the ingredients, how simple the recipe that goes to make up educational offerings that for a high proportion of the participants are deeply transformative, and in many cases life-changing.

A space in the morning for exercise or meditation. A sharing circle where each has time to reflect and speak what is on their minds and in their hearts. Work groups doing chores; preparing the midday meal, working in the gardens, cleaning and tidying the living and teaching spaces. Classroom sessions balanced with ample time for synthesis and integration. Conscious acts of gratitude through the course of the day – for food on the table and the dance of life that has made it all possible, for the learning community of which one is part, for the privilege of being able to step away from the hurly-burly for this period of reflection and replenishment.

My latest exposure to this simple but nutritious recipe was afforded by a recent visit to the delightful Kalikalos centre in Pellion, Greece to teach a course on sustainable economics. Morning sessions went deep into the unfolding economic crisis in Greece and exploring alternative emerging ways of defining and measuring wealth and the building of local economies based on solidarity, cooperation and reciprocity. Afternoons were spent on the beach, where we often continued discussions initiated in the morning classroom. Evenings were devoted to film showings related to the classroom content.

And always, surrounding and supporting us, the gentle rhythms of the host community. Early morning yoga and meditation. The morning sharing circle. Moments of silence and gratitude before the meals. Laughter in waves drifting down from those working on the terraced gardens. The clashing of pots and pans along with aromas drifting from the kitchen. Work teams cleaning, weeding, cooking….. In short, balanced and relaxed nourishment for head, heart and hands.

There is no great mystery here. No profound alchemical process whereby the drab stuff of everyday life is magically transformed into a glittering new reality. In fact, it is in creating a space to truly notice and appreciate the everyday that its inherent beauty gently emerges. This is a profoundly encouraging insight as we face the crises converging on us and the imperative they demand that we learn to find ways of getting more from much less.

(Images by Andrea Bonetti reproduced with kind permission visit www.andreabonetti.com)

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