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Creating Optimal Wellness Environments (II)


Spirals exist everywhere in nature. There are creative cycles and destructive cycles. One does not have to be very imaginative to see both aspects in our current human interactions.

Within the paradigm of connection , as in nature, spirals are a primary pattern of movement. For example, to foster the kind of relaxation necessary to access creative exploration, a safe space is necessary. As the safety of the environment opens the spaciousness of more possibilities, a deeper relaxation occurs. There is a shift in the accessibility to what is within, which fosters a more supportive environment. If the spiral is fed energy, abilities and natural knowing make themselves more available. The result is that learning has empowered the person. One person then empowers other people. And the larger environment slowly undergoes a shift. This spiral is gradually making itself apparent in a variety of grass-roots movements around the world.

Conversely, we can easily look around us for the spiral of negative learning cycles. Competition, criticism, and the need to be better than others makes us tense. As we tighten, we have to work harder to perform, which tightens the knot even more. As a result we commonly see symptoms in our schools such as nausea at test time and an increasing frequency of teen suicides and drug abuse.

In looking at the learning process and an OWE, we must look at conflict. An appropriate amount of conflict in an environment that supports learning as a process of choice can be just the element that stimulates the deepest learning. So in describing the safety of the environment, I’m not suggesting there is no discomfort.

Whenever different people with different wants, fears, and biases come together for a period of time, conflict is bound to emerge. The difficulty, however, is not in the conflict itself, but in how the conflict is handled. We aim to create structures in which we can increase and refine our abilities to transform conflict into learning—to learn to utilize a process of choice-making that can leave us empowered change agents.

I do not wish to try to inculcate a code or an ethic that we can neatly package as “The Optimal Wellness Environment.” An OWE ideally will be a palpable presence that emerges from the process of those in it. It cannot be legislated or enforced. Its ever-changing nature defies such policies and ploys.

Like any living organism, if fed well and allowed to be, it will grow, bloom and reveal, naturally, its own life form.

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