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Personal Sustainability for a better world

Sustainability sounds like a most worthwhile venture going forward into 2023. So before we traverse into the new year let us catch up with a couple of educators in the personal growth arena.

Rita Scholten tutors the module of Personal Sustainability for The Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course. In March, Rita was joined by Tristan Girdwood who introduced students to a new topic titled Possibility Management.

According to the Sustainable Living Course approach sustainable living begins with self-care through self-awareness and healthful habits. Self care includes one’s spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical body. Rita explains how the environment in Golden bay, blessed with beautiful nature, wild places and sacred springs offers a host of experiences which can bring awareness to these bodies.

Self awareness may also come about through dance or movement, according to the needs of students, whose input, Rita says is valued;

“Because it’s all about self care and radical self responsibility for what we put out in the world and that’s part of permaculture”

Rita also invites students to join her and “take a dip in cold water” to experience the physical and mental health benefits of the Wim Hof method. Further to mental and emotional wellbeing Rita offers Yoga Nidra practice and learning about brain waves and how they relate to the parasympathetic system, “It’s a system where good sleeping patterns come from.” says Rita.

The personal sustainability module also explores deep ecology and the interconnectedness of all living beings on earth, drawing on the works of PH.D author and teacher, Joanna Macy.

Possibility management tutor, Tristan explains that learning in this area also takes the individual on a journey to discover their inner permaculture.

“If you look out into the world, and in our communities and schools and look on the results we are creating there, economically, in relationships, mental health, and ask; ‘how are the outer results a reflection of your inner world?’ because collectively that’s what it is.”

Tristan says that if we are wanting to shift towards a regenerative culture i.e. a culture that is consciously building the capacity of everybody in a particular place to respond and change, then that shift begins with the individual.

“We explore things like, how do you relate to your feelings?

What kind of feedback and team culture do you create in your working teams when you’re working on projects?. How are you going to be as a community during this course? You get to learn how the energy flows in community and how important that is for creating regenerative culture.”

In the realm of permaculture, Tristan says things like wind, water and sunshine are considered; i.e. how we might utilise and capture the energy they provide in a circular fashion. Tristan likens our feelings with energy and waste cycles in our environment.

“Conventionally we use something and throw it away; flush toilet waste away. It’s the same thing with feelings. Anger is an emotion stuck in the body from the past [repressed anger]. What we learned about anger determines how the energy is used. It doesnt go away, it’s just transformed. If I have a story about anger that it’s dangerous then I have to shut it down or walk away. People avoid each others anger.”

Tristan says the question then becomes; “How can you detach the story about anger from just the energy with this shift of assumption?”

“For some people it’s difficult to say “No”. Anger could be a way to say No, not an explosive reaction but a way to be clear, honest, and asserting (not asserting over). Some people say yes in order not to upset others.”

Tristan explains that the energy of anger can be utilised in a number of ways such as taking action, making a boundary or a decision, staying awake, distinguishing what you want or checking assumptions. “If the energy is not used for that it either explodes or implodes, like shutting down in isolation and hiding from the world.”

Rita and Tristan are of the mind that the results we create in the outer world reflect the 'shape' of our inner world and vice versa.

Further aspects of personal sustainability are covered in other subject areas on The Sustainable Living course such as diet and nutrition (covered in the food preparation, harvesting and preserving module) and non toxic living which becomes the focus in Natural Building.

For more information on The Sustainable Living Course visit The Golden Bay Sustainable Living Centre -

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