Episode #142  Beyond the tribal divisions of right and wrong: Exploring Restorative Engagement with Sophie Docker

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We know that tribalism is destroying us, that the need for ‘us’ to be right and ‘them’ to be wrong and to become enraged when we’re challenged…is what’s destroying us. But how do we change? How do we connect across our differences and hear pain without attributing blame? Exploring all this and more with Sophie Docker of The Restorative Engagement Forum and Open Edge.

Sophie Docker is a highly experienced workshop leader, facilitator and mediator working in organisations, education and community. She is Level 3 trained in restorative Justice and CNVC Certified Nonviolent Communication trainer with a number of other decision-making, dialogue communication and conflict engagement tools up her sleeve.

She has a degree in Politics and Economics and a Postgraduate diploma in Law but most of her learning came from meditation, and wide and wild experiments in living, being in community, collaborating and organising in economic, social and environmental justice campaigns and movements. Sophie’s approach is underpinned by Nonviolent Communication and Restorative Practice, which she has been working with since 2012. She is a Restorative Justice practitioner registered with the Restorative Justice council and a Certified Trainer with the Centre for Nonviolent Communication and brings a systemic lens to these approaches using them personally and professionally to engage with presenting issues.

Sophie’s work focuses on transforming internal and external domination systems and experiencing ourselves as essential to life, and as part of a complex adaptive living system. Her work is influenced by relational neuroscience, transactional analysis, meditation, multiple conflict engagement modalities and a deep exploration into the dynamics of personal and structural power, privilege, violence and its impacts.

In this episode, we explore the nature of our binary tribalism, our tendency to ‘other’ that which we don’t understand and to become triggered when challenged. And then, with Sophie’s guidance and experience, we talk of the ways we can move beyond that – how she has learned and is learning to step beyond our age-old tools of domination and power-over, into something where we allow our own pain but don’t feel the need to project it out – and by being different, allow different outcomes.

In Conversation

Manda: My guest this week is someone who holds the keys and the tools to that sense of conscious evolution that we’re seeking; that concept that we need to be the best of ourselves and possibly even better than we know that we can be, now. And that we all need to do this moving forward together, if we’re going to create that flourishing future that we still believe is possible. Sophie Docker started out on a relatively mainstream education. She has a degree in politics and economics and then a postgraduate diploma in law. But as you will hear, most of her learning and her life’s inspiration, the flame that keeps her going, comes from meditation, from running away to join the circus. Not quite literally, but metaphorically, from living in community and feeling how it works or doesn’t work. From collaborating and organising in economic and social and environmental justice campaigns and movements and making things work.

 Manda: And then she went to train in non-violent communication and restorative practice, and she’s been working at that since 2012. She’s a restorative justice practitioner, registered with the Restorative Justice Council and a certified trainer with the Centre for Non-Violent Communication. She works for the Restorative Engagement Forum and with Open Edge, and I have put links for both of these in the show notes, because as you’ll hear in the conversation that follows, she has some of the absolute keys to ways of being that we all need. Particularly me. I did listen to all of this and think, yep, I need to shift my thinking from right and wrong to a completely non polarised way of being. And I know this on an intellectual level, but Sophie was beginning to give the keys to do it on an actual level of day to day engagement. As sometimes happens, we had to record this on Zoom for various technical reasons. The sound is less than perfect, but as always happens, Caro has done her best. So people of the podcast, please welcome Sophie Docker.

 Manda: So Sofie, welcome to the Accidental Gods podcast. We are recording on a monday morning and we have rain outside in South Shropshire. I am so happy. Where are you and how are you?

 Sophie: I am in Somerset and it’s not raining. It’s slightly overcast and a lot cooler than it has been. And I’m good. Enjoying the summer, thank you.

 Manda: Excellent. So we know of you that you started off… You did politics and economics, which is laudable and interesting. I suspect they taught you old style economics because that’s what they do. But there we go. And then you went on to do law, which people tend to do because they think they can change the world. And now you’re not doing anything like that at all. So can you talk us through how you changed so completely from what’s quite a traditional ‘wanting to do something good in the world’ background, to where you are now.

 Sophie: Yeah. It’s interesting. Now I’ve sort of come back round, almost, in looking at restorative justice, I’m re-engaging with the legal system again, which is a really interesting place to be and feels quite integrated. But I went a long way away from that sort of classical education upbringing. And after studying law, I actually sort of pretty much literally ran away and joined the circus and squatted and travelled and had various kind of wild adventures around the world. But basically kind of trying to dismantle and de frag sort of the information and understanding and way of experiencing that I’d grown up with. Because it never quite made sense and it’s always been really driven by this knowing that there’s… We can do better, there’s something else. This idea of potential that we can can sort of actualise and what we need to do to get there.

 Manda: How did you get to that knowing? Because not everybody grows up knowing that. That, really, I’d like to unpick for people who are beginning on this path. Whence did it arise and at what point in politics, economics and then law did you wake up one morning and go, you know what, I’m just not doing this. I need to go do something different.

 Sophie: It’s curious, isn’t it? I’ve been asking that question as well, because there’s a lot of people who are really driven by that knowing that there’s more here that we could do. One really pivotal moment for me was my father dying of cancer when I was 13. The overriding memory I have from that is just that it broke the rules. That I’d been led to believe that if I behaved in a certain way, there’d be certain outcomes. If I did certain things that I’d be safe. And then this out of the box thing happened. It was pancreatic cancer, so it was super quick and it was just like, whoa, no one told me that was a possibility. So suddenly it kind of broke all of the constructs for me. And I started, you know, I carried on school and education because it was what I was meant to do. But I didn’t really fit in it. I didn’t really fit into it anymore. I kind of was slightly fighting the tide. It’s like this idea of there being rules and certainties didn’t make sense to me.

 Manda: And had your dad been a lawyer? Was he… Is that what led you into law?

 Sophie: No, he started various businesses and he was sort of from a, you know, interesting family heritage, being what I do now. He was from a Birmingham Industrial family that were into manufacturing, governments big corporations. There was even a quote from one member of the family saying, All we need to do is produce more. The more we produce, the more people will consume. So a really,really different place.

 Manda: Predatory capitalism in a nutshell.

 Sophie: Yeah, exactly.

 Manda: Wow. So we won’t go long down this rabbit hole, but I’m curious to know how that side of the family views what you’re doing now.

 Sophie: Well, I kind of see it as that that was sort of… They were trying to do the best they could for the world with what they had then. And that’s what they thought was the best outcome for most people. And so I’m doing a similar sort of thing now, really. I have certain family members that get what I do. Actually, most of the time when I go and visit my mum and stepfather, my stepfather gets me to try and explain what it is that I do, again.

 Manda: Okay. But they’re listening. It could be much, much worse, I’m sure. All right. So let’s leave family and the complications of that. You’ve done a law degree. I want to know a little bit more about running off to join the circus; because I get a lot of emails from people who are at that point where they been in the system and they’re realising that the system is falling apart around them. And then the question is, how do I make the step? What is it that I step to? And it sounds like you just let go and went off. So can you tell us a little bit more about running off to join the circus and what it implied and how it felt?

 Sophie: Well, I think one of the reasons I could was potentially because of having a really strong safety net, of a very stable family with resources behind me. So the risk that I was taking wasn’t the same as the risk that other people might be taking. So I just want to say that for a start. But it just didn’t compute for me. Yeah, I had a sort of I’d always been a bit – my friends thought it was a bit of a hippy or whatever- but I was more of a hippy in a mainstream sort of set. And then what happened? I think I had various psychedelic adventures and just started to see other opportunities and question things more. And then I went from studying law and potentially being a lawyer to squatting and organising squat parties and doing experiments in living without money. And we did everything gift economy and we had exercises in how to be in community and what was necessary for living and making change and transformation.

 Manda: And how did that go? Because a lot of the work that we’re doing, particularly in Thrutopia at the moment. We were talking recently to Reiki Cordon of Seeds, and they’re really trying to build a template for how people can bring communities together. And start off with the decision making processes that work and the agreements that work, so that you don’t get two or three years past the honeymoon period of the community, and then everybody hates each other and it falls apart and you walk away. Because if the future is us rediscovering tribe in a 21st century model, we need to have that grounding. So you’ve tried it. You’re not living in community at the moment. Is it that it just didn’t work? We didn’t have the right template? Or was it just not for you at the time?

 Sophie: I would say I am living in community. I just shifted from that being a sort of alternative bolt on community to being part of the global community. And so made choices to send my children to mainstream education and things like that. Because something happened actually around 2012, I really shifted and rather than wanting to have something alternative attached to the side of the rest of reality, I was like, No, let’s steer this tanker in a different direction. And I’m part of all of the human experience with everybody and life on Earth. And let’s do this together rather than… there was something of a sort of spiritual superiority going on in me before that, that thought, Yeah, we can do it better.

 Manda: Okay. So I’d like to really unpick this. Your concept, then, of living in squats, living in a money-less community, and I’d be quite interested to understand how that worked. Hang on, let’s go down that rabbit hole! Your money-less experiments. Did this arise out of Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics book or were you part of the movement that was building from which he wrote that book?

 Sophie: Gosh, I can’t remember what year he wrote that book.

 Manda: It’s ten years old now.

 Sophie: It was well before that, because this was around sort of 1999-2003  I think. So it grew out of the Rainbow Community Movement, Rainbow gatherings, magic hat idea. So we’d do everything with the magic hat; so we’d get all the food that was leftover at the end of the veg delivery rounds or local food provision, and then run a co-op where we kind of sold food to people locally in the community. And then we’d do big meals and people would just put money in a hat. And we’d just have this magic hat thing. But because our costs were so low, I mean, I found a piece of paper calculating after an event the other day, and it was £5 for me, £10 for someone else, crossed out and put down to £5. And it was sort of very small amounts of money that we would have. So we did have money. So saying we lived without money isn’t totally true. But we didn’t accumulate money. We didn’t use it really for anything other than the kind of total necessities and the co-op that we ran.

 Manda: But this sounds like it is integral to the people who are living around you. Particularly you’re gathering the food… You’re almost doing food banks at a time before we lived in a world where food banks had become a government policy. And I was talking last night to Alan Lane as part of Thrutopia, and he’s artistic director of Slung Low, which is a theatre company in one of the most deprived areas near Leeds. But they run a food bank, or they did all the way through COVID, and he saw that as an integral part of the community. They kept people from starving in the UK. And that doesn’t feel like a bolt on. He was absolutely clear. His job is to be a part of this relatively small community, but to do everything that he can to change the world that he’s in. And it sounds like you were doing that. What was it that made it feel like it was a bolt on rather than integral?

 Sophie: Well, I think it sort of led into… kind of because it was not living in in a place that we owned or things like that. So then like the adventures in what it is to be in community, felt like we’d get a piece of land and we’ll be able to self sustain on a piece of land, away from the rest of the world somehow. But yeah, we were quite integrated then, and all of the themes that I was interested in, like the kind of economy and gift economy and sort of different ways of doing money were present then. And we work with those still now, in Open Edge. We have a thing that we call interdependent gift economy, where we try and separate access to the work that we do from money needed for our sustainability.

 Manda: And does that work?

 Sophie: Yeah, it does. It does really work, actually. I mean, it’s imperfect because we exist within the system that we’re within. So we can’t find a perfect way of doing it or reinvent it. And there are always impacts and outcomes that we can’t be aware of, or we have no influence over. So to a certain extent it works. And for me, the important thing is sort of staying open and curious about how we can keep shifting and changing what we do. And the work that I do is based on impact as the feedback mechanism. So it’s based on lived experience being the information that’s needed. So it’s like we take steps and move forward in the world, but we need to just be open to hearing what the impact of that is. And based on that, we can tweak and change the way we go about things. So we’re in a sort of complex adaptive living system.

 Manda: Absolutely. You’ve got the feedback loops and tipping points will happen and you won’t see them coming. And that’s the nature of feedback systems.

 Sophie: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s largely the work that I do now, is that sort of approach. So it’s supporting people to do that in their relationships and organisations but also internally in their relationship with themselves because we’ve internalised all of that system as well. And the kind of inner conversations we have with ourselves about not being good enough or comparing to things or.

 Manda: Yes, I want to move on to that wholesale in a moment, but I just want to take one step back. Because you talked about psychedelic adventures and using plant spirits as a healing way, as a way of transforming. And for some people, they are the gateway to 21st century human conscious evolution. I’m not sure that I buy into that yet, but I haven’t met anybody who is able to propose it to me in a way that sounded completely compelling and didn’t just sound like a way of stepping out of things. I’d rather sit up the hill for 3 hours than Microdose, basically. But you’ve done it. And I’m wondering, was this, you know, heading off to the Amazon and and doing a few weeks of ayahuasca? Are were you doing stuff in the UK and was it held? Can you talk a little bit about the experience and how it helped you move forward?

 Sophie: Yeah, so I’d say first of all, it was definitely not held. It was just personal experimentation. But the way that psychedelics work with the brain, as I understand it from, actually from Dave Luke, he’s a professor of parapsychology and does a lot of this sort of thing. Is that what psychedelics do to the brain is they reduce the activity in the sort of dominant areas of the brain, but they increase the connectivity. So in a way you sort of take your dominant framing offline and you interconnect between parts of the brain that you might not have been connecting to before. Which allows shifts to happen. It allows new insight to emerge. It allows sort of the brain plasticity, healing traumatic experiences, forming neural pathways, that sort of thing. So I wouldn’t say, you know, it’s without risk or, you know, necessarily a straightforward linear path to do that sort of thing. But I think they’re wonderful tools for creating change and healing trauma in a very short space of time.

 Manda: So would you say that your solo experiments were integral to where you got to, or did they did they take your dominant framing offline enough to change how you thought?

 Sophie: Yeah, there’s two things that really have been the fundamental influences for me. First of all, I had this sort of like awakening at the end of studying law when I was like 19, where I suddenly understood the world wasn’t quite the way I thought it might have been. So it kind of opened up the possibility and sort of disintegrated the certainty. And then I was trying to figure out how to navigate this, and I decided I was going to go and paint in Italy. And I kept writing ‘art course Italy’ into the search engine at the time. And Vipassana meditation courses kept coming back to me, and that was all I could find. So I thought OK, I’m going to go do this. So I did my first ten day one when I was 20, and then I did three more. I did four of those ten days in my early twenties and meditated a lot. And that gave me a fundamental understanding of how energy works in my body and this idea of my awareness and the power of it and presence and the flow of energy through my body; and being able to tune in to that and notice where there are blocks and stagnant bits and to use my awareness to pass over them and dissolve them and develop presence and equanimity. So that was the big teacher. And then I would say LSD was the other one, around that time, before plant medicines. So the combination of those two things really opened my mind and gave me some some tools.

 Manda: Wow. Yes. And do you still go on ten day Vipassana retreats or do you still meditate even?

 Sophie: I do still meditate, although I don’t have a practice of doing it like I was then, sort of 2 hours a day. Yeah, I have thought about bringing it back, but the limitation I found then is I was like, Great, yes, I can meditate under a tree and become enlightened like Buddha, which is the story with Vipassana. And for sure I reckon that that would happen; were I just sit still and meditate under a tree. And I live in this incredibly beautiful world, which is full of complex relational kind of dynamics. And there are other people and I want to enjoy that and I want to be part of that. So the way that I work now, I see as exactly the same thing as Vipassana, but through relationship. So what we’re doing is developing awareness of the felt sense of what’s emerging through our bodies and through the collective field in order to give it presence and transform it. So say we’re having a, you know, I’m triggered, we’re having a disagreement. There’s strong feeling emerging in me. I want to hold that, acknowledge it, witness it, like share what’s relevant with you, hear you hear how you’re impacted. And through that, we create a connection. And when we create that connection, something shifts. There’s a willingness to move towards each other and a solution finds us, or we can move forward in a different way. And so for me, that’s exactly the same as Vipassana. I’m doing self connection in Vipassana and the work that I do now is relational connection.

 Manda: Yeah. And if Vipassana, if any spiritual path takes us away from exactly what you’ve just described, then I think it’s… There probably is a space, I’m sure, for the people who sit under the tree and create the stillness that arises in the whole of the human field. But it feels to me that what you’re describing is deeply, deeply valuable. I was about to get judgemental and put variances on it and say that it was more valuable, which may not be the case, but it definitely… If someone tries to tell us that sitting under a tree is the way to enlightenment and everybody has to do that, first, it’s not going to happen, and second, it’s not going to heal the world, I think, in the way that you’re describing, because if it was, the world would be more healed than it is at the moment.

 Sophie: Interesting, the healing thing. Like this idea with Vipassana, that you have sort of stuck sensations in your body. The same thing is true of our collective system, as I see it. There’s places of stuck energy through the traumatic events that have happened in our history and they live now through the way that we experience this moment. So they emerge through us as individuals. So when I can understand my experience in that way, with this sort of systemic lens, then it’s different. It’s not about individual rightness or wrongness or goodness or badness. It’s like I’m receiving some kind of thing through me that’s for us all. And by being able to give presence to it and transform it, then there is like unsticking the flow of energy in our collective system that’s happening, I believe.

 Manda: Yes. Right. So let’s talk about unsticking the flow of energy in our collective system, because that’s beautiful and sounds like it’s increasingly essential. Let’s find how you got to the understanding of that. So you’ve done your law degree and you’ve broken free of it. You’ve been in the world, you’ve done your squatting, you’ve done your community, you’ve lived without money up to as far as you can, within the current predatory capitalist system without actually starving. And now you’re deeply involved in this creating flow within the world. How did you step to that? How did you find your route into that?

 Sophie: So I spent lots of time in South America and I came back from the Amazon in 2006 and started working with my current partner on a festival called Sunrise, that he’d started the year before. So when we were having adventures in squats in London, it was a lot of event organising that I was doing, and then this sort of took event organising to the next level. But it was more sort of gatherings to promote community, rather than just sort of hedonistic events, which they were definitely hedonistic too, but it was sort of that was a social purpose. This was about sort of evolutionary change or what do we need to do to live in community and celebrate life? So he’d started a festival called Sunrise. It was all about sort of this idea of bringing ancient wisdom to modern application and celebrating life. And we were always looking for people to do talks and workshops on certain things that were the essential elements of community living. So we would have people talking about economics and we would have people talking about doing relational skills and what was needed. And I’d heard about non-violent communication and I just had this sense: non-violent communication. We need someone who can support people to do that thing. I don’t know what it is. And I kept looking for someone and didn’t find the right person. And then in 2012, which was the last year of the festival that I was involved in. It sunk into the mud. And I had a baby that was due on the first day of the festival, which was Summer Solstice 2012, and I was not really available.

 Sophie: But then our team just completely disintegrated. We had massive interpersonal fallout afterwards. Because I was one of the directors and Dan was one of the directors. We’d been away and there was crisis and there wasn’t enough money and everybody was turning on each other and it was horrendous. So I was like, I need to go on this non-violent communication thing. So I looked around for someone and then took my newborn baby and my partner Dan so he could look after her while I was doing it. And our one year old. To somebody’s house who did the NVC Non-Violent Communication trainings and did a foundation in it in 2012. And was really struck by aha! This is the roadmap that I was looking for. It was all about getting beyond right, wrong thinking and getting beyond polarisation. Having presence, having congruence, being really congruent with what’s emerging in the moment and essentially being able to speak authentically and receive people with empathy. Because there’s this idea we have, that we’ve inherited, that there’s this trade off between my authenticity and my belonging. So if I’m truly truthful and authentic, it’ll jeopardise relationships and I won’t belong. So we squash our authenticity or jeopardise our belonging as a choice, rather than there is another way I can be fully authentic and be fully compassionate and empathetic to you, too. It’s not either or. It’s both and.

 Manda: Right. Beautiful.

 Sophie: Yeah.

 Manda: That’s ten years you’ve been on this track now. So explore for us that. Because I am aware that I still live in a world where let’s say Boris Johnson and God help us, Liz Truss as his successor, I’m sure in the Tory Party, are the other tribe. And that finding that sense of belonging across that divide would be incredibly hard. But I also am fully aware at an intellectual level that it needs to happen. You sound like you lived in quite a progressive world. 2012 is a different place to now, but you’ve already said that 2012 was an awakening moment and a shift in your trajectory. So having taken your newborn child and your one year old, I cannot imagine the havoc, to the course and discovering this. It feels like an opening, a door or a gateway into a whole new world. How did it feel to step through?

 Sophie: It was great. I felt very aligned with some just a sense of, yeah, this is what I want to be doing in the world. This is the place I can have maximum impact. This is what I see as something that can be the most transformative thing that I can do or that I’ve come across. So then I started organising workshops for other people who were teaching it to learn. So I invited people from all around the world and organised the people I wanted to learn from, because I had small children and couldn’t move. So I managed to put together the required amount of training to become a certified trainer that way and then went on my own journey to offer it in the world.

 Manda: Genius. So how long does the training… Did it take and how long does it take?

 Sophie: But I can’t remember exactly what the request is for training days. But it’s a journey of 3 to 5 years and more than 50 days with certified trainers and including a ten day international intensive somewhere in the world. And then you have to do a sort of portfolio and have to have been offering it in the world for a year. And then you get certified an international body.

 Manda: Wow. And also it sounds quite expensive. It’s always interesting that doing these things is always a huge investment of time, energy and money until we can begin to live in a different economy.

 Sophie: And that’s really a thing that certainly we look at a lot. Because it’s like how can… There’s the sort of actual monetary access and people do different things to try and overcome that. And I got creative with inviting organising trainings and inviting people, but I had the skills and capacity to organise events for other people. And so I navigated it that way. I managed to get around the massive expense because I didn’t have the resources. But there’s that and then there’s the whole certification process and how to get through that. And because it was a lot of people like me, who are the assessors, for me it was whilst it was a terrifying process and in a fishbowl with 30 people watching you and doing live role plays to people kind of feeding back what they thought of how you did it. It was terrifying. And it was still sort of within the range of the kind of experiences that I could have, and that it was people like me who were assessing me. And I have a certain amount of education and that kind of thing. So there is the conversation about how those sorts of processes self-select certain kinds of people, and we end up with a body of non-violent communication trainers who are lots of middle aged white women, who’ve had a lot of access to resources and that sort of thing. But that’s a whole other conversation.

 Manda: We could go there, but let’s just keep going with the the concepts of non-violent communication. So you’ve done the training, which sounds, I have to say, terrifying and a huge amount of personal input at a time when you’ve got two very young children. Which must have been an interesting juggling act in itself. And then you take it out in the world. What kinds of people want you to be there for them?

 Sophie: Yeah, I mean, I guess all kinds of people. I’ve done work in loads of different settings. In sort of schools ranging from primary schools through to universities and sort of individuals. I run a course that’s a public access course, but it tends to be people from change making organisations who come, because that’s the sort of places that I advertise it. But the same tools affect people, whether it’s sort of relational issues, personal development, that sort of thing. But my passion is sort of change making and transformation and how do we steer the tanker of humanity in a slightly different direction. So those are the kind of spheres that I work in.

 Manda: So that’s that. How do we steer the tanker of humanity in another direction? Because I’m listening to what you’re saying and it’s utterly and wholly inspiring and I’m thinking, I need to know an awful lot more about this. But I am a person like you. I am middle aged, fairly well-educated, white woman. And I was very struck talking to Alan Lane last night. It was a real recalibration. He works in one of the most deprived areas of Leeds and he’s surrounded by people who are either relatively new incomers, so racially different, but they’re surviving the hostile environment which is explicitly said designed to minimise their free time and therefore their agency. And by working class white people who are also being assaulted by predatory capitalism, which minimises their free time and their agency. And I said, how do you reach these people? And essentially the answer was, we we hold street operas and invite all their kids. And, you know, he’s working with the next generation. Because the 83 year old who runs the Workingmen’s Club, for instance, is is completely not interested in listening to anything different. And yet I look at the world and it’s the 83 year old white men, largely, of all classes and all income streams, who are holding the steering wheel. There’s a different metaphor. We’re all in the bus accelerating to the cliff, and they are grabbing the wheel as if their lives depended on it and stamping their feet on the accelerator. And the rest of us are going, No, no, we need to turn the bus. And they’re going, No, we don’t. Straight is where it’s at. And how do we reach the people who have this death grip on the wheel and and are not interested in changing?

 Sophie: So interesting. I think of that as the sort of immune system of the dominant paradigm kicking in, to defend the change that’s coming.

 Manda: Yes. It’s a good metaphor. Yes.

 Sophie: It’s so interesting. It’s like there’s a paradox in change making. Because it’s like can I fully accept things how they are right now and want them to change? Because if I get too fixed on the outcome of change, then I’m fighting the present moment. And the practice that I have, is all about full congruence and acceptance. Engagement with what is as it is right now.

 Manda: Right. Right.

 Sophie: But then it’s a bit like a sort of Gandhian thing. So counteracting this idea that the ends justify the means, it’s like the means are the ends in themselves. So it’s like how we engage with each other in this moment is what creates the outcome. So I work with processes that are inclusive, rather than sort of outcomes that you can justify anything to get to.

Manda: Okay. You said that you worked with schools and universities and places that want to change. So talk us through a hypothetical ‘being what is’ situation that needs to change and how the change evolves, so we can get a feel for how this work works out there in the messy, real complicated world.

 Sophie: Yeah, so most of the work I do is with organisations and mostly organisations with some kind of social purpose, typically. And normally where there’s a presenting issue. So there’s some stuckness or some challenge, some tension, some difficulty. Life isn’t flowing in the way that people want it to. There’s a problem that they want to address. And the way I see that is it’s sort of life turning the volume up on something that needs attention. So that might be just for me personally, when I get angry about something, it’s like turning the volume up on something that needs attention for me. But also in organisations it works the same way. It’s like what needs attention here? There’s an opportunity here to reconnect. There’s a disconnect and this is the invitation to reconnect. How are we going to do it? And then the way that we work with Open Edge, me and my colleague Sarri Bata, is with this understanding that a system has three components. That a system is the culture and beliefs that we hold together and the individual actions and behaviours and then the structures and processes we build to support that. So there are these three components going on. So I work with people to build individual skills and capacities for communicating authentically and listening with empathy and navigating conflicts. And then look at what are the systems? So what are the decision making processes, what are the feedback processes that there are? The line management processes. Like how to do those in a way that’s restorative, that’s non-violent. And then what’s the culture? What are we aligning around?

 Manda: And do you find in our hypothetical situation where you’ve been called in, do both parties agree to you being there? Because it strikes me. I remember talking to Braver Angels, which is a group in the States that tries to bring Republicans and Democrats, not to persuade each other they’re right, but at least get them in the room and treating each other like human beings. And they were finding they wanted to have equal numbers in the room. But in the end, what they’ve done is been training quite a lot of progressive people because the Republicans didn’t even want to engage in the conversation. And this triggers all my stuff about, well, that’s obvious because they think they’re right. But leaving that aside, you go into a situation, you need both sides of the culture and belief that has broken down, that has turned the volume up to the point where I guess they’re desperate. It feels a lot like homeopathy, which is almost always somebody’s gone down every other possible avenue and then they come to the homeopath when everything has gone so badly wrong that they’ve got no other options. And it feels that this is the same. They tried everything else, they screamed at each other, they’ve thrown their toys out of the pram, they’ve threatened the walk out and probably done the walk out. And now it’s really not working. And they need you. And can you go in with just one side or do you have to go into a circumstance and say, I need both parties in the marriage in the room or we go nowhere?

 Sophie: Yeah. All of the ways that I work are designed to meet everybody’s needs. It’s not just about one party needs. And the beautiful thing about a needs based approach is this idea that everything everybody does is an attempt to meet a need. So whatever I’m doing, whatever I’m thinking, it’s because I’m trying to meet a need. It might be a hopelessly ineffective way of meeting that need, but the aim is to meet a need for myself. What I do and my colleagues do, is make ways of supporting people to have agency, dignity, a voice and accountability in getting their needs met individually, and build systems that support them to do that. As someone thinking about sort of needs and connection, there’s a metaphor that I’ve often used; is that, you know, the horrific, horrifically painful things that happen in high school violence in the United States, that we hear about on the news, the kind of there might have been like a horrendously violent event in a school. And you’ve got one group of people who’s saying we need to respond to this by arming all teachers.

 Manda: And the kids often. Yeah. Three year olds need to have machine guns.

 Sophie: Yes. That’s one one approach to responding to that. And another approach is, no, we need to get rid of all guns completely. So that is two very polarised strategies responding to the same issue. What are the needs underneath? Both of them are responding to the need for safety and security. So it’s like that’s where we find the common ground. It’s like, okay, yeah, we all want to get to safety and security. How are we going to do that? So the approach I work with is dropping down a little bit away from people’s fixed strategies, into what are the needs underneath? So that we can find enough connection to get creative, to move forward collaboratively.

 Manda: Okay. And two pathways I want to follow. One is, okay, so how do we use that strategy to turn the wheel on the bus? But before we go there. You talked a little bit earlier on and said we could maybe look at it in more depth, about past trauma informing present action. And we had quite an interesting conversation on the podcast a couple of weeks ago, with Zineb Mouhyi, who’s an amazing young woman who set up Youth by Youth. Which is a collective where young people take agency in their own education, so that it’s actually fitting them out for the world that is, rather than the world that we’re all telling them, you know, where they get a mortgage and 2.5 kids and a job that lasts for life, which clearly is never going to happen. And she has a process of asking five ‘whys’ of: why is this happening? Why is it happening? Why is it happening? Why is it happening? And we talked to ourselves back through the beginning of the kind of capitalist era, with the Dutch East India Company 500 years ago, back to Roman times, partly because I have a slightly fixed idea that we are seeing the final days of the Roman Empire. Because Rome brought, you know, this concept that we know; the price of everything and the value of nothing, the commodification of land, labour and capital.

 Manda: They enslaved the indigenous peoples of Britain, where as far as we aware, within the tribes it’s very hard to keep slaves when you all live in a round house. Where are they going to go? You know, it’s not… It wasn’t a thing, as far as we know. And yet the Romans didn’t invent this system. They just happened to spread it very, very efficiently. And we got to go back and back and back and back. And we, I guess, are unlikely unless we are really able to dream into it, ever to know the foundational trauma that separated a personal group of people enough from their sense of belonging and their connection to the web of life, that this commodification of land and labour and then the commodification of capital became the structure of their world, such that its spread forward however many thousands of years to bring us here. How do we begin to unpick those levels of trauma in the world that you live in? Is it even possible or is it even useful and necessary?

 Sophie: Yeah, great question. I think it’s essential that we do unpick them. Otherwise, I think we keep reproducing them and I think we’re unconsciously reproducing these sorts of dynamics constantly, whether it’s like really low level violence or quite massive international conflict. And I think the way to do that is to be able to give presence to the feelings that are there, right now in this moment, that are the legacy of what’s happened. I mean, I love hearing you talk about it being the last days of the Roman Empire, because that’s also a story that I tell myself. Because I see this sort of either/or way of thinking that we have now, certainly in the global north, as something that didn’t come into being in the beginnings of the Greek Roman time. But certainly had a big flowering then, with the sort of Aristotelian logic and the idea that it’s either this or that, either right or wrong. And then you add in monotheistic religion and you have it’s good or evil, and you’ve raised the stakes quite a lot, and then you have to be good to belong. And if you disagree, you’re evil and you’re excluded. And so this very, very polarised binary black and white thinking that we’ve had for 2000 years that I believe is changing now. I mean, I guess change happens progressively over time, but certainly within our lifetimes I’ve seen a lot of change happening. For example, in organisational structures we’ve gone from very hierarchical power over structures to more collaborative flatter structures. There are different expectations of leadership now than there were when we were younger. And you need to have empathy and you need to be leading for the good of all and you need to have totally different skills, rather than sort of Viking style domination skills that were once needed.

 Manda: And yet we’re watching in politics a bounce back towards more hierarchy, more domination. Again, you call it the metaphor of the immune system of the state, of the old establishment, of the way that was, fighting back. And I’m watching also the ease with which whatever energy it is that wants to create discord, fostering astonishing new binary polarisation. When I was growing up, it was unique not to be heterosexual, but it became okay. But now gender and where you stand on gender balance and how you approach gender balance have become a whole new battleground. And I get to ‘Guys, we’re in the middle of the sixth mass extinction. Is this really the hill you want us all to die on?’ I don’t actually think so. And what is it that we’re all trying to get to underneath it? We’re trying to get to human dignity and we just need to find ways to do that, that allow the best in each other. But I’m watching people that I would otherwise have a lot in common with screaming at each other across new boundaries and new tribal concepts. How do we unpick those, do you think?

 Sophie: I think it’s because these moments are emerging. It’s like life turning the volume up on stuff that needs attention for reconnecting for our system, for healing. And yet the tools we have to engage with them are the ones that we’ve inherited from this period of history. So it’s that wonderful Audre Lorde quote: the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. And for me, the master’s tools are right and wrong thinking. So if we need to make you wrong for thinking differently, we’re doing the same thing. So then we’re creating more division and more polarisation. So what we need to do is, is be able to hear, as I see it, is hear the pain, the intensity of feeling without attributing blame, but with some sense of accountability. And that’s a really sensitive ground. Because we need the sense of accountability in what we’re currently reproducing, each of us and participating in; and in order to get to choosing something differently and moving forward. So, yeah, that’s that’s my take on it.

Manda: And how do you stop getting into a kind of strange philosophical loop where thinking that right and wrong thinking is wrong, becomes where you’re at?

 Sophie: Yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it? So I would say that right and wrong thinking is a tool and you can use it and it’s got us so far. And what are the impacts of that? So everything I do is led by what’s the impact? So that’s the really neat way to get away from right and wrong. It’s like, okay, what’s the impact here? Is it working for me? No. Can I choose different? Yes.

 Manda: Beautiful. Excellent. That stops us getting into a kind of post-modern descending spiral where you just end up.

 Sophie: Wrong to be wrong, yeah.

 Manda: Yeah. Okay. So it’s a tool and it’s a tool that’s got us to here, exactly. And there are things about here that are amazing. And anyway, here is where we are, so we can’t change it. So we need the new tools. And you’ve talked a little bit, you talked quite a lot about the new tools. But if people listening probably don’t want to go through five years of training in non-violent communication, maybe they do – go and do it, guys, if you’re listening and this is a good thing, please go and do it – But for average general people who want to embrace this and bring it into their DNA and start using new tools. How do you see ordinary people doing that, I think is my question.

 Sophie: Yeah, yeah. There’s some really… I find the sort of simple switches in thinking to be really helpful, to make a simple switch in the way that I’m understanding things. And one of them is just, I think all of it’s an awareness discipline, an awareness practice to some extent, because I’ve got to be aware of what I’m thinking and feeling. And that’s a lifelong journey, of course. But one thing that I have is when I notice I’m fixed or certain about something, just to hold that loosely and put alongside it there’s more I don’t know. Or the Brené Brown, the wonderful Brené Brown quote, which is Don’t get mad, get curious. So if I’m getting angry, it’s like, what is it that I’m not seeing here?

 Manda: Okay.

 Sophie: And there’s a beautiful metaphor that I think helps a lot, a story or parable even, from the ancient south Indian continent, of the blind people touching the elephant?

 Manda: Yes. Yes. But people listening may not have. So please tell us talk us through it.

 Sophie: So we’re all like blind people touching the elephant. And I’m on the belly and I’m going, it’s rough, it’s flat: it’s a wall. It’s a wall. And Manda’s on the ear going, It’s big, it’s flappy: It’s a fan. It’s a fan. Maybe there’s someone else on the tail going: Ooh, it’s swishy; it’s a broom, it’s a broom. And so if we have the kind of conversations where I’m going, it’s a wall and you’re going, No, it’s not it’s a fan. I’m going, no it’s not, it’s a wall! We’re not really going to get anywhere. Whereas if I can share voice to what my experience is and be open to hearing what yours is, then together we see more of the elephant. So that’s the basis of this approach. But then that doesn’t include power. So power is really key. Because this is all about getting to sort of power with world. This is where power flows around as well. And the elephant metaphor assumes we’re all on equal power. So then with that, looking at the way that the world is, we’ve got this mechanism of right and wrong thinking, that consolidates power in certain places. And so we’ve got we’re born into this landscape where there are power centres and some people have more access to power and resources than other people. So being conscious of that and looking at how can I fully use the power I have to support other people being in their power, and lead for a world that meets more of our needs more of the time.

 Manda: Brilliant. Right. Because it does seem that the power imbalances, the asymmetry of power is becoming more and more obvious. I guess in ancient Egypt there was a pharaoh and there was a powerful class and underneath were an awful lot of people with very little power. So it’s probably not the case that it’s spectacularly more than it has been. But it feels as if the very few people who have the power have an awful lot of power. They now have the power of nuclear weapons, which the pharaohs didn’t have. We are at that what Daniel Schmachtenberger calls the potential for species level extinction. We could render ourselves and everything else on the planet extinct at the press of a button, if anybody wanted to use their power that badly. And where I get to in my writing, because the book is now going to be the first of a series, clearly, because there was no way I could fit everything into one. And I’m facing that in a fictional world where there are the people who understand broadly what you’ve been saying… I’m on the second draft. I will incorporate more of what you just said, I’m sure. But they’re facing the people who are the white knuckled gripping the wheel of the bus, who also have their finger on the potential for some very big weaponry and who will use that weaponry to protect their old belief system. I think it feels to me that the people, and I am already othering, but the political class that currently holds power is not very happy at the idea of letting it go. And they control the world’s armies. They control weaponry that could wipe the rest of us out and me standing there going, I think this is a manifestation of early trauma, would you like to sit and talk about it? Isn’t going to happen. If I have my characters in the book… We’re back to the old Starhawk thing. She wrote a book called The Fifth Sacred Thing. Have you ever read it?

Sophie: I haven’t.

 Manda: It’s an interesting book and explores some interesting ideas. It’s at least ten years old. I think it must be older, actually, it’s probably 15 years old. And my big problem with it is that at the end, the progressive people who want there to be water in the world not controlled by the hierarchy, just basically line up and walk into the guns. They just keep walking and walking and walking until the people with the guns get tired of shooting, the people who are walking at them. And my observed experience of the way the world works is the guys with the guns don’t get tarred. The people actually pulling the trigger might. But the people ordering them to pull the trigger, never to. In the whole of the Somme, Kitchener wasn’t throwing away lives by accident. He was playing a game of chicken over I’ve got more lives to throw away than you have. And people died in their hundreds of thousands. And now people would die in their millions. And I just don’t think it’s a useful strategy. There has to be another way. Or the people with the guns end up killing all the people without the guns. How do you see us moving? Okay, so I will spread out what I think and you can pick it apart; which is that we’re in an emergent moment. Tipping points happen, and that person by person, the work that you’re doing – say you go into a university that has previously been very hierarchical and is full of people who think with the old tools and you give them the new tools and they work. That that changes, and they then go out into the world with a new set of tools and the tools are like a virus. And that the immune system will in the end, this is probably not the best metaphor now, be overwhelmed by the virus. But it’s a good virus. It’s a kind virus. It’s a wonderful virus.

 Manda: Let’s think of a new metaphor. So let’s say maybe we’re spreading a new seed of new flowers. It’s better than a virus. How does this sit in your way of seeing the world?

 Sophie: Yeah. I guess the way I see it, I’m a real optimist and see that actually all of human nature is essentially wanting to contribute to life, but there are things that get in the way of that. So people using guns and violence, that is a strategy for them to respond to needs they’ve got. It’s like it’s the best thing they know how to do in the current set of circumstances, potentially. Or they’re doing it for their own survival. I mean, some of the people I’ve met, even in the sort of darkest, most conspiracy financial institutions are doing it, because they want to preserve the wellbeing of their family and make their families safe and secure and sustain them into the future. You know, and I can I can get behind that as a motive. The strategy for doing that and the impact it has on other people, I’m not okay with. So so for a start, my assumption is basically sort of like a beneficial way of seeing humans in the first place, that we want to contribute to each other if you create the right conditions. I think all of the systems that we’ve got, we’ve inherited and they’ve been tweaked, but they haven’t really been modified huge amounts over the last 2000 years, certainly and beyond. And then also I think we’re in a sort of evolutionary process. It’s like change, the way we experience reality is changing as well. So there are sort of those three things that I’m holding when I think about that. And I do really believe the whole kind of idea of don’t destroy the old thing, build the new thing.

 Sophie: And I’ve seen it in Frome, for example; I live near Frome. And Peter McFadden did the independence for Frome movement, that is ongoing now. And even like at the last election, there was at the last election I think it was, there was some movement to set up a local PR system. So they were like getting all the local party leaders to say, here’s the unity candidate. Can we build a unity candidate? Are you on board with that? And they got a large amount of buy in, less so from from some parties and others. But just this idea that actually if we create something new, the old thing loses its power and even someone else in the non-violent communication scene, Miki Kashtan, who’s a mentor of mine, did a wonderful piece of work in Minnesota I think it was. Bringing together sort of key decision makers to look at a certain issue and not keep decision makers. It was a really big issue with child fostering legislation and she put together a group of sort of very polarised people in the debate and created a way for them to look at what were the things, the common ground that they agreed on and get creative about making a decision. And then they made a decision which was then adopted by the legislative body because it had authority. So we have authority, you know, and all we need to do is invite the divergent perspectives to the table and we can create something that has legitimacy. And then it just gets adopted because it has the power, kind of thing.

 Manda: It sounds good. And actually I’m kind of relieved because that’s where I got to with the book, is that we need a parallel policy, that sense of we could try and make the current system work, but actually it’s designed to keep going the way that it is. And what you need is a completely different system and if everybody buys into the new system, the old system can carry on as long as it likes. It no longer has any power and any authority. So it feels to me that this is about creating a different source of authority, that the greater mass of people can buy into. And then the other authority just ceases to have authority. We do have governance by kind of mass agreement. It’s just that we haven’t been offered something that’s different and better.

 Sophie: So yeah, exactly. So yeah, the work that I do is called many things, but connecting across difference is one of the things, one of the ways I describe it. And if we do that connecting across difference, then we’re bringing all the different parts of the elephant, all the different voices to the table and finding a way forward. Getting creative to find a way forward that works for everybody. And then yeah, then we can just adopt that.

 Manda: Yeah. So we’re beginning to run out of time. I have two possibly quite big questions, so we’ll start with the first one. You said that the way that we perceive reality is changing. Can you expand a little bit on that? And within that, how can people listening curate their own way of perceiving reality, so that it’s more inclusive and more expressive and expansive?

 Sophie: Yeah, I mean, I could answer that question for about a week probably. Yeah, I think a lot of it has to do with neuroscience. I think our brains are changing. So we talked about where did where did this violence come from? Where did the cycle of violence that we’re perpetuating come from? And that’s one of the ways I see the work that I do; it’s like, how do we get off this cycle of violence? So something happens, I think whose fault it is, I blame them. I take retribution. That’s the next something that’s happened for them. And we go round in this cycle of escalation of violence, which is what we’ve been in possibly for all of human history. And then the restorative approach is out of the right and wrong. Look at what’s the impact and what do we need to do to move forward together, based on what the impact is as feedback. So sort of neatly sidestepping that right wrong thinking. But where did that come from in the first place? I mean, I don’t know. But the story I tell myself is that the way that our brains work, we were hunter gatherers living in a relational harmony with nature. And then we started to settle and plan for the future and start started agricultural production and living in a different way. And that used different parts of our brain.

 Sophie: So this relational part is all the sort of, you know, right hemisphere. And I’m not a neuroscientist, but from having studied with lots of people, this is where I’ve got to. And using a very relational part of our brain, which experiences life differently. And then when we start planning for the future, we’re less relational, more using things as instruments to achieve our outcomes and growing a different part of our brain. And that’s what we’ve been doing for the last 6000, 8000 years. And I think constantly our brains are changing and evolving. And I think the way forward is, is to be consciously changing our brains, to have a different experience of reality. And sort of part of that, like this sort of embodied approach that I work with, about sort of bringing in the felt sense as information to use moving forward. You know, it changes the way that our brains work. It supports our brains to form connections, and it gives me a sense of accompaniment inside my brain. And I’m accompanying you in your experience. And we have empathy and we’re building relationships and that changes the way our brains function. So I think neuroscience is like space, it’s the new frontier of how do we grow… Like we take our bodies to the gym to grow our muscles; It’s like, what do we do to have healthy brains?

 Manda: Yes and the last few papers I read on this; and again, I probably create things with very specific questions in mind; but our amygdalas are getting bigger. We are feeling more threatened. Way back in 2014, which feels like aeons ago, middle of Obama’s second term, there was a study done where they looked at students who were professed Democrats versus students who are professed Republicans. The Republicans had bigger amygdalas and the Democrats had bigger cerebral caucuses and everybody went, ha ha ha. Proves Republicans don’t think as much. And all it meant was that the Democrats are used to explaining to people why they were wrong, and the Republicans are more used to feeling that their entire world view was under threat. And now everybody’s amygdalas are bigger. It certainly in anywhere that’s politically attuned to the way that the world is going.

 Sophie: Yeah a lot of research on that, isn’t there. About sort of political leadership and in what conditions you need to choose what kind of leadership. And this idea that if your in fear and threat then you need the certainty and rigidity to feel safe. And that is the deliberate tool that has been used. And even through COVID, we know that fear was intentionally used to create behaviour change and that has huge social impact, which I’m longing for someone to do a study on that. Of the fallout of using fear as a tool for behaviour management.

 Manda: But in the meantime we’ve got your concept. And you said using the felt sense as information. So can you just talk us into our own bodies? Of how do we do that? Because it would be nice to be able to shrink my amygdala, feel more creative, feel more engaged and be able to walk the talk that you are offering. But if that little bit in the middle of my brain’s got its bright red lights flashing and I’m constantly in sympathetic overdrive. So how do I do that?

 Sophie: Yes, so there’s wonderful material out there from the likes of Daniel Siegel and Stephen Porges about the sort of poly vagal theory that I’ve done some investigation into. And poly vagal theory I find fascinating. So this idea of the vagus nerve running through my body right from my genitals into my brainstem, and into the right hemisphere of my brain. And there’s something like only 10 to 20% of the information comes from my brain to my body, and like 80 to 90% is coming through my body up to my brain. So this idea that my organism is receiving and transmitting energy and information all of the time is an assumption of a thing that I work with. And so being able to tune in to what is the felt sense of this moment, is really important. And that also has a settling effect on the nervous system. It’s a way to regulate. We come out of sort of arousal of the nervous system and into a settled sort of sense of social belonging. When we give presence to the feelings that are emerging, when we kind of connect and feel and acknowledge, often it’s enough to settle things which are shifting, on its own.

 Manda: And how do you help people to do that? Because I remember talking to the group that were involved in one of the early transition towns, and they sat down at the beginning and went people like us burn out and the way not to is to alternate meetings. So one meeting is is the meeting about stuff, what are we going to do and how are we going to do it? And the next meeting is the meeting about how do we feel? And we start every meeting with a check in to how we feel. And I’ve tried that and met lots of resistance in the local area of people who are being asked how they feel is touchy feely and they’re not interested. How do you in the real world help people to get to a place where being asked how they feel doesn’t feel like it’s assaulting their worldview?

 Sophie: Yeah, it’s interesting and it’s different ways in for different people. Certainly the neuroscience angle helps in some areas for people to buy into that having validity. In lots of organisations I come across some people who yeah it’s a really, really uncomfortable space to be in, to talk about feelings. Or they have no sort of language or culture to do it and it’s been unsafe to do it, in fact, it’s like the stakes are pretty high. So there’s sort of different ways forward with that. And we can talk about needs. Needs or values can be a way through that and sort of slowly connecting sort of felt sense to what the needs are underneath in. The wonderful thing about needs is if I connect a feeling to a need, it’s not just kind of slingshotting around for someone else to take responsibility for or get blamed by. So if I say I’m feeling angry because I’m longing for acceptance, suddenly you’re not sort of nervous system primed for my anger. You’re compassionate because I’m longing for acceptance. So needs are a wonderful way to humanise feelings as well to. Yeah. And to sort of ground them and take responsibility for them.

 Manda: Brilliant. Do you have a way for people who who haven’t done ten days of Vipassana retreats and are not familiar with really checking in physically? Do you have a kind of succinct way for for people to do a how does my body feel check on a regular basis through the day, that you teach?

 Sophie: Yeah. I mean, people have so many different tools from that. I run a course called Beyond the Story of Separation. That’s the sort of foundation level, non-violent communication, but with a systemic lens is the way I describe it. There’s lots of people use NVC in different ways, and the way that I use it’s very much with a systemic lens. So understanding individual experiences, being part of a system and in that do various different sort of meditations or different ways of finding self connection. I mean, movement is a great one for people. Sound is another one. But any way of sort of connecting in to what is. What’s lifting in me? As we started our conversation with earlier, what’s the felt sense of this moment? How is meeting how I am right now as it is, without wanting to fix it or change it or make it different in any way. And so there’s a ton of different practices for people to do that and I’d suggest for people to find that own way. But what I do is just I think it’s an awareness discipline as well. It’s just being able to notice, okay, I’m triggered. Or okay, I’ve got some thinking that’s really not serving me. And I feel my feet on the floor and I think, Where am I feeling it in my body right now? And just spend a moment. Or breathing is another way. I’d say anything that gets into the body and out of the thinking, for me is helpful, because my brain will tie itself in knots. And so rather than trying to think my way out of it, just touch into the felt sense of the moment. And that in itself is hugely transformative for me.

 Manda: All righty. So we really have run out of time. Was there any last thing that you wanted to say that we absolutely haven’t touched on, that you feel we ought to for clarity and completeness, or do you think we just would open the door to a whole other podcast if we did that?

 Sophie: Yeah, I think there’s so much more; I could talk to you for weeks, Manda, but there’s nothing that’s at the forefront of my thinking now.

 Manda: All righty. Well, if you’re up for another podcast, we could do at least another hour if not a week; but we could condense things in. It’s been fantastic. So, Sophie Docker, thank you so much for the work that you’re doing in the world. And thank you for taking an hour out of your time to come and talk to Accidental Gods.

 Sophie: Yeah, thank you and thanks for the work that you’re doing in the world too. It’s been an absolute joy to talk with you.

 Manda: And that’s it for another week. If you want to engage with any of this, I have put the links to Restorative Engagement Forum and Open Edge. But for everybody else, if you haven’t the time or if it just doesn’t set your heart alight or other things set it alight more; still, if you can find ways to focus on feeling and what is your body feeling? What is your body telling you? What are your passions telling you? What’s happening in this moment on an emotional and a physiological and a physical level, that our brain often chooses to ignore? We think what ought to be happening rather than what is happening. And then we judge ourselves later for not noticing what was actually happening, and cutting out of that cycle. Learning to be in the moment, to live in the moment, to respond in the moment, to be kind to ourselves and empathic to others in the moment. Seems to me one of the keys of conscious evolution. So if you do nothing else for the next week. Please focus on how you feel. And where that arises from and what you might like to do about it. Where is your agency? What does it do to you and to the rest of the world? And let’s see where we can all get to.



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