Ideas and Influences in Joy Blossom
A lot of ideas and experiences have influenced and formed my (the founder’s) views over the years and I would like to name and pay tribute to the most influential ones here and thank the sources for bringing their insight, wisdom and light into the world and making my, as well as so many others’ lives so much better. They are mentioned here mainly in the form of books in case others would like to make use of the resources themselves.
Life As Magic
My life as a child was – at least as far as books were concerned – probably always quite magical. Whether it was Astrid Lindgren’s Ronja, Michael Ende’s Momo, Fritz Mühlhäuser’s Great Tiger and Christian or Hermann Hesse’s Demian and Siddhartha, all brought an idea of a world much bigger and with different values than mainstream culture. These readings also exposed me to animals who were intelligent and could speak, such as Black Beauty and others, which made me a passionate advocate for animals and the environment. One of the influences that had the deepest effects were readings, both fictional and biographical, of various Native Americans and their tribes, such as Buffalo Child Long Spear or works by Kaethe Recheis.
Their intimate relationship to nature as living beings instilled me with a deep respect and longing to find a deeper relationship with the natural world. All of it contributed to my experience of the world as deep, mysterious, intelligent, infinitely beautiful and deeply interconnected. And it fuelled my wish to better understand the meaning of life and our role in it as human beings.
Impermanence of Thoughts and Emotions
In my search to understand how humans work, how they can be happy and how to better live in the world Buddhist philosophy opened up new vistas. The Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche showed me a new world that taught the ephemeral nature of thoughts and emotions and balancing them with open awareness and deep loving kindness and compassion for all life.
Other books and films such as Seven Years In Tibet, Kundun or Living Buddha, Freedom in Exile, The Art of Happiness, How to Practice, The Book of Joy, Start Where you Are, Peace is Every Step and Radical Compassion deepened my understanding of some of the underlying principles and ideas such as the subjectiveness of reality, the peaceful nature of the mind along with a deep belief in love, compassion and understanding as necessary for a good and happy life.
All these early understandings continued and continue to be expanded and deepened by many great and well-known teachers through courses, retreats and talks such as with Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Pema Chödrön, Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama.
The World as Energy
Shortly after my early encounter with Buddhism, my first retreats with Mantak Chia introduced me to the idea that everything is energy and that by working with our energy we can gain a deeper understanding of life and reality. Emotions, too, are ultimately energy and that by guiding energy to flow in their natural ways, we can transform unhealthy tendencies into healthy minds and bodies. These experiences were further deepened by more Taoist retreats as well as books such as Opening the Dragon Gate and Chronicles of Tao, in which nature is often the teacher to understanding the different ways in which energy flows and animals are emulated for their wisdom in using it very skilfully.
We Are What We Think
Wanting to go deeper into how the mind works, I turned to Milton Erikson, but also to Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who modelled much of what they taught in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) on Erikson, marvelling at all the mind is capable of. Not satisfied with psychology’s focus on pathology at the time, I turned to more experiential and self-growth-oriented approaches such as found in Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie and Marianne Williamson’s work. All of them – to me – taught something about how to work with our heart and mind to break open our patterns and help us move beyond them in a conscious, thought and feeling-based manner. At the same time, work such as the film What the Bleep Do We Know and Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself started to show the scientific realities underlying these ideas and to build a path and understanding for me to connect this “spiritual” world with “normal reality”.
The Science Behind Our Thinking
It was some years later that the findings from Positive Psychology started to show what many wisdom traditions had said all along: Our thoughts and emotions influence our experience of reality and our overall sense of well-being. It gave words and scientific proof for much of what I had felt for a long time. To get a better understanding of this research-based approach, I dove into the research behind Positive Psychology, reading Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness, Learned Optimism and Flourish, Sonja Lybomyrski’s The How of Happiness, Dacher Keltner’s Born to Be Good, Barbara Frederickson’s Positivity, Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, Ecoliterate and Altered Traits, Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, Rick Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness and Neurodharma, the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman’s Emotional Awareness and many others, attending and completing conferences, courses and certifications and training to be a coach.
Nature as Kin
Since much of these explorations were still very much centred on humans, it was always Indigenous Wisdom from all around the world that brought the missing piece of a lived experience with nature. Here, humans were part of nature and the younger, less wise off-spring at that, not the pinnacle of evolution. The accounts and knowledge from biographies and autobiographies of Native Americans such as Bear Heart, Black Elk, John Lame Deer and Archie Lame Dear helped me deepen my own relationship with nature. This understanding was strengthened and deepened through popular books such as The Hidden Life of Trees as well as the marrying of science with Indigenous Knowing in Braiding Sweetgrass and the perspective taken in Sacred Instructions as well as through various seminars, lectures and personal encounters. I was and am deeply in awe of their deep connection with nature, both physical and spiritual, and see it as a healthier and more happiness-inducing way of being in the world. It led me to search for my own ways of experiencing and relating to trees and forests, land and waterways and animals of all kinds. And to look also for clues in my own cultural heritage that could help me come into deeper contact with the sacred nature of all that is.
We Create the Climate We Live in
The whole journey ultimately came together in the wish to contribute more actively toward a better world and brought me full-circle to the belief that this can only be done if humans live in harmony with nature, which includes living in harmony with ourselves, as we are a part nature and everything is interconnected.
A trip to Baja California gave me the opportunity to reconnect with nature on a deeper, more visceral level than I had for a long time. It was there, that I started to understand the earth’s communication on a different level, that I started to become aware of the communication of animals with me in ways I had not before. It coincided with a deep realisation of our need to change our capitalist ways of being in the world and the profound wish to preserve and heal our planet. Books that helped me increase my knowledge and conceptualise these feelings in more detail are The Future We Choose and Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet show.
A few months later, Joy Blossom was conceived and born to contribute to a world in which we learn to live with the understanding that we are all connected with everything else, so we can create a world in which we can all thrive together.
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