Self-Trust In An Uncertain World
--Liam Chai
7 minute read
May 30, 2017


As I sit to write this blogpost with the help of a very good listener - an mp3 recording, I remember the examples of ladders like Audrey, Nipun and Trishna with their uncanny listening abilities and how blown away I've been by their follow-up emails or posts. This reminded me of a passage Zilong shared recently from Joanna Macy:

Joanna listened to me patiently and when I finished she put her fork down on the table decisively, looking straight at me with a hint of frustration, and said, “Yuka, you don’t have to be smarter than everybody. You don’t have to know all the answers. They already have their answers. What you have to do is to be loved by them.”

“Be loved? How?” I asked, puzzled.

“You are loved not because you are smart or whatever. People love you because they feel they can tell you the truth. That’s what you have to do when you facilitate The Work That Reconnects: create a space where people can speak their truth, and people will love you because of that. Understand?”

“Go and create a space for people to speak their truth.” These words have stayed with me since that night and became my marching orders.


On Saturday afternoon we had our second Youth Circle hosted in the chic living room of Izzy Annan. As we discussed the theme over whatsapp, she offered, "Let's make it a circle about youth who are struggling with how to cope in such a messed up world and unsure future, and want to change the world for good." And so the theme was born.

Held by the many ladders, invisible hands and pilgrims, we started decorating and preparing the space for the arrivals. With myself, Izzy and Zilong being clueless at how to make a centrepiece mandala look beautiful, we were rescued with the early arrival of Timalka who became our artistic director. Plus a few earlier pay-it-forward tags of salt candles, vegan pizzas and a Tesco's grocery delivery that set the precedent for a field of generosity, we were primed to go with eighteen of us sat round in a circle.

After meditating together we opened with two simple seed questions: "What are you bringing with you in this moment? What has brought you here today?"

Zilong mentioned tapping into invisible energy portals around the world as he begins phase two of his Eurasia bicycling pilgrimage. Dan was brought here to find a sense of mutual understanding with people who held similar values. Tasvi mentioned that her mother signed her up - and she was grateful that she did. Her brother Rishav also joined us, and he said, "I'm here because you don't always get an opportunity to be in an environment like this" to connect with yourself and share in this way.

James begun his share expressing frustration and impatience, "I don't know why I came here… I don't feel necessarily great, I feel like I was just auditing all the things I do, and they're all amazing things. But I'm like, do I need to do any of this stuff? Do I really need to keep going out there and connecting? I just don't necessarily feel I have the bandwidth to do that."

Sho expressed that the others had helped articulate why he too was here. They also helped highlight reasons that he didn't yet know but were now present in him too. Ewa asked, "Is the world getting better?" And she offered that she thought it was - coming to these circles she meets such incredible and inspiring people. The circles have also helped her to improve her meditation practice, and tap more into that invisible energy portal.

Izzy shared, "I suppose I've been coming off the self-improvement treadmill… and instead leaning towards self-knowledge, which is so hard to do because people don't give you instructions for that because you're not supposed to need instructions for self-knowledge!”

The deeply reflective Ed gave us this to consider, "The expectation is if you do what you're told you'll be sorted out and you'll have a good life. But that totally ignores... you!"

With the benefit of a lot of time together, Zilong sparked another round of the circle posing this question, "What questions come up for you when you reflect on self-trust? For me I ask, which self am I trusting? There are so many self's - and they don't always agree."

Christie recalled, "I'd like to share a short story that Nipun shared with us last time we were gathered in a youth circle like this. He said that there were two things you need to take care of, one is the ecology of the heart. Which means your spirit is like a garden, you've got to tend to it if you want it to grow. The second thing was that noble friends are the way... So those you surround yourself with are going to be fellow gardeners on your journey and I think when it comes to self-trust we've put ourselves in the best place for doing that today."

Reflecting on culture and certain societal expectations, Nehal said, “it is hard to stand with what you're aligned with... But I think it's also a matter of confidence… almost having that sense of belief within you that it will be OK. And if isn't, then you can learn from it. And use that as a positive experience to enrich your life.”

"Trust is proportional to the degree I can surrender." - Sheetal

Avery who had been a volunteer at Manav Sadhna and been touched by the Moved by Love retreats in the past offered, "So the idea of self-trust is being able to find that quiet space within yourself to listen to what you know is true versus what someone else is telling is true."

Sho, remembering moments of self-trust shares, "When I am self-trusting, it seems as though I'm right in the middle of a grand symphony, and every element is just right there. And I know it's right there, so I just move." And as we all dropped deeper into a collective self-trust, we were blessed with Flo’s beautiful music, a song titled 'I Am a Rock', that she played on her ukelele.

Continuing that flow Timalka said, “I feel like a person who tends to go with the flow, and if someone says there's this happening and that looks exciting i'll go and check it out and then from that I kind of gain something and then it gets stored in my data warehouse.”

"Self-trust is simply trusting the heart." - Dan

As bits of conflict and doubts come up, Tejal mentioned how just going with the flow is easier said than done. “I guess a part of trusting yourself is to just roll with it and not think too much about the outcome, and then accepting whatever the outcome may be… [but] I think sometimes we all have these voices in our head - it's distinguishing what's your voice as opposed to what is other people and recognising that”

"What if every decision you made was just what felt right?" What would it be like if every decision was made based on love?” were questions posed by Roshan. Echoing some of the sentiments around indecision and being conditioned by society, she shared how for whatever reason a decision was made, in the end it’s all somehow worked out. Even if a decision to take a job was influenced by your parents - you’re still alive and there were surely unexpected things that happened from that which you could learn from.

As the rich shares came to a close, we had to open some windows to get some air into what was now an extremely warm room. Zilong and I then shared excerpts from our journeys so far, which perhaps will require another blogpost sometime later. We then moved onto an activity in pairs, where one of us repeated variations of this sentence starter "I am afraid of…” and completed it, for two minutes while the other person simply listened. They then replied with, “I trust you to…” As we continued the activity, spontaneous hugs were exchanged and I felt a real deepening of the collective ground.

As we closed the circle, many of us stayed on to connect. With invisible hands doing more anonymous tagging we found ourselves with a feast of Ethiopian food that we all shared. I feel very grateful to have been part of this circle, with hopes for many more to come. Writing this post and re-listening to all the shares from that afternoon has been a real gift. To get a second chance to absorb some of the collective wisdom expressed that I missed is wonderful. My listening skills have a ways to go yet to match the likes of Audrey!


Posted by Liam Chai on May 30, 2017

9 Past Reflections