The guiding principles of Growing Our Voice are courage, compassion and connection. The descriptions below should be read as “work in process” because growing is never finite. It is in the humility of not knowing that we deepen our awareness. This paradox guides our path of awakening, of growing our voice.
The modern definition of courage is “the ability to do something that frightens one.” However, the root “cor” comes from Latin meaning “heart” or “of the heart.” According to Brene Brown, a shame and vulnerability researcher, in its earliest form courage meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all of one’s heart.” This, Brown says, is living wholeheartedly. My work aims to support wholehearted living, the cultivation of a courageous heart. In other words, to grow into “one that is unafraid to open to the world, to care no matter what” (Jack Kornfield). This leads to the word encourage, which comes from the French “en” meaning in and “corage” meaning courage. When we encourage we are in courage.
Questions that guide this work are: How do we live a life of courage and encouragement? How can we support others in living a life of courage and encouragement?
“Compassion is a verb,” says Thich Nhat Hahn. It is an action; it is the turning toward suffering. We can think of compassion as an equation: empathy (feeling with another, to be in another’s shoes) + the impulse to alleviate this person’s suffering = compassion. This is the heart of Growing Our Voice. It takes courage to cultivate compassion for ourselves and for others. Compassion is a heart opening practice where we can access and grow our inner wisdom, strength and resilience.
An aim of my work is to support the turning of our inner practice outwardly where we cease “othering” and move toward “belonging.” We awaken our personal and collective agency, “that purposeful, embodied, heartfelt movement from deep within…We care for ourselves and others and don’t stop caring…we cease being a bystander to life” (Sharon Salzberg, Real Change).
Questions that guide this work are: How do we cultivate compassion, especially in the midst of challenge? How do we support others’ cultivation of compassion?
When we are courageously compassionate, we build deep connection within ourselves and with the world at large. We release the belief in our separation and begin to grow through our interdependence. As Sebene Selassie beautifully describes in her book You Belong: A Call for Connection, “[W]hen we feel belonging, we are able to meet people, situations, difficulties, joys…life with more kindness, generosity and ease.”
The work of Growing Our Voice aims to build and strengthen relationships from the inside out through the co-creation of community. Additionally, through experiencing co-creation, it is the intention that participants will bring this work into their homes, workplace and communities.
Questions that guide this work: What does connection look like in our lives and our communities? How do we build and deepen this connection?