Theme Day: Inner Transformation and Sustainability


theme-day-itsBefore we start wrapping up the day, we want to thank you again for making the day as great as it was. It’s amazing to see how many people (we counted around 50) are interested in searching for alternative ways for a sustainable future. Your commitment and energy were very inspiring and motivating.

So many people I talked to on Saturday have come up with the idea of combining sustainability with inner processes a while ago. This reflects the vibe and spirit we have experienced in the last years. Unfortunately, many of the ideas are still locked behind closed doors.

We think Saturday was a great step to jointly bringing the topic forward and towards a more acknowledged possible solution. Let’s keep the conversation going.

So here is a summary of the day. If you have any remarks or comments, please feel free to let us know.

anna-nehlMorning Meditation, Anna Nehl

What was it about?

We started the day in mindfulness. After sharing our inner weather we did a short silent meditation to calm down. Then, Anna from Wake Up Berlin, a young group of mindfulness practitioners, read out a few excerpts from a book called “Love Letter to the Earth” written by the Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. After the reading, we did a pebble stone meditation in which each pebble represents a quality that we have inside of us: the freshness of a flower, the solidity of a mountain, the clarity of water and the freedom of space.

Anna was also the one who made us stay aware and conscious throughout the day with the help of the “gong”. By the way: the great food you had for lunch was also composed by Anna.

If the session could  be summarized in a quote, the quote would be:

“We can get so caught up in our plans, fears, agitations, and dreams that we aren’t living in our bodies anymore and we’re not in touch with our real mother, the Earth, either. […] Returning to our breathing brings body and mind back together and reminds us of the miracle of the present moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Further infos



boris-bornemannMeditation and Sustainability, Boris Bornemann, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

What was it about?

Boris started the day through introducing us to a common understanding of meditation. Meditation is “mental practices that foster familiarity with the mind and allow the cultivation of certain qualities.”  Boris introduced us to seven theses about meditation and sustainability.

Meditation supports sustainable behavior by…
1. the meditation-wellbeing-consumption route,
2. by increasing awareness,
3. by breaking habits,
4. by fostering interconnectedness,
5. by changing the affective-motivational state,
6. via reflexion and affirmation of values and goals,
7. by increasing self-discipline.

If the session could be summarized in a quote, the quote would be:

“Going out is really going in.” – John Muir

Further infos

Ericson, T., Kjonstad, B. G., & Barstad, A. (2014). Mindfulness and sustainability. Ecological Economics, 104, 73–79.
Kasser, T. (2002). The high price for materialism. (A. G. Services, Ed.) (1st ed.). USA.
Brown, K. W., & Kasser, T. (2005). Are Psychological and Ecological Well-being Compatible? The Role of Values, Mindfulness, and Lifestyle. Social Indicators Research, 74(2), 349–368.
Singer, T., & Ricard, M. (2015). Mitgefühl in der Wirtschaft. München: Albrecht Knaus Verlag.

Cultivating Inner Qualities for Sustainability, Matthias Pommerening, IASS

What was it about?

Matthias gave us insights about the AMA (A Mindset for the Anthropocene) project at the IASS, where the bridge between science and society is connected. He showed us the difference between the general top-down approach to sustainability and the bottom-up AMA approach. The AMA-perspective is the cultivation of virtues and qualities form different worldviews through contemplative practices. AMAs purpose is to understand, connect and inspire (to or through practices). Matthias himself has been at Auroville and gave us infos about the ecovillage and the local practices of Karmayoga. AMA is currently developing an online platform. So stay tuned.

If the session could be summarized in a quote, the quote would be:

“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin

Further infos

Witt, A. H. (2013). Worldviews and the transformation to sustainable societies. University Amsterdam.

sonja-geigerSustainable Consumption through mindfulness, Sonja Geiger, TU Berlin

What was it about?

Sonja talked about the effect of meditation on consumption. Her current project BiNKA analyses if awareness training fosters sustainable consumption. The goal of the project is to enable people to consume sustainably. Within the BiNKA project, they conceptualise and measure the connection of awareness and sustainable consumption. So far, they found out that awareness training influences materialistic values, the connection to nature, and the future perspective, though it hasn’t influenced the consumption.

If the session could  be summarized in a quote, the quote would be:

“Wise consumption is much more complicated than wise production” – Leo Tolstoy

Further infos
Stengl, O., & Band, E. (2011). Suffizienz. München: Oekom Verlag.
Fischer, D., Michelsen, G., Blättel-Mink, B., & Di Giulio, A. (2011). Nachhaltiger Konsum: Wie lässt sich Nachhaltigkeit im Konsum beurteilen? Wesen Und Wege Nachhaltigen Konsums. Ergebnisse Aus Dem Themenschwerpunkt “Vom Wissen Zum Handeln – Neue Wege Zum Nachhaltigen Konsum,” (August), 18

jon-darrall-rewPersonal, collective and social sustainability, Jon Darrall-Rew, Synergy Forum

What was it about?

Jon gave us an in-depth understanding of the Synergy Forum as an example of integrating inner and outer transformation. The reason why the inner and personal dimensions are important is because we are overwhelmed and dissociated, we lost our own way and because of the nature of how real change happens, which is the integral quadrants. He showed us the application of the quadrants in the current global crisis and that sustainable transformation happens when a shift occurs in all four quadrants. Jon also showed us the work of the Synergy Forum, which he co-founded. The goal of the Synergy Forum is to maximally equip individuals, projects and organisations to find their place in and contribute to global change. If you are interested in joining the Synergy Forum in Berlin, contact

If the session could  be summarized in a quote, the quote would be:

“Authentic spirituality is revolutionary. It does not legitimate the world, it breaks the world, it does not console the world, it shatters it. And it does not render the self content, it renders it undone.”  – Ken Wilber (note: Jon is not a Wilberian 🙂 ).

Further infos



Fotografin: Hanna Witte (

Reconnect with yourself, others and the environment, Cristina Arau, LOVE FOR LIFE

What was it about?

LOVE FOR LIFE brings change from within to the outside. Their work is focused on awareness increasing and political education in the global north to innovative development projects in the global south. After guiding us into a meditation, Cristina got us from thinking and talking in the morning into practicing. She guided us into a reflective process to find out what we love to do, where our passion lies and why we are here on this planet.

If the session could be summarized in a quote, the quote would be:

“Every great dream starts with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman

Further infos

sabina-abdulajevaMovement, body, creative expression and sustainability, Sabina Abdulajeva

What was it about?

Sabina showed us what personal sustainability might actually mean. In a metaphor (and a really pretty drawing) of a tree she demonstrated, how the roots of a tree mirror our body and how the juices of the tree equal our emotions. If our roots are not cared for, the whole tree is suffering. She made it clear, how important personal sustainability is. “I effect people around me. If I want to or not. And they effect me.” Finding out what we love to do is very important for personal sustainability. Embodying it was also part of workshop. During the workshop the question arose when to trust your intuition. A beautiful metaphor Sabina used for that was to imagine us as an onion, with layers of lies (the conditioning from family, friends, commercials etc.). We need to take those layers off, step by step to get to our intuitions. Learning to trust ourselves again was one of the main conclusions.

If the session could be summarized in a quote, the quote would be:

“Think for yourself. Trust your own intuition. Another’s mind isn’t walking your journey, you are.”  – Scottie Waves

Further infos

jon-darrall-rewPersonal, collective and social sustainability: An integrative approach to transformation, Jon Darrall-Rew, Synergy Forum

What was it about?

In the afternoon we got to know Jon’s work, which he uses worldwide with individuals, companies, and initiatives. During the workshop Jon helped us getting answers to some of the most important questions in life “What makes you come alive, what has taught you to question what you want to do? What does it feel like to let this conditioning pass? How can you express that in your body? How can this connect to the world?” Surprisingly to us, it was possible to get deep into the process within a very short time.

If the session could be summarized in a quote, the quote would be:

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all the way, and not starting.” – Buddha

Further infos

see the infos above…

manuela-bosch“What do I want to bring into the world?”, Manuela Bosch, Vanillaway

What was it about?

Manuela showed us how to integrate Yoga in the workplace. Based on her experience in Dragon Dreaming and Theory U she guided us into the question of how to create projects out of a deeper intention. Trough partnering up and mirroring each other we searched for what we really want to create. During the process the question got from a cognitive experience into an embodied experience, challenging many to leave our comfort zones.

If the session could be summarized in a quote, the quote would be:

“I never teach my pupils, I only provide the conditions in which they can learn” – Albert Einstein

Further infos

scott-boldenInner commons, Scott Bolden, Baumhaus

What was it about?

Scott started the workshop with a meditation. This time, the mediation consisted of making a group of strangers sing together beautifully within a matter of minutes. You can listen to a short extract from it here. After the introduction he talked very personally about what personal sustainability means to him and about inner commons.

If the session could be summarized in a quote, the quote would be:

“The earth has music for those who listen.” – George Santayana

Further infos


What’s next

We’ll keep you informed, but Save the Date for November 3rd.

Last but not least: Thanks again for a great day. 

Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, remarks, ideas, words…..

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