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Coming Back to Life


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Table of Contents

Message from Dalai Lama
Foreword by Matthew Fox
Preface by Joanna Macy
Preface by Molly Young Brown

Chapter 1: To Choose Life

We Can Still Opt for a Life-Sustaining World Choosing Our Story
1. Business As Usual
2. The Great Unraveling
3. The Great Turning
The Great Turning
1. Holding Actions in Defense of Life
2. Transforming the Foundations of Our Common Life
3. Shift in Perception and Values

Chapter 2: The Greatest Danger - The Deadening of Heart and Mind

What is Pain for the World?
What Deadens Heart and Mind?
Fear of Pain
Fear of Despair
Other Spiritual Traps
Fear of Not Fitting In
Distrust of Our Own Intelligence
Fear of Guilt
Fear of Distressing Loved Ones
View of Self as Separate
Hijacked Attention
Fear of Powerlessness
Fear of Knowing - and Speaking
Mass Media
Job and Time Pressures
Social Violence
The Cost of Blocking Our Pain for the World
Impeded Cognitive Functioning Impeded Access to the Unconscious
Impeded Instinct for Self-Preservation
Impeded Eros
Impeded Empathy
Impeded Imagination
Impeded Feedback
Coming Back to Life

Chapter 3: The Basic Miracle - Our True Nature and Power

Living Systems Theory
How Life Self-Organizes
Water, Fire and Web
Gaia Theory
Deep Ecology
Beyond Anthropocentrism
The Ecological Self
Asking Deeper Questions
Ancient Spiritual Teachings
Abrahamic Religions
Asian Traditions
Indigenous Spirituality
The Miracle of Mind
Self as Choice Maker
Positive Disintegration
We Are the World
The Nature of Our Power
Power Over
Power With
Power Over Blocks Feedback
The Power of Disclosure
Synergy and Grace

Chapter 4: What Is The Work That Reconnects?

History of the Work
Aims of the Work
Basic Assumptions of the Work
The Spiral of the Work
The Shambhala Prophecy
The Work That Reconnects in Corporate Settings

Chapter 5: Guiding The Work That Reconnects

The Value of Working in Groups Tasks of the Facilitator
Foundations of Good Facilitation
Capacities of an Excellent Guide
Engaging Full Participation
Working With Strong Emotions
Guidelines for Conducting Rituals
Workshop Setting and Arrangements
Opening The Workshop
Closing The Workshop
Ongoing Support for the Guide

Chapter 6: Coming From Gratitude

Gratitude: Teaching Points
Becoming Present through Breath, Movement,Sound and Silence
Introductions with Gratitude
Open Sentences
Open Sentences on Gratitude
Gratitude Rounds
Mirror Walk
Open Sentences on the Great Turning
The Wheel of the Great Turning
The Elm Dance
The Presence of Gratitude Throughout the Work

Chapter 7: Honoring Our Pain For The World

Our Inner Responses to Suffering and Destruction Practices
Small Groups on the Great Unraveling
Open Sentences on Honoring Our Pain
Breathing Through
The Milling
Reporting to Chief Seattle
The Bestiary
We Have Forgotten Who We Are
"I Don't Care"
Cairn of Mourning
Truth Mandala
Despair Ritual
Bowl of Tears
Spontaneous Writing
Imaging with Colors and Clay

Chapter 8: Seeing With New Eyes

Brain Food
Key Teaching Points
Advice for Conveying These Concepts
The Systems Game
Riddle of the Commons Game
When I Made a Difference
Widening Circles
The Cradling
Who Are You?
Dance to Dismember the Ego
Bodhisattva Check-In
Council of All Beings

Chapter 9: Deep Time - Reconnecting with Past and Future Generations

To Reinhabit Time
Invoking the Beings of the Three Times
Open Sentences on Time
The Evolutionary Gifts of the Animals
Harvesting the Gifts of the Ancestors
Audio Recording to the Future
Letter from the Future
The Seventh Generation
Field Work on the Great Turning
The Storytellers Convention

Chapter 10: Going Forth

Discoveries Made So Far in the Spiral
Communicating Our Concerns and Hopes
Life Map
Imaging Our Power
The Sword in the Stone
Callings and Resources
Consultation Groups
The Clearness Committee
Dialoging with Mara to Strengthen Our Resolve
Bowing to Our Adversaries
Creating Study/Action Groups
The Four Abodes
Five Vows
Circle of Blessings
Two Poems for the Road Ahead

Chapter 11: The Work That Reconnects with Children and Teens

What Do Children Know and Feel?
The Effects of Silence
Suggestions for Overcoming the Fear and the Silence
Using the Work That Reconnects
Generation Waking Up
Practices for Children and Teens
Mothers and Daughters Follow the Spiral
Talking Circle
The Human Camera
Honoring Our Pain for the World
Open Sentences
Milling with Open Sentences
Two Stories of the Truth Mandala with Children
Boom Chicka Boom with Feelings
Seeing with New Eyes
The Web of Life
Our Life As Gaia
The Robot Game
The Council of All Beings in a School Setting
Going Forth
Open Sentences for Going Forth
Starfish Story and Ritual
The Galactic Council
Planning Actions

Chapter 12: Learning with Communities of Color

Part One by Joanna Macy
Getting Started
Honoring Our Ancestors
The Immensity of the Pain
How the Pain of People of Color is Pathologized
Seeing the Industrial Growth Society with New Eyes
Time for Deep Cultural Awakening
Part Two by Patricia St. Onge
Walking Toward the Work That Reconnects
Deep Culture as a Lens
Weaving the Threads Together
Part Three by Adelaja Simon, Adrian Villasenor Galarza and Andres Thomas Conteris.
Part Four: Sharing the Work That Reconnects with First Nationsby Andrea Avila

Chapter 13: Meditations for the Great Turning

The Web of Life
Gaia Meditation
Death Meditation
Breathing Through
The Great Ball of Merit
The Four Abodes
Two Litanies Appendix A: Chief Seattle's Message
Appendix B: The Bestiary by Joanna Macy
Appendix C: Ethics and Declarations of Rights
Appendix D: Bodywork and Movement and Using the Spiral in Writing Workshops
About the Authors

Promotional Information

  • Print Run: 10,000
  • Co-op Available
  • Print review campaign: Shambala Sun, Sojourners, The Progressive, Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Buddhadarma.
  • General ebook marketing plans: Ebook will be available at the same time as print publication to maximize sales. Ebook ISBN will be included on all press materials, author and publisher websites, and whenever print ISBN is listed. Publisher and author will be promoting both the ebook and the paperback book through social media.
  • Excerpts in: Parabola, Tricycle, Light of Consciousness, E Magazine, ACTivist Magazine, Activism Today.
  • Promotion through the authorss websites: and, and through each author's workshops.
  • Promotion through social media including New Society Publishers' and the authors' Facebook, Twitter, websites and blogs.
  • Galley available on Edelweiss

About the Author

Joanna Macy is a scholar, eco-philosopher, teacher and activist who has developed an international following in over 30 years as a speaker and workshop leader on Buddhist philosophy and the deep ecology movement. She is the author of 8 books including the original Coming Back to Life and Widening Circles, and she has produced a 3-DVD set entitled The Work that Reconnects. Molly Young Brown has been a trainer, workshop leader and consultant for many years. The author of three previous books on spirituality and healing the environment, including Growing Whole: Self-Realization on an Endangered Planet, she teaches at the Graduate School of Holistic Studies at John F. Kennedy University, and is based in the San Francisco Bay area.

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