What’s the most priceless thing you have in the whole world? The one thing that if it were taken away you’d never be the same again?

Please reflect on this question for a moment. Pause. Close your eyes, and ponder.

One might think of a particular relationship with another, or maybe one’s health as the most precious gift. But behind our health and relationships lies our own awareness, our consciousness.  This, perhaps, is the most precious gift underpinning all others.  As what would great health and loving relationships be worth without the awareness of their presence?  We experience, relate, perceive, behold, value and commune with our own selves, others, nature and life through our awareness.

Why is this relevant?  Well… recently I’ve been asked the same question by a few different people and so I have taken note, as I sense the Kairotic opportune timeliness of the question: ‘What’s the biggest challenge facing the regenerative movement today?’

The biggest challenge is our own selves, our awareness and our capacity to see with new eyes and hear with fresh ears.   But what does this entail exactly? And is it indeed realistic to hope for a sizeable number of people to shift their consciousness amid so much clamour, confusion, polarization, fragmentation and fear these days?  This article aims to shed a little light on the matter.

‘The original sin is an inveterate habit of regarding the spiritual not as the rule but as the exception.’ William James

Today, our mainstream way of attending to life – our collective worldview – is narrow and constricted, so much so that it warps what’s seen and sensed. It corrupts our awareness of self, other and world bringing us out of tune with nature-Earth-cosmos.  It’s a carcinogenic consciousness caught up in an overactive ego-mind inured in an illusion of separation.

‘The greatest illusion in this world is the illusion of separation.’  Albert Einstein

Much of the time, when leading in business and beyond, we are engrossed in the voice-in-the-head and its narrowed ‘self-as-separate’ insecure judgement and fear.  This has the result of superficializing our experience of life and debasing our relationships with others and the world.  Yet this is not our true nature or natural state of awareness.

As I turn 52 years old today (yep – this is a mini-birthday blog : ) and reflect on the meaning-making moments in my life so far, I realize the revelatory out-of-body and near-death experiences, short-lived peak experiences and psychospiritual ruptures I’ve endured over the years, all import the same resounding message which I sense is important for these times we’re in now.

In many ways, the message is what’s been impelling my life-work over the last thirty years though various business leadership and advisory roles. Even if much of the time the message has remained partly unconscious like an archetypal rhizomatic root unfurling as an intuitive urge and urgency that’s brought forth something deep within to influence my normal waking consciousness at various turning points, metamorphic moments, and synchronicities. I sense this informing wisdom as nothing at all to do with ‘me’ (as in my ego-persona, personality, psyche or bodymind) more that my bodymind is like a radio-set, tuning fork or channel which picks up on and sometimes allows this wisdom to come through from a dimension beyond what the ego-mind can fathom.  I don’t view the ego-mind as the enemy to dispel but rather a gift to enlighten, a master-key that’s being crafted and chiselled by the intuitive hand rising up from the rhizomatic root deep inside nature-Earth-cosmos. I know that even putting words to this guiding hand is fraught with difficulties and misunderstandings and so I hesitate to share some words here that could be used to gesture toward this invisible hand: Universe, Source, Divine Grace, Tao, Sophia, Akasha or Nature’s Wisdom, but essentially ‘that which cannot be named’. I also know that deep in my psyche and soul, because of my own empirically-proven lived experiences (and from coaching, guiding, walking alongside many others’ own empirically-proven experiences) that this something which cannot be named is a very real and potent presence in our lives.  When we open into this presence it enriches our awareness beyond the narrowed self-as-separate ego-mind. Energy and wisdom pours in through a window in the soul.  As I’ve aged, I’ve found ways we can allow our selves to be more receptive and responsive to this subtle wisdom within life. Doing so, our worldview can shift from Mechanistic Materialism (self-as-separate/organization-as-machine) to Quantum Complexity (self-as-participatory/organization-as-living-system).

This shift from Mechanistic Materialism into Quantum Complexity is a rebirth, a remembering of an animistic worldview our ancestors lived by, in fact the vast majority of our human history lived with this deep sense of the life’s sacred wisdom.

The ego-mind self-as-separate projects on to the organization a view of it as a machine with isolated individual components that can be control-managed through top-down power dynamics for increased efficiency and effectiveness.  The deeper awareness of self-as-participatory knows this is an illusion that creates all sorts of confusion and ineffectiveness, that for the organization to truly thrive amid complexity it needs to be recognised as a complex relational emergent system that invites leaders to sense-respond to systemic flows, hidden connections and subtle energy flows, just as our bodyminds’ do.   As we go through a shift in our consciousness and worldview, we reconnect back into the rapture of reality which reactivates our individual and collective purposefulness, authenticity, wholeness and sense of meaning. To wake up to what it truly means to become Homo sapiens – ones who work with wisdom. We learn to flow as life flows rather than struggle and fight against it. Rather than our egos pushing up against life in an extractive exploitative transactional manner, we open our awareness – our minds, hearts and wills – into the majesty of reality and in doing so find our sovereign soul-power, our birth-right.

This process of shifting our awareness from self-as-separate/org-as-machine to self-as-participatory/org-as-living-system is not something to achieve, solutionize or fix. It’s a process of becoming. ‘The point of the journey is not to arrive. The point of the journey is the journey itself.’ I often share this phrase with my coaching clients, as it’s easy to seek to ‘achieve’ the destination, impatiently get on with the journey. Which then misses the whole point, and unwittingly invites the ego-mind back into the driving seat. The journey itself is not to be trampled over in search of the destination instead it’s the greatest voyage of our lifetimes, the process of becoming who we truly are and experiencing life as it really is.

‘The greatest voyage of our lifetimes is not in the seeking of new landscapes but in the seeing with new eyes.’ Marcel Proust

In my latest book NATURE WORKS – Activating Regenerative Leadership Consciousness, I explore this journey in detail, mapping out a three-part nine-staged journey of becoming which draws on timeless wisdom traditions across the East, West, North and South, and which I have tried and tested over many years of coaching adults through consciousness-shifting life-changing journeys. I call it the shift from Achiever to Regenerator.

I know one thing from all this journeying, what’s vital is to have an embodied experience of the interconnectedness of life, to feel and experience self-as-participatory and sense the organization-as-living-system rather than solely comprehending it in a head-based ‘systems thinking’ rational-analytic understanding of systems nested within systems.

I have found nature immersions to be a particularly powerful yet psychologically safe way of catalysing a reconnection back into the rapture of reality. Yet even nature immersions won’t help if they are one-off vacation-islands for us to hop-in and out of amid a world full of separateness. The journey is about gradually bringing this shift of awareness into our everyday living and leading which involves is a multi-year educational process of becoming that’s undertaken in the centre of one’s own being, and yet guides, coaches, teachers, courses, books, friends, immersions, retreats, peer groups and learning experiences can surely aid the journey. Outsource it at your peril. While the ‘altered state economy’ is burgeoning beyond $4trillion a year and includes sophisticated tools and techniques, be wary of commercial and institutional power-interests seeking to manufacture and manipulate mindsets. Only one’s own self truly knows one’s own truth beyond illusion, and finding your own sovereignty, rootedness, and soul-power if a vital part of this journey.

‘Understanding the illusion only comes after the understanding of reality, not before… Until we have the experience of reality, in all its stillness, we are still lost.’  Peter Kingsley

 The etymology of the word ‘education’ is ‘educere’ which for the ancient Greeks meant to bring forth what is within you, to allow one’s deeper psyche and soul to open into daily awareness so as to live into ones soul-destiny and serve life authentically beyond illusion.  How far today’s mainstream mechanistic schooling of our children, youth and adults has departed from this original meaning. Precious little of today’s educational processes honour a bringing forth of what is deep within. Often the exact opposite, a stuffing-in of achiever-orientated bits and bytes that exacerbate the voice-in-the-head ego-mind’s uprooting from soul and source.

‘If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.’  Jesus Christ

We are destroying ourselves and the world around us. The root cause is not carbon but our own awareness.  So, what to do?

Its all too easy to go into the ego-mind and formulate, fix and fiddle while applying the very level of consciousness to our well-intended solutions that creates the problems in the first place. Much of today’s CSR initiatives do just this.  It requires real courage to move in a different direction, to move out of the status quo mindset and dominant worldview of Mechanistic Materialism, and start to explore what it really means to work the way nature works.

‘The world’s problems stem from the gap between how people think and how nature works.’ Gregory Bateson

Nature works, yes it works, in at least two important ways:

Nature works because of 3.8bn years of tried-and-tested R&D. Life on Earth has adapted and evolved amid constant change over a very long period for scientific inquiry into what works.

Nature works because it/She opens our minds, hearts and wills beyond the ego self-as-separate and into the inherent wisdom running through life. Being in nature gives us an embodied remembering of the innate interconnectedness and sacredness of the magnificence of existence. This is both scientific and psychospiritual, with a host of scientific studies proving that being in nature aids our creativity, empathy, ability to embrace complexity, and find deeper meaning and purpose.

 “Tumble with the rock which falls from the mountain.

Seek light and rejoice with the rosebud about to open;

Be restless with the dog that barks in the night;

Labor with the parsimonious ant;

Gather honey with the bee;

Expand in space with the ripening fruit;

Run with the greyhound.”  

R.A. Schwaller do Lubicz

True life-affirming regenerative education works at all levels of self, team, organization, community, society and civilization.  Not in some blanket globalized unitive way that normalizes, rationalizes and constrains the creative emergent potential of the individual, team, organization or community. No – nature doesn’t do blanket unitive control mechanisms for good reason, even if some intelligentsia powers-that-be might like to instil a one-size-fits-all ethical morality upon diverse peoples, all that does is move us closer to the very totalitarianism that the control-manage ego-mind seeks with its innate insecurity of life’s ever-changing wilfulness. Nor is the opposite of totalitarian tendencies any better – revolutionary anarchy – with no rules or limits and a reactivity against any constraining force.  Life has plenty of limits and constraints we’d do well to work within. These natural limits (which are both physical and metaphysical in nature) do not constrict our process of becoming, quite the contrary, they act as the very crucibles for our creative potential to unfold. Life without edges, powers and principles would become just as dull as the totalitarian amorphous oneness some thinkers think will save us. The popular ‘me to we’ shift is actually a step before the shift into regenerator, which is full-bodied psychospiritual realisation that life is calling forth our me-and-we self-as-participatory far beyond collectivism, individualism or for that matter any ‘ism’ which is just another doorway for the ego-mind to slip back into the driving seat.  As the adult developmental psychologist Clare Graves noticed in his painstaking research on adults going through the awareness shift in to ‘Tier Two’ (Teal) meaning-making (which I am call the Achiever to Regenerator self-as-separate/org-as-machine to self-as-participatory/org-as-living system) the way that the individual ‘me’ and the collective ‘we’ interrelate subtly shifts and the me-we dynamic up-stretches to a whole new level, and even the concepts of ‘me’ and ‘we’ start to permeate and transmute.

‘The [Achiever to Regenerator] shift is not merely a transition to a new level of existence, but the start of a new movement in the symphony of human identity.’ Clare Graves.

As we open our worldview beyond Mechanistic Materialism into Quantum Complexity, the way we perceive the world shifts, and what I call the Three Lenses start to integrate.

The way the ego ‘I’ interrelates with the inner-outer nature of the world subtly shifts. The very categories and principles of knowing start to morph, deepen and transform.  What we thought we knew about self, success, value, wealth, happiness, purpose, truth and wisdom lose their moorings as we are taken deeper into life’s oceanic interconnectedness. As our experience of self-and-system moves into a new worldview our moorings find a new anchorage in a deeper dimension, a new centre of gravity which deepens our access to wisdom and our true nature far beyond the surface waves of the ego-mind.  This is a whole new way of knowing (epistemology) and of being-and-becoming (ontology). It involves a profound death-rebirth unlearning-relearning disintegrating-reintegrating process.

Today, the majority of leaders across modern capitalist-consumerist society are caught up in a state of ‘arrested development’ inured in the prison of the ego-mind. The all-consuming cacophony of the Lens 1 voice-in-the-head prevents the deeper nature of Lens 2 and the Field/Source of Lens 3 to pervade our daily awareness, and so we show-up with a fragment of who we truly are, suffering from a sclerosis of the soul, starved from our own root in reality.

We seek to fix the world out there, not realising the prison is in here.  Our awareness is warped into a dominant left-hemispheric, overly yang, outer-achieving, hyper-masculine self-as-separate-from-and-in-competition-with-the world.  Fear rules in the prison of our own minds. Yet we hold the master-key at the centre of the labyrinth within our own selves, and this offers us a way out of the prison if we so choose.  Without this master-key our activities, no matter how well-intended or sustainability-minded, will not be in harmony with life and will likely exacerbate further systemic imbalances.

The task of our time is to reignite our adult developmental self-educatory process by welcoming in the very domains of reality that Mechanistic Materialism has tried to suppress and exclude – the sense of the sacred, soul and spirit. Then we start to undo the original sin and return home, back to our true nature and begin to co-create life-affirming futures for the Regeneration Revolution.

In crossing the threshold from Mechanistic Materialism to Quantum Complexity, we activate our super-nature and our bodymind coherence enhances with significant physiological and psychological benefits.

Physiologically: the three main bodymind centres (head, heart and gut) cohere more readily and work in-synch more often, aiding our capacity to not merely ‘cope amid complexity’ but truly ‘thrive amid complexity’. 

Psychologically: the mind, heart and will open, the ego permeates and maturates, and our capacity to become sensitive receptors and systemic enablers up-stretches beyond the achiever control-manager. Our natural human capacity to sense systemic relational flows, hidden ordering forces, constellating patterns, harmonic resonances and archetypal forces all comes on-stream, and with it we are able to hold-space for self-and-system to shift through ‘tension transmutation’ rather than mere ‘conflict resolution’ (see this article here for more on the shift from conflict resolution to tension transmutation).

With this bodymind coherence, our ability to sense the system holistically rather than reductively greatly enhances.  This shift is vital for the unfolding Regeneration Revolution. Otherwise Mechanistic Materialism’s ego-mind will keep rearing its head and infiltrating our regenerative endeavours, whether it be regen agriculture, economics, medicine, business, leadership or living. If we are not careful our awareness all-too-easily superficializes into Mechanistic Materialism and vital energy, resources, creativity and investment gets siphoned-off into degenerative activities dressed up as regenerative. Today’s CSR and sustainable business initiatives are, alas, all-too-often infiltrated by Mechanistic Materialism slowing down the Regenerative Revolution and taking us further away from life-affirming futures.  To be very clear here, I am a supporter of sustainability in business and the significant transformations the sustainability movement and its vast array of initiatives, projects and ventures has achieved. I take my hat off to those making change happen inside the status quo system. I too was Global Sustainability Director for a large global organization for many years and know all-too-well how hard the challenge is in bringing sustainability to the business table.   But we are in revolutionary times and we now need more than status quo tweaks of the wheel that leave existing business models largely unchecked and at best just delay the inevitable car-crash ahead, and sometimes unwittingly create further degeneration under the guise of doing good.  All I wish to highlight here is the importance of becoming aware of the level of consciousness and worldview from which we are leading and implementing projects that have systemic consequences.  Over the last decade I have coached many dozens of senior sustainability leaders whether Sustainability Directors, Impact Investors or Sustainability consultants, and have heard of Impact and CSR investments that sometimes feel like they are caught up in Mechanistic Materialism. Let’s explore an example to help illustrate this point:

Impact investment, along with local and central government incentives and corporate donations, for a ‘green’ renewable energy project that involves clearing acres of natural ecosystems including a native woodland to enable the size needed to justify the infrastructure-scale return-on-investment for a solar large farm. When viewing the project with a narrowed mechanistic awareness much is deemphasised so the overall project actually turns out to be holistically degenerative while players involved gain financial and brand benefits for the project. Not only will the natural carbon cycle be effected, but also the water and nutrients and subtle energy cycles of nature, along with all the living-systems entwined and interrelated with the bioregion. If the project has a reputable well-thought-through sustainability imperative then it is likely to involve a number of detailed surveys including robust biodiversity studies. (And it’s heartening to note how these studies have become increasingly systemic in their approach over recent years). And yet often even these studies are inured in the worldview of Mechanistic Materialism and so fail to become aware of the full impact such a large-scale project has on the deeper way nature works.  Mapping out ecosystem services and biodiversity offsets often applies mainstream rationalistic-reductive science – the very mechanistic science that creates our problems in the first place – rather than a holistic science that applies a deeper awareness of Quantum Complexity.  Here I offer insights from a geological scientist trained at Cambridge and Chicago universities, Alick Batholomew, with a holistic-regenerative comprehension (alas still in the minority today, but there are certainly a lot more scientists like Alick these days than there were just fifteen years ago when I was Global Sustainability Director):

‘In areas of natural woodland where a positive temperature gradient normally prevails, about 85% of rainfall is retained, 15% by the vegetation and humus and about 70% sinking to the groundwater aquifer and underground stream recharging to pick up the negative [yin] energy charge of the Earth. In a natural woodland, the mature trees with deep roots bring up this negatively charged water, along with the vital minerals and trace elements from the deeper soils. Trees act as bio-condensers, harmonizing the positive [yang] energy from the Sun with the negative [yin] energy of the Earth.  As a result, the evapo-transpiration from the leaves of the trees is a balanced creative energy.  The woodland, as a more dynamic living system creates transpiration that carries the subtle energy (non-material) imprint of all the resonances of the complex biosystem, including the subterranean elements. Rainfall generated from the woodland carries this beneficial influence…Without woodland cover, the ground surface overheats, causing a negative temperature gradient in the soil. This means that the cooler rain cannot penetrate into the warmer ground, and fast surface run off in areas of heavy rainfall causes flooding [along with nutrient leaching and soil erosion].’

Add to this the compounded problem of large arrays of black solar-panels creating hot areas in the summer and cold areas in the winter, forming unnaturally concentrated thermals which further disrupt the weather and nutrient cycles. Plus, large-scale blocking of solar yang energy into the yin Earth affecting the creative potential of underground water flows that other life depends upon. Much of what Alick shares here is an important insight into how nature works and yet falls outside what most Mechanistic Materialistic sustainability studies would include as in-scope due to the status quo’s narrowed reductive awareness.  Clearing native woodland to erect a large solar farm (or indeed planning a large monocrop of nonnative fast-growing trees for carbon credits) while attracting green investment, incentives and follow-on brand enhancement, customer loyalty, advertising, etc. is a systemic blunder that can be overcome once we meaningfully engage in the shift toward Quantum Complexity with its embodied sense of life’s interconnectedness.

Education, inquiry, prototyping and journeying that honour the developmental, emergent and evolutionary nature of life aid the bringing forth of true nature within ourselves, our living-organizations and our wider socioeconomic systems.

This is why I have written my latest book NATURE WORKS which explores – indeed activates – regenerative leadership consciousness so we don’t merely ‘cope’ but ‘thrive’ amid increasing complexity by learning to flow as life flows.

NATURE WORKS is a way of leading and living; a way of perceiving and participating within Nature’s Wisdom, so that we can flow as life flows. I wrote this book to help initiate a deeper inquiry into what it means to become more fully human amid this rising technospheric consumerisation and fragmentation of life.  These increasingly volatile times actually hold the very alchemic energy that might just wake-up our humanity in time to realize what it truly means to be human in this more-than-human world of ours. NATURE WORKS conveys ways for alchemizing yin-yang tensions within and throughout everyday life so that we may enter the Mystery of this creative regenerative act we call Life.

NATURE WORKS reviews:

‘This is a fascinating read which will challenge your approach to life and the way you consider every action. I loved reading this because it didn’t just throw out a statement or idea and expect you to merely react. It guides you through each thought, consistently delving deeper… This isn’t a light read, but then I wasn’t looking for that, I wanted my perceptions to be challenged and to expand my mind. This delivered on that front and I cannot recommend this enough. It will change how you look at life.’

‘This book will open your mind and heart and transform the way you live and lead. Giles is a wonderful writer with an ability to weave scientific, spiritual, natural and practical threads into compelling narratives that illuminate a pathway towards the harmonious relationship between humanity and nature that we so urgently need. Underpinned by his decades of real-world experience as a regenerative leadership coach and consultant, this book combines cutting-edge scientific findings with ancient wisdom to show us a path forward that is more integrated, wise and healthy for all the planets creatures and systems. Highly recommended!’

‘The worldview shift described in “Nature Works” invites us all to embark on a profound, personal, and collective transformation, recognising that healing from separateness to interconnectedness is crucial on our pathway. “Nature Works” is not just a book but an experience that will have you thinking, feeling, and most likely challenged. Certainly curious. It is part philosophy, business, and regenerative frameworks and touches the edges of a psycho-spiritual journey. It is a must-read for those committed to leading in harmony with nature.’

‘This is so much more than a book! Its wisdom in text, conveying a richness of life beyond words. Truly profound – in fact, life-changing. Read it!’

NATURE WORKS is now available direct from the publisher here https://www.wordzworth.com/sales/authorbooks?ISBN=9781783243112

And from Amazon here  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nature-Works-Activating-Regenerative-Consciousness/dp/1783243112   as well as other book providers and all good book shops.

For more on coaching with Giles, visit his website here.

You can also sign up to his newsletter here.

There is a special one-day immersion with Giles at Springwood Farm on 19th September 2024, see here for more details.

Feedback from a recent immersion with Giles:

‘The immersion at Springwood with Giles was very powerful, thought-provoking, energising and soul-touching. I’m still strongly feeling the ripples from our time, many days after, and have already started some conversations which could be life-changing as a result.  Thank you Giles! Highly recommended!’   Jules O’Donnell, Founder – talking CAT consulting

If you are interested in attending a one-day immersion with Giles near London on 19th September, you can contact him herehttps://gileshutchins.com/contact/ 

“I now see not with the eyes, but by the operation of spiritual energy in the powers.

I am in heaven, in earth, in water, in the air; I am in living creatures and plants;

I am in the womb, before the womb, after the womb.

I am present everywhere.”   – Hermes Trismegistus

“Welcome to the Regeneration Revolution. It’s time for humanity’s upgrade— enhanced creativity, embodied empathy, increased resilience, and improved agility. We have at the ready all we need to shift our mindset to one which is more future-fit for ourselves, for those around us, and for the organizations we serve.” – Giles Hutchins, Nature Works

You can join the LinkedIn Group Leadership Immersions here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13767578/