One way of looking at personal and professional development is as a process in which our sense of our identity - that part of our experience which we consider to be a part of us rather than "out there" - expands. This process is described in one of Ken Wilber's earlier books No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth. For example, as a young baby I first realise that I have a physical body (that these things that I have seen waving around in front of my face are actually parts of me!); then that I am also an emotional being (as I realise that that my feelings are not other than me but are a part of me); and then that I am a rational, conceptual being.
At this point there is a shift: what now becomes important to me now is who I am as a social being and how I fit with my roles, my group, my country, my people. My identity and my sense of who I am are now formed not just by my sense of myself but also by my relationships with my group.
The next shift in identification is to a global or world centred stance. At this stage I want to know what is right and fair, not just for me and my people, but for all peoples. It is one more step from here to experiencing my central identity, not just with all human beings, but with all living things. This is the domain of Ecopsychology.
Ecopsychology is thus an integration of psychology and ecology: indeed it says that we have a problem if we artificially separate the two. We cannot be psychologically healthy without being surrounded by a healthy environment and having a healthy relationship with that environment.
This is important from a mentoring perspective because it implies that we need to work not just with the individual but with the systems of which they are a part. This is an idea which will be familiar to family therapists who work with the family system as a whole. In Ecopsychology the principle is extended much further to include the wider social, technological, political and environmental systems of which we are a part.
An impressive example of Ecopsychology in action is Green and Away and its unique conference centre. Originally established to provide inspiring events for organisations that campaign for social and environmental change, Green and Away is now expanding its activities to work with other organisations as well.
The conference centre is built around a traditional village green where all activities take place, and is designed to provide a very definite atmosphere of close community. What organisations are finding is that this very special sense of community can enable a quality of decision making and team building not possible elsewhere.
So, if you want to run an event with a difference next summer you might want to book the Green and Away outdoor conference site in the Worcestershire countryside. Purpose built and operating during July and August, it offers organisations the opportunity to experience themselves in a different and profound way. It would particularly suite organisations whose corporate purpose or mission involves having a positive impact on the wider social and environmental systems of which they are a part. For further information visit the Green and Away website.