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This content was posted on  20 Apr 20  by   Presencing Institute  on  Medium
Reflections on the Ongoing GAIA Journey

by Helio Borges

GAIA Journey Rachel Hentsch Spadafora

“The GAIA journey really is about deepening our connection to ourselves, to each other, and to the place we are living in — our mother Earth.”

Otto Scharmer


In Greek mythology, GAIA means mother earth. It is also an acronym for Global Activation of Intention and Action, which is an initiative co-led by Otto Scharmer and the Presencing Institute.

According to Otto Scharmer, “GAIA is an impromptu global infrastructure for sensemaking, for leaning into our current moment of disruption and letting this moment move us toward civilizational renewal.”

Covid-19, like other moments of societal rupture, essentially confronts each of us with a choice:

  1. to freeze, turn away from others, only care for ourselves, or
  2. to turn toward others to support and comfort those who need help.

The choice between acting from the ego or acting from ecosystem awareness is one that we face every day, every hour, every moment. The more the world sinks into chaos, desperation, and confusion, the greater our responsibility is to radiate presence and compassion.

GAIA offers a journey for change-makers, leaders, and citizens from all sectors, systems, and cultures — a journey that will culminate in a virtual, multi-local and multi-regional Global Forum in July.

GAIA’s infrastructure invites you to join with your whole Self. It is designed to be accessible to all, whether you join by yourself from home, or invite friends and fellow change-makers from your local organization or community to virtually join you!

Practically anyone can participate in the GAIA Journey; it is a free program that is offered in four languages: English, Spanish, German, and Portuguese.

The Launch of the GAIA Journey

Collage of social media posts

The launch of the GAIA Journey took place on Friday, March 27th, 2020. According to Rachel Hentsch, the Communications Lead at the Presencing Institute (PI), these were the day’s numbers:

  • over 5000 people convened in five zoom sessions throughout the day;
  • three sessions were offered in English, one in Spanish, and one in Portuguese;
  • a tech ops team of 25 people helped hold the space by handling a seamless integration of four zoom rooms into one single virtual space;
  • a global team of 50 people from across the world worked together to make this happen by springing into action, co-designing the sessions in less than ten days, and helping to deliver this 14-week journey.

Rachel explains the work that the PI team is doing in the GAIA Journey:

“This is the work we have been called to do. This is the moment we have been preparing for. All of us.”

She also quotes Otto Scharmer: “ What we are trying to do here really is to bring a state of listening together more deeply and more intentionally into this moment. To pay attention to what is emerging to our own experience, both at the individual level, but also at the collective level.”

u.lab1X, u.lab2X, GAIA. Three + programs-One team

GAIA Live!

When I entered the Zoom room of GAIA’s opening English language session, I saw Antonio Moya-Latorre playing a Scherzo on the piano. Then, Antoinette Klatzky opened the session by sharing the impressive numbers of GAIA participants. Otto Scharmer followed her.

The GAIA numbers

Five Actions

Otto Scharmer

Otto begins to speak. “Allow me to share five sentences with you and then guide you into a little moment of stillness so that we can move on a conversation together. When I thought about what is really clarifying over the last few days, these five sentences came to my mind.

  1. We are all connected. We are many. We are one.
  2. We change the system. Our behavior matters: it impacts the system.
  3. When we face disruption, we have to be AWAKE.
  4. When we face disruption, we have a CHOICE: We can either turn AWAY/CLOSE DOWN, or we can TURN TOWARDS/OPEN UP.
  5. The future we ENACT is determined by the inner place from where we act.”

He explains them further.

– “We are all connected. We are many. We are one.”

It is self-evident.

– “We change the system. Our behavior matters: it impacts the system.”

We all knew that from Systems Thinking. Now it is apparent to everyone because it affects all of us. We need to change our own individual behavior to collectively deal with the situation.

-“When we face disruption, we have to be AWAKE.”

Not only individually, but also collectively. When we look at the different responses (to Coronavirus) in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, their collective response took a few days. Here in the USA, it is taking six to eight weeks.

– “When we face disruption, we have a CHOICE:

We can either turn AWAY/CLOSE, or we can TURN TOWARDS/OPEN UP.” Our Ignorance, Hate, and Fear cause us to turn away and close down. Whereas, activating our Curiosity, Compassion, and Courage, makes us turn towards and open up. That is what we are practicing here. The GAIA journey is about practicing a deeper state. It is a capacity that we need to practice individually and collectively.We live in that tension, which intensifies as we speak.

-”The future we ENACT is determined by the inner place from where we act.”

That inner place from where we operate is defined by “turning toward and opening up, or turning away and closing down.” The investigation of that inner place is one of the most important activities of our time.

When we face disruption, we have a choice. Image: Presencing Institute

The GAIA journey is about reaching in towards a deeper state of Open Mind, Heart, and Will, not only at the level of the individual but also of the collective.

A Collective Journey

The collective journey. Image: Rachel Hentsch Spadafora

The GAIA journey starts in that spot of Sensing and Staying with. Here, we connect with our deeper levels of resonance and then move with what is beginning to emerge at both the level of the individual and the collective.

So, the GAIA journey really is about deepening our connection to ourselves, to each other, and where we are living in — our mother Earth.

The Show Goes On

After that explanation, Otto guided us through a deep mindfulness session where we “seeded the intention” that we wanted to bring into the GAIA journey.

1st Breakout Session

The meeting continued with a breakout session where they divided the audience into groups of five people, who had a conversation about their intentions. Then we moved back into the main Zoom room, where we shared our intentions in a larger group conversation.

Some Intentions from the Audience

“To be a conduit of healing.” “To re-engage with Liberty.” “A group of people with whom we can nurture.” “It’s all connected and can now come together more than ever.” “I hope we can feel together with the better future.” “Our heart knows.” “Staying connected and believing in transformation.” “Always remember: The heart is where heaven meets earth.” “To create rooms, to listen to each other through Social Presencing Theater, to get in contact with deeper sources of knowing.” “Moving food and farmers into a position of being held as holy.” “To support communities, to host and hold spaces for listening and dialogue”

Three Questions that are Calls to Action

Otto summarized some of them and continued. “Connecting with the current moment more deeply, noticing our own response, realizing that when systems fail, we need to rise, feeling appreciation for the healers on the front lines… and realizing that we live in a moment where each of us is willing to connect with our own healing capacities toward others and to our own selves.”

This moment of disruption brings with it certain gifts. Like the connection to our own life intention, which allows us to reconsider what is truly essential and to connect with what we are called to let go of.

What are you noticing about your own response and what wants to emerge in yourself, in your context, but also on a larger global scale? I have three questions for you:

  • What am I being called to let go of?
  • What am I noticing about my inner state and response?
  • What is beginning to emerge now?

Otto invited us to meditate in those three questions while we listened to Antonio Moya playing Debussy’s Claire de Lune in the piano.

Some Responses from the Audience

  • What am I being called to let go of?
Image: Presencing Institute

Do less, be more. Longing to slow down but still as busy. Giving up the illusion of security. I have to let go of the idea that I have to find my calling, it will find me. Let go of control, judgment, fear, depression, inertia. No longer needing to conform to a system that I do not like. I got the call to let go of my fear of taking action on the cause of the vulnerability and the heart. The need to be in the intellect. My ego.

What am I noticing about my inner state and response?

Image: Presencing Institute

The courage to connect deeply to ourselves and to others. I am ready to take more risks and feel more courageous. I sensed synchronicity in our feeling and perceptions, and the connection is evident.

What is beginning to emerge now?

Image: Presencing Institute

Learning to TRUST the unknown. The future shows up in all our daily actions. It is there already. Everybody does his/her best. The feeling of calmness and anticipation. To be more playful and expansive. More birds are singing in my city. Everything I have gone through in my life has prepared me for this moment.

Otto’s Comments

“What I am noticing is how much of what has been said resonates with the experience that brings us here. Letting go, surrender, the healing journey we are in together, the connection to nature. Lauren said: Everything I have gone through in my life has prepared me for this moment. I think that is exactly true for me; I feel the resonance there. But I also feel the resonance for us at the collective level.”

Social Image Resonance

Visuals: Olaf Baldini

Then Otto invited us to observe and meditate on the illustration that Olaf Baldini had drawn of the session, and to express what we saw, sensed, and felt.

Some of the reflections using: I see, I sense, I feel:

I feel alarmed. I sense the potential for wholeness. I see a world in fire. I sense love and community. I sense hope. I feel we have a choice. Opportunities. I sense the greatness of heart — the sacred, joyful that is everything. Healing. I see dropping down and arising. I see brightness emerging from the center of the image. I sense Gaia’s attempt to heal itself. I see grief and chaos. I see some light. More light than dark. I see despair, unity, choice, a grieving planet. I sense connection, empathy, and acceptance. I feel pain, fear, hope, and the need to act thanks to what I feel.


There is no conclusion because this is an ongoing story.

To be part of that story and to help shape a new future for all of us, go to any of the following GAIA links:

Originally published at on March 30, 2020.

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