Mapping Out the Five Elements of Collapse Awareness
” Awareness of the global meta-crisis, of collapse, can provoke an internal crisis, a simultaneous emotional, mental, spiritual and physical crisis and a crisis of values, and, you do have to process all five elements simultaneously really. They’re all equally necessary elements to work through, although we each have strengths and vulnerabilities in one or more elements, and probably an aversion or avoidance to one or more elements. … Five elements Is a really neat structure, because there are five possible responses to collapse, and not not less than five and not more than five. It really speaks to something very deep in the human being, you know – Mind, Body, Emotions, Values, Spirit… And it’s a really good way to organize and process the whole collapse response.”
– Matthew Painton
How I started volunteering in the Deep Adaptation Forum
What first helped me to “find my people” was when I became a volunteer with the Holistic Approaches and Guidance group, on the Professions’ Network, and met my co-moderator Dean. He and I put on workshops, and now we’re collaborating on an eight-week course. I’ve learned a lot from Dean.
Being a volunteer also enabled me to start working with Stina, Brennan and Kat on the DA Guidance website. Working with such cooperative, generous, loving people, has felt lovely and organic, as we’ve focused on what we feel most inspired to do, and focus our collaboration on skills rather than roles.
So far, most Guides have made a profile on the website;, the next phase is to foster an active community of practice. The website is not generating much traffic for them or clients, and communication about it is insufficient in the DA community. In the project team, we want to foster more self-organising and a more active community around this project, for example to share more personal and professional practices among ourselves. We also want to start offering affordable therapy to activists and others on the frontlines of collapse. We just need to find the capacity to make it happen.
Discovering Wider Embraces
I loved it! First, because it helps one to expand one’s sense of self, to include much wider dimensions. This provides space and capacity in the being, in which the global predicament can surface more safely than when we just experience ourselves as individuals. Besides that , it helps to practice adopting different perspectives, which is a very useful and pertinent skill in these times of polarisation.
Stina trained me on guiding this meditation. I now offer it as part of my coaching practice.
We recently did a Wider Embraces practice at the Integral European Conference, and people loved it. Unfortunately there hasn’t been much follow-up, but that’s alright.
The Five Elements of Deep Adaptation
The framework of the 4 Rs feels a bit abstract to me. As I was talking with a lot of people in DA, and hearing about their sense of internal collapse and overwhelm when considering global collapse, I started to tease out what goes on for people. I eventually hit upon a new framework through which to consider awareness of and responses to collapse – that of the Five Elements: emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, values, and justice. It’s a neat framework, which covers all possible responses to this topic. All are equally necessary and valid, although people may have preferences for one or the other. To me, this framework is a distillation of what I’ve learned in the DA environment.
I now use this framework as a diagnostic tool in my coaching, to find out where a person may want to direct their attention to generate individual adaptation pathways. For example, I’m working with a client at the moment, working on one element per session. In the meantime, she explores things through the perspective of that element. My coaching sessions with her are greatly benefitting from it.
As a coach, I am also part of another group, the Climate Coaching Alliance. As I found there were few collapse-aware participants around me, I put on a couple of workshops for these coaches, inviting them to consider collapse and the DA response, using the framework of the Five Elements which I developed. People asked me for the slides afterwards, so I assume they found value in this framework, or want to use it and adapt it.
I would love to see more conscious and equal attention being placed on each of the 5 elements in the DA community, because each is important. They are also useful to present a narrative of how this community has evolved through time – from sense-making to emotional processing, issues of justice, practical applications…
I would also love to work with coaches on the model, to see what it offers them. I started a ‘Deep Adaptation Therapists’ Facebook group to encourage more conversations around this topic, and I’m now writing about this framework in a chapter for a compilation about coaching and therapy with regard to climate and eco-anxiety, from a Deep Adaptation point of view. This could provide me with the foundation for an online course.
What the Deep Adaptation Forum has brought to my life
Thanks to Deep Aadaptation, I’ve had the pleasure of making many friends and meeting very helpful collaborators in the Forum, from whom to learn and with whom to share new processes. My work as a volunteer is full of purpose. It enables me to do what I want, to be of service and be useful, which feels very gratifying.
Being part of the DA movement, and participating in the grief circles, Death Cafes and other meetings has helped me better express my grief, and to metabolise it and integrate it with other aspects of my life. Grief now plays a healthier and less dominant part in my emotional spectrum. I’ve learned how to integrate, handle and regulate my anxiety and other negative feelings. I also feel a renewed sense of hope, which is not grounded in an expectation of the future but in how we can be together. I feel part of a community of people who are loving and with whom I’m on the same page. This is extremely rewarding.