"I connect with them through the heart"

"I connect with them through the heart"

27 April 2020 Laura Scappaticci 6338 views

Since 2016 the Anthroposophical Society in America has been using online spaces to exchange ideas and work on spiritual questions despite spatial distances (Anthroposophy Worldwide 6/2019). Part of their experience is to counter the coolness of technology with a warming of the room – as is usually the case when maintaining ritual places.

Sebastian Jüngel You offered online conversations as early as 2016. Do you see yourselves as pioneers?

Laura Scappaticci
In 2016, the Anthroposophical Society in America began to fully explore offering online educational opportunities for its members and friends. It became clear that to make anthroposophical content more accessible to more people – those living far from Branches, working parents, young people – it was important to begin to consistently offer online content, including webinars, meetings, and a podcast. We now have over 25 webinars available on our website and a podcast with an international reach. A fully-online conference took place from 17 to 19 April this year.

Warming digital spaces

Our journey into the online world was done with caution and with warning from some of our members. We knew that accessibility and community building were a vital part of the future of anthroposophy. Our awareness of the risks and the spiritual aspects of working with technology make anthroposophists perfectly poised to experiment with this new form in a mindful way, bringing warmth to cold technological spaces. Because of this, and because of the hundreds and hundreds of people from around the globe that join us to explore anthroposophy online, we see our community as pioneers. In fact, when covid-19 hit, we were ready to transform our April face-to-face conference on death and dying into our first fully-online conference.

Reaching beyond physical barriers

Jüngel On 23 March more than 325 people joined online. What works well?

We have discovered that there are some things we can do well online, and others that still need exploration. For example, we can warm the space through lighting a candle together in each of our homes; we can create a container for spirit through reading a verse and a passage from Steiner. We create break-out rooms for personal sharing. These small groups seem to be the most appreciated part of our time online, with people wishing to stay connected to those they have just met.

We are working at the periphery of human connection. We can see each other, but we cannot touch. When I want you to feel I am looking into your eyes, I look into a camera, rather than at your picture, and I connect with you through my heart. This understanding of time, space, and our connections that reach beyond physical barriers has always been familiar to anthroposophists. We value our connections to spiritual beings and those who have crossed the threshold – those we cannot touch with our physical senses.

Jüngel Where are the limits?

Scappaticci We are still learning. We are constantly sensing into what feels right to bring into online spaces. Class Lessons are a threshold we have not crossed. That would be a far reach.

Anthroposophy has come alive in new ways

Jüngel How has the Coronavirus affected the anthroposophical work in the United States?

Branches cannot meet, Waldorf schools are closed, Class Lessons are cancelled. And at the same time, something very positive is happening. More and more people are taking initiative by creating online, phone, and from-a-distance study groups, “practice groups,” and gatherings. A group on the east coast has a 15 minute gathering every day to practise the control-of-thought exercise. A group on the west coast meets each Friday to discuss health-giving practices shared by doctors, nurses, and community members. This is happening all over the country, proving that the heart of our movement does not do “social distancing.” With all this in mind, through this challenging time, anthroposophy in the us has come alive in new ways.

Warmth in digital spaces

1. Begin a meditation focused on the heart. The Warmth Meditation cultivates strength and openness of love that counteracts the coolness of the computer. (Peter Selg: The Warmth Meditation)

2. Connect with nature and the stars each day. It is so easy to move away from working on a computer and from checking one’s phone before bed. Find a time to gaze upon a tree, listen to birds, speak to the stars.

3. Create ritual spaces with candles and verses in your online spaces if you are using them for communicating spiritual ideas. Start with the Calendar of the Soul by Rudolf Steiner to bring awareness to the season, to the actual time and space you are in. Study a passage from Steiner, read a poem, and make this practice rhythmic.