CHARLOTTE DUFOUR is a veteran in the fields of international cooperation and sustainable food systems. In part 3 of her interview with KALPANA SAI of the Heartfulness Institute, she focuses on our relationship with the outside world and the environment.
Q: When we open our hearts, being sensitive to what’s really working for us and what’s not, we build a connection with our inner world. At the same time, we need to connect spiritually to the world outside. How can we do that?
CD: It’s a very good and difficult-to-answer question, because it’s quite personal. I am finishing my training to be an instructor of meditation, so I have a little bit of experience. As trainers, we position ourselves as channels for the wisdom. It’s not me, Charlotte, teaching, it’s the Source. So, our own alignment, which is our own practice, is very important for us to be connected.
I try to listen very attentively when I’m guiding a Yoga class. I try to be very attentive to what’s happening inside me, in terms of the sensations of energy and how it flows. I invite those with me to be open to their sensations, knowing they will have their own experience.
It really helps to be guided by someone. All the great masters had their own gurus, right? They needed gurus even if they were realized masters; they needed guidance and we need it too. If you have a guide, you can constantly reinvite them. Their guidance will help with the outer connection. They hold the key to the inner world.
I’m doing things like journaling, and awareness of the body,in order to recognize physical and emotional tensions. We have a variety of tools at our disposal, and it’s a never-ending journey. You can constantly go deeper. Every time I go on a meditation retreat, I feel, “Wow, yet another level.” I have friends who’ve been meditating for thirty or forty years who are still going deeper and having new experiences. It’s an exciting path.
Q: This builds on our previous conversation about finding a community, now adding the importance of having a guide who can help, including how to connect with the world around us.
CD: When we are ourselves connected, when we deepen our meditation, then the connection with others becomes more fluid.
When we’re connected to ourselves, we can be more empathetic, our intuition and our ability to feel where people are, and what they may need, deepens. I’ve also found that by deepening my meditation I’ve become much more aware of connections to nature. I’ve become much more nurturing.
In fact, my meditation practice led me to become one of the founders of “Listening to the Earth.” It led to the realization that the challenges of our time are due to humankind’s separation from the Earth. We are now reminded that we are one with Nature, the divine creation. We are invited to be in a relationship of love with Nature and our environment.
A friend of mine recently said, “When I choose myself, I choose us.” I think this is true because there is always a part of us that is connected to the whole universe.
When we are ourselves connected,
when we deepen our meditation,
then the connection with others
becomes more fluid.
Q: Elaborating on this, what is eco-anxiety and what is the significance of connecting to Nature?
CD: A lot of news tells us, “With climate change, we won’t be able to feed ourselves, there will be huge disasters, it’s too late as we’ve passed the tipping point.” So, there’s a lot of fear. But we should ask ourselves, “Wait a minute. Who do we think we are?” There’s something much greater than us, much wiser than us. When we look at the wisdom of Nature, our body cells, the way everything works, it is mind-blowing. When a woman is with child, she is not doing anything, and yet the cells in her body are multiplying. A being is formed and she’s not consciously doing that.
The power that lies in this creation is far beyond our understanding. Science has so much yet to discover, and that gives me hope. I think there’s a far greater regenerative capacity in the world than we think. With the challenges we face now, there is an opportunity to remind ourselves of our deep feelings, connection to the rest of creation, and it’s part of the evolution of human consciousness on this planet.
I believe that acting from a space of love
and joy can happen through our inner connection
and the connection to others.
We’ve formed an NGO called “Listening Inspires.” We offer workshops on eco-anxiety and a big part of what we offer is, “How can we act from a space of love and joy, rather than a space of fear?” There’s a lot of fear and anger in the world, and those are the forces that block us, hurt us. They are the opposite of love.
I believe that acting from a space of love and joy can happen through our inner connection and the connection to others. I truly believe we will make it as humanity. It’s just a massive learning opportunity. We’ve never experienced it before on a global scale, as is happening in this stage of human evolution. But we will be guided, and we will be supported.
Q: Thank you. Is there anything else you would like to offer or to add?
CD: I was just thinking of my gratitude for this conversation. In this phase of our evolution, if we show gratitude and respect, our hearts will be full. Practicing gratitude is key for heartfulness and well-being. Thank you. My heart is full and I’m filled with a lot of gratitude.
Interview by KALPANA SAI
Illustrations by ANANYA PATEL
Charlotte has worked for over 20 years in the field of international cooperation. Today, she is an independent consultant, works with the 4DS group, and bridges Yoga with sustainable development through her social enterprises Narayan, Listening Inspires, and the Listening to the Earth campaign.