My name is Ronen. I was born in the early 1970s and spent most of my life in Israel. I dreamt of being an astronaut. I had a 15+ year career in information technology. During my career, I also stumbled onto Yoga. I believe Yoga may have awoken in me a wish for a life that is less anxious and more meaningful. That calling eventually transported me to rural Romania where I practice Yoga and shape the physical environment that supports me. Village life has gifted me with an opportunity to discover using some refreshingly grounding skills such as wood-working, earth construction, stove building, wood chopping, scything, and more. Interacting with the ground has deeply re-informed me.
I first met Yoga around 1997/8. I was in my mid-twenties and well into my career, which meant a lot of sitting in offices (or in cars while traveling between offices). I started to feel discomfort in my spine and wondered, given how young I was, what that discomfort would be like when I got older. The images that came up were not pleasant.
I never considered myself a “physical” person: from a young age, I was asthmatic, running felt life-threatening, not interested in sports and didn’t like working out. So I went searching for something that would involve mind and body. My options seemed like either some kind of martial art or Yoga. Martial arts did not appeal to me and so I turned to Yoga. I could not have imagined at the time that that choice would be a seed that would contribute greatly to the dissolution of my career.
When I started the Yoga journey I expected it to support my life – to compensate for stress, to help me focus, etc. However, as my relationship with Yoga deepened I became more sensitive to my body, to my emotions, to my well-being. I started to notice that Yoga practice reflected my life. I gradually realized that in order to deepen my practice I needed to re-arrange my life to support the practice. Changes off-the-mat affected practice on-the-mat. The tables were turned: life started to come into service of practice.
Having become a better listener to my body & heart, a feeling of discomfort started to grow in me. I felt I was participating in an economic game that was rigged against me. I felt a longing for work that carried a sense of purpose. I felt that in my work environments skills such as presence, attention, listening, and patience were direly needed yet undervalued or taken for granted. I felt people needed to do some Yoga before we could continue to really work together. But that was never part of the scope of work.
These combined pressures gradually pulled me away from my career. That, coupled with other personal life developments, led to my moving to rural Romania in 2010. Since then I have settled into a chapter of retreat anchored in Yoga practice and the physical work required for shaping my physical habitat. Life is now more in service of practice.
I came to my place of retreat with a sense of disappointment in people. I lost trust and faith in others. I wanted to protect and isolate myself, and to some extent, I’ve managed that. But early on I remember standing in the workshop, looking at all the tools, thinking that I could not, on my own, produce a single nail or a screw, let alone an electric power tool. I realized how deeply dependent on so many others my “isolated” life was. From my isolation, I learned that, ironically, if we humans are to have a future it will have to be together.
For some time now, I’ve been peering out into the world and recognizing seedlings of new growth sprouting in organizations and in businesses. The cynical business environment I once knew seems to be sprinkled with beautiful new life-forms. I find myself cheering for people who are talking openly and profoundly about those taken-for-granted qualities that I felt were missing when I was engaged. I feel a re-kindled longing to connect and contribute, to partake in the birthing of better.
Is there now space for better breathing?
If indeed, in your work environment, beauty is trying to emerge from the chaos, if a pursuit of purpose is guiding you, if you are trying to replace exploitation with care … and if there is space for taking a few breaths … I’d like to lend a hand.
For years I’ve been seeing signs of new, promising organizational life-forms emerging. I’ve been yearning to contribute to these explorations some of the discoveries and reflections from my journey inwards. I’ve been hesitant.
Near the end of 2019 I heard this interview with Bryan Ungard. It touched me deeply. Shortly after, in early 2020 this space, Breathing for Organizations, emerged from me in response to what I heard. I am grateful for Bryan for formally injecting and deeply manifesting the word “purpose” into the language of organizational structure, for Richard who brought Bryan to my attention, for Lisa who interviewed Bryan. You are the most recent in a subtle chain of people whose care for the world has lured me out.
To my teachers, I am grateful for teaching me methodically, then teaching me the method, and for teaching me to bring practice into context.