Ten years ago I had a profound mystical experience that brought the possibility of peace front and center into my life. I had given little thought to this idea before that moment. After that day it became my heartfelt purpose.
The backstory to this is that, at that time, I was living in my car in San Fransisco, struggling to make my startup work. Coming out of this experience, I felt called to “move to New York to work on world peace” as I told my friends.
I drove to New York and arrived the day before Thanksgiving. I was supposed to crash on my friend’s couch but she was out of town, so I slept in my car one last night. Two things happened on Thanksgiving Day 2011. First, I moved into the apartment of my close friend who ended up becoming my wife and business partner. And second, I went to a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by a couple who ended up investing $600k in my venture.
You can’t make stuff like this up.
My company at the time was called Heartbeat and we were working on an e-commerce platform designed to create networks of mutual support between independent business owners. This was my first foray into peace making.
That venture didn’t work out and the experience was very challenging.
I went through personal bankruptcy and moved into my wife’s family home. Bankruptcy is never easy to talk about without shame. There was stress and financial hardship, a horrible sinus infection that lasted for years, and all sorts of pressure to get a “real job”. I felt an undeniable sense of calling coupled with a near overwhelming ambiguity.
My wife, Natasha, and I continued looking for ways to generate deep human connection online. We experimented with a Kickstarter for non-monetary support and all sorts of gatherings and newsletter ideas.
In early 2015, we were inspired by an online learning experience we had with the Presencing Institute. It was the first time we had encountered strangers online and felt a sense of real connection with other participants in our small group. Coming out of that experience, I taught myself how to code and started developing software around being able to scale small groups online.
A year later, we had an opportunity to work with the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma to support their seven month blended learning program with our platform. We started seeing how small groups create connection, and how learning can be a catalyst for group participation. Expanding on this thread became the focus of our effort with Sutra.
As our work evolved we began to distill everything we had learned from our years of trial and error into an understanding of how to generate meaningful connection online. At the beginning of 2020, we decided to create our own training program called Transformational Teaching Online.
Today our program has hundreds of alumni and our platform is home to thousands of people. And the journey has been truly profound.
First, we’ve realized the level of deep and authentic connection that is truly possible in the online space. You can watch the video testimonials at the bottom of our course page to get a sense of how people have been affected by our program.
And second, we’ve realized that this is our work. Our path to peace is creating an ecosystem of relational spaces and supporting the creators behind those experiences. This much has become very clear to us.
A relational space invites us to be together as we are. We slow down, listen deeply, and feel each other’s presence. We share ourselves without fear of rejection or judgement. And we surface what is unspoken but communicated anyway in a space of mutual acceptance and understanding.
Today, with everything going on in the world, this work is all the more relevant. The possibility of peace is held in our ability to truly receive and witness each other. Relational spaces invite new ways of being together and offer exactly this. They offer a microcosm of peace that becomes available on a global scale as more such spaces are woven together.
Whether you teach mindfulness or marketing, build community or host conversations, you can create a relational space for deep connection to occur.
When you bring people together, you create a container. The way that that container is created and the way that that space is navigated, translates to the way that people show up. And that showing up, that way of being, carries the seed of transformation. It’s what allows people to practice new ways of being and release what no longer serves them in a way that is lasting and heartfelt.
If healing and transformation on this planet has been your calling, I invite you to join one of our free webinars. We host sessions on different aspects of transformational teaching online every Tuesday. We share how you can bring people together in a way the generates presence and meaningful connection and how you can build community in a way that feels authentic and real. And we’ll show you how you can use Sutra as a home for your content and the people that you bring together.
Most importantly, you’ll connect with a community of like hearted creators that will support you and feel like family.
Our mission is to bring more love and connection into the world by supporting creators committed to working with people in deeply human ways. If this speaks to you, we would love to help you create a group experience that is powerful and engaging. Please join our mailing list to receive our webinar announcements.