Living systems thinking and the role of Regeneration for Social Justice

All of our work is based on living systems thinking and being. Living systems is also just a fancy word for nature. It’s thyme was founded because we realized that our natural ecosystems are so incredibly intelligent. Circular yet productive, self-regulating, diverse, self-expressing, abundant and resilient.

Hannah Eckert

11/21/20235 min read

All of our work is based on living systems thinking and being.
Living systems is also just a fancy word for nature. It’s thyme was founded because we realized that our natural ecosystems are so incredibly intelligent. Circular yet productive, self-regulating, diverse, self-expressing, abundant and resilient. We want to find out what the world would look like if we applied nature’s principles to our ways of thinking and being: going with nature’s and our own rhythms and seasons, becoming productive through resting more, allowing ourselves and others to express the full scope of our emotions and ourselves, regulating our nervous systems to create more and more space to express our creativity and be the diverse, complex, resilient living systems we are. Because guess what? Just like nature, we carry all of these qualities inside of us, they are just waiting to be recognized and welcomed back!

But not only we as individuals are a beautiful breathing living system. We as a society, as a collective, as a social system, are one too. Many living systems make a whole bigger living system, all interconnected with each other. Many people stop listening when they hear “we are all connected”. “Ohhhh you’re so esoteric to say that!”. Ok, then let me tell you in the most non-esoteric, realest sense how we are all interconnected.

Next to breathing the same air and living on the same Earth, we are all connected through patterns.

Patterns are invisible, patterns live in our heads, they live in our bodies, they are embodied in our relationships. They carry their own emotional energy. Patterns are fluid, dynamic, learned and can be unlearned. Each living system is an ever-changing expression of learned patterns. Patterns are whirling around inside and among all of us, it’s what our individual and collective culture is made of.

The belief patterns that our bodies are disconnected from our mind, that nature is something outside of us, something almost mechanical that can simply be extracted from, used for production, that some people are more deserving of life than others based on our skin color, gender, looks, abilities, education level, age, worldviews and so on, these are all beliefs (patterns) that have two things in common: They are based on the patterns of separation and superiority.

  • Mind disconnected from and above body and heart

  • humans disconnected from and above nature

  • some humans disconnected from and above other humans

Superiority is deeply life-suppressing and brings living systems into disbalance and stress, disrupting the natural flow and law of life. Life is expressive. Not suppressive.

By putting our mind first and numbing out our bodies and hearts, we may suppress our feelings and needs for gentleness, connection, care and rest instead of carefully listening and tending to them.

By putting ourselves above nature and neglecting nature as something inside of us, we are extracting resources from the Earth, depleting the planet’s resources without feeling what it does to us. We are dismissing our connection to the brutal extraction happening to the planet.

By putting ourselves above other people, suppressing people and not witnessing the impact of that, we are dehumanizing them, discriminating and even killing people and hiding big time from life. The suppression and hiding is only possible through suppressing essential parts of what makes us human, our immense ability to love and consciously care for each other. Thus, we dehumanize ourselves as we can only see parts in others that we see in ourselves. The intellectualization (disconnection from our hearts and bodies) helps us justify our actions towards others and our environment. It’s all connected.

Numbing out fulfills one very important purpose: it protects us from pain.
Pain from hundreds of years of separation and superiority. Pain that sits in our bones and cultures through centuries of colonialism, wars and more. History plays an essential role if we want to understand how deeply ingrained these patterns, also in the form of trauma and somatics, are in our brains and bodies and society. Even though we might think European colonialism, a time of deep separation, dehumanization, White superiority and extraction, is officially over, its patterns are still very much with us embodied as racism, anti-semitism, all other “isms”, homophobia, extraction, disconnection to the land and our bodies. I continue to be surprised how many people act surprised about the rise of racism and other problems mentioned above when we swim in a culture designed for it.

For centuries there have been people raising awareness of these patterns, standing up for life, justice and humanity through social justice and liberation movements, climate justice and intersectionality movements, art, holistic and decolonial practices and indigenous knowledges – led by the very people bearing the heaviness of centuries of patterns of suppression like Black, POC and indigenous peoples. Instead of bearing witness, listening to them as essential parts of a whole living interconnected (social) system and as a first step towards restoring balance, they are criminalized, further dehumanized and discriminated against, only distancing us even more, perpetuating the patterns of separation, (White) superiority and suppression.

It’s time to restore balance and break the cycle of violence and numbness
as our people, our Earth and our bodies are bearing the costs of destruction and collapse. That is the cost of many of us looking away.

Through it’s thyme, we want to empower people to stop looking away. To bring the living systems perspective to the European and global discourse around change, and take responsibility for (White) superiority, separation and suppression patterns that we, the co-founders, have learned and witnessed throughout our lives in Germany, Europe and dedicated the past five years to unlearning them with our minds, bodies, in community and gratitude with many of you.

It’s thyme is the space for all other people wanting to unlearn these patterns, to listen to their fellow human brothers and sisters, to their bodies and to the Earth, willing to stand up for radically new ways of responsible, decolonial, regenerative ways of living, working, producing and relating. So that we move towards regeneration together and allow all of us to become the complex, diverse, alive and whole living beings that we deserve to be. So that we can all feel that we belong here.
In safety.

A world like that is possible.

The unfolding of it is already happening.

Soon also in our first Hope Hub in Galicia, our regenerative co-learning space in the midst of wild beautiful nature.
Healthy living systems.
Our best teachers.

Be there or be square!

* Living system thinking is complex, paradox and a practice we are still on as well. This text is by no means “complete”. We always try to depict complexity of regeneration in a comprehensive way. The complexity of our times. Of our interdependence. Of the interconnection of topics. Of what life, others and mentors have taught us (we will be mentioning all of our mentors, teachers and sources on our website soon). Of what our intellect could make of our own experiences. Written from my very personal perspective, understanding of it and upbringing (Hannah). Thank you for reading.