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Meaningful change is dependent on our ability to embody the transformation we wish to see in the world.

Centering Inner Work

Inner work is our individual and collective practice of nurturing health, vitality, clarity, and wholeness in ourselves as individuals and as groups.

It is what keeps us connected to our ability to be our better selves. It is what supports the transformative healing needed to simultaneously hold the elements of a thriving justice ecosystem.

Our ability to create meaningful and equitable change, as individuals and collectively, depends on our ability to embody and reflect the transformation we wish to see in the world as we engage with ourselves, each other, and with the systems around us. This relationship—between inner and outer change—is generative. The more we nurture and experience change in one, the more we long for and believe it can be so in the other.

Forward Together is a cross-movement leader for reproductive and gender justice who adopted inner work practices years ago as a group. During a time of crisis, they collaborated with Norma Wong of the Institute for Applied Zen to develop Forward Stance, a mind-body practice that helps activists step fully into leadership, build powerful organizations, and align movements. Forward Stance practice “provided us with ‘a powerful way to learn and gain new insight through physical movement and by reconnecting our bodies with our minds,’” says Forward Together’s Eveline Shen, who is also a member of the Northstar Network and a former Network Leadership Innovation Lab participant.

Catalyzed by the integration of inner work practices and strategic thinking, Forward Together expanded their sense of themselves and what was possible, becoming a national multiracial organization anchoring the Strong Families network. For more on this story, please refer to our article, Toward Love, Healing, Resilience & Alignment: The Inner Work Of Social Transformation & Justice, in the Nonprofit Quarterly. 

Inner work is critical to connecting us to our purpose, knowing that we are part of something larger than ourselves, and joining with others to advance this greater vision. When we practice inner work, we increase our capacity to continually replenish our reserves; to skillfully allow and guide the transformative energy of emotions; to catalyze skillful action grounded in our individual and collective purpose; and to increase our synergy, alignment, and collective strategic action, including healing rifts inside ourselves, our organizations, our networks and movements.

Inner Work in Action

The Hidden Leaf Foundation’s Inner Work Grantmaking

Central to the Hidden Leaf Foundation’s grantmaking approach is the belief that transformative change comes from both internal and external capacity building. To advance this approach, their grantmaking has evolved from supporting non-profit leaders in deepening their own leadership and inner work practices to investing in organization-wide transformation through group engagements with deep practices.

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Co-creators Centering Inner Work

We partner with many incredible people exploring individual and collective inner work as key to advancing equity and centering creativity, joy, and healing in our work. Here we name just a few that inspire us to learn and deepen our practices.

Generative Somatics

Generative Somatics is committed to strengthening the transformative leadership, organizing capacity, and practices of leaders, organizations and alliances by supporting identities, relationships, emotions, and actions to become more integrated, resourceful, and aligned with mission, vision, and values.

Mark Leach

Mark is a member of the Change Elemental core team. His intention with partners and clients is first to be as fully authentic and present as he can be, and then to co-create spaces where everyone’s inner-wisdom and power has room to find expression individually and collectively.

Movement Strategy Center

Movement Strategy Center works with grassroots organizations, alliances, and networks, as well as funders, to build powerful and transformative social justice movements.