Seeing Beyond The Veil – Transforming my inner-outer life
Having spent many years advising a variety of public, private and third sector organisations on business transformation and latterly sustainability, I embarked on a life transition directed by my love of Nature and the call of my heart.
Recently I was interviewed by www.conscious.tv about my life and my books, the interview can be watched here, and this article is a summary of some of the aspects of my life journey thus far. For as long as I can recall, I have been in love with Nature. My teenage years laid witness to my fury upon finding out the crimes we consciously and unconsciously commit against Nature, whether it be factory farming or widespread desecration to make way for anthropocentric ‘progress’. I have long recognised that such crimes inflict, and are inflicted by, inner psychological wounds at collective and personal levels.
As I grew older I was waking up to the realisation that our hubristic sense of domination over Nature was at the root of this widespread deep psychic suffering, leading to all sorts of downstream effects: fear, anxiety, depression, dis-ease, egotism, individualism, consumerism. A vicious cycle ensues of separateness, control, domination, degradation, violence, fear, suppression, more violence and more individualism. I was committed to finding out how the world works and why we humans seem to be destroying life rather than living in harmony within its immense awe-inspiring beauty.
For a variety of reasons, I found myself in business and vowed to understand how this ‘system’ worked. Many years at KPMG as a management consultant and then latterly as Global Director of Sustainability for Atos provided an excellent foundation in how business transformation, organisational management and leadership, capitalist value-creation and corporate life operate.
Yet by around 2006, I was struggling to hold-down my supressed views on how insane our worldview seems to me. I was struggling to find anything of value within the business worldview that adequately dealt with our anti-life approach, but met many inspirational people in business and beyond who also shared my love of life.
I signed up to some yoga classes mainly as a way to try and gain a balance from my hectic work-hard-play-hard life style. It was fortuitous that the nearest classes to me happened to be Tara Yoga, a small intimate class within a larger Tantra school which provided hand-outs to read after each class as well as discussions about consciousness and awareness in everyday life, meditation, breathing, colour therapy, mantras, etc. I purchased some yoga Nidra CDs that had a profound effect on me – essentially a lying down meditation where you focus on different parts of the body and then visualise things while the CD narrative guides you. Doing this after a yoga practice took me into deeper consciousness while still very much awake and so I could start to really sense and cognise what was going on in a lucid way. None of it felt strange, all of it made sense and it felt like coming home. It was as if I was always waiting for this and now my life was finally starting to open up to it all. Yet I saw no way of assimilating this into my busy corporate life.
I recall walking along a pier one day and having what could be called an epiphany or ‘glimpse’, when I sensed clearly that all I had to do was live life with love, yet my ego-awareness soon counter-acted this ‘non-sense’ with the sobering reality of every day competitive struggle.
Then came one too many David Attenborough programmes. I remember that Sunday evening well, when I cried aloud, tears streaming down my face, as I opened up to all the pain I had suppressed over the years at all we were doing to life. At that moment I vowed to begin and follow my inner calling, no more watching, the time had come to dive in with both feet and dedicate my life to ‘life’. I just began, putting one foot in front of the other, each and every day, starting to voice my feelings and begin the arduous task of allowing my inner and outer worlds to attune.
In the months ahead, I read avidly, mainly about sustainability, and met with many leading thinkers and organisations at the vanguard of sustainable business. In 2008 I set up a Sustainability offering for Atos UK and then in 2010 I became Global Head of Sustainability for Atos International – with 80,000 employees it was a large IT services provider and soon became the first global IT services organisation to achieve GRI A+ ranking. Around that time I co-founded Biomimicry for Creative Innovation, a collaborative of specialists applying ecological thinking for business transformation. I started to write articles for The Guardian on business inspired by Nature and was approached by a publisher to write a book – The Nature of Business.
I had another ‘peak experience’ (or ‘glimpse’ as for me it is a ‘thinning of the veil’ whereupon we see reality in its deeper, truer nature, which is always here, glimpsed when our ego-awareness permeates with a deeper natural, soulful, ecological awareness). I vividly sensed that the path ahead was simply living with love – everything to be done with complete truth and love, no inauthenticity, everything from the heart. Yet once again, within moments of this clear realisation, the ego-head recognition that I would not get very far in my work life with such an attitude snapped me out of it.
Soon after, I was in Amsterdam on business and had a vision of Jesus Christ, once again, my ego-fear kicked-in and also a lack of self-love as I felt ashamed to look directly at the vision, I felt neither ready nor worthy to look Jesus in the eyes as knew in my heart I had made only superficial ground, internally and externally, the deeper work was yet to come. Getting the global sustainability role was a big break for me as it enabled me to move out of London to Devon to be more immersed in Nature.
In Devon, my daily meditations and yoga were supplemented with sitting against trees I got to know intimately. I learnt a Druidic tree meditation and healing practice which I practiced daily with the trees. I also started writing short articles while sitting next to trees, blogs for my personal website and global networks such as GSB, CSRWire, TriplePundit, 2Degrees.
The biggest step for me was handing in my notice from corporate life in 2012 with no job to go to, just unchartered waters stretching out ahead. Well a slight fib – initially I had lined-up a fully funded PhD at Exeter University on Biomimicry for Business, which would give me a steady income, an office a business card and title – my safety blankets post corporate life. But I realised I was still going to feel imprisoned by the PhD and needed to go deeper in my thinking beyond mere extrapolations of Nature’s processes and patterns into a deeper Nature immersion of the wisdom that lies within and beyond these patterns and processes which, for me, alluded to a systemic paradigm shift in business and beyond.
Leaving corporate life and also declining a paid research position at Exeter Uni was all contrary to my conditioning of security, career, status, financial income, etc. and, while my earnings have been pathetic in comparison since, it is with no regrets. I gave myself the vital space and time to deepen my inner psychic connection to Nature and also to recover from years of shell-shocking global travel, stress, burning the candle at both ends, etc. I underwent something of a metamorphosis from 2012 to 2014, gradually healing while letting go of old mentalities, going through a ‘dark night of the soul’, embracing the unconscious depths of my imaginal realm and making friends once again with the stillness within and all around.
It was through my daily embracement of Nature that my imagination and childlike wonder returned to me. During this time, I embarked on my second book, The Illusion of Separation. Soon I started to feel more alive once again. Yet I have come to realise my metamorphosis is more like a continuous transformational process, spiralling twists and turns, not a one-off job. Synchronistically, my first book was published a fortnight before our first baby was born, and exactly the same happened for my second book and baby, allowing me to ensure smooth publication and then focus on being the birthing partner (both our children were natural water births at home for which I can take no credit, my wife did all the hard work, I just held the sacred space as best I could.)
Hazel’s conception (9 months before) I remember clearly, as I felt as if a deeper presence had opened up and an energetic spark entered – at the time I said to my wife that if this moment leads to conception it will be amazing as I actually felt the presence of something within a deeper imaginal realm. It was her conception. Things like this buoy my faith in the deeper reality beyond.
There is no longer any three year plan ahead of me like I always used to have; this part of my life is unmapped and I let go with faith and trust in the unfolding. My heart is my compass.
Perhaps the biggest catalysts in my life have been my relationships with my children and wife. It is the intimacy of my relations with my wife and kids that provides the greatest tests and opportunities for me to let go of constricting, narrowing-down perspectives based on control and fear while opening up to a deeper compassion for myself and others, and a deeper courage to reach beyond habituated patterns that hold me back from fully loving. This journey of the heart has asked me to face my inner demons on numerous occasions – sometimes daily. My busy mind often plagues me with thoughts that life would be far easier if I was ignorant of the pain and love I have for life or if I just followed the money. Yet, in truth, there is no real doubt that the path I am on is the only viable one.
Brief Bio – Giles Hutchins applies twenty years business experience to the emergence of a new paradigm. Formerly a management consultant for KPMG, more recently Global Sustainability Director for Atos International, co-founder of BCI: Biomimicry for Creative Innovation, ambassador for Embercombe, adviser for Akasha Innovation, he speaks and writes about the transformation to new ways of operating inspired by and in harmony with Nature.
His first book, The Nature of Business, received much praise on both sides of the Atlantic. His second book, The Illusion of Separation ( on Amazon and on Amazon.com ) is now out. Giles blogs at www.thenatureofbusiness.org, facebook community https://www.facebook.com/businessinspiredbynature and tweets @gileshutchins
The Illusion of Separation – Contrary to popular opinion, capitalist consumerism is not the problem. Rather, it is a downstream effect of a deeper malaise woven deep into our cultural psyche at partly unconscious levels. The source of our current social, economic and environmental ills springs from inherent flaws in how we perceive and construct the world we live in. The Illusion of Separation takes us on an exploration of the root causes of our multiple ills so that we can breakthrough into reality beyond illusion. Moving to a new society and a new consciousness inspired by and in harmony with Nature. Listen to the podcasts to learn more: http://bit.ly/1Gj31TL and see the infographic here: http://visual.ly/illusion-separation-infographic