Today’s ‘Folks for a World that Works’ (#ffawtw) interview, the first of 2018, features Laura Shewan – mother, dance and mindfulness facilitator, as well as former Buddhist centre manager. Following on from Martyn West, Laura fuses together her Buddhist perspective with her love of travel, dance and the challenges of motherhood in the Western world.
A practicing Buddhist for the past 8 years, Laura Shewan has spent time on retreat both in the UK, South Africa and Cambodia. Committed to creating ‘Dharmic’ spaces, her work in facilitation is focused on bringing practice into every day life, which is the approach she takes in all her classes.
With a background in African and Arabic dance, Laura aims to bring the spirituality of the earth and our ancient roots drawn from Africa into the West and contemporary Buddhist practice. Her dance workshops are a unique fusion of spirit and soul, the breath and body. “I aim to bring this quality into all classes that I teach, whether sitting or moving – secular or Buddhist,” says Laura.
Having travelled independently and extensively in both Southern Africa and South East Asia, she draws on her experience, and writes about the journeys we make, both internally and externally. Laura has also just created a new blog: ‘Neoliberal Mother’.
Thank you Laura for taking the time to talk to us and being one of the ‘folks for a world that works’, can you begin by telling us about yourself and your big passion?
I love the fusion of ideas and life experiences. I spent many years practicing Buddhism and meditation, alongside my other great passion which is political philosophy. Since becoming a mother in 2016, I have had to pause my PhD in human rights and I am trying to find ways of integrating these myriad identities into my new life… how to ground my spiritual practice in parenting and continue to work for collective global rights on a practical basis… no mean feat!
Women’s rights in particular are close to my heart, and I believe that mothers especially suffer from society’s lack of soul and political policies which marginalise the most vulnerable. I am trying to give voice to and articulate what I know is the experience of many women who struggle with the transition to motherhood without support from society.
What would a ‘world that works’ look like to you?
A ‘world that works’ would be one in which we valued presence before progress for the sake of progress. We are taught from early on that life is a linear teleology, and for this reason we feel entitled to things without thought of responsibility towards others and to the planet.
Ultimately we are only guests here on the earth and we need to treat it as such. I believe if we really took this to heart we would treat each other with more kindness and live collectively, with shared resources, as we were designed to do.
What is stopping us from creating a ‘beautiful world we all know in our hearts is possible’?
“This is a unique time in history; we have all heard the cliche, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’…. that’s because it’s true! Our whole biological ecosystem is designed to raise children in community, with others around us. Well, let’s make a start. Come join in the conversation, and let’s start being the change.” – from Laura’s new ‘Neoliberal Mother’ blog, which can be found here
The Folks for a World that Works (#ffawtw) Q&A is an inspiring mini-interview with someone in or around the OurNet community. We’d welcome YOUR input or interviewee suggestions. Contributions can be made online here