One of the things I love about travelling is that it opens my eyes, my mind and my heart to all that is happening in the world, both in terrible ways and wonderful ways. Something about being out of my own little bubble really helps me connect to the wider world and the ways that people are both struggling and also making a difference. My brother who is a social activist, amongst other things, has been out demonstrating with the people for weeks to get the basic London wage raised. The intention is that those living on the poverty line or lower, can get the London “living wage” (meaning what it costs to live in London-one of the most expensive cities in Europe). While the rich get richer, more than a million and a half people in London who are working full time have to get food stamps to be able to eat after they have paid their bills.
That is why it was a real treat today to be invited back to North London, my old stomping grounds, to the shop of one of my client/participants. He has turned what would otherwise be a run of the mill chain supermarket into a real pleasure of a shopping experience. It was wonderful to travel the aisles (not neatly laid out in rows but in interesting angles and open spaces) and see the organic produce and gluten free goods (a rare treat for us gluten sensitive people). There was also a whole range of meats raised and killed humanely and sustainably, as well as fresh fish brought from the coast that morning. But more than anything, I enjoyed the fact that the workers are all genuinely happy, smiling and helpful. My friend Andrew who is writing a book called “ How to put the Heart back into Business” told me that in his supermarket they have regular meditation sessions as well as sharing circles, where everyone gets to say what is troubling them as well as what they are grateful for. Each of the hundred or so employees from as many as 20 different countries and ethnic backgrounds also have a say in how the business is run and what they would like to see happen. That is why the store has such a genuinely different feel to it. It is alive with the potential of the new paradigm of a world that works for everyone. Just like on the Virgin flight I flew over on, I could see happy people who are valued and cared for and considered to be part of the company that they serve. In turn, they are happy to be of service to others. The employees are happy so the company and the customers are happy also. In these times of the 1% owning the 99% of the wealth and having most of the power, it is great to see the people thriving.
“The work I did with Rajyo over the years really set me up for what I am doing now, in bringing the heart back into my business, a supermarket in North London. The qualities of meditation, self awareness and compassionate communication has rippled out into how I do life, how I relate to my friends and family and also how I run my business. I, and everyone around me, is happier. I am proud to be making a difference in the world and I am grateful to Rajyo for her part in this.”
Andrew Thornton, Owner Thornton’s Budgens, London www.thorntonsbudgens.com