Bringing Money & Life to Your Community

logo tryPlease join us for the second of three Wisdom Exchange hosted conversations on how to support the film Money & Life as we all prepare for its release in March!

On our first call in January, a group of us gathered to discuss why the film meant something to each of us and began to self-organize around how to support the film moving forward. On this second call, February 18th at 3pm PST / 6pm EST, we will continue this conversation and also hear from filmmaker Katie Teague about how we can bring screenings of the film to our communities and support screenings nationwide.

katie teagueFilmmaker Katie Teague will join us for the call, Janice Rous and Lex Schroeder will host the conversation, and we will be inviting your ideas and participation! In the meantime, whether or not you’ve had a chance to see the film, here are a few clips of the film we encourage you to watch and share widely! Follow all film updates over on the Money & Life blog.


With enthusiasm,
Janice Stieber Rous
Lex Schroeder
Lina Cramer
Dick Durning



You Saw the Film, Now What?

Dear Friends,

In March, Katie Teague’s documentary Money & Life will open in Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

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For those of us fortunate to have seen a screening of the film (view trailer here), we know this is a brilliant and much-needed documentary. It shares deeply important insights about money, Wall Street, and its powerful and insidious impact on our lives and communities—nationally and worldwide. We imagine audiences will have mixed reactions to the film: upset, outrage, relief, perhaps a sense of urgency. We also predict the emergence of questions such as: What can I do? What is already being done? 

Wisdom Exchange invites you, Katie’s friends, family, and fellow activists, to a conference call dialogue on January 28th at 3pm PST / 6pm EST to discuss how we all can help this film have its greatest impact. What role do you want to play? How can you get involved locally, nationally, and online? We’ll cover all of these things and leave plenty of time for discussion. Lina Cramer and Janice Stieber Rous will host the conversation, and we hope you’ll join us.

Participation is free and donations are gladly accepted and much appreciated. This will be the first in a series of Wisdom Exchange hosted community conversations about the film as we prepare for its release. REGISTER FOR THE CALL HERE.

Read more about the plan for the film’s release.

Janice, Lina, Dick, and Lex

Sacred Economics: A First Step

Some books are transformative. For me, Sacred Economics: Money, Gift and Society in the Age of Transition is such a book. 

Author Charles Eisenstein brings a timely and provocative perspective to our monetary system in the West and its global and human impact. I know, economics is a dry subject, but don’t drift off just yet. Eisenstein is that professor, or better yet, mentor, that you wish you had in college. He brings a clarity, humility, and humanity to his writing you don’t often see. Most importantly, he writes in such a way that you come away feeling challenged.

Eisenstein guides you through the history of money from the ancient Greeks to where we find ourselves today: rapacious growth, greed, and loss of community. This 3,000 year journey has been one of gradual separation… socially, spiritually, and culturally. At first, primitive cultures operated out of a simple gift economy. As civilization became more complex and expansive, money became the primary tool of exchange. The separateness we see now is fueled by illusion (most promoted in the economies of the West) that we live with a scarcity of basic resources such as food, land, or water. Buying into this illusion, we are inclined to think along the lines of  “what is mine and what is yours,” compete for those goods and resources, and fence ourselves in. Continue reading

Explore Breath and Balance in Buncrana, Ireland this September

by Janice Rous

Finding Center Through Breath and Balance, September 7-9, is an opportunity to delve deeply into your breath, your physical patterns, and your unique relationship to stability and balance. Although we are breathing all the time, most of us experience restriction and constriction in our breathing and in our musculature. This is a natural result of emotional and postural patterns we each accumulate over a lifetime.

Together, we’ll take this time in Buncrana, Ireland to slow down and explore what it really means to enjoy freer breathing. We’ll examine how our daily habits prevent us from experiencing the ease and joy that are available to us all the time. Through yoga, private sessions, and group workshops, we’ll help you develop a greater awareness of your body and breath. Through sounding, toning, and voice, we’ll create a playful environment in which you can experiment with practices to support your daily life. All of these practices will give you greater mobility, pleasure, and joy in movement and breath, and ultimately, more balance. What makes this retreat unique is that it willl provide you with a toolbox of practices you can take home with you into your everyday life.

As bodywork and voice practitioners, we will host you on a journey to not only reveal the physical story of your breath and body, but also the emotional stories stored in your musculature. This retreat is an adventure in to the unknown. Together, we will explore our inner landscapes with deep intention, clarity of purpose, and a lightness of curiosity. Each day affords us the opportunity for meeting ourselves in a new way. This retreat is a chance to do exactly that. We will learn what becomes possible when we free up the tensions that have kept us safe and controlled. We invite you to come join us and explore another aspect of yourself. And we invite you to our lovely group of Irish friends and colleagues in Buncrana who have welcomed us with incredible generosity.

We recommend that participants begin the retreat with a private session with either Claire or Janice. This will allow for a hands on investigation into your particular areas of restriction and tension and physical patterns. Learn more or register. Download the PDF. Call Janice at 646.734.5709 or email to talk more.

Janice Stieber Rous is the founder of Body Dialogue, an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the body and mind. She combines yoga, breathing coordination, and Alexander Technique to help people reconnect with their natural breath and movement. Janice leads workshops and retreats across the globe and spends most of her time in New York City, Florida, and Israel.

Claire Hodge has more than 30 years experience as a voice teacher and brings the unique perspective of using toning to facilitate a new level of body awareness and breathing coordination. The powerful combination of Body Dialogue and voice help people gain more confidence, control, resonance and freedom in their everyday lives.

For Collaborators, Proper Alignment Keeps the Work Moving



by Lex Schroeder

Most of us think we know what the word collaboration means, but we don’t. I usually oversimplify it and think of two or more people joining efforts to get something done. Let’s collaborate on this deeply interesting thing over here! Or let’s join forces on this other thing that demands our attention! Sure, people bring their own skills and talents into the mix, but the emphasis is on productivity, not the interplay and synergy that happens or doesn’t happen—or has no chance of happening—in the group.

I’m working on two different projects dedicated to exploring what effective collaboration looks like in practice and how to create the conditions for it to occur more often. The idea is that if we can work together better, maybe we can focus more energy on the creative potential of the work at hand, advancing the real possibilities that exist there rather than the interpersonal or process dynamics that so often get in the way.

I still have plenty of questions, but this is clear: collaboration is much more than two or more people working together; it’s about communicating and learning with others in order to create something you couldn’t possibly have created alone. It’s about finding a shared groove, yes, but a purposeful, synergistic, fantastically unique one.

Continue reading

Inviting the Quiet Gift

by Dick Durning

This blog was originally published at

Recently my wife and I were guests at a high end gala in Chicago. The evening’s high point was listening to the event’s two honorees, both human rights activists, one from Indonesia and the other from Zimbabwe. Their simple words and humility captured everyone in the ballroom. For a brief time there was a community sharing the company of two remarkable people.

Then, the gala “got back to business.” The mood shifted. A designated “ringmaster” challenged us to dig a little deeper so the event could reach a new level of support. Everyone had received a little transmitting wand that allowed us to enter donations and be recognized on two gigantic screens. “Oh look! There’s Jack and Sally Jones.” This was the culmination of the gala–a celebration of the donor.

Reflecting back on the eventing, two questions came to mind: Where does the “quiet” gift fit in this world of ours? As individuals and communities, where does the natural flow of our giving show up?

The two honorees’ work was within cultures of quiet generosity, community, care and shared commitment. They are a part of an ancient and sacred linage where giving is as natural a sunset, an apple, or the casserole delivered to an elderly neighbor. Berkana is experimenting with just this kind of giving culture. Shilpa and Manish Jain’s book, Reclaiming the Gift Culture, is a collection of writing that provides a wonderful variety of examples of quiet giving and introduces the term gupt daan or “undisclosed giving.” In Ladakhis Tibet, cooperation and mutual aid is inherent to their culture. Beverly Bell writes of the guiding principle in Mali which is: “Who you are is very much defined by what you do in relationship with other people. It’s how much you give to others.”

In contrast, there is the noisier way of giving. Our support provides recognition, benefits and status that can range from tax benefits to the gala take-away gift bags. More value and time are dedicated to the wealthier prospect and the larger donation. YES, we must pay the rent and make payroll, but at the same time we are diminishing the place of the “quiet gift”.

So how does the quiet gift (gupt daan or “undisclosed giving” in Sanskrit) seep back into ourselves and our communities? This question is an invitation for your own reflections and responses. I’ll start.

  • Be mindful of your ongoing capacity to live out gupt daan. I send you an advance thank you.
  • Teach your children and our youth the idea of gupt daan.
  • Read and share Shilpa and Manish Jain’s book, Reclaiming the Gift Culture. Much of my writing has been inspired by this gem.
  • Team up with your boss and colleagues to explore how your community can begin the welcome the gift culture as a value enhancement in the workplace.

For me, I try daily to be attuned and grateful for nature’s ongoing generosity… dancing leaves, sunlight brightening a brick building, breezes through pine trees. I want to try “7 days, 7 gifts”, a giving challenge. The idea around it is simple. In this practice, you are invited to give one gift each day for 7 days to friends or strangers.

If you have any ideas or stories about how to live out gupt daan, I invite you to share them here and welcome a conversation.

Embodying Wisdom During Times of Rapid Change


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by Janice Stieber Rous

What Is Embodying Wisdom All About?

Most people hear the word embodiment and think it’s purely about being in our physical bodies. It is about coming into our bodies, but it’s much more than that; it’s energetic, it’s about presence.

Embodiment–or what I call embodying wisdom–is a tool that allows us to tune into ourselves to feel into what we are experiencing in the moment. It is a way of bringing a conversation back to center, a way of tuning in to your breath, body, intention, and tone of speech–and to others’ as well. There is a flow everyone experiences in the room, and usually a deep felt sense of satisfaction. This is in contrast to what I call dislocation–those conversations in which one leaves the space not quite sure what actually happened and then spends a lot of time trying to process how to get back to what they perceived and imagined was possible, but only in their own frame.

Embodying Wisdom in Groups

Here’s why embodiment is important in groups. Embodiment is a tool we can use to tune into what is not being said within a group, but is felt. Think back to the many one-on-one and group conversations you’ve had in your professional and creative life. How often do we find ourselves saying “that did not feel good” after the fact? We want to cultivate a practice where we know what we are feeling when we are feeling it.

More often than not in meetings, something distracts us. Something distracting may be happening in the moment, or we may get triggered by something that happened in the past. Our level of distraction individual and collective distraction is what determines whether our conversation allows us to communicate deeply with one another, or whether our words and ideas simply float in the space with no grounding to them.

Embodiment is also way of energetically sensing a larger field than is often presented in words. This can be demonstrated by the work of the heart field. When people are able to share in a heart field, an energetic shift occurs. People often feel a sense of lightness, possibility, and/or connectedness. Finding ourselves in this situation can feel delightful, it can feel calming. It often comes with a shared sense of relief and a large exhale.

This is incredibly valuable when we think about all the work we seek to accomplish together in our teams and organizations. Ideally, when we are connected and tuned into ourselves and others in the room, we’re able to track energetically if we are all sharing a communal experience. That knowing allows an idea, feeling, or experience to “drop in” collectively. Many of us can recall stumbling upon these moments accidentally. In these moments, we can feel that everyone in the conversation is in alignment. Everyone is speaking and listening to each other with intention.

Why does this matter?

We all want our conversations to matter. We’re all capable of becoming active players in shifting our own consciousness and the collective consciousness of a group. When we are in our bodies, we embody our own sensing and knowing. This new way of sensing and recalibrating one’s own energy allows us to know where our conversations are going. If we notice that a conversation needs to be brought back to center, there are ways that we can redirect the energy of group.

For a long time, we believed this ability to embody and express wisdom was only a gift of the intuitive. After many years of practice, I know this is something that can be taught and cultivated. In order to deepen our intuitive faculty, we must develop an ability to notice when we are not in alignment with our breath, thought, action, and intention.

Our conversations are more than a mere exchange of thoughts and ideas. Rather than seeing conversations as difficult, we can begin to think of them as akin to a series of agreements. When we’re in alignment in ourselves, we are better able to communicate and find alignment with others.

Returning to Center: A Simple Practice to Stay Connected in Conversation


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by Dick Durning

Veering from center. So easy to do.

In my last blog, I invited you to imagine a one-on-one meeting with a very wealthy corporate prospect in which you make an ask for financial support. Let’s say that thus far this meeting is running smoothly. Using the practices of invitation, sharing, exploration, and affirmation (ISEA), the conversation has reached a natural and easy flow. Then your host asks you an unexpected question. It catches you off guard, anxiety sets in, and you momentarily go blank. You have veered off track or, as some declare, you go “off center.”

It can happen in so many ways: nasty comments, doodling, boring stories, long pauses, headlines, or tough questions. Me? I go off center by talking to much either out of nervousness or thinking that my story is so fascinating.

How do we return to center?

The first step is to be aware. Often we sense we are off center immediately. Your host’s tough question throw’s you for an immediate loop. Other times we are oblivious. The trick is to consistently practice your awareness. Become sensitive to your host’s reactions. Ask your friends and colleagues to provide gentle reminders. Become attuned to how your body sends its signals: short breathing, tight stomach, general discomfort.

Next, stop and take a breath or two and allow yourself return to center. I encourage my clients to reflect upon an image that captures the heart of their organization. It could be a child’s face, a wetland, a moving quote, or scripture. When that off center moment inevitably comes, ponder that image, take a breath, and move on. It is a quiet reminder and helpful tool.

Third step, ask yourself:  “Am I back to center?” “How do I feel?”

Final thought: Remember that your prospect (or friend, family member, or stranger) is your partner in maintaining the communication and flow of the meeting. Invite their participation. For example:

  • “Could you expand on that question?”  “I am not sure I caught what you meant.”
  • “This meeting is very big for me and frankly I’m a bit nervous.”
  • “Excuse me. I feel we are veering from our agenda. I would love to chat about this topic later.”

Your candor and commitment will likely impress your host. You’re then ready to return your shared center and the conversation you both want to be in.

There is a simplicity of process here, but a lifetime of practice. I welcome your comments, ideas, or questions.

Generous Space: Asking With Ease and Effectiveness

by Dick Durning

In three hours you will be meeting a CEO of a huge corporation whose personal worth exceeds $200 million. You will represent your organization and the objective is to secure a future gift in the six figure range. This person is well-known in the community, conservative, and is no-nonsense.

At a board retreat, I asked the members to imagine themselves in this setting. What words come to mind?

“GET ME OUTTA HERE” was the first response.

Others replied: “Scared to death.” “Nervous.” “Dread.”

Why is there such negativity when we are confronted with the idea of meeting with someone and asking for support—especially for a cause we deeply believe in? Our answers vary:  “Asking for money is always hard!” “These are scary economic times.” “I hate being turned down.”

There is an alternative.

Entering your meeting, you instead bring an openness and a generosity. Assumptions are scrapped, fears are shelved, and attitudes are left at the door. You and your host are about to explore possibilities. And, by meeting’s end, you will reach a new level of understanding and association.

From beginning to end, you use a simple practice called “Generous Space.”  Throughout your time together, your provide a generosity of: invitation (I), sharing (S), exploration (E), and affirmation (A)—ISEA.

Invitation provides your host choice. “May I invite you to visit our site?” “May we explore possible funding?” “Could you expand on that comment?”

Sharing is your response to the host’s questions and/or interests. This is your gift, your opportunity to provide information about your cause or organization that is directly benefitting your community.

Exploration (quality questions). The meeting begins with an openness. You do not have our host profiled as “wealthy”, “intimidating”, or “famous”. Instead, you bring a curiosity and intent to discover your host’s interests and objectives. Related to your generosity of invitation, you explore with questions that help you open up new insights and understandings.

Affirmation assures clarity. You review a comment or a question to affirm that you listened well. This tells your host that you are listening intently and want their confirmation that their message was heard.

Your meeting will take on a quality of ease. Invitation… sharing… exploration… affirmation arise within space of generosity. It is a space that naturally helps transforms your relationship from host/guest to a partnership seeking common ground.

Participants are amazed and delighted with the simplicity and effectiveness of the way you have hosted this conversation. You have created a Generous Space. Whether asking for a six figure donation or selling a raffle ticket, the practice is the same always mindful of generosity. You are that gift!