The world as we know it today is more complex than ever. How will we make sense of an increasingly complicated society? How do we overcome the psychological and physical barriers to finding true happiness? These are some of the questions tackled by Ebb and Flow. Created by Kent Bye and Jen Gouvea in October 2005, the video blog examines different “spiritual approaches to social change. Specifically, how inner transformation can support and sustain us through the journey of transforming our outer world.” The site is as much of a resource for highlighting various spiritual modalities and avenues of activism as it is an intimate look into the personal lives of Jen and Kent. The couple combine their backgrounds in film, social work, and electrical engineering to create new media projects infused with thought-provoking messages.
Ebb and Flow can roughly be split along its motto: “Inner Peace/ Outer Action.” About half of the videos deal with exploring modes of finding personal serenity. From meditation, to yoga, to qi gong, to somatic inquiry, the videos offer ideas on how to cultivate mental awareness and harmony through physical relaxation/exercises. Rather than expounding religious dogma, the videos are centered on exploring spirituality and (often nontraditional) ways of pursuing personal acceptance and compassion.
By comparison, the “outer action” components of the site are a little less clear. Kent and Jen do provide links to several resources for activism or community projects, and they occasionally illustrate how people are affecting social change, such as filming an anti-DRM (digital rights management) protest at San Franciso’s Apple store. But it would be even nicer if more videos outlined specific steps individuals can take to make a difference. Then again, Ebb and Flow isn’t designed to be a how-to site necessarily, and for inspirational, call-to-action purposes, the videos provide just enough food for thought.
How exactly will achieving inner peace translate into positive action? Multiple authorities weigh in on the discussion here.