WTR Network: How many workshops and/or events WTR focused do you run a year?
Yuka Saito: I usually go back to Japan once a year for a couple of months and run workshops. This setting allows me to have three to five workshops a year the most. However, because of our current situation of COVID 19, I’m getting more and more online requests.
WTR Network: Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you become involved in the WTR and what role does it have in your life?
Yuka Saito: I met Joanna’s work not long after the triple catastrophe of March 11th in 2011. Sean Kelly, a colleague of Joanna as well as professor at California Institute of Integral Studies, came to teach at Ritsumeikan university in Kyoto. He introduced the concepts of Joanna’s work and facilitated some powerful exercises from the WTR. I was struck by the contents (and him. That’s why he is now my husband). I moved to Berkeley in 2013 and since then, I have taken her workshops, participated in some classes Joanna and Sean co-taught at CIIS, and I also was part of the facilitator training program Joanna had for people of color in 2014.
In terms of the role that WTR plays in my life, I recall when I was still living in Japan. On the day of the Nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was so surreal that I didn’t even know what to feel.
Fortunately, my house was far from Fukushima and was not affected by the earthquake or tsunami, and more importantly the urgent danger of radiation didn’t sneak in my daily life immediately. So, my life, at least on the face of it, went on without much change.
However, the strange numbness was growing in me while I kept silence. And yet, I didn’t say anything because the deeper I dived into my pain, the stronger my doubt became—am I allowed to talk about pain or even feel it? Because I am an “outsider”, I mean I wasn’t directly affected by the disaster, it felt wrong to do that. It felt irresponsible, rude, and even violent toward those who are in immediate danger. As I experience the WTR, I started seeing myself not as an outsider but a part of something larger and was convinced that it is okay to feel the pain. The pain I am feeling could be the pain of Earth or future beings which might need me to say something. What a relief to feel in that way… the WTR helped me to trust my feelings. Not only that, it helped me to reconnect my courage and confidence which enabled me to take a stand and speak up.
WTR Network: What are you grateful for in the WTR world?
Yuka Saito: Along with what I just said above–knowing that there are countless sisters and brothers working on behalf of our world.
WTR Network: What challenges and struggles have you experienced as a facilitator of the WTR?
Yuka Saito: To be with the the pain of the participants while feeling myself inadequate or helpless. Especially when I worked with the evacuees from Fukushima, I was afraid, wondering if they could trust someone like me who didn’t go through the same experience they did.
WTR Network: What has been the most difficult moment in your journey through the WTR?
Yuka Saito: My pain threshold is going down. Since I set out on this journey , I have started feeling pain much more often than I used to. For example, it hurts even more now reading the news, or when I see an image of a polar bear family looking for food, or a woman with her baby asking for money in front of a super market everyday….
WTR Network: What has emerged for you since you started facilitating the WTR?
Yuka Saito: I developed greater strength against criticism and failure. When I know that I am giving myself to something larger, I don’t need to defend my little self.
WTR Network: What are your next steps in this Work?
Yuka Saito: Further translation work and “Holding Actions” for climate change
WTR Network: What would you say to someone who is new to the WTR?
Yuka Saito:: Welcome, my bodhisattva sibling!
WTR Network: What recommendations do you have for new facilitators?
Yuka Saito: I recommend that they participate in WTR workshops and experience the work as many times as possible. And then, read CBTL over and over until they understand not only the theoretical part, but also the intentions and background of the exercises till they memorize them.
WTR Network: Do you have a favorite practice? Why?
Yuka Saito: “Who are you?” is my favorite. The moment participants remember who they are, the atmosphere of a workshop drastically changes. It’s as if flowers bloom all at once in the universe.
WTR Network: Are you part of a hub?
Yuka Saito:Yes I am. I am one of the fortunate ones who can learn from Joanna Macy directly and bring the essence to Japan.
WTR Network: Are other facilitators in your area? Who are they?
Yuka Saito: In Japan there are quite a few people staring to do the work. In 2020, I finished the Japanese translation of Coming Back To Life. To publish the book and to enhance opportunities for getting to know about the WTR, a group of Japanese people created a website around the book through which people can also find WTR facilitators in Japan, just like this WTR network website. This is the link. https://joannamacy-japan.com/workshop/japanese-facilitators/
WTR Network: Do you have any upcoming events you’d like to share?
Yuka Saito: Unfortunately, because of COVID-19 I had to cancel all in-person workshops in Japan in 2020. However, I’m planning to offer some online courses, workshops, and reading/study groups. These learning opportunities will be announced by the website I mentioned above.
WTR Network: Are you available for mentoring others?
Yuka Saito: I would love to say “Yes!” but for now I see my role in the Great Turning as helping build a linguistic and cultural bridge between Japan and the WTR.
WTR Network: If so, how can people starting in their facilitating path connect with you for mentoring?
Yuka Saito: People are always welcome to my workshops, to do the work with me and hopefully learning some facilitation skills and knowledge from me!
The Japanese translation of Coming Back to Life has just been published this September in Japan! After three years of work by Yuka Saito, a translator as well as WTR facilitator, the book is now available for Japanese speakers. To celebrate it, there was a series of workshops and events held online and a total number of around 1000 people participated. At the main event, Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown gave a deep and inspirational talk. You can find the information about the Japanese translation of Coming Back to Life on this page.