heARTful Action: Murmuration


“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. ” — Maya Angelou

heARTful is a word I made up to mean awareness from and leading with the heart. heARTful Action posts focus on how to stand up and create a culture of health, inclusion and kindness. heARTful Action posts are calls to love warriors everywhere.

This morning, I had an early meeting. The sun was just coming up as I drove into town and the sky was tie dyed rose pink and robin’s egg blue. As I came over a hill I was met by a tidal wave of birds.


It was a murmuration of starlings: thousands and thousands of birds flying and swooping and soaring together. I think watching even a single bird fly is amazing but this, this coordinated, intricate swirl of flight, is breath-taking.

The science behind the starlings’ flight is fascinating and not fully understood. In a 2013 article about it in The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Andrea Alfano asks,

…how do these masses of birds move so synchronously, swiftly, and gracefully? This isn’t an idle question—it has attracted the attention of physicists interested in how group behavior can spontaneously arise from many individuals at once.

This is how I envision heARTful action: a mumuration. Individuals doing something together.

Often the intricate flight patterns of a murmuration are in response to a threat, like a predator flying close to tht flock. Researchers have done complex calculations to explain how the extraordinary formations happen in a flock of so many birds. Alfano explains,

Surprising as it may be, flocks of birds are never led by a single individual. Even in the case of flocks of geese, which appear to have a leader, the movement of the flock is actually governed collectively by all of the flock members. But the remarkable thing about starling flocks is their fluidity of motion. As the researchers put it, “the group respond[s] as one.”

You can read the whole article here, but I see a murmuration as a beautiful metaphor for the power of individuals working together. One of us flying alone is a lovely thing. Thousands of us together is invincible.

Today, I invite you to do two heARTful Actions:

(1) Connect with others who are flying in the same direction you are.

Find a group in your area (an excellent example in Charlottesville is Together Charlottesville ~ you can find them on their web page and on Facebook) and see what they are doing that is in alignment with your personal focus. How can we pool resources, avoid duplicate efforts and create a bigger flock.

(2) Invite a friend (or seven) to join heARTful Action.

Our group will provide resources (including other groups like Together Charlottesville that we can be part of) as well as specific action ideas that we will share via email (just let me know if you’d like to get on the list) and on our Facebook page. Regular in-person gatherings and workshops in the Charlottesville area are ongoing ways we can support and encourage each other.

Be part of the murmuration.

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