The essay below is something that I am working on as the old year closes and the new one arrives — putting together some basic group guidelines which might be useful to anyone wishing to experiment with this thing I am so interested in at the moment. That thing could be called a number of different things: collective wisdom, a field of resonance, broadened attention, collective awareness, relational field, collaborative inquiry or we-space.
Are groups of individuals able to learn to tap into a larger field of awareness beyond their personal mental constructs? Is such a “field” able to guide those people who are willing towards what is healthy for the whole, and help us solve those intractable problems which modern life presents us with? These are the sorts of questions that fascinate a number of people today, and those people have begun experimenting meeting with others in order to explore this territory.
Such meetings are easily sidetracked in many ways and it is my own sense that there needs to be clear intentionality about what is appropriate for those gatherings and a willingness for each individual to contribute to the effort of keeping such meetings on track. In the spirit of helpfulness to our collective endeavor, the points below are suggested as starting points for the meeting guidelines, even as they must stay open for revision and refinement as each group learns and grows together.
1- A curiosity about what is possible is basic – a spirit of mutual exploration and discovery about what is or is not happening.
2- A willingness and ability to drop one’s personal agenda and opinions is needed. A commitment to, as best we can, assume a “beginner’s mind” about why the meeting is occurring and what will happen in it.
3- Deep Listening , involving a willingness to both welcome, allow and listen to the silences in the conversation. When listening to words, listening for and, if prompted, responding to the deepest thread that can be found. We listen to others for the places where they speak about all of us as they speak about themselves.
4- A willingness to refrain from lengthy storytelling, and every other exit strategy that one normally employed to avoid the depth of engagement and the avoid what is available in the present moment.
5 – Risk Taking. A willingness to be authentic rather than nice, and to speak ones truth to others in a vulnerable way. A willingness to speak up authentically even if we are likely to be in error or feel embarrassed. Welcoming both the light and the dark of ourselves and each other to the best of our ability and supporting each other in doing so.
6 – Prioritizing caring for the life force, the depth, the energy in the center of the room, the resonance, the way the group feels, or how it feels to each to be in the group, even at risk of personal loss of face.
7- To bring, as best we can, a trust in the larger process of our evolving humanity and a personal interest in participation in it that overrides our personal self-interest in being right or in keeping up appearances.
With a group of people coming together around guidelines like the above, the next thing is to set up a space with some care for a meditative quality to it. Starting with a small number of people can sometimes be helpful for keeping the focus. It is a broad focus that this kind of group is seeking, as opposed to the narrow focus involved in getting things done or individual problem solving. A flower, plant, candle, mediation bell or such things can be helpful for holding open this broad kind of focus, or anything else that encourages individuals to drop the focus that allowed them to drive there and be on time and step into a broader awareness. It is also best to have a specific length of time for the meeting agreed on beforehand, so that the time can become like a container for a specific kind of work/thought/awareness. Taking it out of that container into daily life is a different kind of movement and will happen differently and separately for each individual.
© 2014 Alice Gardner