It was a long time in the planning, a conversation begun two years ago in earnest, a few twists and turns along the way with possible hosting team members and dates. If you trust in the timing and flow of things, it was clear, Hosting from A Deeper Place: The Art of Hosting the Subtle happened in exactly the right timing at the end of February 2013 near Sao Paulo, Brazil at Espaço Arco-Íris.
The gathering was inspired by Marianne Williamson‘s quote from A Return to Love:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Since it was the first gathering with the specific intent of exploring what it means to host from a deeper place, the hosting team of myself, Narjara Thamiz, Gustavo Prudente and Jerry Nagel sensed the need to spend additional time together beforehand, preparing ourselves, preparing the field for what wanted to happen and we decided on three days. In hosting work these days, there are typical patterns we draw on in our design process. For this gathering, there were no particular patterns to draw on. We felt in the not knowing of new patterns, of what wanted to emerge. We were intentional in inviting ourselves to stay in our own not knowing about what exactly the gathering was and about what was to happen during those days together.
The purpose that emerged through our deliberate enquiry into a statement that would guide our design process was: Joining together in a learning field to deepen individual and collective capacity to host complexity.
We decided to draw on Theory U to map out our five days together and to incorporate the Four Fold Practice as fully and intentionally into each day as we could, looking for the interplay between hosting self and hosting others, and the dynamic relationship between the mystical and the practical and how that shows up in each of the four practices.
Day 1, started after lunch, beginning with a walk through the woods of the beautify retreat centre to ground us in the energy of the place, the energy and intention of our time together and then moved to a circle check-in.
The theme of Day 2 was hosting self and others into a deeper place, moving down the left hand side of the U. We used body movement and guided visualization to invite an expanded sense of being, enquired about people’s experience with not knowing for a powerful world cafe and open space to invite “conversations would help me host myself and others to go into a deeper place”.
As people arrived this was the extent of the design development we had done as a team even after being together already for three days, holding ourselves in our individual and collective not knowing. Days 3-5 were completely blank other than knowing the theme or intention for each day. They needed to be that way, to tune into what wanted to emerge from and for the collective.
The theme of Day 3 was Hosting within a Deeper Place at the bottom of the U. At the end of Day 2, as a hosting team, we recognized the divergence of our own world views in this work from more practical to more mystical. Wanting to be in service of the people there rather than any of our own individual needs, we invited any who wished to join our hosting team meeting. When they arrived, first we asked them why they came to the meeting and then we asked them what going deeper meant to them.
I’m not sure we realized we carried an expectation that going deeper somehow meant diving into shadow and fear until someone spoke about how the Marianne Williamson quote had sparked goosebumps and shivers, imagining illuminating our light. It was one of those moments when shift happens and everything seems to open up. The design for Day 3 began to emerge and by the time we were done and names appeared next to each design element, I realized I’d hosted myself out of hosting. A beautiful and disconcerting thing at the same time.
The design for Day 3 began with movement to begin the embodiment of light and playfulness and set the stage for a guided visualization, after which there was a short period of time for reflection through silence, art, poetry, journaling or being in nature – whatever called to each one. We moved into appreciative triads with the following questions:
- Tell a story of a time when stepping into your deepest fear liberated powerful things in your life?
- What is the gift you have you don’t fully acknowledge?
- What are you learning about your own talents, gift and light?
- Who must you step into being in honour of your fullest potential?
This was followed by three hours of silence, including a silent lunch and then back into our triads, paired with another triad to reflect on what we are learning about our hosting now, followed by a long check out circle, people wanting to share reflections and insights gleaned throughout the day. Celebration, story telling and music around the fire at night.
The next day, Day 4, was clear. Open space all day. A world cafe at the end to harvest the day. The field was now hosting itself. Noticing synchronicities. Hosting from within and out of a deeper place. This day seemed to invite the deep mystical to show up in many different forms and conversations. The field was ready to be in this exploration. And always we carried the curiosity of how does this inform the practice, how does it translate into the practical.
Day 5. Getting read to go home. Saying good byes. Departures. Hosting out of a Deeper Place. Gently. For re-entry. More embodiment. A visualization of taking it home. Back in our triads. ”When I leave here, how will I balance and integrate my knowing with my internal and external worlds? And what help might I need?” Then an embodied harvest of our days together, angel corridor and collective poem. Moments of pause and silence. Nobody wanting to break the circle.
A field alive with all that had flowed in and emerged over our days together, still deeply curious about the mystical and the practical of hosting. A clear swirling around hosting self as central, core to all the other practices in the four fold practice, core to hosting from a deeper place.
A group so connected and field so alive it continues to spark and shine across North and South America. Connected in depth. Connected in love. Connected in journey of work that calls each of us to step in, lean in further, challenge ourselves in how we show up so we invite others to show up differently and more fully.
The stories of impact are already emerging and we imagine it will only be in the weeks to come that we more fully understand the impact of this gathering on our individual and collective hosting capacity, especially as we work in more and more complex situations. We plan to touch back in with deliberateness to harvest more, to learn more, to understand how we host from a deeper place and what it means when we are able to do so.