Activation, Amplification, Acceleration

These three words – activation, amplification and acceleration – have been keywords of mine for awhile now.  2013 is the year I live into them fully and I am already the recipient of the delicious impact of them – which is why I am only now finishing a post I started at the beginning of the month, the beginning of the new year.

These words capture the essence for me of what time it is in the world, what is needed now and what so many of us are living into as we live and work in the ways that we do – fully, as authentically as we know how in any given moment, with heart.  Not trying to solve all the worlds problems, but focusing on what calls us.

These three words – activation, amplification and acceleration – are so alive in my experience of 2013 that they have caught me by surprise. So much is flowing I almost can’t keep track of it so I am learning to trust feeling the flow rather than thinking it.  One of the intentions I had held for 2012 was to become aware of and break patterns that no longer serve me and step into new patterns that serve me better.  As 2012  is still flowing into 2013, there are signs all around me that this intention has borne fruit.  A new pattern is learning how to breathe into flow rather than be overwhelmed by it, so I can continue to receive what wants to show up in the abundance in which it is being offered.

Activation happens individually and collectively.  What is it we want to give life to? What do we want to live and be?  What is it we want to do?  What is the vision of our life journey or path?

It is what happens when we gather to do meaningful work in the world.  We activate patterns.  We activate hope. We activate intention. We activate the possible.  What wants to emerge.  What wants to come to life.

We always have the potential to activate.  Often we do it unintentionally.  I and some of my good friends and colleagues are living into the question of what happens when we do it with intentionality and awareness.  Feeling this year is particularly about activating the mystical in step with the practical.  How do we live with a foot in both realms, each fueling and feeding the other?  And, for me, it is activating with boldness.  In 2009 when I articulated my purpose statement, the word “boldly” included itself – I boldly bring my healing gifts to the shifting shape of the world and the regeneration of its people.  It is only now, four years later, that I feel it truly activated in me and in how I am intending to show up in the world.

Amplification.  What happens when we activate together, in a collective field.  I can journey alone.  We can each work alone in our individual realms.  But, when we activate together we amplify the impact.   It becomes stronger and more powerful.  The energetic field is amplified. This is one reason we host with others.  More happens and more quickly.  The mystical expands and is amplified.  The practical moves more swiftly, carried by more people and stronger intention.

Amplification leads to acceleration.  Things happen faster.  Healing happens faster.  Not necessarily because we intend to go faster but because the conditions emerge for acceleration.  There is a discernment here between being busier at work and in our lives which comes simply from acting and doing, trying to do more, faster.  The kind of acceleration I mean here is the result of tending the field, the spiritual, the energetic, the mystical.  Grounded in this kind of energy, acceleration is the flow that naturally emerges as synergies occur and synchronicities appear.   The things beyond which we could have planned.  The people and events that show up in right time and right place.  As if they have been waiting for us or we have been waiting for each other.

heart on fire

I have been learning about these three words since I started using them a few years ago.  This is the year they are on fire for me.  They are part of what has inspired me to be in the journey of the offering of Hosting from a Deeper Place: The Art of Hosting the Subtle in Brazil at the end of February 2013.  A conversation that started years ago with my beautiful friend Narjara Thamiz and grew to include our co-hosts Gustavo Prudente and Jerry Nagel.  An offering that has seen many potential dates come and go until it finally landed in the first quarter of 2013.  An offering that has attracted friends and colleagues from Brazil, the United States and Canada.  An offering where we will lean into our not knowing, hold the space for emergence and where these three words – activate, amplify and accelerate – will be very much alive for me.

I am in wonder of how vibrant and alive life is as I learn to feel my way into it more, grow my own receptivity to what is emerging and live fully into the gifts I have to offer as this second half of my life continues to unfold in blessed and graced ways.  I am humbled and renewed every single day.

Hosting Lessons from the Field – Part 2

How many of us have had the opportunity to enter into hosting a day or a training (Art of Hosting style) without any design for the day, completely sensing into what is needed in the moment and fluidly dancing with five other hosts with offerings to meet what was emerging in the field moment by moment?  How would you meet that invitation?  Excitement? Trepidation? Both and anything in between?

It is one thing to do this on your own or with one other person as Bob Wing and I did last summer in work we’d been invited into that turned into Hosting Ceremony.  It is a whole other thing to do it with a new hosting team  constellation of six of us on the third and last day of working together – in this case for the first Warrior of the Heart training completed in Brazil in January 2012.

Warrior of the Heart is the work of Toke Moeller and Bob Wing coming out of many opportunities they had to jam together combining Art of Hosting and Aikido practices and principles.  Playing together they imagined Warrior of the Heart training into being.  I’d participated in a couple of Warrior of the Heart trainings – on Bowen Island in August 2010 and then at Windhorse Farm in Nova Scotia just this last October, 2011 with my 9 year old son.  I’d also had the chance to work with Bob where Warrior of the Heart became a component of the Art of Hosting training we were delivering.

In September 2011, after the Art of Hosting training in Porto Alegre, Brazil that I’d been co-hosting, Thomas Ufer, Najara Thamiz and I sat down with Jose Bueno and crafted an invitation to Bob and Toke to bring Warrior of the Heart to Brazil for the first time to seed the field for more and build the ground for the amazing expansion of the Art of Hosting and social change movements happening there.

Working with a larger hosting team for a training the two of them were used to offering on their own invited Bob and Toke to some new learning edges. They invited the rest of us to go there right along with them.  There was already a huge reservoir of trust in our hosting field even before we began. We built on it during our preparation and hosting time together.  On our last day, it was Toke who invited us into the dance of hosting together without an agreed to advance plan.

I felt in me my own skepticism at the invitation which arrived after morning practice, before breakfast, where we had actually invoked this flow already.  I really wasn’t sure how it would work and whether we would all find our own place to play in this day – but I was willing to step into the challenge – because with this team there was nothing to lose and lots to gain.

As the six of us stood in a tight circle on the stone patio outside the training building, a staff was in the centre with the challenge of who would take it first and offer something to the group to begin our day.  Silence.  A deep collective breath or two.  I could feel the tremble in me.  Another breath and then I reached for the staff.

I had been preparing during our time together to do a teach with the sword – in this case the wooden representation of the sword – a bokken.  Bob had been coaching me.  Perhaps because I was preparing to step into the challenge of a teach on something I was still very much learning myself, I had taken Bob’s feedback and coaching in in a whole new way, embodying the teaching and the sword movements with more fluidity and confidence than I ever remembered feeling.  I had been preparing for a teach and this was apparently the moment it would be offered.

I started the teach – the four directions – and forgot how to do the step to turn from one direction to another.  Without being hard on myself, I asked Bob to step in and help — and he did because he had my back.  All six of us had each other’s backs and none of us needed to shine or take up too much space and yet we were all invited to offer our brilliance when we felt the call.

It was the beginning of a rich dance that included all six of us throughout the day.  The experience was playful and fun and ended with a touching and powerful ceremony.

Raising the Sword in the Warrior of the Heart (Brazil 2012) Closing Circle

The willingness to let go of control and design flowed into the Brazil Stewards Gathering that followed the Warrior of the Heart – in its own way and to its own degree because, of course, the team and the circumstances were different.  But the fluidity of the dance was just as hesitant and joyful in its own way.

I’ve been reflecting on what makes this kind of dance possible?  One is definitely trust in the individuals and the collective of the team – knowing that each individual is there to serve the good of the whole and with no need to shine on an individual basis – although, as I mentioned above, of course each person does shine because of the gifts they have to offer in service of the whole.

A sense of knowing when what I have to offer as an individual is exactly what is needed now.  This is a complete dance with the subtle energies, with intuitive capacity.  The courage to offer it when it is called.  A certain level of trust or confidence in my own skills and abilities.  A willingness to let other people shine in their mastery or even in their apprenticeship.

It takes a certain level of maturity in each individual, the team and even in the field.

Would I want to completely free flow it every time?  I don’t think so.  Every situation requires us to be tuned into what is wanting and needing to happen.  Different situations will call out different things. And many situations invite a free flowing of design and offerings to different degrees.  I and we are already practiced with working with emergence.   Practicing to this degree honed my skill and my sensing capacity and invited me into new levels of mastery.  It is embodied in a new way.  It will always be with me – and with each of us.

Having had the opportunity to host immediately after this experience, I know it’s in me in a new way and for that I am grateful.  Looking forward to the next opportunity to dance in the ultimate emergent design – and to all the other variations of that that will show up along the way.  Thanks Toke for the invitation and to Thomas, Narjara, Jose and Bob for being willing to dance the beautiful dance that shifted the shape of my hosting experience to new depth.

 

What Time Is It In The World?

What time is it in the world?  This question has never seemed more relevant to me than right now.  It is a question I first heard in Art of Hosting work, often to context the times we are in, moving from a global perspective to much more specific contexts.  In the work and conversations I’ve been in over the last decade, there has been a sense of preparing for a time to come.  Now, in this time in the world, we are no longer preparing.  We are full on in it.  The shape of the world is shifting rapidly and it is a good time to be awake.

No longer are we waiting for someone else to fix the problems in the world. Like the Hopi prophecy says: we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  Ordinary citizens are peacefully showing up by the thousands in public spaces in cities around the world to say, Enough! The Occupy movement has been rolling out across North America since September 17, 2011 beginning with Occupy Wall Street, inspired, whether they know it or not by events in Europe over the spring and summer where people also showed up in the streets of Greece, Spain, and London to name a few places.  It is a movement that started with little fanfare and almost no news coverage.  It is going strong, gaining momentum over the last three weeks or so and still not much coverage in the main stream media.  Thank goodness for social media! People don’t quite know what to make of it because it is not typical of demonstrations and protests where demands are made and violence is more the norm.

As Charles Eisenstein said in his post: Occupy Wall Street: No Demand is Big Enough  “Occupy Wall Street is the first manifestation in a long time of “people power” in America. For too long, democracy has, for most people, meant meaningless choices in a box. The Wall Street occupation is stepping out of the box.”  With many of our financial and government systems on the brink of collapse, the stakes are high – the highest they’ve been in my lifetime.

Tom Atlee, in his post Dawning Realizations, has noticed that “although Occupy Wall Street LOOKS like a protest and a demonstration (and occasionally turns into one), it is actually something more, something else: It is a passionate community of inquiry acting itself out as an archetypal improvisational street theater performance embodying, in one hand, people’s longings for the world as it could be and, in the other, their intense frustrations with the world as it is. These longings and frustrations reside in the whole society, not just in the occupiers.”

The Occupy movement has all the hallmarks Open Space Technology  – whoever shows are the right people, when it starts is the right time, when it’s over it’s over and whatever happened was the only thing that could have happened.  People are exercising the law of two feet just in showing up.

This is not the first time I’ve heard an Open Space reference made to recent public gatherings.  It was said about the gatherings in Greece and many others in Europe -  a giant open space with quiet conversations happening all over the square that no one individual or group called or planned.  It just began to happen.  And in Israel, a 10,000 person Cafe process was hosted in the streets of Tel Aviv and elsewhere.  Never before even imagined.

These references point me to another observation I’ve been making about What Time Is It In The World?  This observation percolates out of my recent time in Brazil where I was part of an  Art of Hosting training in Porto Alegre and also got to visit friends in Sao Paulo.  The first Art of Hosting training in Brazil was about five years ago.  Since that time a small but mighty group of friends have been building, holding and supporting the AoH field in that country.  In the last year, the field has experienced incredible growth.  After lovely, deep conversations with friends throughout the couple of weeks I was there, I came to the understanding of  a subtle but powerful distinction.  This beautiful group of early adopters and stewards is no longer holding the field – the field is now holding itself.  While these people are still important the field has grown beyond them – just like the field of shift in the world seems to have grown beyond any one individual, organization or community.

And, of course, it is not particular to the Art of Hosting field, which is what makes it even more powerful.  It comes from many fields and many different communities – like World Cafe, Open Space, Circle Practice, the Presencing Institute, Pioneers of Change, Society for Organizational Learning, Berkana, ALIA and many more; the quiet revolution Paul Hawken references in Blessed Unrest.

Sometimes it seems strange to go about my daily life, engaged in ordinary and profound conversations, dropping my son at school, navigating my parents health questions and concerns, taking care of the mundane ordinariness of life while at the same time being aware of the deep shift happening in the world right now wondering what will be different and how it will be different. Without being able to see the path, knowing with absolute certainty that things are different, they are changing and life will never be the same again, feeling in my heart that the things we have been longing for, in my awareness for the past decade or so, just might come to be.

What time is it in the world?  Are you paying attention?  Are you awake?  It is a beautiful and amazing time to be awake in the world right now.

 

2010 Enduring Impression – Deep Gratitude

People who know me who are familiar with my  life’s journey know that I have very few short stories.  I have the most amazing, incredible and sometimes almost unbelievable stories of my life and 2010 was no exception.  This year continued to bring some very big stories of experience into my life.  2010 has been a year of completion where I became aware that a five year deep transition period came to a close, opening up into a much gentler and no less transformative era of unfolding  – one I hope endures into the rest of my life.

This year has brought the deepest sense of trust in this life journey that I have ever experienced, searing into my awareness how much I am supported in the world and in my journey.  I have been aware of this over the years but there was some associated doubt, worry and fear.  No longer.  I have landed with exquisite delight and amazing joy in this place of trust.  When I do notice doubt, fear or angst lurking around the edges I know now to inquire into it and to ask for support to navigate my way through it with far more grace than I could have imagined possible.

I have learned depth of relationship and the gift I have for creating the space for this by being open, vulnerable, curious, loving and open hearted.  I have been gifted with depth and beauty of friendship by learning to be present and available for the relationship that is available to me, rather than wishing for relationship that is not.

Highlights for 2010 include the Art of Social Innovation at Windhorse Farm in NS  in April,  moving into my new house in Bedford in May, attending ALIA in Halifax in June, visiting my sister and her husband on vacation with my youngest son in July, Warrior of the Heart training and the Art of Hosting Stewards gathering on Bowen Island in BC in August, Brazil, beautiful, amazing Brazil in October and then the Berkana Weaving the Web gathering in New York also in October, an invitation into a beautiful spiritual women’s circle in November.  Permeated throughout all of these events or gatherings is the people, the rich friendships, people I love dearly who I also often have the good fortune to work with, some of whom I just met in this last year and others I have known for a very long time, all of whom I feel deep connection with.

As this year draws to a close, my most enduring feeling is one of deep gratitude – for what has evolved and emerged in my life, for this new constant of joy and falling in love everyday, for my children who touch me deeply and from whom I learn lots, for my dad who loves me unconditionally, my mother who continues to show me the extent of soul journey on this earth, to my friends here and all over the world who have my back and I have theirs, to the shamanic journey that has characterized my path far more than I ever knew, for this deep sense of trust that is becoming ingrained in me, to sensing deeply into where I am supposed to go, what I am supposed to do and how I can best do that which is mine to do.

I love how the shape of my life has shifted in this last year and I surrender fully into how it will want to shift in the coming years.  For the beginning of 2011, I feel expansiveness and readiness – ready to accept more into my life in every conceivable way, ready to be of service to that which is mine to do, ready to nourish relationships I care deeply about and ready to receive all that is wanting to flow into my life.

Art of Hosting – Is It All About Being Nice?

Art of Hosting – is it all about being nice?  This question has my attention right now, following my recent adventures in and near Sao Paulo, Brazil for a four day Art of Hosting training followed by a one day Community of Practice meeting with mostly young practitioners in that country who are holding the field there with intentionality and integrity.  It is a question that has arisen a couple of times now post the training, I know it comes up in other places and it is one that is fundamentally important to the work we do.

Is Art of Hosting just about being nice?  And, why do we feel the need to ask that question?  I wonder if it has something to do with the field we create when we come together in ways that for many are different than their usual day-to-day experiences and which beg the question of how to show up differently.

In my experiences, when we really pay attention to what’s happening in the Art of Hosting training field (and beyond too), we will know that it is not always “nice”.  There are things that come up within host teams – issues, questions, disagreements, shadow – that sometimes get addressed and sometimes don’t.  We know that unresolved issues on host teams can and does impact the training field to large and small degrees depending on the issues and the capacity of the individuals to host their own field.  Sometimes what happens in the field of the training influences or impacts the host team.

Because Art of Hosting trainings are just that – a training ground – and people are courageously stepping into hosting portions of the training using methodologies they are not yet familiar or comfortable with, it is an imperfect practice and not always “nice”.  The intention the host teams I work with carry is to support and encourage learning and growth by helping people see their own learning and growth.  In Brazil, I was part of some really powerful debriefing sessions where participants shared their learning in ways that were far more comprehensive than anything I could have shared with them.

I learned some things.  I learned how challenging it is for people to leap into the challenge of hosting when they don’t know each other, they all have great ideas about how to host the session they signed up for and they are carrying their doubts with them as they work with others and step into a very public part of the process, doubts that can very easily and often unintentionally be triggered by themselves, by others and by the work.  I am even more aware of how important it is that they feel encouraged and supported and that as part of the overall hosting team, we create space for them to grow, experiment and risk – which may also mean that they “fail”.  But if that can’t happen in the training ground, where else can it possibly happen?

Art of Hosting is about creating space for meaningful and relevant conversations and it is about relationship building.  The better we are able to build the relationships the better the conditions for the conversations we are wanting to have in our organizations, networks and communities.  The more we care about the other people involved and the purpose for which we are working, the more we are willing to stay in conversations that move us toward different results – and particularly the necessary, often difficult conversations – the ones that when we don’t have them, they get in the way of change, impact or progress and hold us back. The more we care, the more we are willing to risk – even imperfectly.

We can only truly be in those conversations when we personally are able to find our voice – a voice we often dismiss before others can or bury deep inside ourselves by believing there is no space or room for us, that we will be judged for what we want to contribute or that we do not have enough credentials, experience or credibility to say what is on our minds and in our hearts.  And this may be the thing we all most need to have voiced.

Learning, growth, risking, finding voice are not about being nice but it is a lot easier to tap into these things when we feel encouraged and when the environment is welcoming of all that is showing up.  This is not always easy to do and, for me as a host, it is a constant learning journey – and I know this was true of others on this particular hosting team.

Ultimately, the purpose of this work we do in the Art of Hosting field is to make a difference, maybe even to change the world, if I may be so bold.  And I do see it happening – in individuals, teams, organizations and communities.  I see this work being used very strategically in all kinds of places to shift the shape of communities, organizations and systems.  These trainings help us create foundations – within ourselves and with the work – to generate this shift.

The theme for this Brazilian Art of Hosting was the dance between inner and outer self – the impact of doing deep inner work on how we work in the world.  This theme came about because friends and colleagues of our Brazilian host team were asking for it and the response to the invitation was strong – thirty-nine of us altogether from a range of backgrounds and experiences,  mostly in their twenties and thirties.  The host team modeled well the theme.  We had strong, caring relationships that allowed us to compassionately and honestly voice the full range of fear, uncertainty and contradiction that was showing up for us, as well as the joy, appreciation and gratitude for what we saw emerging, building a stronger field for the participants and greater opportunities to flow with what was wanting and needing to happen in the field we were holding.

No, it is not all about being nice.  But how wonderful when we feel the foundation to be able to speak and address the things that are not so nice coming from a place of caring deeply, opening us up to more attentive listening and responsiveness and growing our capacity to shift the shape of the things that are most important to us in the world.