Return to Wholeness

I’ve been thinking for a while now. Oh oh.

About this movement a foot for many years now (and arguably never gone from poetry over the centuries) that points us humans to the fundamental awareness of wholeness.

I’ve given reasonable attention to a few practices over the years. Some of it more therapeutic in nature. Some of it more meditation based. Some of it cognitive. Some of it, well, just nature.

What I’ve learned that seems to align with my belly as a contribution to such a movement to wholeness — an essence of the orientation I bring forward when at my best working with groups — is that in each of us is all. You name the quality. Goodness. Yup, it’s there. Greediness. Yup, it’s there. Kindness. Yup. Courage. Yup. Wound. Yup. Shame. Yup.

What I’ve learned is that I like building exercises around these notions of wholeness. They can be quite simple. A little set up that invites people to a wholeness orientation. A little naming that what we might best do now is interrupt some of the pattern from which we’ve been thinking and working. A little non-brain stuff, even as simple as quiet breath. Or drawing. Or walking.

I notice for a long time now, I’ve been naming the “homeopathic” amount of these human qualities that we have in us. You might be only 0.003% greedy. But it’s still there. If you look, you can find examples of the tiniest bits of the quality.

Why does that matter you ask? Because it creates more of the alternative of compassion and empathy than so many entrained cultural patterns of reaction, judgement, and outrage. Because the homeopathic acknowledgement of the tiniest presence moves us to momentary connection rather than further “I told you so” isolated vitriol.

Our return to wholeness, individually and collectively, begins with the honesty of awareness. I continue to learn that this return comes from connecting the inner world to the outer reality that any of us see. That fundamental separation of inner world from outer world — I mean, come on, we are all projecting worlds into being. It’s just that money, power, privilege, wound, and just plain stubbornness concretize what is one idea, fluid in nature, into a full cultural cement pad.

I’m committed to the “trouble” that we stir together that brings us back to wholeness. I’m committed to some kind of essence in this that I don’t fully understand. I’m committed to finding others, and together reclaiming some sanity that seems to have been lost exponentially in so many forms of institutional thought.

The picture above, which I also used recently for another post, is of buds on a tree in my front yard. I’m posting it again, because I like the feeling of spring springing. These buds seem to know what to do. They come forward in the right timing. They are whole. They are part of a scaled whole. Perhaps they are cheering us humans. Perhaps they are just going about their business. I would suggest it is our business to get back to the whole orientation.

American Poet, Galway Kinnell’s poem speaks to some of this,
The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;   
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing

I’ve been thinking. About buds. And movement a foot. Here’s to budding and thinking it together.

Happy Kale

Any symbol can be used by the slightest cognitively oriented, to create more access to the interior that projects an exterior, the inner subjective world that projects an outer subjective reality (though mostly presumed to be objective). Symbols and experiences give us access to longings and yearnings, to challenges and excitements.

It doesn’t have to be sets of symbols, though I have a few specific sets that I like to use lately. Carolyn Myss’ Archetype Cards is one set. I also love the photos / questions  I have from Carla Kimball, Revealed Presence. Or, I love inviting people to pick a book from my shelves, just by the title, and then have them talk about why they chose that book, or why it chose them, and what does that have to do with who they are now. It’s a game that is easy to start and can go on all night in richly fulfilling ways.

Last night with a friend for dinner, we sat on her deck, overlooking some of Utah’s forest and mountain slopes up Provo Canyon. The weather has cooled as it does in later August. No longer are the daytime lows in the 70s with highs, slightly punishing, in the 90s. Now we are in the lows of the 50s and highs in the 70s or 80s. It’s my favorite time of year in Utah, and will likely continue through late September. And, it also rained significantly last week, helping to ease summer burning forest fires. It’s just an easier time for many plants, these cooler days.

The above photo is my kale in the front, with a lot of swiss chard growing behind it. There’s a smattering of romaine lettuce in the midst of it all. The pot to the right is basil, spontaneously gifted to me by my friend last night. And a few weeds too – gardening is ongoing isn’t it. With a bit of toast, tomato, and cheese, that basil will be well loved! The kale and swiss chard make for great smoothies!

My friend commented — I think these plants are very happy. I was happy to follow that prompt. One, the plants look full, like much life is coursing through them. These aren’t struggling plants. Are they happy? Well, that’s the very human projection part, isn’t it. Plants might just be, living as they live, doing what plants do. I don’t need to know that. But, loving symbols as I do, and the journey to my interior, I was delighted to notice how I celebrated the kale, and the swiss chard, and the basil, because I myself want to welcome that kind of vitality in my inner being and outer worlds.

Inner projects outer. It’s long been my interest and orientation to start there. With myself. With dinner parties. With groups that are trying to create cultures of learning as leadership.

Inner + Outer

My friend Quanita Roberson reminds me, “there has to be an ‘I’ in team.” She’s pointing to the importance of a healthy and whole self, differentiated and present.

Another friend has recently pointed me to, which offers practices from the yogic sciences on inner well-being.

Another colleague reminds me in our group facilitation and strategy work that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Plans may be brilliant. And necessary. Without a culture of support, or imagination, or connection — even brilliant plans wilt like water and sun deprived plants.

Beneath each of these reminders is an important teaching. The inner world has massive impact on the outer world. It’s way to easy, and seductive, and common to given 99% of our attention to things “out there”. And 99% of the time, it feels that attention to the “in here” is deemed wasteful, soft, or indulging.

It is my learning that people everywhere are ultimately hungry for the healthy internal (whether as a person or as a team or as a community) to be at the foundation of what is applied out there in our varied contexts of work and community.

My friend Kinde Nebeker and I continue to explore these teachings. Our medium together is The Inner and Outer of Evolutionary Leadership. Our next gathering is May 11, 2018 in Snowbird, Utah. I love the language we’ve created to find others that want to be in both the inner and the outer.

Please, peek your head up with us.

It’s the Story Under the Story That Changes Everything

Many of us, as formal and informal leaders, are learning that many of our most needed solutions do not exist in current systems of thought and practice. We work tenaciously in isolation, yet it is connection that brings creativity. We obsessively attribute causality to external circumstance, when it is internal awareness that holds greater promise for evolutionary contribution. Many of us know that we live in a time when we need further metamorphosis of our story of mechanical fidgeting with things and parts. We need awareness and alchemy to replace anxiety and authority that is ungrounded.

IOEL IV is for a different kind of leader and a different kind of story.

• for those irrepressibly compelled to burst into new understandings of reality and to share with their respective teams and organizations

• for those wishing to partner with life’s inherent organizing capacity in more organic, simple and life- enhancing ways

• for those willing to embody matured courage and presence to support real change

• for those hungry to wade further upstream to release us from the torrent of habits, individual and collective, that offer at best convenience and illusion of accomplishment

• for those who realize that the primary practice is consciousness, in which is embedded leadership in organizational system, not the other way around.

IOEL is not a therapy group. It is not a fix. It is a gentle, yet fierce commitment to get real (serious and playful) about exploring paradigmatic edges together and to call bullshit on antiquated yet still rewarded general practice. It is for those of daring to peek our heads above the fray to see who peeks with us. We are not alone.