This week I was able to spend an afternoon hiking and wandering Tiger Mountain near Issaquah, Washington, where I took this picture. The occasion was my spouse’s 53rd birthday. I love the green of Washington State. Soft moss that grows on standing and fallen trees. Ferns that make their home everywhere. Streams that trickle through the park, as well as a few waterfalls. There is a kind of obvious abundance.
We were out for three hours. Some of that moving. Some of that talking. Some of that huffing and puffing (it’s a fair incline). And some of it just sitting. When I sit in places like that, I can often hear the voice of one of my mentors. “We are nature.” Not, “It’s good to be out in nature.” It’s not external. Rather, it is internal. We too, despite being the incredibly conceptual and cognitive beings that we are, with ability to abstract, are also a living system nested within other living systems. That changes how I pay attention and how I listen for insight and welcome it to arrive.
My friend Kinde Nebeker and I have just finished creating an invitation for another three part series we are offering on The Inner and Outer of Evolutionary Leadership. This series is called Trusting Your Nature. The middle session will be a full day up in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. If you are reading this and within range to join us, please do.
I appreciate this quote from Kabir, the 15th century Indian poet and mystic, offered by a participant from our recent series on “Engaging Shadow.” In particular, the stirring and the invocation to find a center. The stirring of the human psyche that seeks attachment and certainty so easily. The invocation, and remembering that there is a center to find, perhaps more inhabited with uncertainty.
Friend, please tell me what I can do about these
ever-changing dramas I keep spinning out?
I gave up my fashionable clothes & had a robe made,
but I noticed the cloth was well-woven.
I traded the fine cloth for worn burlap
But I still threw it elegantly over my left shoulder.
I tried to forget my sexual longings
And now I feel angry a lot.
I gave up rage and now I feel greedy all day.
I worked hard at dissolving the greed
And now I am proud of myself.
When the mind tries to break its link with one thing
It clings to another thing.
Kabir says, Listen, my friend, there are very few who find the center.
Tomorrow Kinde Nebeker and I begin a three-session series on Engaging Shadow. Exploring shadow in self. Engaging shadow in groups. Evolving shadow in leadership. We will be a group of 12-14, meeting for three evenings, all within eight days total. The gift of some depth together in the month of December, which can often be lost to the pressures of commercialism.
With this series upon us, this means that the last couple of weeks for me have been about noticing the teachings I like to share and some of the exercises I’d like to create. There’s that one on projection — yah, that would be good. There’s that one on blind spots — yah, that would be good too. I like it best when design “arrives” to me. When it comes to me rather than me chasing it. Kinde is a good partner in this dynamic, encouraging it and calling that out in herself too.
My short list of first ideas quickly became a full whiteboard of smushed notes and inspirations. One of those inspirations was the simple image that helps me invoke and invite coming into relationship with shadow. Not fixing it. Not making it go away. Being in relationship with it. In my image, I’m in a large room, about 20 feet by 20 feet. It has thick, stone walls. It is underground, with only a tiny window through which daylight can shine. It is a dirt floor. In the corner of this room is a creature. In my image, it is a grand lion, a great cat. I can’t really ever see the lion, and for many years, haven’t even known that it was there. But now, I’m becoming aware of it. The lion is something I fear. Its presence is something I want to deny. The lion is both majestic and scary.
This series with Kinde and the others that will join is largely about coming into relationship with that creature, that lion in the corner. Coming to know that it is there. Coming to know more about what awakens that lion. Coming to learn a bit about approaching it, or welcoming it to approach me. Maybe coming to laugh with it a bit, and learn to scratch it’s ears in delight. This series is about all of that with something powerful, yet largely unseen. It may take more than three evenings, that’s true, but most good, essential things do, don’t they.
Kinde Nebeker is a good friend and colleague. We continue to develop a body of work together called, The Inner and Outer of Evolutionary Leadership. I love the focus on both the inner (presence and grounding) combined with the outer (convening and hosting). We offered a three-part series in the spring of this year. We are solidifying dates for a fall 2016 and spring 2017 series.
Kinde comes from a background of design and design education, transpersonal psychology and ecopsychology. She guides wilderness rites of passage trips and supports individuals in their psychological and spiritual development. I love this about Kinde. She’s opening so much to the practice of emergence and through her work, I find new layers in myself.
In her recent writing, The Magical Wilderness Between People Together, Kinde says,
“I have an immense curiosity about this territory, this sort of magical invisible wilderness that I’ve stumbled into now and again when I am with other people in a particular kind of way. I am curious because I feel most alive and fully human this invisible wild space together. I am curious because new and amazing things can be created in this space. And I am also curious to understand this phenomenon better because I sense it could be a critically important place for us all to know how to be in as we face unprecedented global challenges.”
Give it a full read on her site.