Still and Quiet

I’ve been with great people the last ten days. In very powerful connection and learning. In a way that has been very life-giving, affirming, satisfying, and generative. I feel like my brain and heart have been finely enhanced to be able to see and feel more. It’s an open and awed feeling, a bit, perhaps,  like realizing the library just doubled in size (and I have easy ability to read and access all of the extra).

I continue to learn that that’s what deliberate circle practice and circled way of being does. It enhances and amplifies us. I’m glad for that.

Today, however, points me to another fulfillment that also is quite affirming, satisfying, and generative. Today points me to a more introverted and quiet space. Or, to more internal, rather than the external. I continue to learn that there is great power and necessity to return to the still and quiet.

This morning, I wrote these words:

Still and Quiet

Though I appreciate
a certain high
that comes from juggling much,
or being efficient,
or accomplishment,
with many people,

I also need,
in well-placed moments,
and stretches,
to be with self,
still and quiet.

Toward Wholeness

It isn’t knew to be seeking wholeness. Many spiritual traditions for eons have been encouraging this, to get the inherent wholeness that underlays the outward expression of this life. In physics, it was David Bohm who pointed many of us to the “implicate order.” Ken Wilbur is another who has been pointing many of us to understanding the integratedness of the personal and the communal, the subjective and the objective. The thing behind the thing behind the thing — that turns out not to be a thing. Wholeness is the gold in that treasure hunt.

This weekend I was glad to co-host with my friend and colleague Quanita Roberson. This was our tenth hosting of a weekend retreat that we call QT. There were nine of us in a weekend of deliberate curiosity together. Play together. Slowed pace together. Quality time together. Wonder. Wander. Mystery.

In this time of QT, most of what we talk about begins with a set of symbols through which the intent is to move toward more of a wholeness orientation. Inner and outer. Personal and communal. We are deliberate about inviting a range of symbols. Sometimes it’s a formal set of cards (like Caroline Myss’ Archetype Cards). Sometimes the symbols are stories that we share (like, what is the “yes” that brought you here). Sometimes the symbols are a round of sharing dreams from the previous night.

It’s in this last one, sharing dreams, I’ve learned particular pattern that shifts us from a light playfulness to a rather serious journey toward wholeness. It has a few steps that have quite subtle relevances.

When a dream (or dream snippet) is shared, spoken out loud,

  1. The wholeness starts with the invitation for anyone to speak / share a statement, “If that were my dream…,” This is deliberate. We aren’t offering dream coaching or divining for the dream teller. That would be interesting, I suppose, but has never been the purpose for me, nor the skillset. “If that were my dream…,” invites picking one detail that stands out. The lake. The hammer. The connection to mother. The pink towel. No wrong answer.
  2. The next move for the person identifying the detail is to say a few sentences of why the interest. Again, there are no wrong answers in this, because it is personal. There are no wrong answers in the personal journey that is toward an inherent wholeness. For example, “If that were my dream, the detail of the lake stands out to me because when I was a boy, I used to spend time as the lake with my cousins, my sister, and my grandparents.” This steps invites an emotional connection. Or sometimes a naming of a principle from past waking life experience (e.g., “Joy matters.”)
  3. The next move is to bring the access to the emotional connection forward to current waking life learning and experience. For example, “That memory as a boy at a lake with family was a joyful time of my life. It helps me to see some of the joy that I currently have (or that I’m currently missing) in my life now.” It’s this last step that invites and encourages people to be wildly associative, and, well, quite frankly, productive in a move to wholeness, by being willing to explore what is personal.

For most of us, this movement toward wholeness requires being a good noticer. It means speaking as honestly as possible about what it is like to be them, and to speak with willingness to wander in some transparency. It means being willing to get wildly associative, using symbols in front of us (cards, stories, dreams, a phrase from a poem, etc) to explore the inner territory, the personal (that is always connected to the outer). It means giving ourselves permission to wonder how any moment in time and experience is connected to a longer arc of time of who we are being and becoming, or, how the longer and more complex arc is connected to the simplicity of just this moment of now.

Ah, toward wholeness. I know there are many ways in. I’m grateful for that. This invitation to build associative capacity, to recognize that all of it is in each of us — I find that to be true — creates a rather different and healthy kind of feeling in an among groups of people. I’m glad for that too.

It’s all about encouraging ourselves and others to move with this attention. Just as it has been for so long.

Alpine Loop Hike

Yesterday I drove with a friend up Provo Canyon, past Sundance, along the Alpine Loop. It’s a road that is only open in summer. It twists and turns. It is mean to be enjoyed slowly, 10 mph.

At the peek, near 8,000 feet. We left car behind to hike. Through Aspen forests, to meadows. All of it back-dropped by Wasatch Mountains that still have patches of significant snow, though the daytime temperatures now press 100 degrees fahrenheit.

Days like this change me. They change how I orient to all of it.


In Front of Me

What is in front of me,
holds enough,
to make sense,
of it all.






Yesterday I hiked with a friend.

The Thing Behind The Thing Behind The Thing

[Also available on Human to Human, The Podcast, 6.5 minutes]

This phrase is one of my favorites these days. The thing behind the thing behind the thing. It suggests quest. It suggests layers. It suggests “ongoing” (I could very easily add ellipsis…). It’s narrative for what I feel we are so often up to in teams, groups, communities, and families. It’s also straight talk, plain and simple.

A particular kind of thing behind the thing that I am compelled toward is “operating system.” It’s the part that makes things go. Often invisibly. In teams, groups, communities, and families. It’s the unseen part. In a car, operating system is engine. Though in that case, I just like that the buttons and functions work. Same in a computer. I don’t get wowed by technical specifications (I suppose I should). I’m just glad that it functions reliably. And, well, that there is elegance and beauty. I also have preference lately, challenging myself, to operating systems that are living, not just mechanical. There are operating systems in soil. In gardens. In forests. It ain’t so odd to think that the trees and the plants “talk.” Botanists have been telling us this for a while now, often catching up to what has been indigenous wisdom for centuries and millennia.

I totally enjoyed the gift of a conversation yesterday with some colleagues and companions in The Circle Way. In the middle of our conversation, hosted in circle of course, I found another layer of thing behind thing. We participants were trees, that in the space of those 90 minutes on the video conference, became forest. And the oxygen produced, was, well, ability to breathe, and, a clarity. Unlike mechanical and electrical operating systems I love to dive into consciousness and awareness operating systems (which have a bit of electricity to them).

Here it is for me. It represents some ongoing learning and clarifying and simplifying:

The Circle Way is both methodology and way of being.
As methodology, it is often referenced as a tool or group process format.
As methodology, this is where there is often leaning into the components wheel, also as tools (agreements, practices, roles, etc).
It is often used for dialogue, learning, and connection.
It feels fruitful and essential and helpful to me to learn the methodology well.
To use skillfully with groups.

As way of being, The Circle Way points to a kind of cultural pattern.
It interrupts unintended siloing.
It presumes an expectation that who we are together is different and more than who we are alone.
And thus, there is gut level orientation to the possibility of an emergence from the interaction.
As way of being, it’s less formula, and becomes more instinct (I would say, grown from methodological robustness).
It is an inherent reliance on wholeness (sometimes brought forward because of silence, or pause).
It is welcome, even expectation, that there just might be some mystery to notice together.
Yup, as way of being, circle’s oxygen is often learning, connection, and insight.
Yup, it is utterly fruitful to learn and be in continued practice.

One of the most exciting experiences in the world for me is the kind of aliveness that come from insight, so often grown with people willing to lean into thing behind the thing. I’m grateful for a good many companions and colleagues that bring their own versions of this.

My next open enrollment circle offerings include:

The Circle Way Practicum at Whidbey Island, August 14-19, 2019
The Circle Way Online Class, Tuesdays, September 17 – October 15, 2019
Great Facilitation: An Art of Hosting Intensive in Denver, October 23-25, 2019 (not exclusively circle; includes other participative methodologies and ways of being)
Fire & Water Leadership Cohort Near Cincinnati, October 30 – November 3, 2019 (first of three in person gatherings, using circle as root form)
Courageous Meeting: The Circle Way in Cincinnati, November 19-20, 2019 (a new offering)
The Circle Way Advanced Practicum at Whidbey Island, December 5-9, 2019