Social Presencing Theater Public Workshop in Italy, Summer 2017

Social Presencing Theater Public Workshop in Italy, Summer 2017

Abano, Italy August 7-11, 2017: 2-day Basics Social Presencing Theater course followed by 3 day “Basics continued” course

This 2 day course introduces participants to Social Presencing Theater (SPT), which is a methodology, developed under the leadership of Arawana Hayashi, for understanding current reality and exploring emerging future possibilities. See above for more details on SPT. The first two days will explore the basics SPT methodologies. The final 3 days will then provide a more in-depth dive for those who’ve taken the Basics course into the more complex SPT methodologies. This time will allow for more personal practice and methodology application as well. For more information and to register click here.

Move Leadership in China

In December, Arawana and Daniel Ludevig headed to China for a series of teaching events. Their journey began in Shanghai, where the China Coaching Center (CCC) organized a well-attended 2-day Basics SPT course. The participants were mostly Chinese facilitators and coaches, many of whom had come in contact with SPT through the Theory U Presencing Foundation Program held in China earlier in 2016 or through the ULAB MOOC. The course explored some of the fundamental SPT practices, as well as applying SPT to cases through Stuck and a 4-D mapping on one of the student’s corporate client challenges. The following week, they co-facilitated, along with Lili Xu Brandt and Jayce Lee, a 1-day workshop on Sensing and Visualization.

Participants learned and engaged with phenomenology, graphic facilitation and social presencing theater as a way of accessing intelligence from the head, heart and body.

This workshop, organized by ULab China, CCC and several sponsors, brought together a diverse group of entrepreneurs, business people, social change makers, facilitators and coaches, engaging them in an experiential journey of sensing as one of the most under-utilized leadership capacities. Participants learned and engaged with phenomenology, graphic facilitation and social presencing theater as a way of accessing intelligence from the head, heart and body. Arawana and Daniel then flew to Beijing where the CCC again hosted another 2-day Basics SPT course in their beautiful new Beijing office. Set in a modern space decorated with natural elements of stone, wood, plants and glass, this workshop was made up of not only coaches and facilitators, but also many employees of large companies. Reflecting on their time in China, Daniel remarked “We were so impressed with the level of interest and curiosity not only in learning and understanding the various forms and exercises, but also in wanting to use them for real change and impact.”

Listening from your heart

Many of us have in some form or another come across the wisdom that we cannot solve problems with the same thinking that created those problems in the first place. For me, the subsequent question to this is, how do we get to new ways of thinking both in ourselves and with those around us?

The issue with thinking patterns is that they occur rapidly and are often difficult to spot. After all, what we think about the world develops as a natural conglomeration of our experiences and the way our mind interprets and learns from these experiences. In order to really place a finger on our thinking patterns we have to first engage with the systems within us that try to protect those patterns and keep them from being challenged. These systems have been described by some as the "voices" of judgment, cynicism and fear. 

Otto Schaerma from MIT's Presencing Institute describes the engagement with these three voices as one of letting go in order to let something else come. 

Specifically, it is through learning how to temporarily suspend our voices of judgement, cynicism and fear that we can then notice the thinking patterns that they veil. Suspension allows us to let our minds rest and opens up our hearts so that we experience ourselves and those around us with freshness and innovation. We can imagine that we wear these voices like a jacket. Within this image we can then figuratively take this jacket off, hang it on the chair next to us and become a neutral and open receptor. In this way our usual patterns of thinking are put aside and we allow ourselves to actually notice an issue or interaction as if it was the first time. 

This is certainly no easy task. In fact, once we start paying attention we may notice that even when we try to suspend these voices they continuously reappear while we communicate. Reflect on how often in conversation what you hear is filtered by doubts regarding what someone else is saying (voice of judgement), not believing someone else's information (voice of cynicism) or feeling hesitant to really empathize or feel someone else's emotion (voice of fear). By suspending, all we are really doing is placing our intent on noticing these voices every time they appear and letting them go...noticing them again and letting them go....and continuing to notice them and let them go. 

Suspension allows us to let our minds rest and opens up our hearts so that we experience ourselves and those around us with freshness and innovation.

The more we practice this the better we get at it. Soon enough we may enter a state where while listening to someone we actually can hear much more of what they are saying, without getting distracted by what we will say next or by our own analysis and meaning-making. In these moments we finally have the possibility to communicate with presence from the heart. Pay attention to your heart and bring focus to asking questions and speaking from this part of the body. Schaerma calls this "generative listening" and is referring to communication in a realm that is greater than both the listener and speaker previously knew were possible. It results from this intent to listen with presence. It allows for new perspectives, ideas and feelings and can produce solutions that would have never been discovered had the old thinking patterns been kept in tact.  

After such a generative conversation, it can often be useful to take a few moments of silence to reflect and digest what emerged from the open communication. It is here that if we choose, we can put our “jacket of voices” back on and discover what we have learned through the experience. Whether through meditation, journal writing or taking a walk, this can be a great opportunity to uncover something about ourselves. Here we can assess the usefulness of both maintaining some aspects of our past thinking models and the necessity to change others aspects. Ultimately, suspending allows us to modify and develop our default habits. In turn we enable conscious and engaging processes that bring our hearts into every conversation that we have. 

MOVE publication on presence and embodiment in business

MOVE publication on presence and embodiment in business

The Association for Coaching Global Magazine published an issue entirely dedicated to exploring somatic intelligence, in which a shortened version of MOVE founder Daniel Ludevig’s academic paper on embodiment has been published. The article, entitled “Embodied Intelligence: Presence and Somatic Intelligence in Business” (page 40) takes a deep dive into cases and examples in which MOVE has used movement and embodiment methodologies to support businesses in gaining access to greater creativity, innovation, communication and intelligence. Click here for the online version or click here for the original full article published in the Journal of Organizational Aesthetics. 

 

 

Your greatness lies in the space that isn’t You

Your greatness lies in the space that isn’t You

It seems like the greater the variety of meditation styles, yoga forms, systemic change methods and spiritual practices I try out, the more I realize that in some basic way they are all focusing on the same type of result: self-awareness as the first step towards any kind of personal growth or enlightenment. And although the explanations for how to engage in a journey of building self-awareness are as diverse as the people who engage with them, I find that the main point to developing this capacity is this: learning to extend the time between actions and our corresponding reactions. 

If we see any particular event that happens in our lives as a dot along a solid line of time, then our response to that event could also be charted as a dot further along on the same line. Most often, the space between these two dots -- in other words between cause and effect -- is next to none. Action/reaction. But what happens when we work on increasing the space between the two? Action.......reaction. What exists and what is possible in that space? And how can increasing the size of it actually alter the corresponding reaction that comes after it?

Nourishing our awareness of this space fosters our capacity to engage with our lives in more meaningful ways. 

If we assume that action is a given -- i.e. events that come at us from the external world -- then our own possibility for engagement begins the moment the stimulus ends. At this moment our most natural engagement is instant reaction. We see this in the form of emotion, behavior or words that erupt out of us automatically, without the opportunity to first reflect or choose. The rush of happiness when we are praised or the rush of anger of defensiveness when insulted, for example. In this state, we are at the mercy of our pre-programmed understanding of the world, usually based on what we have experienced and learned from the world. While this "knee-jerk" reaction is at times useful and based in survival, it is certainly not always the one that provides the best results. We see this in everyday arguments that erupt from the most mundane of provocations. We also see this in massive world conflict based on a history of associations and experiences. 

But what would happen if our reactions weren't so instantaneous? What if we could suspend our programmed instinct and build in a moment of pause, like floating in the brief second of space between a breath's inhalation and exhalation? Or like standing for a moment longer in the doorway between one room and another, having already left the first room but not yet stepped foot in the second?

This golden space is encapsulated by the Japanese foundational, artistic and cultural concept of Ma. It allows those who are aware of it to possess a greater vocabulary regarding how they react to everything that happens in their worlds. And because our options for reaction are actually limitless, nourishing our awareness of this space fosters our capacity to engage with our lives in more meaningful ways.   

So how can we build up this capacity? As mentioned, the pursuit of this self-awareness capacity building has no lack of associated practices to help get you there. On a very simple level however, three practices that can help cultivate this space are (1) taking a moment to name actions before engaging with reactions, (2) letting go of expectations, and (3) viewing ourselves as separate from our emotions.

Naming the action refers to consciously seeing and identifying what is happening around us. It means objectively identifying an external impulse as soon as we become aware of it: noticing unpleasant words from someone else just for the words themselves and not the impact they have on you, or viewing a personally successful achievement just for the accomplishment itself and not via the corresponding pride we feel as a result of it. As a process, naming the action extends the space between its occurrence and our reaction to it. It gives us time. 

Letting go of expectations references our capacity to recognize that while we all carry with us experiences that influence our views and understanding of the world, we still each possess the capacity to react in fresh and unexpected ways. By doing so we allow ourselves to be present to the actual moment rather than a product of our pasts. While not always easy, building up awareness around this can be incredibly liberating as it allows us to act independent from "what we always have done." Without expectations we allow ourselves to engage with agenda-less being and feel whatever comes to us in the moment while reveling in that void. This is exactly that space previously identified between Action.....Reaction. 

Letting go of expectations references our capacity to recognize that while we all carry with us experiences that influence our views and understanding of the world, we still each possess the capacity to react in fresh and unexpected ways.

Lastly, acknowledging that we are separate from our emotions allows us the capacity to take on a balcony view toward our own engagements with any Action/Reaction scenario. It allows you to see yourself from the outside and to temporarily disengage with the belief that you are your emotions. Rather, it allows you to see any emotional reaction as a fluid and passing one. After all, all emotions whether they be happy or sad come and go like tides in the ocean. When we engage with distance we are able to better see how automatic some of our reactions actually are. In turn we realize that they are not permanently connected to our own being and that we can let them go, allowing for other possibilities to emerge.

Using these methods can allow for incredible freshness in the way we engage with everyone and everything around us. It allows us to access to a wider breadth of knowledge and possibilities within every moment, and ultimately supports the development of a more authentic you. At the end of the day, regardless of whichever practice or method you use to get there, your self-awareness exploration is only as powerful as your ability to let go of everything you always have been and embrace everything you currently can be.  

Science confirms impact of arts-based methods in business

An academic paper released this month revealed findings from a study which began in 2012, indicating the impact of using arts-based methods in business on topics including creative thinking skills, collaboration, innovation and transferability. The research study, conducting by Harvey Seifter and supported by the National Science Foundation, examined the results of a group of adults who work in the fields of science, technology, education or math (STEM) as well as a group of high school adolescents who experienced training that included the use of a variety of arts-based methodologies.

The use of arts-based methods in such trainings result in statistically significant increases in creative and critical thinking, sharing leadership, emotionally intelligent behavior, empathic listening, mutual respect, trust, active following and transparency as well as insight, clarity and problem solving.

These results were compared with a control group of the same demographic but who experienced the latest in traditional training methodologies for creativity, innovation and collaboration. The findings demonstrate that the use of arts-based methods in such trainings result in statistically significant increases in creative and critical thinking, sharing leadership, emotionally intelligent behavior, empathic listening, mutual respect, trust, active following and transparency as well as insight, clarity and problem solving.

The study also revealed that participants in the arts-based training were able to make much more transfer from the training to their daily work and lives than in the control group. This study confirms the movement and arts-based methodology used by MOVE Leadership and the powerful impact that it has in transforming challenges for our clients. It specifically highlights how important it is to include these methodologies as standard practice for trainings, workshops and off-sites where improvement or transformation in some of the above themes are part of the desired objectives. For more information and to read the full study click here.

Is silence the golden rule?

Is silence the golden rule?

Ask any parent of a teenager and they are likely to agree that they often have better conversations with their child sitting next to them while driving a car than across from them at a dinner table. Or how many of us have ever experienced that it's easier to resolve a conflict with our partner when taking a walk together in the woods rather than sitting at home? Why is that? 

According to Arawana Hayashi, Shambhala Buddhist teacher and co-founder of the Presencing Institute, "The eyes are the easiest escape from the body". What she is referring to is our body's natural capacity to be mindful of ourselves and aware of others--in other words connected. The problem is that for many of us, we have completely lost touch with the variety of ways in which we can sense and connect with what is going on in the world around us. As a result we rely heavily, and at times exclusively, on visual stimulus to connect. While the visual world is beautiful, many of us use our eyes to project our inner thoughts onto the world that we then end up seeing, rather than seeing the world for what it is and allowing that to shape our reflections about it. 

We have completely lost touch with the variety of ways in which we can sense and connect with what is going on in the world around us.

The above examples represent situations where other forms of communicating actually allow us a deeper and more meaningful way to relate to and understand another person. These are situations in which side-body and back-body "listening" take priority over exclusively listening through our eyes and ears. In a way, it's almost as if changing our orientation from both facing each other to both facing forward opens a deeper listening capacity within. There is something profoundly basic and beautiful about two people side by side both sharing a common forward view whether sitting in a car, walking amongst nature or staring out at an ocean view. This shared experience has the capacity to unlock additional sensory "antennas" that we can use to actually feel another person during conversation.

Silence...has an amazing power to bring to surface all the somatic feelings that we otherwise miss while remaining attune only to our heads.

But what does that mean to feel another person without physically touching them? Take a moment to reflect on the last time that you felt that someone was standing behind you before you could actually see them, or when you felt a warm rush in your heart while listening to a friends story, or had a strong sense in your gut that someone wasn't telling you the truth: these are some of the ways in which our bodies use felt sense to speak to us. For the most part however, we have completely blocked our body's attempt to communicate with us in all instances except for when we are feeling ill. When sick we become hyper-sensitive to our body's needs and how we are feeling. Yet outside of this situation so much of our communication is interpreted and influenced through thoughts from our mind. And while there is value to the information registered through our brains, there is also a world of body intelligence that many of us are completely ignoring. 

For those interested in reconnecting to their bodies there is a golden "trick" that allows us to rapidly jump from being consumed by our mental chatter to beginning to feel our body's natural sensing: silence. Silence, through meditation or even simply between two people during a conversation, has an amazing power to bring to surface all the somatic feelings that we otherwise miss while remaining attune only to our heads. Although initially silence may make us uncomfortable and provoke even more thoughts, with a bit of practice the conscious use of silence can allow us to let our thoughts go and bring our attention to our feelings. Suddenly we notice different parts of our bodies speaking to us through gentle movements, new sensations and even uncomfortable reactions. If after some silence we then consciously speak and listen from our heart and gut, rather than from our minds, we may find ourselves connecting in ways more meaningful and authentic than we usually do. 

Remember, in the end it's not about one over the other, but rather honoring the beautiful communication between mind and body that we all have the natural capacity to experience. 

Is your body anything more than a brain taxi?

Is your body anything more than a brain taxi?

For most of us, everything from the neckline down doesn’t play a role in our day to day jobs. At most, our bodies act as a brain taxi: transporting our brains from one office to another, from one meeting to another, from one conversation to another. It is our incredibly complex and intelligent brains that get all the attention. And why not? Our brains spend hour after hour thinking through complex situations, crunching numbers, formulating ideas and processing information. In the way we currently work the brain plays the most important role. 

But should it?

Our bodies are a majorly untapped source of intelligence and knowledge.

The truth is that within the corporate world our bodies are a majorly untapped source of intelligence and knowledge. Stemming from its puritan roots and resulting in a culture ready to sue over about anything, the American and Western business world has all but shut out any integration of the body at work. The body is covered up in conservative business attire, greeted with no more than hand-shake contact, and never viewed as a source of wisdom. 

Except for one part of the body: the gut.

Interestingly, the gut has managed to escape work-place imprisonment and has its own valued place in daily language. We often hear people say things like, “I just have a gut-feeling that this is the wrong thing to do”, or “I can’t explain it but my gut is telling me that this is the right choice.” Wait, our guts are telling us what?! Particularly fascinating about our reliance on gut-wisdom is the word most often paired with it: gut-instinct. Instinct refers specifically to a knowledge that doesn’t necessarily adhere to reason or logical proof, but is just something we feel is right. It is in other words an intuition we have. Stemming back to its Latin roots, intuition actually refers to a process of looking inside and contemplating, suggesting that gut-instinct or intuition actually refers to an inner kind of knowing. This inner knowing doesn’t come from the analytic left-side of the brain, but rather from the intuitive right brain and the body--specifically from the heart and gut.  

The heart pulse is the first point visible in an embryo, the first organ to form during human development and in an adult body radiates an electromagnetic field far larger than the brain.

So how much could or should we rely on intuition and feeling in the workplace? Well perhaps at least as much as we rely on the brain. Why’s that? The heart pulse is the first point visible in an embryo, the first organ to form during human development and in an adult body radiates an electromagnetic field far larger than the brain. The gut, sometimes referred to as “the second brain” contains some 100 million neurons and is shown to be responsible for far more than digestion, including most interestingly our emotions which of course then have influence on our thoughts. Einstein himself was quoted as saying that what is really wrong with our time is that we have made the King -- the heart -- serve the servant -- the brain. 

Our bodies are “speaking” to us throughout every moment of every day. Though we have socialized their voices out of current corporate culture, we all know what it feels like when our bodies try to warn us about the fatality of a decision we are about to make. How many of us have read accounts of bankers after the past decade’s financial crisis admitting that in their hearts they knew that their decisions could lead to a complete financial meltdown but their brains kept pushing forward motivated by profits and rewards? 

I’m not suggesting a total shutting down of the brain. Rather, let’s find a way to bring the full body system -- mind, heart and gut -- into the natural balance with which it was designed to function. Do you believe your quality of work could be improved if you let your body come into conversation with your mind more often? Perhaps at your next meeting you’ll find that communicating what you body is feeling could be the one critical perspective that was left unshared. 

Active listening vs. Real listening

Active listening vs. Real listening

With a culture so focused on leadership and public-speaking, much of our Western education model makes sure to offer plenty of opportunity to develop our capacities in these areas. However, very little if any attention is given to counterpart roles of followers and listeners. As a result, we are living in a society where our understanding of good followership is nearly non-existent, and our capacity for listening is mostly summarized under the skill-set of “active” listening while missing the much more profound capacity of “deep” listening.

The most alarming side-effect of active listening is the power of listener to manipulate what a speaker actually talks about.

Active listening often involves a type of participatory, affirming set of techniques that has the listener employing behavior like regular eye-contact to show connection, head-nodding to demonstrate understanding, the use of “uh-huh, mmm, yes” to encourage and support, and the use of lots of supportive questions and paraphrasing to make sure the speaker feels heard. While this approach to listening is great in many circumstances and is a sure-fire way to make a speaker feel heard, there are also unrecognized side-effects. 

The most alarming one resides in the power of listener to manipulate what a speaker actually talks about. Through our use of affirmations, paraphrasing and body gestures, we send strong signals about whether we approve and agree or not, and this can often lead a speaker to continue their course of thought or shift and change to another one, accordingly. Active listening also suggests that a listener must somehow demonstrate their level of participation and engagement, and this often leads to a “thinking about what I’m going to say/ask next” monologue. We often try to jump in with opinions or stories to show how we can relate. The problem here is that while we are busying ourselves with all the effort required of actively listening, we aren’t fully paying attention to the speaker and tends to keep conversation at a relatively generic level. It also often leaves listeners feeling tired at the end of the conversation, suggesting that active listening also requires extra effort and energy. Active listening can be attributed to Level 1 or Level 2 listening, sometimes called downloading or factual, and remains on the level of polite conversation or debate, often producing results by the end of the conversation that could have already predicted by everyone at the onset.

As such, active vs. deep listening is a matter of paying attention to our attention, and practicing and experimenting with the various levels of listening whenever possible so that we can fine-tune or sense of how to best use all 4 levels.

Deep listening on the other hand requires a whole other set of techniques and presence, and allows for Level 3 and 4 listening, when empathic or generative dialogue are sought after. In this case, the goal of the listener is to give full and undivided attention to the speaker in a way that holds space for the speaker’s greatest possible wisdom to emerge and remains curious about essence and source from which the speaker shares. The invitation here is to restrain from any verbal or physical affirmations and simply support the speaker in following their own deep sharing thought-process. In deep dialogue, we often encourage speakers to imagine they are speaking from their gut, rather than their head, and to only share the truth that comes out from there. Many people often notice that the volume of a conversation often decreases when people start speaking more from their bodies than their heads. Additionally, listeners pay attention to their own inner monologue and notice voices that can distract them from deep listening, such as voices of judgement, cynicism, or fear. When the listener notices the voices he/she simply lets them go and returns to giving full attention to the speaker. Lastly, the listener focuses on staying fully mindful and embodied in their own presence, and only asks questions that feel truly in service of the speaker and the generative dialogue. Often the results of these types of interactions are a new understanding and emergence of wisdom on whatever topic is being explored. Results are often different than what participants had expected and energy is notably higher. People note a sense of speaking from the whole rather than from their own individual perspective or needs.

Ultimately, it is the quality of our attention that dictates the outcomes we see and experience . As such, active vs. deep listening is a matter of paying attention to our attention, and practicing and experimenting with the various levels of listening whenever possible so that we can fine-tune or sense of how to best use all 4 levels.

MOVE workshops always use education and practice about deep listening as a foundation for our work with clients. For more information about deep listening you can also check out this fantastic brief article by Alan Seale

Daniel's keynote on embodied leadership

This past weekend, MOVE founder Daniel Ludevig gave an interactive keynote lecture at the London Natural Leaders-Now conference. A total first, Daniel opened his presentation with a swing lindy-hop performance with his dance partner Claire Chen. He then went on to give a 45 minute masterclass lecture on the topic of embodiment and presence in leadership. He explained his definition of leadership as not just having the capacity to see the whole but also to care for it. His experiential talk invited the mixed audience of leaders, grassroots activists, business people, established change agents and simply curious participants to stand up and move throughout the auditorium where the conference was held. They experimented and felt into the exploration of presence and intelligence within movement and our bodies and engaged with new possibilities for understanding leadership. For a longer length clip click here

Newspapers interview Daniel and MOVE's story

Newspapers interview Daniel and MOVE's story

MOVE founder was interviewed by two separate publications. In an article which appeared in the German newspaper, Deutsche Welle, the background story behind the creation and history of MOVE Leadership is explored and includes details about the evolution of the company’s methodology. It also addresses the reasons that using embodied and alternative learning tools and practices is more important now than ever before. Hendrik Backerra, one of MOVE’s associates, is also quoted in the article when he speaks about some of the great problems in today’s business world and the incredible solutions offered by his collaborative work with MOVE. 

In an interview from the Hungarian coaching magazine Magyar Coachszemle Daniel is interviewed about the development, philosophy, challenges and future work of MOVE Leadership. The article looks into the opportunities and challenges behind consulting companies using alternative and creative learning strategies and methods.