A Story from the Salon

I had my first experience of hosting a large event when I was at the Evolutionary Salon. I was fortunate to be a part of an amazing team of four. We hosted the final day and for each of us it was a powerful experience... as Peggy came to name it, a shamanic act of creation. In order to tell our story, we each wrote our own individual story and then I wove them together into one luscious tale! This story now lives at a new webl, Stories from the Field of Hosting, as well as at the Evolutionary Nexus site.
The dedicated hosting team for the final day of the 2nd Evolutionary Salon, Peggy Holman, Finn Voldtofte, Tree Fitzpatrick, and Ashley Cooper, share a flow of thoughts on how we each experienced that last morning. We each wrote with the intention to tell our individual story and then for them to be merged and woven together, ending up as one story about what happened in the final stages of the salon gathering, in service of the ongoing, communitywide holding of the space for what emerged, and still is emerging.

Labels: , ,

posted by ashley


Losing Our Way of Life

One of the books I'm playing in right now is Calling the Circle by Christina Baldwin. This passage brought to mind several conversations I've had with people recently... so I offer it here:
"As we grapple with the awareness that our personal lives cannot be separated from the life of our times, we are forced to reconsider the assumptions, expectations, and values that have guided our lives thus far. One by one by one by one, something happens that shakes us into awareness.

When one vision falls, another vision rises. This is not usually a sudden switch, but a long process of the old paradigm fading away--struggling with itself to let go, subverting new forces, becoming reactionary and rigid exactly because the inevitable is obvious. We are losing our way of life, and we need to lose it, in order not to lose life itself.

... And so the fading of what-is-established gives rise to what-is-possible. The new vision starts to come into focus--struggling with itself to shift from dream to reality, tangential, experiential, a vulnerable and determined seed. We are claiming a more aware way of life, we need our awareness in order to save life itself.

...As our vision of what constitutes successful living shifts from acquisition to accountability, we seek social and spiritual forms that help us address these questions. It is the premise--and the promise--of this book that gathering in peer-led, spirit-centered circles provides such a community forum."
What assumptions, expectations, and values have guided your life thus far?

Which ones might be worth reconsidering?
posted by ashley


Opening, Awakening, Listening, Offering

Are you ready to invite the learning of un-limited listening?
Are you ready to invite the learning of un-limited sharing?

Let us invite an opening of space
for clarity in the field of relation.

May we use our "believing ears"
our trusting hearts,
and our embodied being
to listen for the deep story, the teaching
of our own personal wisdom,
of the wisdom arising
in the field of our relation,
and of the collective wisdom.

May we notice patterns
shaping the way.

May we deepen our capacity
to awaken space
in all our relations.

(an inspiring conversation shaping this post at Parking Lot and in the comments)
posted by ashley


Forms of Personal and Collective Practice

Inquiry is an essential part of my personal life practice. A current inquiry: the relationship between personal practices and collective practices.

One way of describing practice is the process of listening deeply, becoming intimately engaged in a certain way of being. For example, a person who practices piano learns to know the instrument, the notes, and their own personal relationship with the process of playing the piano and creating music. At first practicing may look like reading a sheet of symbols and pressing keys to create sound. As the person becomes more practiced at listening deeper into the experience, an intimate relationship with the process develops as the music begins to move through the instrument and the player in a seemingly effortless flow. The person develops a new way of being that surfaces when they are playing the piano.

In the initial stages of practicing there is often a strong emphasis on what we are Doing. We practice doing... dribbling the soccer ball, holding a yoga position, looking people in the eyes, etc. As we become more practiced, the doing begins to fall away as we are becoming our practice. The ball is coming towards us (we are observing all the cues) and we immediately think to dribble; we are in a yoga pose and by listening to our body, we know that it would benefit us to rest here longer; we see someone approaching us and noticing a desire to connect, we remember to raise our head and look them in the eyes. As we become masters in our practice, there is no thought or effort needed to engage our doing. We are able to rest in a state of Being as the practice naturally arises through us. The ball touches our foot and we are dribbling, breathing into a position we hold it as it moves deeper into our body, engaging with another our eyes are drawn into a place of deep connection. As Thomas says,
In this field time falls away and we are absorbed in an unbounded eternal resonance, suspended at the peak of an effortless leap beyond here to there.
I am interested in our capacity to listen... to sense into an experience, opening ourselves to be revealed to the sensations, the colors, the flavors, the feelings, the quality, the texture of this moment... folding into now, showing up with presence.

We can do this individually as part of our personal practice and we can do this communally as part of our collective practice. My hypothesis is that the more developed we are in our individual practice, the greater capacity we have to engage the collective practice.

Finn Voldtofte writes at Evolutionary Nexus about Inquiring from the middle, a collective process of listening deeply and becoming intimately engaged in a collective way of being. I have only pulled out pieces of his writing, please follow the link for the full expression.
The practice was to sit in silence for a few minutes, centering attention and settling the activity of the mind - and then to hold the intention of directing ones attention from a silent place within towards the middle.
Aligning with the silent place within is a personal practice and intentionally directing towards the middle is the personal practice expanding to include collective practice.
After a period of "attending to the middle" start sharing whatever one senses in the middle, but without making interpretations of what was sensed. "Sense" means see, hear, feel, smell, taste, but also intuit and give it words.

... The shared experience seems to be that something of being comes into existence, or manifests, or emerges, or reveals it self - something that is not a concrete physical form, but is there as opposed to in me and as opposed to the feeling of the group energetics.

...One has to think of oneself as potentially at any time being the one through which the abstract middle can acquire voice. In very practical terms it can simply mean: Speak as you are moved to. A skill to be developed is distinguishing between when an impulse to speak really is from the middle or when it is a personal impulse. The skill is about making one self available and letting go of personal fears and desires. The skill is also about showing up in all of your capacity. Any holding back from the individual side holds back the entire field. Holding back is relative to your highest capacity – so you can not tell from the amount of words said or the brilliance of them whether it comes from fully being on ones own edge or it is really more cleverly hidden holding back.
The interplay and intimate relationship between personal and collective practice is essential when engaging in these fields. I am excited to be diving deeper into the experiential play of this inquiry and recognizing patterns that arise to feed my equally present intellectual curiosity. Please join me if you feel called!!

Labels: , ,

posted by ashley


Patterns in Curiosities

I noticed a pattern yesterday. I ran across an old blog post that I wrote after attending a gathering around the theme "Opening Space for Giving to Flourish" that had parts in common with some of my reflections after the evolutionary salon. I noticed that in the presence of such an inspirational group of people 'doing good in the world', I find myself asking the question: "Who are we?"

Reflecting on Evolutionary Salon:

Our first morning together, we wove through conversation, inquiry, exploration, and discovery in an Evolutionary Café. At the end of this process we were asked to write down a question that is burning for us. My Question: “Who are we and who could we be?” I felt the vibrant edge of possibility in the gathering of this time and space, the people present, the land containing us, the deep listening and trust receptive upon the edges of our togetherness. However, as I sunk into conversation and heard the wishes, desires, and intentions of others, I was left confused as to our collective identity. I felt like in order for us to Do, we had to deepen and become more aware of our Being, both individually and collectively. For myself and from my perspective, the following days were an active process of deepening into conscious, intentional Being in service to the whole (the whole being my Self, the group, the universe, etc.). It was a profound experience for me to feel the intentionality of the space expand. It is a divine gift to travel with others through intentional space.
Reflecting on the Giving Conference:
An attracting component that i noticed was that everyone who showed up had deep respect and admiration for the person(s) that they knew who had extended to them the invitation. the power of networks and personal connections was very evident as this eclectic group mixed with one another, sharing wisdom, resources, connections, and much more. i continue to be moved by the possibilities and the increased efficiency of action that is made possible when the right people are connected with one another.

during one circle, a participant asked, "who are we?" if you're curious about the priests, educators, facilitators, writers, techies, philanthropists, inventors, entrepreneurs, activists, financial advisors or other types that showed up, peruse the list of ParticipantDirectory">participants.

as i settle back into being home, it is this question that continues to echo inside my head: "WHO ARE WE?" i think about all of the people that i am connected to. i think about all of you who have mentioned the kavanah post, who are we that choose to be intentional, aware of our actions, directing our hearts to Spirit, living in truth, sharing our gifts and passions with ourselves, our neighbors, our communities? a shining network of truth livers. WHO ARE WE? and how do we continue to connect and unite with one another so that the ripples of our actions spread wider and deeper into the hearts of beings all across this planet?

If any of these questions spark ideas within you, please share!



posted by ashley

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?