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Inside and Outside

One of the things I like about this photo from Aldermarsh Retreat Center on the weekend is the peek to both the inside of the building (the tables holding a few supplies), and, the reflection to the outside (the cloudy skies and distant trees).

I was walking for a few minutes before starting the day with a group of 13 people at The Circle Way Advanced Practicum, cohosting with Amanda Fenton, and clarifying for myself a few bits that felt important in the day, both for the interior and for the exterior.

So many patterns and belief systems in contemporary culture have taught us to separate what is on the outside from what is on the inside. The objective from the subjective. Of course, there is value in distinction and in differentiation. However, fabricated divorce of what is internal and what is external is crazy-making to me.

All of that means that, for facilitation, often I’m creating exercises that start with questions about the inner, that start with the interior. It’s about first being an honest noticer, and then second, being a willing associator.

For example,

  1. As you walked over the footbridge and through the forest this morning, was there something in particular that caught your attention? Share a bit of what that was, and why it caught your attention.
  2. What does that noticing have to do with what is important for you (or us) in our work today?

The responses often sound something like this,

  1. I noticed the mist of the low laying fog and cloud. I noticed the way it surrounds the meadow in which our meeting space sits. It feels thick. It feels encompassing. Honest Noticer (there is no wrong answer) that starts with the personal.
  2. I wonder how the work that we do today might further encompass us, might further contain us for the learning and conversations that we most want and need to have? Willing Associator (a curious projection) that extends to the interpersonal.

The point of such inner and outer connection is not to become flippant metaphor makers. Rather, there is something much more contemplative going on. I would suggest it is re-bridging the two land masses that have come to be known so commonly, and erroneously, as separate territories.

I continue to learn that from that bridging, people come alive — which feels rather important.

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