Martin Luther King Day



Martin Luther King has given me a day of rest from my busy job today – a chance for quiet reflection instead of busy productivity.  Though this neglects to say what his greater legacy to us all has been, it does at least allow us a moment to consider it.

Martin Luther King’s voice spoke out at a time when his message was unwelcome to many.  This fact alone serves as an example of courage still very much needed today:  Courage to speak what needs to be spoken no matter what others may think, no matter what the personal price may be for having spoken out.

Each of us may never know what the effects of our own lives may be on society as a whole. The smallest word or action that we might make could possibly have the most effect. How our lives affect others and affect the whole always remains a mystery to be unraveled only in hindsight or perhaps not at all.

Thank you Martin Luther King for my day of rest today, and this moment’s reflection on the value of one life.  Nelson Mandela’s life stands out now too, through the fact of so recently having come to an end, and can be seen in such a similar light.  These men’s examples of what one life can do, can inspire us to use every moment of the life that we have been given as fully as we possibly can.  My life may not stand out to others as theirs do, but in another way it is no less significant in terms of the possibilities that it offers each one of us to serve as an example, an inspiration to the lives that intersect our own.

Knowing this to be true for each one of us sheds light on the power that we all hold and so often ignore.

Thank you Martin Luther King

For showing us what is possible,

For each one of us

Every day,

For each moment

We are here,

Full of life

And ready to take up

Our part in the great dance

Whatever it may be.


Guidelines for Coming Together in Presence

The essay below is something that I am working on as the old year closes and the new one arrives — putting together some basic group guidelines which might be useful to anyone wishing to experiment with this thing I am so interested in at the moment.  That thing could be called a number of different things: collective wisdom, a field of resonance, broadened attention, collective awareness, relational field, collaborative inquiry or we-space.


Coming Together in Presence: Accessing the Collective Field Beyond Our Separate Selves

Are groups of individuals able to learn to tap into a larger field of awareness beyond their personal mental constructs?  Is such a “field” able to guide those people who are willing towards what is healthy for the whole, and help us solve those intractable problems which modern life presents us with?  These are the sorts of questions that fascinate a number of people today, and those people have begun experimenting meeting with others in order to explore this territory.

Such meetings are easily sidetracked in many ways and it is my own sense that there needs to be clear intentionality about what is appropriate for those gatherings and a willingness for each individual to contribute to the effort of keeping such meetings on track.  In the spirit of helpfulness to our collective endeavor, the points below are suggested as starting points for the meeting guidelines, even as they must stay open for revision and refinement as each group learns and grows together.

1- A curiosity about what is possible is basic – a spirit of mutual exploration and discovery about what is or is not happening.

2- A willingness and ability to drop one’s personal agenda and opinions is needed. A commitment to, as best we can, assume a “beginner’s mind” about why the meeting is occurring and what will happen in it.

3- Deep Listening , involving a willingness to both welcome, allow and listen to the silences in the conversation.  When listening to words, listening for and, if prompted, responding to the deepest thread that can be found.  We listen to others for the places where they speak about all of us as they speak about themselves.

4- A willingness to refrain from lengthy storytelling, and every other exit strategy that one normally employed to avoid the depth of engagement and the avoid what is available in the present moment.

5 – Risk Taking. A willingness to be authentic rather than nice, and to speak ones truth to others in a vulnerable way.  A willingness to speak up authentically even if we are likely to be in error or feel embarrassed. Welcoming both the light and the dark of ourselves and each other to the best of our ability and supporting each other in doing so.

6 – Prioritizing caring for the life force, the depth, the energy in the center of the room, the resonance, the way the group feels, or how it feels to each to be in the group, even at risk of personal loss of face.

7-  To bring, as best we can, a trust in the larger process of our evolving humanity and a personal interest in participation in it that overrides our personal self-interest in being right or in keeping up appearances.

With a group of people coming together around guidelines like the above, the next thing is to set up a space with some care for a meditative quality to it.  Starting with a small number of people can sometimes be helpful for keeping the focus.  It is a broad focus that this kind of group is seeking, as opposed to the narrow focus involved in getting things done or individual problem solving.   A flower, plant, candle, mediation bell or such things can be helpful for holding open this broad kind of focus, or anything else that encourages individuals to drop the focus that allowed them to drive there and be on time and step into a broader awareness. It is also best to have a  specific length of time for the meeting agreed on beforehand, so that the time can become like a container for a specific kind of work/thought/awareness.  Taking it out of that container into daily life is a different kind of movement and will happen differently and separately for each individual.

© 2014 Alice Gardner