I believe everything is “better” when it comes from the deeper “I”, but in this post I will talk specifically about what happens when facilitating from that place, how we can access that place, and what that place is.
The Deeper “I”
This may not resonate with you or it may sound too woowoo or like rubbish. I would like to ask that you set aside any skepticism right now and read this as a possibility and not something to be evaluated as fact or fiction. Though for some of you this will land immediately, the words here are pointers to something I’ve experienced and witnessed. Perhaps there will come a time when something will happen and you’ll remember these words and exclaim “Aha! I see!”. Or perhaps this really is rubbish and all in my imagination. I don’t want to claim a truth for you.
Here is the possibility.
The Deeper “I” is the source of life itself. In fact, it is the source of the universe. I use “I” here to emphasize our connection to the Source. I use “Deeper” to distinguish between the personal “I” and the truer essence of our existence. The Source has a natural movement that emanates through everything. I find this easiest to witness when I watch trees or other life in nature. Contrast that to humans where most people most of the time act from a place of “will”. They want something or think something and then make it happen. There is not this kind of will in a tree to grow, to shed its leaves in the fall, or to sprout flowers and seeds in the spring. But it does. The Source empowers the tree with these abilities and sets them in motion. It’s a kind of deep will that emanates from deep within the essence of the tree.
The Source emanates from within you, too. It’s always emanating, but it does not always come through to the surface.
The Source is always emanating into us, but there is another character in play. The Ego. The Ego has gotten a bad wrap, but fulfills a very important purpose. The problem is when we are unnecessarily coming from the Ego and the Ego is making the choices without input from the Deeper “I”. In a sense, we are blocking the Source… or rather… our Ego is blocking the Source.
The Ego gets activated by many different things and can be very tricky. I’ll highlight a couple that I think are particularly common as a facilitator: nervousness, desire to look good/receive praise, desire to be valuable (be a teacher/spiritual/facilitator), desire to give others a good experience. I think all these distill down to something about self worth.
To access the Deeper “I” you must detach your self worth from what happens in front of a group as a facilitator. You must also be comfortable in front of the group, though this comfort may be the same as detaching your self worth.
I have two ways to practice this access. Practice not in front of the group and practice in front of the group. When alone, meditation can be used to increase the chance to connect to the Source, or rather, be aware of the Source and quiet the Ego. Your value will become obvious and unimportant when you feel the Source. When you’re in front of the group you can also meditate. Practice silence in front of the group and checking in with yourself. If you feel awkward doing this then lead the group in a silent meditation by instructing them to do what you are doing as you sit in front of them. Also, you could simply tell them what you’re doing, perhaps in terms that are understandable by most people. For example, “I don’t know what I want to say yet, so I’m waiting and just allowing myself to feel into this moment. [pause]”. You can even take it a step further and more vulnerable by following with, “You may feel anxious for us to get into the exercises or awkward with the silence. I invite you to let go of that and know there is nothing for you to do here right now. I also feel some awkwardness and anxiousness and I just want to give it a moment to pass so that my words are not from that place. [pause]” What you want to do here is trust in the moment. Trust that the words will come. Trust that silence is ok.
A third practice is to facilitate to an empty room. Speak as if people are there. Use the examples above or create your own. Really speak out loud as if the room were full. Give time for the invisible participants to respond, move, interact. Play the whole scenario in your imagination, but for your role, actually speak, move, walk, etc. as you would if this were a real event.
When waiting in silence, the words may not come. I know I cannot always access my connection to the Source. Sometimes I just move on with the best words I have for the moment. This is totally fine. It’s really important that you don’t get caught up in self judgement about not being connected to Source. You gave it a chance! That’s what matters. Just move along and give it more chances. Eventually, it will come. You’ll have access. Judgements will block it strongly because they are from the Ego. See if you can let go of judgements… and don’t forget the trap of judging yourself for having judgements! Smile and notice those, too.
In some ways, accessing source is like digging a hole. Each time you welcome silence you take a shovel full of dirt out of the whole. The longer the silence the bigger the shovel full. So your efforts are not in vain even if you do not experience the Source immediately. Also, your every day life may pile on more dirt. I’m suggesting here that you simply continue and trust. Continue holding space for silence and listening. This analogy isn’t perfect and I want to mention that the Source shines through the dirt sometimes and has a certain amount of randomness to it. What we are really doing is increasing the probability, not providing guaranteed access.
When the Source shines through your words will come with greater ease, you’ll say different things, you’ll probably say less or at least not ramble, and the group will likely feel a power in your presence. People may feel safe, free to express or explore, and probably more peaceful.
There is another, possibly more important, result. You won’t be responsible for what happens. This is a great relief to the Ego. You will just be a channel for what’s happening. Perhaps a little fuzzy at times, but a channel just the same. You get to step back and watch.
Step back and watch… that can be really vulnerable and edgy. What might come up is an awareness of your own feelings and a desire to express what you see. And it may not be “nice” what you see. As you facilitate you may share vulnerably your awareness of your state, your feelings, your sensations. This may inspire trust from the group in you.
I caution you in sharing vulnerably just because you know it’s edgy. In some cases sharing your inner state is not what the moment calls for. When you practice silence in front of the group, you may take that silence before you share and see what really feels alive to share. Where is the Source taking your awareness. Maybe your awareness moves in that silence and sharing a vulnerable sensation or emotion you have isn’t relevant or “productive”.
Your experience is for you and is informing you. There is no default inherent value in sharing your experience. There is value in noticing your experience and allowing it to inform you… and the information may be “this is relevant to share!”
Give it a try!
I encourage you to give it a try. To practice facilitating an empty room. To add silence to your facilitation. To inform the participants what you’re doing in holding silence. To wait in that silence. I encourage you to meditate or practice yin yoga or some other practice that involves stillness and silence. Look into how you feel in these moments. Listen for movements from within. Have faith that something is wanting inside you to come out into the world and take time to listen for it and give time and space for it. This force from the Source does not coerce you… it just gently pushes up from within. You must give it space and remove pressures for it to succeed.