By kate, January 16th, 2014
Each of us are parts of wider systems which — often invisibly — influence what we do.
Neuroscientists working with laboratory mice have shown that fears and trauma appear to be transferred down generations through DNA.
The mice were trained to be afraid of a scent similar to cherry blossoms. The following two generations of mice had no exposure to the same scent. The great “grandchildren”, when exposed to “cherry blossoms”, exhibited a fear response similar to their great grandparents!
The transfer mechanism, according to the research, is the greater activation of specific genes. See a fascinating BBC article here.
I believe this calls us to have greater awareness of intergenerational systems, and greater compassion for ourselves and each other. What if what stops us from moving forward are fears we’ve inherited from our parents, grandparents and even further back?
Being aware of intergenerational effects can help to burst the bubble. I can, by metaphor, train myself to notice when I’m triggered by “cherry blossoms” (or whatever it is), and consciously choose how I respond. I can “give back” what I’ve inherited, leaving the fear and trauma with previous generations.
Over the holidays, my mother gave me a folder with memoir writing she had done in the late 90s. I was struck by several references to how my mother would give up whenever she encountered resistance as she sought connection with her parents.
Perhaps not coincidentally, also over the holidays, my husband and I contrasted our respective styles in the face of resistance: I tend to withdraw/give up, and he tends to persist.
In this new year, I’m getting a lot of mileage out of noticing this particular “cherry blossom” trigger. I have been able to follow up more persistently in situations where I’d like to make a connection, and have way more compassion for my irritated self’s desire to chuck everything in the face of resistance to how I’m organizing a group I co-convene.
Understanding that we (and everyone we deal with) are affected by previous generations opens a lot of cans of worms. The good news is that since those worms are working on us anyway, being more conscious of them allows us to shift our “system”, both for our own lives, and for the lives of our children!
Pass it on!
P.S. One of the most powerful tools I know of for shifting intergenerational systems is Hellinger’s Constellation work. Ask me for more info if you are interested!
By kate, November 20th, 2013
My colleague, Anne, speaks about “noodling” when she has a question that calls her into new territory. I love the image, and want to share the noodling I’ve been doing about leverage points to support non-linear change.
- Faced with a challenge or opportunity, one of the best places to turn is inward, where we can tap the power of intention, perception, intuition and consciousness.
- For example, framing and reframing define the game, and can therefore change the game. The shift to seeing the glass half-full takes a nanosecond and offers much more possibility.
- Clarity about purpose is something rock solid to both anchor to and push off from. When I’m stuck, what helps the most is connecting to the deeper purpose that is calling me forth, or to the deeper purpose of whatever I’m working on. Most groups benefit from revisiting their purpose, and framing it in a way that inspires a big “YES!
- The shift from “self” to “Self” changes everything. Otto Scharmer calls it the shift from “Ego system awareness” to “Eco system awareness”. Lots more of his rich reflections here!
- Our rational logical society steers us away from 99% of the game-changing potential in inner work. This is cause for hope: there is sooo much potential in shifting perspective, choosing trust, coming into alignment with purpose, tapping our intuition, being grateful …
Most of us need reminders or supportive habits to help us remember to use inner work.
Maybe this is a nudge you need!
And what if we join the revolution in consciousness — nudging each other to turn inward, and passing on inner work approaches we find helpful?
By kate, March 04th, 2013
“I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going thorough a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying, and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, were arising from the rubble.”
– Vaclav Havel
A barefoot facilitator is to a professional facilitator
what a paramedic is to a doctor:
A person with a basic and versatile tool kit and enough savvy to skillfully support what is needed 80% of the time, and for a fraction of the cost.
I resonate with Havel’s statement above: we are going through a massive transitional period. This “Great Turning” is calling for collective intelligence, collective wisdom and collective capacity as never before. We are being asked to revolutionize how we work together.
To help things go better, I’m inspired by the “barefoot doctors’ of Mao’s China. In the mid-60s, there was little access to medical care in rural areas, and not enough resources to supply fully trained doctors. Instead, 30,000 villagers were trained in basic Western and Chinese medicine — enough to treat common ailments, and to share information about hygiene, family planning, and prevention of epidemics.
They were called “barefoot doctors” because when they weren’t tending to basic medical needs, these people continued to farm barefoot in the rice paddies along side their neighbours. Almost overnight, this important innovation revolutionized health outcomes in rural China.
By analogy, we do not have resources or capacity to supply professional facilitators to all the meetings and group endeavours supporting the great shifts underway. There are, however, thousands of people in all walks of life already up-skilling their ability to facilitate deep and lasting change in the human systems of which they are a part.
Perhaps you already know that you are a “barefoot facilitator”. Perhaps you welcome the invitation to so serve. Either way, I hope you step up and offer your skills and awareness in the groups you are part of, and I hope you find ways to keep deepening your capacity to understand group dynamics.
If you are interested in co-creating a movement to revolutionize how we work together, including spreading the idea of “barefoot facilitation”, I’d love to hear from you.
By kate, November 15th, 2012
If you have a pattern or block you’d like to transform, consider creating a ritual. Distilling the change you want to make into a rite of passage supports shifts in non-linear and almost instantaneous ways.
Years ago I was in a workshop with the great Jean Houston. The culmination of three days was an invitation to cross a threshold between who I had been and who I might become. We could do this by stepping over a line marked out on the floor by a string of tealights — a ritual of conscious and transformative change.
Who knew that such a simple exercise could be so powerful.
As I come up to the line, all my fears and resistance concentrate in my chest and throat. I stand at the “edge”, gathering myself. I have the distinct experience of energy moving, as though whole complexes and patterns are coming to the surface and breaking up in the face of my intention to transform. With time I feel a readiness — a clarity that I can and should step over the line — and a quiet shift within that I know is a quantum increase in self-authority and self-acceptance. I step over, and instantly there is more space, and more vulnerability. I don’t yet have sea legs in this new ocean of possibility. In a short time though, I stabilize. I am excited. I’ve passed over into a new world.
If you are dogged by a pattern you’d love to shift, I recommend creating a ritual of transformative change for yourself.
Here are the basic elements:
- Name what you want to transform and listen for the new that is seeking to emerge.
- Create a container for yourself — pick a time and place that has meaning, and ask people from your inner circle to join you in the process, or to bear witness. Decide the format — what will represent your threshold?
- Prepare yourself. Before a rite of passage there is an energetic need for a “vigil” — a time of reflection and cleansing that supports one to be ready for transformation.
- Humbly honour your truth at the heart of the ritual: do you commit to what is emerging or not? Only cross over your symbolic threshold if you are truly letting go of the old and embracing the new. This is not a mental shift, but one that happens at the level of deep inner knowing.
- If you cross over, celebrate! There is a reason that marriages and funeral always include food. The “nodal” points where we take a different path need to be marked, and celebrating with food is in our DNA.
You can also honour this basic five step architechture any time you do something new or big, since the newness/bigness involves “stepping over a line”.
I recently facilitated a three day board retreat for a large multi-stakeholder group. In the days before, I allowed myself more quiet time, knowing I was deepening and gathering myself as preparation to hold space for a dynamic group process. Afterwards, I celebrated (a part of the cycle too many of us neglect too often!!).
Creating rituals, and seeing more of what we do through the lens of ritual, are two ways to support transformative change.