Archive for the ‘holding space’ Category

Drinking tea with grandma

Friday, June 4th, 2010

This was the title of my Open Space session, here in Axladitsa in the program Immersion. (now some three weeks ago) Of course everybody laughed when I announced it. But I had a sense that I had a lot of my life’s experience to offer to many of these people who are doing such great work in the world. Later I found out that I am the oldest person here; and after all, I am a real grandmother with a granddaughter of 9 months! (see picture!)

Two young women immediately showed up, before my tea was ready. They carried questions about Feminine Power. These bright young ladies ask themselves what is the New Feminine? They have been educated, they have work with great responsibilities and they want to do it differently than mainstream governance, politics, economics etc. But looking back at femininsm of the sixties, seventies or eighties, they don’t find inspiration or support that fits their situation.

We talked about the pitfall that many women fall into as they haven’t learned the difference between being good at relations and emotions – but easily getting overwhelmed by it or disempowered – and the more impersonal stance in these matters. This would mean to take care, but staying grounded and centered, even when great pain or big chaos shows up. It would also mean that women need to develop the language to speak about the topics of relationships and what they are sensing in order to become very explicit so that they can be understood.

Interestingly a man showed up to drink tea with us and he joined the conversation. This turned to a deep inquiry about the different qualities of the feminine and the masculine. I was reminded of a quote of a native grandmother somewhere: Men hold the love and women hold the knowledge; that is how it should be. I remember how it turned my understanding upside down when hearing it for the first time, and now it showed itself again.

Mahmoud and Riva

We recognised that indeed the masculine has a great heart, and always wants to find solutions for the problems at hand. We were wondering if asking for help and protection was one of the new skills the new feminine has to integrate back – independent women as we all are?!? What if we would do this in service of the earth and life itself?

Probably the more feminine skills of sensing and relationship need to be used (more) in sensing things like right timing and alignment with the whole of the context we find ourselves in; including the Earth and the invisible and intangible.

Drinking tea at the little table in front of the house spilled over to the next days and generated more deep conversations… and for myself, being a grandmother who shares bits of her journey whenever needed, seemed to fit my mastery! I was surprised with that, but it feels very right and very comfortable. In our ‘debrief’ of the gathering yesterday it was recognised that ‘grandmothers holding the rim’ seemed very important for gatherings who want to be life affirming. More to be explored later I guess.

At the center of the journey

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

The facilitator has no agenda

except the emergent agenda seeking to be born

in, among and through the people gathered before her.

Her emptiness is not nothing, though.

It is an invitation and a reflection.

Wherever she moves, radiating welcome,

things take shape, evolve, transform, move on.

She is delighted, fascinated, and as impartial as the sun.

She offers comradeship on a journey into an open space

where co-creativity finds its home and voice.

The greater her skill, the less she does,

but the more profound the life she meets

because life loves, above all things, to find itself

and it always comes to where it can meet,

embrace, and discover Greater Life,

which it finds in the universal center where she stands.

“Under the best of circumstances,” writes Harrison Owen,

“the facilitator will be totally present

and absolutely invisible.”

Like God.  Like the Tao.  Like the Center of the Universe.

Everywhere — especially Here.

© Tom Atlee

Sex and Money

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

As happened in different other iterations of Women Moving the Edge a systemic constellation emerged in the afternoon. It came out of a merging of the two lines of conversations that had been going on since we started. One the one hand the conversation on what a new economic system could look like, and all that is related to that. Many of us live and work on the edge of the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ system, with the implication of having some real money for some of the work we do and creating a lot of value and meaning in other projects, but with no reward or payment in the common currency. On the other hand we have been talking a lot of being in the fullness of who we are as women, our passion, our sensitivity, our wildness. How is this all related? Is there a relation?

When we started sensing into it something happened in my body, some kind of anxiety related with the question at hand, realizing how much war, murder etc was related with money and the bigger economic system. The energy became dense in the room while I shared it… but others stayed clear and called me/us out of our belief in the shadow!!! Recalling ‘the koan of the shadow’ I soon got out of it and could focus on ‘restoration of the sacred’, be it in a money system or in relationship with the feminine. It teached us that neither fear nor shadow are real, but that this topic has a lot of depth and we have to realize that fully!

The question we came up with that would drive the constellation was something like: If the Collective She comes alive what is the new economic system? We didn’t capture the constellation real time, but here is – more or less – the conversation we had afterwards. The ‘names’ are the elements in the constellation that people represented in the constellation. This is kind of long, but I don’t want to leave something out…


Holding Space (HS): On a personal level, I could have been the Sacred Feminine (SF), but Judy took it. I felt powerful at the end, sitting in the chair. (The chair represented the new project of restoring the Earth that seemed somehow needed in the whole constellation to align the energies of the different players. At the end HS plopped herself in the chair, representing the wild, sensual feminine energy, which brought a lot of aliveness for all elements in the constellation!) HS and SF need each other; we could have done it together: Sisters in the Sacred Feminine.

Sacred Feminine (SF): As you sat in the chair, as the seductrice, I came aware that there was no one in the constellation that I wanted to seduce! Really hard… I don’t want to be in intimacy, only when Current Value System looked at me… I felt pretty powerless in the constellation. When I was asked to say: “I will hold that project (of restoring the Earth).” I first was holding back, but yet, it drew me. When later HS sat there in the chair, I was ready.

HS: The seductrice and the HS, this partnership is the powerful force that can move the system. I embraced Greed and the whole thing. I wanted to say: Come on! Let’s co-create! That’s fun.

Current Value System (CVS): When you sat there – like the Royal Pose of the Buddha – personal I loved it.
As CVS I was yearning all the time: Where is she?!!! There was intense relief when I had an alley (SF came along). Then Greed came along, and I had a hard time not to get angry. I want to be, I want to learn from the SF! That was very nice to me. CVS and the People need more to do together.

Terra (as both the Earth and one of the new complementary currencies called Terra): Interesting; there was something missing. The People were not representing the question; SF didn’t look like to be involved with it… but we didn’t have the lush, wild woman!! I had the idea: the answer is missing! There was total relief when you sat down in the chair! Now she has shown up. When are women going to show up and say: We can play a new game! The spark, the alchemy will come from women totally showing up!

Greed: Personally I had a question in high school: What made it go wrong? The answer was greed! I wanted now to try to feel what it took to release that. It happened when CVS had put her arm around me. Someone would need to guide that greed energy to go to a healthier place. Like you would speak to a 5-year old. The SF felt like in a foreign country to me.
Something shifted when I got directions from the facilitator. I am not sure I wanted to grow up, I would like to have attention for the little 5-year old that is wanting and wanting and wanting… but there is relief in having limits…
How can I apply this to my world? Seeing the 5-year old in the bankers??
At the end (HS in the chair), that was a very grown up experience, meeting you as a full woman, but I was still a child. I needed a lot of holding to grow up. If I felt nourished I wouldn’t need all this stuff, replacing what is missing. That feels true.


SF: My inclination from the beginning was to give love to Greed, a human need that was unfulfilled. All my colleagues were not fully trusting you… I didn’t do it, I wasn’t listening to myself at all! The shadow is not real, until we say it is bad and we can’t trust it!

Money: I didn’t go with all my impulses, thinking: I can’t do that as money! I wanted to go with the Sacred feminine to Greed. I wanted to say: There is nothing wrong with her (=Greed); it is a Sacred Longing!!!! When you said: “If you could hold me and nourish, it brought me to … (explanation of the development of the limbic system and how it is related to the development of empathy)… it is just that critical part in development, that hungry place for nourishment! It shows up in adults, but it are young children. I think of the differences when my son has an emotion I can hold it, he can just have these expressions and he doesn’t need to hold it in his body, as we had to do.

People: I resonate with this. I choose to represent People because I feel like the people should protest, and they don’t! I went with that impulse and tried to integrate it with the feminine etc; I wanted to push that, but it didn’t work. At the end I wanted more connection with the Sacred Feminine, but it felt right that they where the bigger system. Being with Greed felt right, we can hold them. Maybe I could have played a more nurturing role…

CVS: ‘living as child in an adult body’… the holding space we have been talking about, is holding space with love. We don’t name it like that. Unconditional love… bottom line is the love and the space!

Terra: I was never fully activated. It was not needed?!? There was nothing in the constellation that was activating Terra; a potential untapped. Interesting, even when I was standing on a chair trying to get attention. The constellation was dealing with relations etc, but not paying attention to me. I stayed floating, not meaningful. I was like a piece of furniture.
Sometimes I was the currency, sometimes I was Earth. It was a dual consciousness, possible of healing the split. Neither of it was activated in the constellation.
The wild woman, not the Sacred Feminine, but the practical, seductive, juicy! If we connect juice to the Terra everybody would love it!
When wild, lush women doing real cool stuff, evoke this community, who wouldn’t want to be part of this tribe? Sexuality and sensuality are deeply connected with this; like a lover’s invitation to the Soul. The integration of wild and lush and spiritual and… spiritual ecstasy, existential ecstasy.
It reminds me of a quote: What will you do with this one wild life? Like someone is saying: Peace is sexy; make it alluring.
I put the bin in the constellation for the Cosmic Garbage. There was a heaviness in the constellation, and it was my invitation to just let it go! Throw the trash out! Then let’s get back to what we are doing.

People: (What would activate you more?) More of me. I was doing more people on my own. I was not sure how to do it, torn between fighting the old and going with the new.
(Did you feel lost? Confused?) Yeah, it was hard to keep a clear idea of things… lots of confusion… I wanted to get to a new way – not just the small concept – I didn’t see how to get there.

Money: Terra brought me the chair to rest. Terra being there was important. It allowed me to be what I was. I didn’t realize you (Terra) wanted attention, it looked like you were holding space.

Terra: For some time I was doing that. But at a certain point someone needed to notice me and activate me.

Money: At some point there was an impulse, not very strong. I wanted to reach out to Terra, but so much was going on… There is something about ‘the moment’…
(Why was it hard to look at Terra?) Part of it was ‘she was cool’, looked like ‘don’t you like me?’. I had the impulse to say: I am here for some time!

Participant: This whole movement of complementary currency can piss people of. We have to flag something about language, tone etc. ‘Old money meets new money’. A way to come in is at the side door and start a conversation.

Money: The credibility of complementary money has been studied. Unless the orange (Spiral Dynamics) can shift, credibility is not being granted. My first impulse was attraction!(Could it be an invitation to dialogue?) There was an openness, I didn’t need an invitation. But it moved too fast, I missed the opportunity. (How did it move too fast?)Terra was jumping of the chair, there was lots of fixing and making nice. There was no attention for Money and Terra.
CVS: It was not so much fixing for me, but looking for allies. Greed came along – I hoped to change it, to get Greed of my back.
There was some healing going on. Maybe Greed could be held in that, in the unconditional way. Maybe it is part of reality that there are a lot of emotions. I wanted People to make a lot of noice ‘We can’t take it any more!’… But there is responsibility everywhere. Money: We didn’t inquire into Greed, we jumped into blaming Greed.

Facilitator: There was not much adult consciousness in the constellation.  Greed was obvious and I tried to bring her to the emotional position of a grown up – Let her say: sorry.  The other elements still didn’t trust her and I was puzzled – why couldn’t they take the bowing for what it was (maybe too soon?!)
What I hear now in this conversation afterwards are a lot of impulses not acted upon and ideas that were not spoken.  Why is that?  What does it tell us about the system?  As facilitator I see a system that is blocked and I try to see which stone to move so it can flow again.  Try to move positions or let people say something to see if it brings flow.
My big question was: Who is taking initiative?  Who is taking this on?

Greed: The instructions, to me it felt as: “Mam is upset!”, and I wanted love for the child greed.

Participant: A lot of things didn’t go ‘right’ and the learning is huge!
Participant: I honor the constellation – who didn’t show up, who doesn’t speak up… I deeply believe that – having worked with teenagers – we live in a teenage-at-risk-society! They have to be initiated; and can we love them? Saying: Let me help initiate you. That is all they are longing for.

Participant: Who do we think we are that ‘they’ need initiation?! It is what it is, and there is a longing in some of us to change something. I think it is simple.

Participant: How do we hold consciousness? It seems like Life has a new toy, Consciousness, and it doesn’t know what to do with it yet.
I’m present to the life stages from birth to… getting to an adult stage.. I am not sure that I can go there, responsibly. But I can hold the possibility and the potential. I (Money) did feel a real love. Just put some love in the system! Somewhere! There is also the urgency; when the love holds the call then it goes somewhere. It is very easy to see the call going without the love.

Participant: How to have that Call – in Love and grounded… Love says finally: No more!!! Kali energy rooted in unconditional love. We have yet to see the Feminine Principle to show up! It is not an a map yet, and all metaphors brake down.

It is quite clear that this constellation impacted us a lot. There was confusion, no one taking responsibility, everyone waiting for the others… just as we can see happening in real life in our world. The ‘jump’ from Holding Space to the active, seducing and attractive part of the feminine would work further in our time together, and even beyond.

Shadow and Aliveness

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Our third day in Women Moving the Edge was so inspiring and so full of aliveness! Already at the breakfast table were we talking about the question: What is the question that would inspire a new economic order? As it turned out later this would be one of the threads that would later lead to a systemic constellation.

The other thread was more about us, women, being earthy and sensual beings. Speaking about it, it would also trigger deeply held pain that was hidden in our bodies, all these long years! So again, there were tears and also shaking of the body, taking care of each other and then – relief! – and how much laughter was available next!

A few sentences I wrote down during this process…


Earthy and sensual topics make us alive!

Allow and breath!

It is so damn easy as to follow your passion!

Deep sadness in the belly to live from that place. Moving sadness into aliveness through the expression.

Living the Sacred, instead of the pure pleasure.

We ALL need to be alive!

Life is happening anyway, if we participate or not.


As we moved through these conversations it got more tangible what sourcing really is; how it is to speak from a place where no thoughts or concepts are formed yet; straight from the experience – as when we hurt ourselves and scream, but now having deep wisdom to share. Once again it showed me how our minimal structure of circle practice, holding space for the potential to manifest and having a guiding question is a profound container for letting life happen through us. Sooner or later it will bring the wisdom as answer to the question and the clarity of a next, minimal, elegant step. This one next step is the only thing that is possible after all in a complex and chaotic environment – very much where we live in these days.

The sourcing got us into a deeper insight of what ‘the shadow’ really means. We speak of holding the shadow and loving the dragons, but it became clear that to understand what this really is about we have to sink deeper into ‘the koan of the shadow’. The shadow is not what we think it is, the koan will help us see what it really is; because it is not dark and it is not a thing. It is like clouds casting a shadow, but the cloud isn’t something to touch or to hold, you can just walk through it! Instead of the shadow there is an Intense Beauty! Can we live in the Direct Light, not putting anything between our selves and the Light???

The souring, the sharing of the pain, playing the music without asking for permission, reading a poem for the first time, it all lead us to realize:


The Glory of the Feminine

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Another of these amazing days with amazing women in an amazing program! The point of Women Moving the Edge is that we don’t have a design for the process. What we do have is a long process of preparation of holding the space for the potential to manifest and an intense co-sensing of what would be the right guiding question. These two, the holding space and the guiding question form the container in which the gathering can unfold. This question is in nice colors on the wall and besides the practice of the circle nothing is set beforehand.

For me it feels very natural to trust that something really meaningful will come out of this – even that we will move the edge of where we were before -; but I realized that it is not for many people. This trust makes that there is no pressure whatsoever of getting somewhere and it welcomes every contribution in the circle. So besides the conversations we had a song, a walk to the beach, belly dancing; we had tears and lots of laughter, and a hot tub to end the day.

It is impossible to remember or describe all the conversations… maybe I can put it together in The Glory of the Feminine.


What if following our bliss, our passion, our joy, our pleasure would be the way to go, and creating the new world would be a byproduct of that?!?

Coming from the idea that the masculine and the feminine needs to melt before new birth can occur, we had different lines of conversation on this dance between the genders, between these two energies. Who has to move first? Or do we all dance to the cosmic music and there is no one moving first but only listening to the resonance?
Is there value in seducing? Isn’t seducing the very act of being the pleasure and embodying the future?

The first part of our question is: “If we collectively hold space for the Future that is being birthed, …” That might be a very big idea, but it is important to see lots of our work – paid or not – in that light. We can’t move faster than how it goes, and it is important that projects and ideas can unfold in resonance with the pace of the Earth. But very important in this process is that we need each other to support one another in this holding space. It is a conscious act, although not very visible, but so needed!

Being pregnant… together…

Living wholeness

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

It has been a while since I wrote my last blog post in English. In the meantime there was the Art of Hosting happening here in Dutch, with lots of related activities and I just returned a few days ago from Greece. I was at Axladitsa, the Learning Center, initiated by Maria Scordialou and Sarah Whiteley. The first few days I was part of their landweek, helping out on the land and in the garden. We fenced the newly planted vines and cleared some more space around the house and what will become the next extension of the vegetable garden.


After this work outside we gathered with the hosting team – the three of us and Judy Wallace – to prepare for the collective inquiry: The Edge of Collective Sourcing. Below you find the document we put together on this day, right before the participants were arriving. You will see, it is a work in progress, not all points have flesh to the bones (yet).

LIVING WHOLENESS – Through the Practice of Collective Sourcing

This is wisdom generated by two ‘partnerships’, which have been inquiring into Collective Sourcing for some years. We have attentively been watching what happens when our will is opened intentionally – besides our mind and heart – and is held and practiced collectively. It evokes real emergence, whereby something totally new arises.
Partners are Maria Scordialou and Sarah Whiteley, who founded Axladitsa, a learning center in Greece that is researching Living Wholeness in action. Other partners are Ria Baeck and Judy Wallace who initiated the training Women Moving the Edge, which will soon have its sixth iteration.

The whole is getting bigger
In order to live fully in a world with more complexity and ever more uncertainty, we know that we have to go beyond what we already know. Whatever context we find ourselves in – the corporate world, public sector, non-profits or engaging in our communities – we need to learn to hold many levels of paradox, conflict and disturbance. It is our basic assumption that the whole that we need to live into and embrace is getting bigger and bigger. We have to include all the wholes that we already know of and transcend them.

New Human Capacity

To live this wholeness we need new practices, new organizational patterns, new ways of planning etc. In general we need to activate a new human capacity. A capacity that sees the world more in terms of organisms and ecosystems instead of organizations.
In the gathering, the Edge of Collective Sourcing we are building or activating this new human capacity: the capacity to collectively hold both the highest question and the deepest sourcing. It is innovating a new collective practice, a secular practice. It is removed from new age kinds of spirituality and removed from ‘normal’ religious practices.
This new capacity is also a shift from being an individual to being of service to and through the collective – whatever that is.  Our point of gravity will shift from being ‘me in relation to the collective’ – the old way of communal – to a new expression of ‘being the collective’ or ‘being part of an ecosystem’.

Judy and Gabriele enjoying the sun

The field of potential in need of us
We came to see that there is a collective field, a collective presence, or a collective potential that exists in itself before we gather(ed). It is not us individuals coming together and then creating ‘this field’ between us. The field with its huge potential to manifest newness was probably guiding us to come together in the first place. The field is in need of us, human beings, to make it visible and to make its potential manifest. It is only through us that it can be embodied and can result in wise actions.

We can see each individual in the circle as holding a pole of awareness, being in inner alignment. In between the poles – and in the awareness of it – the field becomes tangible. The program Edge of Collective Sourcing invites participants to practice this double awareness while doing it collectively, for collective purposes.

Restoring Balance
One of the aspects of the whole that is getting bigger in our consciousness is moving beyond our ‘global village’ to ‘being a part in the ecosystem of the Earth’. In other words, we aim to restore the balance between ‘being Citizens of the World’ and ‘being Inhabitants of the Earth’, because as both we constantly interact and mutually influence at the same time.


We build on three mental models that have given us deeper insights and a framework to make sense of our many deep experiences. We assume you are familiar with these models, as we only speak about a specific piece of each of them.

Spiral Dynamics
Spiral Dynamics is a developmental model to see how societies, organizations, tribes – all collectives – evolve over time, depending on the environment they are in.
Our practice of Collective Sourcing is a second tier practice, and has distinctions from the Green level – also collective – and the Yellow level. We are developing and prototyping a Turquoise practice in which this new way of being in the collective is in service – or in alignment – with the Earth, all this from a perspective of the bigger whole, which is the universe.

Collective Sourcing is, in the language of Scharmer, a field 4 practice. The difference is maybe that we are very explicit that this is a collective practice. Although it is quite implicit in Scharmer’s theory that this generative space is where ‘I exist, because you are’. It is the consciousness where you live in a constant mutual exchange with other human beings. We add to that the constant mutual exchange with place and non-human beings.
It is also where we live in the space of Open Will, besides of course, the Open Mind and Open Heart. Collective Sourcing is living in this Open Will collectively.

Art of Hosting
From the Art of Hosting community we take the pattern that we saw emerging and which we named The Fifth Paradigm. This pattern takes the known organizational forms of Circle, Triangle, Hierarchy/Bureaucracy and Network to a next level where all core elements are integrated into a new organism, fitting our new wholeness.


(I have been writing different pieces of this model over the last months/years. Soon more will follow, you can find an article about it on EvolutionaryNexus).
Creating from Source
Living the Turquoise level seems to us also about ‘seeing and acknowledging what is’ and creating from and with the potential. Giving form to Spirit, or creating Spirit on Earth, is to create from Source. A partnership with Source allows us to create beauty.

Wholeness of Knowing

“What if words aren’t the medium?”

Stone beauty

“I remember speaking vividly about the difference of feminine knowing and masculine knowing. It was more a showing than a speaking actually! Masculine knowing is taking a step back (see me stepping away from the experience, it its talking about something, it is building a concept after the facts… Feminine knowing (not to be confused with women’s knowing! Men know this too!) is knowing IN the experience (see me stepping into the center again). It is about ‘getting something’ while drawing you never understood before; or ‘getting’ what you need to do next while walking in nature. The knowing is in the totality of your being, not just in your head; it is as if your cells understood something.

“I see a spiral staircase, a double helix, one band thin and one band thick. The thicker one is the downloading and the rational, the thinner the more insightful and intuitive. These are the threads and our intention is to create the weave of wholeness. The pole in the center – the evolutionary thread – is what connects us to what has gone before and what is emerging. This is Collective Sourcing. The challenge is to not disconnect from the thread. The staircase can connect us to the next level.”

In the bigger framework the practices of Art of Hosting can be understood as aiming at opening the minds and hearts of the participants who engage in it. It can be seen as helping people travel down the left side of the U as we have come to know it through Otto Scharmer.
When people have practiced the opening of the mind and of the heart – and personal practice is being a part of it – they become ready to be at the bottom of the U. This is the point where we have access to Source, to the unmanifest potential; either of ourselves or of the project or the group we are in.
Seeing it in this way, the process of Presencing – going through the stages – differs from Sourcing, which is a direct connecting to the deep levels of unmanifest potential. Sourcing is being able to plunge directly to the bottom of the well and still being connected with the manifest level of daily life.
When this capacity is shared by more people, and we go directly to the bottom of Sourcing, our guess is that the right leg of the U-curve will become different than described right now by Otto Scharmer.


Ongoing Spiral between Holding the Potential and Staying in Inquiry creates New Wisdom
There is an ongoing dynamic  – like a spiral going back and forth – between the level or depth of Sourcing and the level or depth/height of Awareness or Spirit.
The depth of the potential can only become accessible for manifestation and action when we are equally able to become aware of the intention or the clear purpose. This explains to us the importance of finding the good guiding question(s). If our question comes from a higher level of awareness it will invite in a deeper possibility of sourcing. In this widened field of wisdom, through many cycles, new wisdom can be generated.
The ship with the highest mast needs the deepest keel.

Embracing more Complexity
Related with this – and drawing it in the model – we realize that this dance between both poles in the spiral also relates to widening our reach in the manifest. The depth of sourcing and the height of the intention make sure that we can embrace more of the whole, which is so needed in dealing with the challenges of our time.

Staying in not-knowing
The underlying condition to get to the point of Collective Sourcing is the ability to keep the space of possibility open until the collective clarity of intention arises. This means that we need to be able to stay long enough in the not-knowing. It isn’t only a mental not-knowing, but we see it as a total letting-go; the ability to sit in the void with no clue of direction or possibility. The not-knowing is a place you haven’t been before, it is a place of newness and innovation.
The ability to stay in the not-knowing is enhanced by the training we receive through our individual practices.

Function of Disturbances
We realized why we say that disturbances have priority. Disturbances make us become aware of some borders or blocking energy in the play of the widening field. Integrating the disturbance means we have to widen our perception, widen our perspectives, widen our holding space, rewording our guiding question. It always is an invitation to open wider; either the mind or the heart or the will.

Capacity of holding multiple relationships at the same time
– Be participant in the process
– Be an observer/witness of what is going on in your self
– Be an observer of the field, the group, the context you are in
– Be a leader, step forward with whatever you see or need or want to bring in
Awareness on all these levels is needed when practicing Living Wholeness.

Living as part of an ecosystem
Shifting our center of gravity from the individual to the collective. By collective we mean here all that is around us, not just the individuals or humans. At some point we used the metaphor of tango, where the man and the woman become ‘a being with four legs’. In a gathering, a workshop – or in life in general – this means one needs to know what the whole is about so that we can keep an eye on it, while at the same time also being aware of our own individual energy.

New Practice of Planning
If we tend to an organism instead of an organization, then what would be the practice of planning? It seems to us that the organic form of this is invitation. The point is to know/sense when and who to invite.

Being a new kind of leader
What does ‘being a leader’ mean in an eco-system?
There is no separation between being and doing;
It is living-as-the-system,
It is living-what-emerges,
No separation between leader and what is led.
There is no border,
No precipice,
It IS.


Collective Harvest and Meaning Making

Harvest into the Wider Field

What leads us to Collective Sourcing is:
•    We are asking questions that lead us deeper into not-knowing and bring us to an edge of clarity
•    We are in a rhythm and pace of speaking and listening that is both waiting and yet searching
•    We are accessing information that is below the aquifer, coming from intuition, story, images, previous experience
•    We are in a field of listening for pop-out points, for clarity and for newness.
The moment collective sourcing arises we can notice some elements of it.
•    we use our subtle sensing
•    there is a slowing down, we speak and act in a different pace
•    silence comes in naturally and spontaneous
•    our small self is gone
•    I am a vessel through which the collective presence speaks and acts
This means that Collective Sourcing is an embodied experience, and not (only) a state of mind.

What if Collective Sourcing is
becoming a human ecosystem
that teaches us
to be one, as the Earth?

What if Collective Sourcing is
second tier partnership?

Is Collective Sourcing the
next structure of community?

Partnership or Being in (Mutual)Relationship seems to be crucial in Living Wholeness. This Being in Relationship we have to understand on many levels, not just on the human level alone. These are the levels that we see right now and that we keep being aware of:
–    with other human beings, the ones present
–    with place: Axladitsa is very much a place where consciousness about ‘us and the land’ is lived day to day. For our gathering now, we keep the question in mind: How can the different physical places inform – show – amplify our different mental models?
–    with history and future: How can we balance local tradition and lineage on one side and innovation on the other?
–    with local and trans-local
–    with the weather, the buildings, etc.: the human and non-human environment
–    with all other non-human beings present here on the land

More inspirations:
Without love for the whole, collective sourcing is not possible.

Creating for beauty is feeding the wholeness.

Ongoing spiral between Holding Space and Staying in Inquiry

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Just before lunch, on Saturday, the second day in our gathering Women Moving the Edge, my impulse was to speak about emptiness, speak about naming the feminine as ‘just being’. To me these are not the right words for what we are actually doing. It can be named more precise and explicit. And this has been my journey since a long time.
The so-called ‘emptiness’ is the holding space of the potential; indeed like a womb. It is an open space with no-thing in it, but it is a space that is ready to be of service to let new life unfold.
The ‘just being’ is like being pregnant. There isn’t much you can ‘do’ while being pregnant, but still a lot is happening! But the act of giving attention and care has value and importance.
Holding space – beyond being pregnant – is to be understood as holding space for your children to grow up. You want to support them so that they become their true self; you are holding space for that potential, although you don’t know what kind of person they are going to become.

This all let me to explaining more of my model and what holding space has to do with finding the right question and embracing a bigger complexity. Here is what I wrote on it earlier:
“At some point in our inquiry, it occurred to me to wonder why we (women) were always speaking about Source, and not about Spirit. It seemed obvious to us women that holding space had to do with Source, not with Spirit. But why? It got me thinking.


Following some impactful physical/energetic experiences, I realised that – for me – holding space is something that happens in my body. I don’t ‘do’ it, rather, it happens through me. It is as if my body is a vessel, through which I am able to hold space for potential to unfold. We are familiar with this idea of ‘potential unfolding’ when we think about raising our children. But now we were applying it to groups and organisations. Is it always future oriented? Again: why Source and not Spirit?

The more I contemplated it, the clearer it got. To my sensing, Spirit comes – somehow – from above, from somewhere away from here, while Source seems to be accessible from somewhere deep within. Source is like a seed, it holds potential, which can unfold into manifestation. But the full picture needed to include Spirit. So what was that about? What did it have to do with manifestation?


In my daily life, I understand Spirit as asking for distance, reflection, talking about, concepts… very different from potential! Spirit has focus and clarity. It seemed to me that the translation of Spirit into ‘the future that wants to emerge through us’ was to stay in the inquiry, to keep the questions open. It is the intention that some innovation will become possible.

Wasn’t that a beautiful couple: Holding Space for Potential to Manifest and Staying in Inquiry to discover new patterns? Isn’t the synergy of these two what we desperately need in our complex world with it’s huge challenges?”

Since I wrote this piece there is more to this model. In a conversation with Maria Scordialou, Sarah Whiteley and Judy Wallace, as preparation for our upcoming program The Edge of Collective Sourcing, we saw a new aspect in this model. This is what we saw:
Ongoing spiral between Holding Space and Staying in Inquiry creates New Wisdom
We realized the ongoing dynamic  – like a spiral going back and forth – between the level or depth of Sourcing and the level or depth/height of Awareness or Spirit.
The depth of the potential can only become accessible for manifestation and action when we are equally able to become aware of the intention or the clear purpose. This explains us the importance of finding the good guiding question(s). If our question comes from a higher level of awareness it will invite in a deeper possibility of sourcing. In this widened field of wisdom, through many cycles, new wisdom can be generated.

Embracing more Complexity

Related with this – and drawing it in the model – we realize that this dance between both poles in the spiral also relates to widening our reach in the manifest. The depth of sourcing and the height of the intention make sure that we can embrace more of the whole, which is so needed in dealing with the challenges of our time. “

Many of the participants were very happy to get this framework and to see their own role in holding the new paradigm. One participant said: “There is wholeness in the model. It is like an egg.”

For the sake of the world

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Monday morning, our last half day together…

Some had meditated, I had been blogging… As usual, we gathered in circle after breakfast. Taking the talking stone… seemingly totally different voices were heard, which were brought to one picture as someone saw that they were all answers to the same question. Without naming it, we had arrived to the third piece of M’s map: the Thou, the practice. We need the Body, the Heart, the Mind and the Soul!!! We need the complete wisdom, held together by the inquiry.

It brought us to our next question:
What needs to, longs to emerge through us, for the world?
What needs to emerge in me, for the sake of the world, for the sake of Thou?

We moved away from language again, took paper and colors…

the world held in women's bodies

L: I remembered the density of the World and its resistance. But these little orange things could break free. In my despair I was asking myself: What do I do with this world? Then this very big Woman appeared in my drawing, very dense herself… The World was in me. That gave hope! A very solid a woman can hold the world! She was equal to the task.
If this is the answer to my question… it heals my sense of separation!
Could this be our practice? of seeing through the eyes of the Divine? The whole world is in this decision…
Living in this paradox: I am the world, and the world is in me; the principle of One connects both if I relinquish myself. Then there is space for the field and what comes through it.
If I am not a body; then what is IT that is being expressed? The energetic is so fluid, quickly to move… this re-identification has implications for the field and for the development of the field.
The asking becomes paramount, it is going to bring a possibility… the cellular structure will be changed and influence others. If I ask to be present to who I really am, then it becomes contagious!
The drawing brought it’s own solution and it is possible that it is true: that we are capable of holding the whole universe. We are it, and it is US!
The fullness of awareness is not dependent on time or process. The experience of it brings it about.

I am the three

S: My gift is around movement and beauty. The world is doing what it is doing, and I am the tree: expressing, laughing, screaming. The world loves this beauty, this manifestation. It just helps, it supports, it is not a specific solution. Everything is on the tree: love, music, conversations, tragedy, movies, friendship; presence, marriage, beaches, tears… The density, something solid is needed to hold the world.

The weeping of the world

M: Since I was a little girl I had heard the world weep and I didn’t know how to hold her. How to be in the presence of a weeping world that doesn’t overwhelm me, doesn’t consume me? My whole life was about understanding that.

I - We - Thou

I recognise that it takes conversations and a big heart. What radiates out is something that I cannot not. It has made me a little weird… but it gave me the ability to see; things unfold for me. That is why I am good at organisational development and coaching… but it is also a burden.

Collective fields in collective fields in collective fields

Now I see the bridge, the concept of collective presencing. There are the hearts and the symbols of infinity… the brown lines are the mycellium. When I leave the space, there are others holding it. The We, and what is created through the We is my path. With the We I can fall asleep at night. It is a field of presence that is being held.
The mycellium gave me a way… it gives nutrients, and the leaves falling feed the mycellium. If we don’t understand this, the crying of the world is left.
Organisations pup up as mushrooms, live, and die when needed, giving their nutrients. This is totally different than reorganisation, aquisition etc.
This helps me to see death, and my death, differently.

drawing, writing...

J: I wanted to tap into Source and my question is: How I move with that into the manifest world? This is the challenge of my life.
I was drawing many wombs, coming up like in the U process. There is continually evolving, do it over and over, and begin to interact with the manifest. It can come into structure now. It is about continually accessing Source. It is a continually birthing process.
M: The world is working with us, it doesn’t have any struggle! The world gives us words like mycellium, it is trying to find us! When something is spoken that makes sense, it starts to blossom; without having to move it uphill.
L: They become attractors in a chaos field. In an emergence they form around a next level of develop.
S: I had a welcome feeling of the space, and the arc, the fluidity, the gentleness of the surface… I want to dive in that space that you created. It maps about ‘holding space’. I can go in and do so much. The longing itself is a spiritual practice; it is the part of the heart. The longing generates creativity! The longing creates space.


R: First came this yellow and then the colors on one side, and next the colors on the other side. Then I put it aside. I had to take it back to add the red dot.
L: The emergent at the very end happened out of the combination of all colors. It doesn’t look like anything else. It takes all my attention.
M: It looks like something is planted.
S: For me the red dot is R herself. I see all colors from Spirit and Source and R steps up in the manifest world. It is time for the woman underneath to step up, just at the edge…

It felt complete.
Our circle was closing. We cleaned up the room and went to lunch.
One last group picture and we left.
Our time was rich, good, fertile, promising for the future.

We are living the future now

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

It is Saturday now, after our morning break, and the room is silent. Everybody is just doing what they are doing: resting, in various positions, or drawing in silence. Nobody told us to do so, we are true to ourselves, in this moment. This morning we, as the hosting team, gave all leadership back to the group as a whole. We are still holding space, but we are not providing the others with techniques or tools or…

Words appear on flipcharts: Radical Authenticity. Swiftness, Preciseness, Love. On another flipchart: Be this Body!

This morning we struggled our way away from talking and concepts to this space of collective presence: present to ourselves in this moment, in this body, now, together.

Yesterday, we decorated the room with our questions on flipcharts, the letters wrapped up in colors and drawings. I used yesterday evening these colors too when harvesting our collective wisdom. We started our gathering with a circle sharing our answers about: What is my individual edge now? Flowing into a World Caf around the question: What do we hear through the individual stories about our collective edge here? This is my harvest from this conversation.

It was deep, it was touching, it was fascinating!
What happened, and the speed with which we got at this point of collective presence supported my sense that every gathering is contributing to a new groove in consciousness. And the more we go there, the easier it gets for the next ones to step into that path. This is exactly the purpose of doing this: to lay these tracks in a secure and precise way, sensing our way into it.
Sense and act, sense and act, sense and act…
This question just appeared on the wall: Is humanity ready for Crone’s wisdom? It is related to a sentence spoken before by someone else: Humanity is just growing up. It puts our experiences in the bigger picture of evolution.

During the break someone laid out a roll of paper on the ground, somehow representing a timeline from our ancestors, through us, to the future generations. It shows some words and sentences, some colors, some curly lines. Open to others to fill in, to add their colors, their words, their part.

Writing and sensing all this, the sentence comes to me:
We are doing/being the future now.
or even better,
We are living the future, now.

This is not a group of women ‘just doing their own thing’. The intention with which we are here – to move the edge of collective presence – makes all the difference in the world. We live in this paradox of ‘moving the edge’ and ‘being present in this moment’. To me we are learning to be present, and slowly move into presencing.


Friday, February 1st, 2008

Here we are in the room in which the third Women Moving the Edge gathering will start, this afternoon at 3pm.

The three of us, Judy, Helen and myself are making the place into ours: beautifying it by putting flowers, arranging the chairs in a circle, adding colors and drawings to the flipcharts which hold our deep questions. We prepare it for whatever wants to happen: putting books out, and make pencils, pastels and paper available for everyone, installing the music system etc.

Being here and settle in ourselves is an important part of preparation, of building up the space, ‘the energetic container’ in which the whole gathering can unfold. Helen is still coloring some charts, Judy is looking through her journal, I am importing some music and writing this blog entry. It is so good when there is time to prepare in this way.

Yesterday we sat in circle almost whole day, going deeper and deeper in the conversation and the questions we are holding; trying to dig deep into the unknown. The innovation, the newness here, is that we also include the wisdom and information we get from our bodies. When it doesn’t feel right, then we are not there yet! We all have a sensing of cycles – like if we are done or not – we all have a sensing of what is natural, but we recognized how much we are dis-sociated from our bodies. We have lost this natural connection, and most of the time we live (only) in the world of concepts and ideas, shoulds and woulds, norms and so on.

Will we be able to come to this place of presence, where we can speak and act ‘in the moment’ where body and mind be/act/live together in the same instance? This is my big quest for this gathering: not only be able it to do it on my own, but do it all together. Can we inhabit the inter-subjective space in presence?

Another wonderful journey is to unfold!