This post continues on from the past three posts where I have been summarizing a paper by Maureen O’Hara and John K. Wood on Conscious Communities, also referred to as Integral Groups. This is the kind of group that the Process Work Institute in Portland teaches about and I have never seen anything like it before. I believe that such groups offer the best chance for our future together as a species. I believe that they are the next step in our evolution.
If you attend a group or start groups, I hope you can read the three posts previous to this one to be inspired by what is possible. If you are a group dynamic geek, please read the paper itself. The link is: http://maureen.ohara.net/pubs/Transforming%20Communities.pdf
Continuing with the summary:
There are best practices for creating a Conscious Community:
Comfortable meeting places with plenty of nature and a sense of being safe. They need to be large enough for the entire group to meet together.
Facilitators who are psychologically mature and compassionate.
Facilitators who take the time to align and attune to one another by sharing stories and resolving conflicts between themselves.
Facilitators are like a tuning fork evoking empathic resonance among those group members who then may share their consciousness state. Convenors who are outspoken and confrontational are more likely to evoke similar behavior in others in the group. If they use metaphors from art, dance, science or psychology in their own communications these modes are likely to become significant to the group, if they are analytical they will evoke intellectual discussion, if they are erotically alive, eroticism will surface, an highly emotional leaders tune into emotionalism.
The facilitator makes sure that they hear from everyone.
The facilitators pay attention to the ebb and flow of group attention, focus and energy.
A successful group has not one set of leaders but is made up entirely of leaders. Even those who choose to remain silent, lead by demonstrating the importance of following.
The most important conditions for individual growth is empathy.
Conscious Communities must have relational empathy. Relational empathy is that process wherein one attunes to the whole entity–the group. Relational empathy makes it possible to sense the interpersonal dynamics, knowledge, unconscious processes, dreams, images, narratives, concerns, feelings, sensitivities, priorities, fears–in other words the tacit and explicit consciousness–of collectives.
The presence of individuals with well-developed capacities for relational forms of empathy, as we stated earlier, greatly improves the chances that a group will experience the more extraordinary levels of consciousness.
Another key attitude in facilitators is humility. It is also one that presents a significant challenge to self-assertive professionals, most of whom value their competence and technical knowledge. By humility we refer to the willingness to suspend assumptions, to open oneself up to see things afresh, to be touched by others, and learn from them, to acknowledge crystallized routines and patterns, to embrace errors and blind-spots, be open to feedback from individuals and the group as a whole, and to be willing to risk learning in public.
The facilitators are open to the possibility that one can be moved by forces beyond one’s ken–whether framed as a spiritual reality or scientific.
It is particularly powerful when a convenor or some other kind of leader undergoes visible shifts and is seen by others in the group to be willing to learn in public. .
The facilitators are able to be present moment to moment.
In the most successful group there is continuous challenge to the obvious.
Conscious Communities believe that individuals, groups, and communities have an intrinsic tendency to self-organize and to move from disorder towards ever more complex ordered wholes.
Conscious Communities trust the “wisdom of the group.” This is not a mystical trust, but based on personal and scientific experience, rational trust, when confronted with challenge, groups usually find their way out.
Good facilitators have confidence in the group’s capacity to transcend its difficulties and who have faith in human beings.
If you are new to this blog, here is how to use it. I post three times a week on everything having to do with sustainable community through better relationships with oneself, with another, and with groups. I write on Process Work, Nonviolent Communication, Byron Katie, and others, plus my own theories and experiences.
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