I first met Arawana Hayashi in the summer of 2004 at the Shambhala Authentic Leadership Institute (now ALIA — www.aliainstitute.org). It was my first time participating in the Institute. That year we’d organized an Intergenerational Dialogue on Leadership which was the ancestor for the dialogue held earlier this year in Tokyo. I was looking forward to the module on the new “Theory U” work Otto Scharmer was leading. Otto and I had never met, but had exchanged e-mails for several years. My own research on Enspirited Leadership for my doctoral dissertation at CIIS (Discovering New Stories) had parallel findings to those which had helped Otto conceive Theory U.
I heard there was a dancer who was part of the module and I thought, oh, interesting. And not much more. Little did I know that a new chapter in my life was about to open wide. I loved listening to Otto’s ideas in the module — but it was Arawana who made them come alive in me — in my body. Quickly she had all of us learning how to use our whole bodies to sense and experience the world. It was about this time that I was really beginning to understand that my mind was a wonderful instrument — but that it was insufficient in terms of being able to understand and co-create a new way of being in the world. I needed more of me. I needed my heart and spirit and hands as well as my mind. Arawana’s work began to awaken that territory for me.
It was a treat to invite Arawana to Japan to do a workshop and lecture with me on Presencing. We began with two full days at a national health training center outside of Tokyo in Wako City we worked with a group of 35 people who wanted to learn how to learn with their bodies again. Later we spent almost four evening hours with a group of 60 people.
We called the workshop Art of A True Move. Almost everything we did was taken from previous workshops Arawana has offered with that name. We began with the basics — a 20 minute dance of being in a shape – sitting, lying, standing — or moving from one shape to another. Remembering in our bodies that we’re always either still — in a shape — or moving from one shape to another. It is all about remembering to be in our bodies. Arawana points out that we have a Body and a Mind, but the M rarely resides in the B. The mind is off in the past or in the future or thinking about things far and further. It rarely just travels with the body, aware of the present. The first step in this work of a true move is to remember to be present.
Later in the day we graduated to the Village. More complicated now, we added walking, turning and greeting to our routine. Giving our full attention to being present. Sounds easy – and in some ways it is — but it reacquaints us with a whole new field of awareness. Slowing down. Coming back into our bodies.
The day had passed quickly, and we barely had time to introduce one more basic kind of vocabulary — a duet — where two people enter into a silent dialogue with their bodies: asking, inviting, answering, witnessing with a deep and powerful dialogue beyond words. These words, and even these pictures, give an incomplete story. In many ways, it needs to be experienced to be believed. Had we told people they were coming to Wako City to roll around on the carpet and to practice walking and turning and bowing, they might easily have stayed home. Our process for the day was a simple one — do something, then talk about it. By the end of the day there was a fairly amazing range of experience in the room which was mostly still residing at a pre-verbal level.
We decided it was time for modeling clay. Play Doh always seems to help people draw the words out of their bodies. We asked them to create the village and to place themselves in the village. We asked them talk about what happens when you sense into another person, or the whole social body, with your body rather than your mind. One of the things I realized in this exercise is that working with clay in Japan is another way of creating BA. It becomes a lubricant which creates an inviting space inbetween.
We began our second day with a return to the village in order to remember the basic forms of sitting, lying, standing, walking, turning and bowing. And then we did the field dance. Each person walked with dignity in front of the rest of us, turned, made a gesture, and turned and moved on. Simple — but powerful. More working with the body to be present.
Now, we finally had all the vocabulary of our bodies in the room. It was time to put it to work. We moved into creating “case clinics.” where people brought in the places where they were stuck. In many ways, the case clinic worked much the same way as the ProAction Cafe we introduced in November in the Art of Hosting. Someone brings a particular problem or case to their group of five and then begins to feel their case in their own body. They ask the group members to do various things to and with their body in order to experience the case more deeply. And then they stay with the sensations for long enough to see what begins to shift.
It is an amazing process filled with learning. Our bodies become a guide to our future.
There’s nothing soft about this. We each face formidable barriers to being in the NOW. Arawana offered one powerful piece of teaching in this territory. What keeps us away from being in the present? From experience what is going on around us right now? Four things — the past, the future, other people and our own selves. Creating something new requires learning to be present to what is actually happening around us. It requires sitting down out own stories and fears and tremblings. It is a call to now. This workshop was a powerful invitation to experience NOW in our bodies. And participants felt its power.
More pictures: http://bit.ly/hMXnVH