Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shambhala ALIA Institute 2009 - Day Five

Can it be Friday already? The past five days have literally flown by - hard to believe that ALIA 2009 is over. Well, the institute might be over by the thinking, reflecting and general going Hmmm... is just beginning, so I guess this would be the end of the beginning...

A great end to a great week. The principle today in our last module session was Clarity - bringing things together - we did a circle of younger-elder-middle - very powerful stuff - each takes that role and says a word or phrase of what comes to them. Interestingly enough younger and elder are very close as both are about self, while middle is different as the middle is about others - cool stuff and a very neat exercise. Think that may be why youngers and elders get along so well - they are asking the same questions (look at the relationship between a grandchild and their grandparents...).

Ended the session with Barbara getting us to make a last mark using a big brush - all done in silence and very powerful (one of my big "takeaways" from this week is the power of silence - something I will incorporate into my practice). I drew an open circle representing the importance of community and being open to invite more in.

Then in probably one of the most spiritual and intimate moments of the week Barbara was asked to make the final brush stroke, but before she did, each of us in turn took a moment to touch her - a way of adding some of us to the stroke - a wonderful moment. The picture above is her stroke, or perhaps it is our stroke? Lots of hugs as we ended and lots of picture which I'll get up on Flickr this weekend...

After lunch was a wrap-up of the wealth discussions started at the world cafe and what can tangibly be done - it took a turn away from leadership and more into the Shambhala spirit I thought, which was not a bad thing , but for me, not what I came to the Institute for. The closing event was really nice, with a video of the week and the presentation of a Shambhala pin and its significance to all first year attendees got a - done with great sincerity and reverence. I admire those who follow the Shambhala principles and spirit and I think that there is (and I have) a lot to learn from them.

The institute ended from my perspective, the only way it could with Barbara Bash making one final mark - here it is and you can get from it what you will - it is rich and full of meaning and I am sure that everyone who attended ALIA this year saw something unique in the brush stroke.

So what does it all mean? The full answer will take a while, but here is some what I've got so far:
  • Silence is powerful, and rich, and full of thoughts and deeds - in many ways better than voice or sounds
  • I am very good at what I do - I had a lot to offer and I did - I think it was appreciated by many as evidenced by the hugs and comments as we parted
  • I like calligraphy - I am not good at it yet, but that does not matter, and I love the spiritualism, the quiet, the mystery of the stroke, and the relationship with the brush. The only thing that I have found in my life that comes close is hitting that perfect golf ball through a morning mist...
  • Questions are the key (which is great because my colleagues, friends, and learners will tell you that some days all I do is ask questions - no answers, just questions) - just need to be better at crafting and asking
  • In many ways, answers are not as important as we make them out to be - sometimes the best answer is another question
  • It's not about the tools, it's about the hosting - letting go and checking your ego at the door
  • Give up control to the field or community
  • The module hosts this week were beyond amazing - I spent a lot of time watching them and how they interacted with us and each other - they had a plan, but were also flexible and open to allow us , the field or community to go where we needed to be. So if your group or community wants to do some exploring or learning you need to get Chris, or Tim, or Barbara to help you with that journey. And many thanks to Caitlin Frost too for her insights and for sharing Chris and her children with us this week - the brought some cool things to the mix. Thanks to you all, I learned so much from each of you and from all of us - thanks all!!
I know there is a lot more and as I review my notes and thoughts over the next few days and weeks that there will be more to say here - I loved the exercises we did and I will be bringing them "home" with me to add to what it is I do (and when I have that figured out, I will know where they all fit too :-)).

I will be back at ALIA next year - the modules and sessions were amazing and it was a transformational experience - I would recommend the experience to anyone looking to do some stretching and expanding of their comfort zone. I got a lot of validation from the week too - I know I'm very good at what I do, but rarely think of it that way in comparison to others - it was nice to see that a lot of what I do is OK. I'm not ready to be a Shambhala warrior anytime soon, but they do offer a lot of things to think about and that is never a bad thing. Hmmm...

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