Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shambhala ALIA Institute 2009 - Day One

Day One of the ALIA institute was thought provoking, active, and a little overwhelming too - 7:15 AM - 6:00 PM - what a day! and it flew by! This is going to be a transformational week.

A great group of people - very eclectic and interesting - the Shambhala followers are very calm, very centred and very, very smart - they speak softly, almost in a whisper - slow talkers - you really have to pay attention to them - an interesting technique. It initially came off to me as pretentious, but that's not the case - very genuine and caring...

Silence seems to be valued almost more than speech and noise (although there was lots of that and movement too :-). Everything has a purpose and all has meaning - very significant and a different perspective for sure. The following guiding principles are the foundation of the ALIA Institute:
  • Authenticity - there is a depth and clarity of attention and intention (this word has been used a lot at ALIA - intention is fundamental in any word or deed) as a foundation for leadership
  • Clear Seeing - effective leadership begins with seeing situations clearly and directly
  • Inherent Capacity - building on the inherent intelligence and creativity of people and groups. The module I am in "The Art of Hosting Conversations and Collborations Across Generations" speaks a lot to thsi inherent capacity in people, groups and communities
  • Transformative Learning - leadership development is seen as an ongoing journey of personal and collective transformation. This has been my experience so far. The ALIA institute combines art, music, meditation and other techniques and disciplines out of my current comfort zone, resulting in quite a transformative experience for me so far
  • Transformative Action - no sense having learning without action - it is an ALIA Institutre guiding principle that the programs and acticvities we are seeing this week will enable us to put into action items of change - I think that this will bevery true...
I have seen ecidence of these guiding principles in everything I have participated in so far.

After the opening address we began with a session of Mindful Meditation that went well except I couldn't keep my eyes open (I need practice). I found it to be a balancinga nnd centriung exercise, one that I will do every morning of the institute and possibly beyond.

There was series of "getting to know us exercises" - we were arranged in a circle by age (16-68), we went to the four points of the compass based on where we had come from (Hungary to Australia, to California to South Africa and back to Nova Scotia), and then joined in a dance of head, heart and hands - got warmed up and met some great people. I can see a great use for these exercises with any froup or classroom. Again the words intention, inquire and learn came up - a banner of intentions was created. My intention for the week is to inquire and learn...

One of the main themes of the week is wealth (in all its shape and forms) - we had a learning cafe on several questions around wealth and most of the discussions had little to do with money - the focus was on community and the wealth of the spirit and other forms of wealth and poverty - being rich and poor in many ways at the same time. An interesting perspective on complementary currencies as well. Some great stuff on complementary currencies here. Heard from Silas Louie from Zimbabwe on teh use of a complemetary currency that brought economic stability and a sense of community to his community

The afternoon was dedicated to the module sessions - mine as I said is "The Art of Hosting Conversations and Collborations Across Generations" hosted by Chris Corrigan, Tim Merry and Barbara Bash who are all great facilitators - at first I thought they were going to do all the talking, but they were just setting context - we did a talking circle - we were asked what our source was and who we served - my source was my passions, particularly my passion for learning and I serve my learners, faculty and staff, but also the economy and people of NS - several people were brought to tears by their stories - I think there will be a lot of tears and laughter before the week is out. Also got into a conversation about Choas and Order - I mentioned that I loved chaos over order in my classrooms because it caused learning - got lots of good feedback.

An amazingly full and eventful day that just flew by - it's taken me this long to digest things for this post - an amazing start to what wil be an amazing week. Hmmm...

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