It is hard working in the education institute for priests, the Seminary of the Christian Community in Hamburg, Germany. Although it is not clearly visible, but some of the participants of the two day module tell they are tired at the end of the day.
I am being asked as a guest lecturer to contribute the IMO approach of the The Art of Conscious Living to this priest seminary. Using this title Adriaan Bekman wrote a book about these issues: living with a question, living in a process, living in a dialogue, living in your biography. How to do this in the organized life in which you are asked and challenged to be a leader? I work with the exercises in this book and in his Inside the Change (in German: Begeisterung steckt an)
To their surprise the participants experienced an atmosphere of trust that appears very easily in following the rules and roles of these exercises. It helped them to connect on a existential level to each other. They observed movement in the inner and outer world. Let me take the exercise ‘Vision clarification’ as an example.
Groups of three persons are formed and one person stands in front of the two, telling in 5 minutes his / her vision on: “What is the essence of good priesterhood?” The other two listen very attentively and concentrate on three levels of this presentation: the content, the the feelings and the power / direction of the will. After these 5 minutes the two start to talk with each other about the presentation. The one who made the presentation is not part of this dialogue. Out of their conversation they give a tip to redo the presentation, but a little bit different. In this case they said: “Do it now with your both feets firmly on the ground.” After the second round they all discuss the differences.
It is impressive to hear how some of them attribute a kind of magic to these exercises. In such a short time and in so less activities such a great effect. How is that possible? What happend? It is not a big surprise that some of the participants became tired.
These two days were remarkably meaningful for me as well. Both days openend up with a ceremony in the church of the Christian Community, the so called ‘Act of Consecration of Man’ (in German: Menschenweihehandlung). I was a participant for the first time in my life. What touched me among other things was the ritual of lightening the seven candles. It happened in silence, with care and reverence. In my former profession as minister in the church I have been conducting ceremonies like this for many years and the symbol of light was essential in the rituals. But in this moment it became absolutely clear to me that it is really up to us, the individual persons present here, to connect ourselves to the meaning of this light. At the start of this ceremony the priest said, like an invitation, what was going to happen. And after about an hour he told to the present community that it was over now. And so it was!
It starts when we want it to start and it ends when we want it to end. And all things that happen in this time make sense to us if we give a meaning to it.
This was also my starting point for the course. You, me and we: every moment we are responsible for the processes we initiate. Do we want to continue them, do they have a meaning to us? In this way our inner world, our soul, our biography becomes part of the processes that that influence and transform the world, on every scale, big and small. And we do so in an open dialogue, soul to soul to use such devoted words. It became in these two days clear to me that working as a consultant in IMO has deep spiritual roots.
One of the participants told me about the impact of this Art of Conscious Living. I asked her to write a small piece to this blog and tell a bit from her own perspective.
“After a short introduction of the core elements of the Art of Conscious Living, the course started with the question: “What is your motivation to be here at the priest seminary?” This immediately caused my full attention and the question raised: “What was the startingpoint for me?” To become a ‘priestly manager’, present in organizations where the soul is expiring. This was how it began with me.
It is my conviction that an organization in which people work professionally can be compared with a church. In both of them it’s all about my inner attitude to the activities I perform. This is essential to the process, to the relationships and to the co-creation.
I discovered a kind of cirlce impulse - the other - myself in which the energetic coherence and balance get weakened when one of these three elements loses our attention. It takes my breath for a moment when I think of being a priest as a guardian for this community, in which this circle should be in balance. Am I the appropriate person for this responsibility? Is it possible for me to learn this? Could I sustain this role, year after year? The images that emerged out of these practical exercises triggered a whole set of new questions and brought a lot of movement in this learning process.
I also saw a wider biographical perspective to connect to the past, to the originating impulse and to relate that impulse to the hidden future. This moved the participant of this course and we were strongly surprised about the effect of doing the exercises. For example working with the 'Three Future Scenarios': it was awesome to see what came out for all of us, just by following the strict rules of this exercise. A powerful space of listening appeared in which we could hear kind of instructions from the almost unimaginable future. And we felt: these signs from our future are true and they fit.
During these days the basic attitude of 'questioning the question (not answering the question) was like a gift that we could give to each other. This seems to me essential for every professional in this breath taking times.”
Thanks to Laurien van der Laan de Vries, participant of the Pries Semenary