Tag Archives: myc yoga

Nature and the Human soul – Middle Childhood

Just wanted to send along an invite to you to join us for our Spiritual Integration conversations on Tuesday nights at myc yoga in downtown Bend. We meet at 7:15.

Also, join us on the podcast or catch up on what you have missed. http://www.spiritualintegration.mypodcast.com

Bill Plotkin’s book, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World is a world-changer. We are working our way through it every week through April and would love to have you as part of the conversation.

Here’s last week’s conversation:

Nature and the Human Soul Dialog – Chapter 5

And the notes:

2010-02-09 – Chapter 5 outline


“Food is church”

So much going on these days. I suppose it is a good thing to be spending so much time actually doing things for, with, and in light of community that I don’t have much time or energy for the writing. It’s hard to sit still long enough to think through a blog post. I think the base, the foundation, for where my (and many in the community) thoughts and action take grounding is in food. Really, this is where it should be with those seeking out the village experience, as it is the means for our survival and the focal point of our gathering.

We gathered for Spiritual Integration class last night at myc yoga and our friend Jill shared her experience with food sourcing and local food security. We’ve been going through a three month dialog series on Foundations in Sustainable Community. Last night was profound… It really is pretty overwhelming to think of the rising problems of food scarcity and how we can increase our resilience as the times change. As a community, we have all that we need. With a little organization, some personal and community gardens, and more conscious spending, the possibilities are endless.

One of my favorite things that was said, thanks to Chris, was that he sees “food as church.” I guess I really do see that. Especially after our Saturday morning breakfasts. With 20-30 plus people showing up, music playing, kids running around, and food in abundance, I see it as a beautiful example of the community (the village) celebrating the gifts that we all have to give. No one has to be any certain way or believe any certain thing. All are welcome with embraces… late or early or right on time.

As we begin to pay closer attention to our bodies and what we put in them… in light of what I wrote about in the last post, it is so essential that we begin focusing on food and giving it a very important place in our communities.

The Trustworthy Facilitator

In order to grow and maintain communities where individuals are invited to trust each other and themselves it is essential for the person facilitating to set the standard for trustworthiness. I say facilitator and not leader for a very distinct reason. Leaders need followers in order to be leaders, right? But if we are trying to build community and invite people into safe space where they can explore the movement of the Spirit in their lives, our need to be a leader can very often get in the way. Primarily, if we as the holders and inviters into the space are anything, we are facilitators. We pay most close attention to the transitions, not so much to having the final word. We walk the group through the layers.

A trustworthy facilitator is considering trust levels long before a group ever begins their official conversation. The way we welcome people immediately tells them how close they are able to get with us. Do I welcome people with a hug or a hand shake, asking them how things are going, or do I wait in another room quietly for everyone to join me? Often, I will start the group with a story or thought that I had that day or right before I got there… one that usually makes me look a bit goofy or silly. Last night, at Spiritual Integration, when someone said they heard I was going to help them find God, I noted that I was pursuing enlightenment at the ranch, while shoveling cow manure. Already, they see me as one who is pretty normal. Trustworthy facilitators build trust by meeting people on their level before the official gathering even starts.

Most often, unless participants in the group are very familiar with how the gatherings usually proceed, there are new people who don’t know what is about to happen. No one is really hurt by a general overview of how our time will go… even if they have heard it a hundred times. Without it, though, someone who is new will never be close to the same page as the rest of the group. They are already at a disadvantage with the Trust Factor. To be a trustworthy facilitator means to build trust from the very beginning… by letting people know where we are going to go together.

Another thing that is extremely important for trustworthy facilitators is to establish the intention of a safe space from the very beginning and to name their intention of protecting that space. This allows the group to begin to feel that they can count on this person to be there for them. Confidentiality, treating others as they would like to be treated, no pressure to share, and willingness to take the time each person needs are a few trustworthy intentions to be noted.

The way we physically hold the space (posture, nonverbals, how we listen, etc) is also important, but I will have to write another post on that one. The last thing I would note in this post is the notion of total awareness, especially to the time! It is extremely frustrating when the group goes over with the time and it is clear that the facilitator does not know it or doesn’t care. We lose people immediately because they are trying to tell us as facilitators that we are going over. If we are the ones keeping it going, even worse. It is essential to note when time is almost up and to ask if we might carry it on a little later. This is trust-building.

Where are the thin places? What are the sacred spaces?

We talked last night at our myc | yoga spiritual integration class about the Sacred spaces in our lives.

Such a rich conversation… we all have stories about this. We all love to go back to these places… reflecting on why they mean so much to us. We have such a strong desire to recognize in the places we go how the spiritual and physical worlds are close.

Mahatma Gandhi in his Spiritual Message to the World in 1931, speaks of this.

“There is an indefinable, mysterious power that pervades everything.  I feel it, though I do not see it.  It is this unseen power that makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses.  It transcends the senses”

Truth abides in thin places; naked, raw, hard to face truth.  Yet the comfort, safety and strength to face that truth also abides there.  Thin places captivate our imagination, yet diminish our existence.  We become very small, yet we gain connection and become part of something larger than we can perceive.   The human spirit is awakened and will grow if the body and mind allow it.  Simply put, a thin place is a place where one feels that mysterious power Ghandi refers to.  Ghandi believed (and stated later in the same speech), that the mysterious power was God.

Thin Places are ports in the storm of life, where the pilgrims can move closer to the God they seek,  where one leaves that which is familiar and journeys into the Divine Presence.  They are stopping places where men and women are given pause to wonder about what lies beyond the mundane rituals, the grief, trials and boredom of our day-to-day life.  They probe to the core of the human heart and open the pathway that leads to satisfying the familiar hungers and yearnings common to all people on earth, the hunger to be connected, to be a part of something greater, to be loved, to find peace.

Read the rest of this amazing article on sacred spaces and thin places HERE.

We spent a lot of time focusing on the energy of the places… those who have come before us and experienced the place before. What is it about those who have been there? Do they leave something for us? I remember an old cottonwood tree at my old college, Bethel University in St Paul, that was about 12 feet across. It was massive… struck by lightning a number of times, blasted by wind… a home for birds, squirrels and who knows what else. I would walk by it, imagining all that it had seen… the breakups, the proposals, the rule-breaking, the make-outs, the profound spiritual experiences (some of which I myself had experienced there). It had been there before the school and before the people. I would put my hand on its trunk, feeling that connection with the hundreds of years. Not something they taught me in those Baptist Christian classes.

What are your sacred places? What makes them so special?

By the way, we’d love to have you join us at the classes. Tuesday nights at 7:00 (myc | yoga)