I want to be better. Call it an evolutionary impulse or compulsive addiction to seeking adequacy or something else all together. Whatever this is, it has me continually seeking out the very things that bring me to my edge, and propel me into, or through it. It’s this hungry seeker within that has me show up both as a participant and at times, a facilitator of change events, courses and workshops. I’ve been a participant at a handful of events lead by Diane Musho Hamilton over the past decade or so and each time find myself in awe of how something is being navigated, facilitated, worked with and worked through in the group space. What is that? I’ll ask myself. What she just did there, I want to be able to do that.
So when I saw that Diane Hamilton and Rebecca Colwell were coming to Vancouver, my very own city, to do a three day facilitation workshop called The Next Stage Facilitation, it was a no brainer.
The Integral facilitator programs were born in 2011 out of an intention to meet the growing need for deeply skillful approaches to working with groups on behalf of the complex challenges we deal with in today’s world. In the face of complexity, the capacity to take more and more perspectives is needed to navigate and solve problems and the Next Stage Facilitation course is designed to work with participants in deeply embodying this capacity, using the integral framework and enabling us to bring more compassion and wisdom to this process
As the vision has built, so have the programs, with this three day I was about to embark on being the intro to a one year Integral Facilitator Certification. Like any great vision, it’s helpful to know the outcome you’re steering toward and Rebecca and Diane have set out to certify 500 Integral Facilitators in the next five years. But this is beyond a business vision, this is about wanting to enable leaders and change makers to be more effective in working with groups such that change can be impacted in service of the whole
As the programs have started rolling out, so has an emerging community. Beyond what’s covered in the course, there’s a wider intention to connect people with shared commitment to a healthier and sane planet and to do that across fields and disciplines. For me, getting to step into this community, this training and this intention felt so resonant with my unfolding life’s work.
We were asked to set an intention for our three days together. What’s our own personal developmental edge with facilitation? Our group was diverse, ranging from beginning practice with facilitation to 25 to 30 years experience.
I work mostly one on one with people, as a Professional Integral Coach™. Over the past ten years I’ve lead workshops on entrepreneurship and marketing, mostly with youth and have worked with groups of small business owners on bringing their ideas into form and expressing their purpose more fully in the world, using the integral model as the background for content development. But doing this group work and facilitation has been spotty. While I love the depth and intimacy of working with individuals, I feel compelled to work on a wider scale, making group work and facilitation a larger focus for my life’s work.
At first I thought my intention would be around what’s next for me, using this time to crack into some creative state and garner inspiration. But I’ve caught on to a totally annoying aspect of my personality over the years and that is, I will often use educational or workshop settings to produce a particular state and spend the majority of my time there fixated on future application, rather than being present to the here and now. I want the environment itself to create juice for me, I want what I’m learning to be some massive breakthrough that opens the doors of perception and grows me into who I want to become or at the very least propels me into a flow of creative genius. I’m a state junkie. This previously unconscious expectation can actually take me out of receiving the depth of the teachings.
Thankfully, alongside the setting of intentions, we dove into practice with presence which you may guess was pretty rockin’ given that Diane is a Zen teacher and all.
My intention became about presence. To bring as much awareness to what’s arising within my experience moment by moment without shooting off into the future of my mind with what I’m going to do with and turn this into. This intention left me feeling like I was in a three-day presence and mindfulness meditation and really supported me in further embodying what was being offered.
What felt really distinct about this training and why it’s aptly named the Next Stage of Facilitation is that we weren’t learning HOW to facilitate. We weren’t talking ABOUT facilitation. We were being trained in how to BE a facilitator and were speaking FROM the distinctions we were learning.
The coolest thing about this workshop for me was its meta-quality. Here we are in workshop about facilitation and so we’re continually being drawn into the inner workings of what the facilitator is doing and why. My question of ‘how and why does she do what she does to produce the results she’s producing’ was answered over and over again in a direct and experiential way while being contained and pointed to within the integral framework. We’d be in the midst of learning about a particular theory and then Diane would point to how this aspect of the theory was showing up in our collective space. She would point it out to us, inviting us into the awareness of it, and tell us what she was doing and why.
The key to being a trustworthy facilitator as was shown is having alignment between mind, heart, body and speech. That if one aspect of these is off, we as participants, can feel it. How then, do you train yourself to be in such alignment as a facilitator? This is what we got to practice.
We were told going into the course that we didn’t need previous knowledge of the Integral model to thrive in this course. I felt they had an interesting challenge of both offering theory to those who had none while keeping those of us engaged who had much. One way this was accomplished was by dropping into embodied experiential practice at each turn, which seemed to span the diversity of the crowd well.
Allow me to give you an example of what I mean by direct and experiential. We were exploring the importance of states in group settings. So to illustrate the power of state experiences, they made this totally ballsy move of putting us all in a circle and talking about what we don’t like about this very workshop so far. It didn’t take long to feel the heat. Many perspectives started to move into the center of the space, group cohesion started to split as some had complaints, some shared praise, some challenged one another and some tried to smooth it over. Part way through, I noticed that our facilitator was gone and we were left in a space set up to intentionally create tension. Part way through we were asked to pay attention to our bodies. We looked around the room and noticed how we were postured and what sensations were running through our bodies. Closed, protective, some balled right up. “Notice how you’re coping,” she said.
I could start to see my own preference for what kinds of states I want to be in and want my participants to be in. This preference creates a partiality in my own work. Suddenly, I could really feel the value of working with these states and energies intentionally and skillfully and what that can actually open up and move within a collective.
For me to want to listen to or follow someone at the front of the room, they have to be walking their talk. But what does that mean? Again, it’s the alignment of mind, heart, body and speech. When I’m in front of the room, I can feel the difference between when I’m aligned in this way and when I’m not. One massive difference I can sense is my own energetic connection with the people in the room. It can be subtle, the distinction between presenting something and right speech, embodied and offered outward.
During The Next Stage Facilitation, we were given the theory behind how to do this, the practice with each theoretical aspect and were thrown into the heat with each other that enabled us to become intimate with our own growing edges. This three-day course is like a rich taste test for their one year Integral Facilitator Certificate Program. I left armed with rucksack of tools to practice in my own work, with greater awareness of my personal and professional edges and an even deeper commitment to offering what I can to this world skillfully, effectively and honestly.
I can really see this training and practice being of great service to people who are already facilitating or working within group contexts as well as coaches, consultants, experienced professionals and change makers. It’s a way to not only ‘up our game’ as it were, but to really take our capacity to effect change and work within the intersubjective space to a variety of different levels. For anyone who works with groups, communities or teams, who has a fierce commitment to making a sustainable difference, this training will totally meet you in that commitment and help to grow you into who you’re on the edge of becoming.
About the Author
Chela Davison is a Certified Integral Coach™ from Vancouver, Canada. She’s intent on shifting culture towards greater health through individual and collective awakening and growth. Her calling is aptly expressed when working with others around their deepest ache to evolve and serve. Chela has the heart of an entrepreneur and coach. She started and sold her first company and specializes developing entrepreneurial competencies. Working with leaders internationally, Chela offers workshops and coaching, leveraging years of experience in team building, communication and organizational development. She brings warmth, insight and rigor to aiding her clients in creating the sustainable change they seek. She is a writer, editor and mother. And she likes you.
The Next Stage Facilitation, Masterful Facilitation, and the Certificate in Integral Facilitation (launching October 2013) are programs of Ten Directions and Integral Facilitator, co-founded by Diane Hamilton and Rebecca Colwell. http://integralfacilitator.com