Updated: Sep 15, 2020
I have dilly-dallied considerably over writing a piece on the C that stands for Consciousness.
In everything I have been doing since, I have been in an alert state, to figure out the crux of this state. Much has been written about this in the scriptures, and almost all philosophies refer to this state of being as the most relevant to achieve, in order to have a richer life.
I won’t go there. I shall talk about it in the context of what we do –the act of facilitation.
As facilitators, our role is to enable the learning of our participants. With a major part of our attention outside us, we forget that we also need to enable our own learning. We know that when we become better at what we do, we offer a richer environment to our learners. What prevents us from risking new things in a session is a fear of failure – what if it doesn’t work the way I imagined? Yet, the battleground for everything we do ARE the sessions we conduct. It is practice time, as well as delivery time! When we hold back from this risk-taking, we play out old, tested, tried ways to a point where they become the same over time. We wonder when our work became so boring!
The idea of consciousness changes that. It can make our work exciting, progressive and more effective. This is my list of what consciousness could be or look like while facilitating:
I have prepared, I have thought through why and what I am going to do. I have planned to death! Now is the time to throw it away – that’s what will help me be alive to the present.
I walk in to that space, intensely aware that the audience I met yesterday is not the same I am meeting today. Life and time have happened to them in between, and they are in some way different. Don’t deal with them as though nothing happened in between. Find out what’s different if you want to know. Respond to who and how they are in the present – start from where they are. It’s being respectful of change!
Life happened to me as well. How has anything changed for me? How am Ifeeling right now? Am I carrying any anger, frustration, resentment into the learning space? Can I leave it on a hangar while I engage in the next few moments?
Do I know how they are feeling in the moment? Do they want to be there, or somewhere else? Do I have a plan for dealing with that reality, or should I just go ahead with my agenda?
I have prepared, but I am nervous because I have planned on doing something new. Shall I wear a mask of the ‘know-all’, or shall I open myself to the ‘not knowing’? Can I stand there and allow myself to be playful and vulnerable?
I walk into the learning environment, knowing that even if I have met them before, the environment itself will influence them.Whether they are in a conference room in their own office, in a hotel, at an outdoor site, on a boat in the sea, or on top of a mountain – is going to affect receptivity and outcome.
There will always be people to whom what I am saying does not make sense. They might challenge everything I say or do. How will I manage dissenters? What is the spirit with which I shall talk to them? What principles and values will come into play?
How shall I deal with my own anger or resentment in case I feel it about something on the program or in the classroom?
How shall I deal with having to respond when I really don’t know the answer?
I know judgement (good/bad, right/wrong, etc) prevents exploration and discovery. How will I stay awake to its arrival in my thinking and language?
What am I stuck to? What are my non-negotiables? Things that I think MUST happen?
I want to keep people engaged and participating. I cannot do it for everyone and all the time! There will be moments when groups of people disengage because the style I use does not work for them, while it works for others. Am I varying my styles for inviting engagement enough to give everyone in the group a chance to learn something? Am I delivering to different styles?
I am aware that learning is a life-long process. What they experience today may not result in a change of any kind tomorrow! The understanding may come 10 years from now. All I need to have from them is their attention today! Don’t get attached to seeing change.
Where is the group at in their understanding of the topic we are about to engage in? I would like to start from where they are, not where I am (assuming I am more well-read than them!). There is little value in completing what I came to do, if I don’t begin with them in mind.
Once the process has begun, and I am aware of all these different things, I want to be able to stay open to outcome. There is nothing to be gained by taking people where they don’t want to go. For that I must be prepared (Read! Read! Read!) to go anywhere (almost!) they want to go that day. It may change tomorrow.
Pause after listening to them. Pause after saying something. Breathe! Let the blood go to parts of the brain that can respond in the best manner in the moment. Quick reactions often come from practiced, conditioned, old and little understood ways from the past. This is here and now! It needs to be responded in the present, here and now! Ask – “What is real NOW?”
I do not want to exercise power over anyone. I am not here to change anyone. I am here to help someone see what they can’t on this day. If I keep the power, they are likely to do what I want them to. If I give away the power, they are likely to do what they want to do. So ask at all times – “Who has the power?”, and if the answer isn’t working for the group, change the conditions.
Are my intentions behind what I am doing, clear to myself? Do I know why I am doing what I am doing? If not, get an answer!