Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 4: Looking at the workshop

Liz Here again..... Remember, this is my take on the workshop. Please add comments when I get something wrong.

One of the traditions we have in these workshops is what we call "Check-in." The reason we do this goes something like: we desire to create a space for all of us to develop, and as part of that we want to be completely present. So we attempt to lay down those things that are on our minds so we can attend to each other. We always can pick them up at the end of class if we like. (this is my explanation - let me know if there is a better one) The unusual thing about today is that Roger did not announce that we can now check in, instead we all were silent for a while then people spontaneously began checking-in. It continued as a regular check-in until Roger asked us if it was different today than other days when he usually sets the context for check-in. We talked about it a bit and Roger explained further the purpose of check-in. He said that the listening during check-in shifts the space where we can pay attention to our internal process. Some of us want to respond to other's check-in, but when we don't, we can notice this habitual interaction.
Roger also had us notice the energy in the group. He challenged us to notice when the energy is building due to the internal process and when we engage in activities that dissipates the energy.

We next began to talk about the kinds of conversations that people have. Someone observed there are conversations where nothing is really said. Someone else felt that she didn't always have the "energy" for some kinds of heavy conversations. Another person illustrated a conversations she might have with her partner that is both heavy and light (with laughter). Roger had us think about energy and that beyond a threshhold amount of energy, is any energy even ours? Do we need to conserve our energy?

Reflecting on the class so far
Roger asked us to reflect on the class so far this quarter. He said he considers the time we spend together as a conversation, without the break between workshop meetings. What is the shape of the conversation? What have we learned? What has been our experience or overriding arch of the class? We paired up and discussed this for a while. He encouraged us to practice reiteration as we had done at the end of last class. When we came back together Roger asked us "What did you hear?"
  • Someone reported having a good understanding of her own perspective in the conflict; whether she is in it or observing it, and whether she could bypass it or not.
  • Someone else reported learning how to slow down her thoughts so she can make choices
  • One person said she was able to examine a conflict after it occurred and analyze it, but was still hoping to be able to make choices in the midst of the conflict.
  • Someone reported that he was embarrassed to say that he can't report on what was said by his partner. He could remember what was discussed, but not specifically what the other person had said. He could only remember specifically what he had said.
  • Someone else felt that through the feedback in the conversation, she felt understood because she could test understanding in the midst of talking.
  • Several people reporting being able to gain new vocabulary to explain conflict and interpersonal dynamics.
  • One person said she had an experiment in silence and was observing herself and her partner in the process
  • Someone reported that in articulating what he had learned it helped him to understand it himself.
Roger has been reading Confucianism and Lakoff and Johnson (Metaphors we Live By) (not really sure if these are related....) this week. He said there is the Chinese way of confucianism that is external and the Western way that is internal. He illustrated this with the first two steps in the "7 steps of attainment." Each of these can be seen as internal to the person (the western way) or external to society (the Chinese way). For instance, the first step, which Roger calls "Awareness," in the external frame would be to know your social status. In the internal frame it would be to notice our own thought process. The second step, which Roger called "Stop," in the external frame is something like don't overstep your social status, but in the internal frame it would be to "stop" and make choices about mental activity. He said something about within the internal frame there is a interconnectedness between "awareness" and "stop," because you can't be aware unless you stop, and you cant stop unless you are aware. This is also similar to the triple learning loops (see above). (I hope I captured this correctly - Roger, please add a comment!)

1) Practice the first two steps of the 7 steps of attainment around a chronic conflict. Practice sufficient awareness to see the patterns of the conflict. In addition to "Stop" you might also think about how far to go, how far to continue in the conflict. Be gentle with yourself in this.
2) Regarding conflict, think about your criteria for intervention (next week we will discuss methods of intervention), but think about where your "line" is for engaging or intervening in the conflict. For instance, someone said their line was when the conflict became "personal," another mentioned she engages when other faculty talk about "her class." Think about this for yourself.
3) Revisit last weeks homework (which is something people have been thinking about for 1000's of years) on how could we test the model: Perception -> Emotional -> Cognitive? You might think about the interrelatedness of these, or the speed at which this all occurs, or the correlation between the three.

Motivate Reasoning
Rogers talked about a study done in 1950's by Leon Festinger (I think this is it) that really interested me. There was a group of people who thought the world would end on December 21, 1954, a psychologist joined the group to investigate how they would behave if the world did not end on December 21st. This relates to Climate deniers because it is curious how people deal with information that clearly goes against the actual events.

Roger was in a different workshop
Roger's take on this workshop was different than any of ours. Roger thought the first class started with a question about defining conflict and ended with everyone very confused about this. During the second and third class we spent sometime talking about Neutrality and Unconditional Positive Reagard. We talked about dependency and the unsayable. During this last class we talked about suspension, although we didn't call it that. We looked at what if I experience conflict and the other person does not or visa versa. Roger said the central question for him is still about conflict and the necessity of an "other." Taking this a step further to the internal conflict, it seems we need to fragment ourselves to have this kind of conflict. He said something like.....Maybe there are parts of ourselves that dont know other parts exist that is why they are not in conflict....I fear I missed this.

until next week.....


  1. Liz, these notes are so helpful! Thank you so much for capturing the session.

  2. You are welcome....but I hope you can capture them next week.

  3. Hi- As always, thank you for these. I wanted to add something.

    I did not mean to imply an 'eastern' and 'western' Confucianism.

    Here is what I meant to say, more or less.

    With many teachings there are internal and external interpretations. These are internal or external in a variety of ways that are not always mutually exclusive. This is part of the difference between the esoteric and exoteric.

    So with Confucianism. There is apparently a kind of exoteric social interpretation. There is a kind of esoteric interpretation having more to do with 'cultivation.' How we interpret "aware" and "stop" depends in part on our understanding of this. I am referring to Master Nan Huai-Chin as reference for the esoteric interpretation in the Chinese context. He has a translated essay on this that I have been reading for a few years now and I have heard him speak briefly on the subject a couple of times. I think there is an interview about this with Otto Scharmer someplace on the net you could find if interested.

    My comments with respect to Confucianism in the 'west' have to do with Slingerland's notion that we still suffer from an Enlightenment Era (mis)interpretation of the Confucian school, basically from Voltaire's attempt to make a moral argument. Of course this means that such translation and interpretation have all sorts of 'enlightenment' era values associated with them, that are not relevant to the cultural context in which the teaching took place. I think there are some lectures by Slingerland on this on YouTube.

    Thank you again for the notes and apologies for not being clear about what I meant. -roger