Leading From The Center

Inside The Circle…
I always enjoy the arrival, familiar faces and new-comers greeting each other, settling into seats. I dip the toe of my awareness into the energetic waters and notice what is happening. I am waiting for the shift of attention away from the personal and toward the group. Savoring a moment of collective anticipation I take a breath and begin, walking slowly, making eye contact here and there, body language connectable and open, visibly taking in the room. I introduce the concept of this invitation to come together as an energetically cohesive group and set the tone for the work to come. We begin.

At Diana’s Grove and now with Expanding Inward I have often led this piece of our work called The Gathering. It is a study in both intra- and inter-personal energetic connection in a group setting. My primary focus as the leader is to begin where the group is, make invitations to take small risks toward engagement and connection, notice how people are responding, and repeat. There is a balance of leading and pacing. Leading requires being vulnerable and taking risks by going first, demonstrating a possibility, providing a model or guide, offering incremental steps in support of building group intimacy. Leading is great, but pacing is the real key. Pacing is about timing and patience, making the space that invites the group to fill in, spreading the energy out among the group so that we are a team working together, each person playing their own special and vital role. Without the tool of pacing my own energy becomes the driving force and participants fall behind as followers, not invited or allowed to take responsibility for their piece of the energy pie. This balancing of pacing and leading requires attention to the individuals and the whole, and a great deal of trust in the process.

My initial invitations are simple, doable. Notice where you are. Look around. Make eye contact. Smile. Greet others with your eyes. The next steps are a little riskier as the group is invited to begin to move. We keep those first ones simple too—little stretches, tapping feet, yawning. By the end of the gathering there is a tipping point of engagement and connection. Most of the group is on their feet and moving around the room, smiling, making eye contact, often singing and dancing together. Even though I have led this dozens of times it always seems like magic to me. The Gathering sets the energetic tone for a ritual, a session, a day, and indeed an entire weekend of working together.

Outside The Circle…
One of my Energy Play students, Dennis, who was typically jovial throughout class, revealed one day how unpleasant his work environment felt. His work started at 4 a.m. daily and everyone in his workplace always seemed grumpy. I challenged him to change it, suggesting he resource himself with lots of love first and then shine his light everywhere starting with the easy places and ending with the darker ones. He came back to the next class sharing with amazement at how things unfolded. Through simple acts of connection and engagement, warm smiles and good morning greetings, simple gifts of cups of coffee and shared stories, he met the challenge. Everything changed, and seemed to stay that way. Dennis was willing to pace and lead. To say energetically, “Hey, we are all here together. Let’s make the most of it, feel lighter, have some fun, be a community.”

In ritual and in life, energetics is about relationship. We impact energy when we choose to engage, taking risks to be vulnerable and authentic. This intimacy opens us to the beautiful life-giving energy of true community, a powerful response to these times.

Save the date! Expanding Inward returns to the Kansas City area in 2019 with our spring intensive: Energetics Inside and Outside the Circle. In this skill-building weekend we’ll explore the mysteries of group energy both in and out of ritual. Part of a ritual planning team? Group facilitator? Event planner? Interested in group and community dynamics? Then this intensive is for you. Join us at the Hollis Renewal Center, April 12–14, 2019. Registration opens at noon on Wednesday January 16, 2019. Hope to see you there!

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