Many people say that their second Workshop is their most difficult one. This isn’t always the case. But it is frequently. And there are many reasons why. Three of the most common are:
- Some were preoccupied by comparing their second experience to their first one.
- Having been through a Workshop before, many try to lead the group to Community by example and became frustrated when they don’t follow.
- Others have a tough time letting go of the fact that so many people can’t seem to follow the guidelines — especially early on.
These and a whole host of other barriers can keep participants stuck in Chaos their second, third, fourth…time around. Instead of building Community, they find themselves held back from participating authentically and simply experiencing the stages as they surface. They fail to recognize this as the content of the Workshop for them — and find themselves holding on tight to their barriers until it’s too late. Letting go of a barrier like “I find myself constantly wanting to be in my first Workshop instead of this one” or “I can’t stop judging people for not following the guidelines” may feel less personal and less intense than their first encounter with Emptiness. But if that is the content that the Workshop is building for them then that is the content. It is where they’ve been invited to begin their journey toward Community. And until they do they will remain in Chaos.
Considerations for Participation After Your First Workshop
- Read Chapter 5 of A Different Drum describing the stages of Community — and then Let It Go! Your goal is not to observe but to participate — not to learn but to experience (anew).
- Keep in mind that there is something new on offer for you in this Workshop — and that Chaos (your personal experience of Chaos) will guide you to it.
- Try to identify the Stages as the group moves through them. This will help you not overshoot the group. Since you’ve been on this journey before, you may be tempted to get too vulnerable too soon — before the group is ready. This can complicate the group dynamics resulting in stages which are unclear and an experience which is confusing to first-time participants. Instead you should try to trail the group just a little bit. For example, when it’s clear to you that the group is in Pseudo Community, share from Pseudo Community (if you’re moved to). But do so authentically.
- When the group is in Pseudo Community, are you too? How do you know? What characteristics of Pseudo Community do you notice in the group? And how do you respond to this?
- Refrain from trying to lead the group by your example. That’s just a way of organizing and encourages Pseudo Community not Community.
- Don’t push the group. Keep in mind that important things happen in each of the stages. We need to let content surface on its own and allow people to work through the stages on their own.
- Follow the Guidelines and search for your own Chaos. Chaos leads to Emptiness. And Emptiness is the gateway to Community. (If you’re familiar with Albert Ellis’s REBT method: Chaos for us is what he identifies as the Consequence in his ABC framework; and Emptiness is the process of disputing irrational Beliefs.
- Your only commitment during the Workshop should be the Workshop. Clear your calendar of any other responsibilities so that you are totally free from distractions.
- Let those around you know that you’ll be participating in a Community Building Workshop and that you won’t be as available to them as you usually are.
- Leave your phone, tablet and other assistive technologies outside the Workshop. And if possible, disconnect for the entire three days of the Workshop.
- Allow time for rest, reflection, and integration of the experience during breaks — especially during the evening breaks.
- Consider spending 20 minutes in silence in the mornings and evenings during the Workshop.
- Get your rest and take extra care of your body during the three days. Under sleeping, over eating, extra-caffeinating, barely moving or the like can sap you of the energy you need to be fully present and to receive the gift which is on offer for you in the Workshop.
Journaling is one of the oldest methods of self-exploration. Many people find it a useful process for clarifying relationships, negotiating new situations, overcoming obstacles, resolving past hurts, gaining insights. It can also be a powerful tool for processing and understanding the Community Building experience as it unfolds. Therefore, we encourage you to consider keeping a journal at breaks and in the evenings during the Workshop. If you plan to continue journaling during the Workshop and you’ve never kept a journal before (or it’s been a long time) here are a few things to keep in mind:
- There is no writing while the Workshop is in session.
- Keep it simple!
- It’s about you — your ideas, emotions, wants, etc.
- Don’t get caught up in whether or not you’re doing it right.
- Keep it private and write accordingly.
- Write from the first person perspective.
- Stick to the present tense.
- Don’t try to impress yourself.
- Forget about grammar and spelling.
- Write for quantity, not quality.
A Few Final Thoughts
Some questions to consider before the Workshop:
- Am I ready to give myself totally to participating in this Workshop?
- What crossroads am I facing in my life right now which may affect my experience building Community?
- What is the story I’m telling myself about this Workshop and my role with it?
- What generalizations have I made about those who will be attending?
- How am I with the people I know who will be in the Workshop?
- What do I need to let go of to be fully present with them?
Don’t leave Content outside the Circle
Small risks of vulnerability are like invitations to Community. So don’t work out something about the group outside the group without bringing it back to the group. Chances are that if it was going through your mind it is attached to something going through someone else’s too.
Pay attention to the little things
Like smoke to fire, traces of chaos can lead to the treasures hidden in Emptiness. So don’t ignore the little things that come up for you. This can be tough to do when the group is moving quickly. But try to discipline yourself to take a few beats of silence (even if the group doesn’t) to search yourself for anything that is going on for you or that you might want to offer before going on.