Facilitation Discussions

    A Talk About Tending PaB as Guardians

    The following was an "overflow" discussion after the Guardian Meeting at: http://playasbeing.wik.is/Chat_Logs/2010/01/2010.01.03_08:00_-_Guardians_Seeing_PaBand as such represents personal perspectives rather than any kind of group or organizational position.

    Eliza Madrigal: Maybe tried to cover too much today :)
    Calvino Rabeni: There was a lot "up"
    Eliza Madrigal: up?
    Calvino Rabeni: in the air, on peoples minds
    Eliza Madrigal: yes seems to be
    Calvino Rabeni: and some of them are the "wicked" issues
    Eliza Madrigal: elaborate if you can? wicked?
    Calvino Rabeni: Sure, the word means, themes that can't be "solved"
    Calvino Rabeni: I've seen them hashed at length in different groups
    Eliza Madrigal nods, I see
    Calvino Rabeni: one is structure versus freedom
    Calvino Rabeni: or spontaineity
    Eliza Madrigal: oh for sure :)
    Calvino Rabeni: The emotional needs of the group members differ
    Calvino Rabeni: and their attachments to having the group function in a particular way
    Eliza Madrigal: that often adds to the play :)
    Calvino Rabeni: differ on that basis
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, well 'going back to the past' doesn't work for me so well... but starting 'anew' all the time...
    Eliza Madrigal: more comfortable :)
    Calvino Rabeni: There is a tension, but play keeps it moving
    Calvino Rabeni: People resist different things also
    Eliza Madrigal: I think it is about initiative. if one feels they'd like to talk poetry... bring poetry...
    Eliza Madrigal: energy...bring energy :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes that often works :)
    Eliza Madrigal: and in that spirit, learn practical things from one another
    Eliza Madrigal: swap tips!
    Calvino Rabeni: The newcomers don't know - they can make the group their own.
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    Calvino Rabeni: Swap energy
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, IMing with newcomers seems key
    Eliza Madrigal: or just engaging if there seems a gap
    Eliza Madrigal: some of the newcomers have been coming a while so it is a surprise to me to see that it can take a while to join the rhythm, etc
    Eliza Madrigal: there is something practical to learn there
    Calvino Rabeni: Probably because they have been listening for a sign of an authoritative statement about what the group norm is
    Calvino Rabeni: And that is not forthcoming
    Calvino Rabeni: so they feel confused
    Eliza Madrigal: well, again, that's the fun
    Calvino Rabeni: because they don't decide for themselves
    Calvino Rabeni: It is fun, if one feels empowered to it
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, we can give permission, too
    Calvino Rabeni: RIght
    Calvino Rabeni: They sometimes need it
    Eliza Madrigal: empowerments, yes interesting
    Calvino Rabeni: newcomers may need to be given ...
    Eliza Madrigal: and also regulars who fall out of habit a bit...
    Calvino Rabeni: it is a ritual function of the group container
    Calvino Rabeni: yes that too :)
    Eliza Madrigal: well, we're not going to find a formula I don't think... and if we do, it will change and need a new one...
    Eliza Madrigal: and that seems safer to me
    Eliza Madrigal: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: yes, rituals are living formulas, have to evolve
    Calvino Rabeni: Do you know the psychological perspective on groups?
    Eliza Madrigal: well there can't be just one :)
    Calvino Rabeni: For example, the idea of the "shadow"
    Eliza Madrigal understands a bit about shadows, yes
    Calvino Rabeni: Things accumulate that are not spoken, in relationships
    Eliza Madrigal: and learning to 'dance in the dragon's den'
    Calvino Rabeni: 1 on 1, or in a group
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, okay... see what you are bringing up
    Calvino Rabeni: psychotherapists pay attention to it
    Calvino Rabeni: Normally people don't pay attention to it
    Eliza Madrigal: and yes I think that is part of things.... saying things 'in the light', and 'in the open' seems half the work
    Calvino Rabeni: And then they are more subject to the influences
    Eliza Madrigal: hm
    Eliza Madrigal: influences?
    Calvino Rabeni: One can intend to be open, but it is more a declaration, unless those things are actually brought to light
    Eliza Madrigal: well, that's why it is work
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    Eliza Madrigal: and one is willing to work for what they see the value in and appreciate
    Calvino Rabeni: I feel some limitations of the non-private nature of the dialogue in these groups
    Eliza Madrigal: so sometimes getting out of one's own sense of nostalgia can be helpful.. just dig in 'where we are'?
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, sure there is that. We've talked about doing longer, non recorded SL retreats
    Calvino Rabeni: (thinking about your idea)
    Eliza Madrigal: for a while now... maybe we actually organize one?
    Eliza Madrigal: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: So I could mention my personal example of those influences, but don't necessarily want it in the log
    Eliza Madrigal: Well you are posting the log :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Do you have a feeling for those "influences" - things that build up, but aren't spoken?
    Eliza Madrigal: yes I think that people often grumble in private when they feel not heard...
    Calvino Rabeni: I'm suggesting, one can say "yes" without making them explicit
    Calvino Rabeni: that is a challenge in a group like this - to be "heard"
    Calvino Rabeni: People naturally want it
    Eliza Madrigal: yes... the thing is, sometimes it isn't that people are reticent as personalities...
    Calvino Rabeni: I suspect, there's lots of private "grumbling"
    Calvino Rabeni: It doesn't indicate things being "wrong"
    Eliza Madrigal: I tend to agree
    Calvino Rabeni: But it can lead to some kinds of stuckness, if not dealt with in some way
    Calvino Rabeni: The question is how
    Eliza Madrigal: stomping one's foot? :)
    Calvino Rabeni: :)
    Eliza Madrigal: I can only deal with it by being honest without being unkind... and encouraging others to do the same....
    Eliza Madrigal: to say, especially those who have been here from early on and have nurtured pab...
    Eliza Madrigal: I care enough to keep working at it with everyone
    Eliza Madrigal: and just to hang out with everyone til they/we might feel something new :)

    At this point, Calvino and Eliza started an additional conversation on the IM channel, with both happening in parallel.  The PaB group assumes openness and public visibility of the dialog, whereas confidentiality definitely has its uses too.  I (Calvino) found it fun and also interesting to be sorting and engaging both these conversations at once.  It is something we generally can't do in RL.  The closest thing is an "internal dialogue" with oneself while talking to another.

    Calvino Rabeni: Can I give you an example, in IM?
    Eliza Madrigal: I think the 'with everyone' is key
    Calvino Rabeni: Say more about that, please
    Eliza Madrigal: well... if I talk to you in IM and share my deepest concerns...
    Calvino Rabeni: Privacy has important uses for protection of sensitive knowledge
    Eliza Madrigal: and I email that one privately too...
    Calvino Rabeni: As any therapist or lawyer or spouse knows :)
    Eliza Madrigal: and we all agree... but don't really want to work it out in the larger group ...
    Eliza Madrigal: then it seems um... Unhelpful
    Eliza Madrigal: IF what we want is for there to be openness
    Eliza Madrigal: I'm not being clear....
    Eliza Madrigal: its difficult
    Calvino Rabeni: People can be very persistent - they may have a need for something to be witnessed in the group, and when that happens, they will relax about the issue
    Eliza Madrigal: yes I agree
    Eliza Madrigal: but if the group cant always meet exact specifications
    Calvino Rabeni: and it can't :)
    Eliza Madrigal: the person might feel unwitnessed for a long time
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, it can't
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, that is hard for people - they may leave, on that basis
    Eliza Madrigal: even one on one with friends it is hard to know exactly how to validate someone else
    Calvino Rabeni: Although I find it easier then in the complexity of a group
    Eliza Madrigal: say more?
    Eliza Madrigal: they may leave, and come back, too ...
    Eliza Madrigal: and leave again and come back again and stay... :)))
    Calvino Rabeni: People will say different things in private
    Calvino Rabeni: Pema has a special situation, in many ways, as the one who "created" the PaB group
    Eliza Madrigal: yes
    Calvino Rabeni: Other group members have more freedom than he does, in certain ways
    Eliza Madrigal: freedom?
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, they can take different risks. I see his role as a bit more conservative, necessarily
    Eliza Madrigal: Interesting
    Eliza Madrigal: So it keeps coming back to personal responsibility and initiatives, and patience, and TIME
    Calvino Rabeni: The group has certain values and expectations about what we are here for.
    Calvino Rabeni: They aren't spelled out - just a little bit
    Eliza Madrigal: Whose quote is it that 'infinite patience yields instantaneous results' ?
    Calvino Rabeni: Not sure :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Does 'the group' have expectations? :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, collectively
    Calvino Rabeni: Shared assumptions, some that have been declared
    Calvino Rabeni: But many not
    Calvino Rabeni: Newcomers try to figure it out
    Eliza Madrigal: For me the group has many nests that are deconstructed and constructed every time...
    Calvino Rabeni: Oldtimers may still be ambiguous
    Eliza Madrigal: or many lego houses might be a better analogy
    Calvino Rabeni: But there are some things you know to try to do, some you know not to do, and a lot of gray area
    Eliza Madrigal: I get a sense of what a session may or may not be from those who arrive for it
    Eliza Madrigal: sometimes I'm wildly wrong, that's fun
    Calvino Rabeni: Being argumentative is definitely "out"
    Eliza Madrigal: well, argumentative for the sake of argumentative
    Eliza Madrigal: or insulting
    Calvino Rabeni: Being helpful is sort of "in", but only if done in certain ways
    Eliza Madrigal: well, we are learning
    Eliza Madrigal: Are you refering to the therapy lines?
    Calvino Rabeni: Sharing positive feelings is encouraged; ones people think of as "negative" are rather discouraged
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, I was thinking of the "therapy" policy
    You decline Meridian Cafe, Prism Lila (150, 58, 21) from A group member named Bryce Galbraith.
    Eliza Madrigal: Hm, I don't agree with that really... about negatives
    Calvino Rabeni: What do you believe about that?
    Eliza Madrigal: but yes therapy is tricky
    Eliza Madrigal: I think we can bring our negatives, fine...
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, it is
    Calvino Rabeni: Also, "negatives" are tricky
    Eliza Madrigal: we may not get feedback in the way we want it like "Go here do that"
    Eliza Madrigal: and if we *just* want to share, we can say so
    Calvino Rabeni: I think feedback is useful, if one is open, wants it, and it is well-presented
    Calvino Rabeni: I mean, conscioujs feedback.
    Calvino Rabeni: Of course, every response is a kind of feedback
    Eliza Madrigal: it can be, agreed...
    Calvino Rabeni: But perhaps more ambiguous
    Eliza Madrigal: OR it can be that it is impossible... because we're dealing with one another out of context, as it were
    Eliza Madrigal: So if I assure you that "THIS" is what is going on in my life... you are still listening to my view...
    Eliza Madrigal: and if you say "You MUST do this"
    Eliza Madrigal: that might be disasterous :) Therapists knows this
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    Eliza Madrigal: But I can say, I'm feeling this way about this...
    Eliza Madrigal: and you can give me some suggestions for how I might handle my own feelings....
    Eliza Madrigal: without saying 'this is the way'
    Calvino Rabeni: Sure
    Eliza Madrigal: but 'this is one way I have tried'
    Eliza Madrigal: and I may still walk away dissatisfied
    Calvino Rabeni: Some groups have clearer standards about these things
    Calvino Rabeni: Not that I am suggesting being like them
    Calvino Rabeni: 12-step groups for instance
    Eliza Madrigal: hm, yes that is an interesting model in many ways
    Calvino Rabeni: They have a careful line to walk, because they want sharing, but there is so much strong feeling and habits involved
    Calvino Rabeni: They have to carefully structure the openness
    Eliza Madrigal: maybe we're being too careful in some ways
    Eliza Madrigal: for instance...
    Calvino Rabeni: (listens)
    Eliza Madrigal: I know I can be pushy sometimes... I go overboard talking... am working to find the lines...
    Eliza Madrigal: I have a sense of wanting to really deeply explore with others...
    Eliza Madrigal: and my emphasis is often spiritual... so I revel in those sessions.
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, same here
    Eliza Madrigal: Generally, if one throws out enough, there is quite a lot to work with...
    Eliza Madrigal: in whatever group of us assembles, imo
    Eliza Madrigal: and I feel basically satisfied... so I can then enjoy a session where we talk about movies or whatever :)
    Eliza Madrigal: if it became all movies and I kept trying new things and everything kept falling flat... not sure...
    Eliza Madrigal: but I don't think that's the case at all :)
    Calvino Rabeni: OK good
    Eliza Madrigal: but then that's me, who is able to go to many sessions perhaps
    Eliza Madrigal: every one of us is quite distinct
    Calvino Rabeni: Pema for instance, I think has changed over time, in the group
    Calvino Rabeni: perhaps to have more discretion about the "push"
    Eliza Madrigal: that's interesting to note...
    Calvino Rabeni: But you or I could push occasionally, no problem
    Calvino Rabeni: If he did, it would be more significant to the group
    Eliza Madrigal: sometimes people email privately and we all want to implement every suggestion...
    Eliza Madrigal: but then it can seem it comes from one place
    Eliza Madrigal: if some of us are more vocal than others :)
    Calvino Rabeni: I am in favor of a process there - of bracketing the suggestions - so they can be expressed, and let to simmer and find their significance. (I meant, with email)
    Calvino Rabeni: Suppose there were a web page like a "suggestion box" in which there is some anonymity, could that be useful?
    Eliza Madrigal: It might be
    Eliza Madrigal: it will *always* depend on people determining to use it...
    Eliza Madrigal: I don't see we have 'problems ' but think sometimes people like to frame it that way
    Eliza Madrigal: to get a sense of a handle to change something...
    Eliza Madrigal: perhaps that is a mistake
    Calvino Rabeni: mistake how?
    Eliza Madrigal: we can address the little things (and really, I think they are all little things) while appreciating the bigger picture
    Eliza Madrigal: and being attentive to that
    Eliza Madrigal: that it is a wonderous and great thing to be able to meet 4 times a day
    Eliza Madrigal: with thoughtful people and engage in intersting, life changing practices
    Calvino Rabeni: I agree, holding the big picture appreciatively is important, and it changes the little things
    Eliza Madrigal: which often startle us out of our habitrails
    Eliza Madrigal: IF *WE* use it that way
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, exactly... the little things can open up in the light of the big picture
    Eliza Madrigal: if we don't let our own 'preferences' obscure it
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    Eliza Madrigal: and when we feel strongly it isn't just a preference, then we have this meeting...
    Eliza Madrigal: we have an email group...
    Eliza Madrigal: we have sessions...
    Eliza Madrigal: Lots of things :)
    Eliza Madrigal: if we don't get traction, perhaps it is just 'our deal'
    Calvino Rabeni: There are some objective factors that can't be handled by working with one's private outlook
    Eliza Madrigal: that we can then sit with it and face and work though, with help
    Calvino Rabeni: with help ...
    Eliza Madrigal: yes... "I know I'm being small, but this is how I feel"
    Eliza Madrigal: or "I feel unheard"
    Eliza Madrigal: can't always be controlled or solved
    Eliza Madrigal: but being in the company of people itself can help
    Eliza Madrigal: I'm talking too long about this and making less n less sense :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Quoting is a good skill, bracketing actually, many people understand it.
    Calvino Rabeni: One objective characteristic of the group is, there are people with very different outlooks and stages of development
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, but just my opinions right this moment, and opinions aren't always helpful either :) Getting out of our own opinions and letting Being see....
    Eliza Madrigal: that seems what we're here for. Being is more patient perhaps and then we benefit :)
    Calvino Rabeni: And it's a peer group. Those two things are major
    Eliza Madrigal nods
    Calvino Rabeni: When I speak, I try to have it come from experience, but if others have not had that experience, it may be merely speculative to them
    Calvino Rabeni: And vice versa for others
    Eliza Madrigal: experience is important... but we don't want to be limited to our experience I think....
    Eliza Madrigal: even as a group!
    Eliza Madrigal: Do you know what I mean when I say that...
    Eliza Madrigal: it is important and full of treasure of course... but only in light of the wider sky, in a sense...
    Calvino Rabeni: I have an opinion, but tell me more
    Eliza Madrigal: I think it is about stepping back
    Eliza Madrigal: like the Tao story you told

    Eliza had a good point and used the Tao story to refer to her meaning.  The "stepping back" in that case meant a time after an action has been accomplished, that you take time to look at and appreciate (and thereby reinforce) its greater significance.  I started to talk about the story, but at this point, lost Eliza's particular thread.

    Calvino Rabeni: The Tao story has experiential meaning to me.
    Eliza Madrigal listens
    Calvino Rabeni: Generally I tell stories that I have a first-hand feeling about their significance

    Here I went "meta" - trying to tie it back in to the earlier theme about how-to-be-present.  Mentally, I was juggling several balls in the air at once.  (Note to self - consider this).

    Calvino Rabeni: People get confused about the issues of "experience" versus "thinking"
    Calvino Rabeni: Neither limits the other, but they seem to think so.
    Calvino Rabeni: It is a habit, not something about the nature of thinking and experience
    Calvino Rabeni: We have been taught to assume they are separate
    Calvino Rabeni: But they aren't really
    Calvino Rabeni: You've heard "stop thinking, be experiential" ?
    Eliza Madrigal: not really in that way, no :)
    Calvino Rabeni: or "when I'm experiential, I'm not thinking"
    Calvino Rabeni: It's a common disconnect
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah... okay.... I see what you mean
    Calvino Rabeni: Reinforced in many circles
    Calvino Rabeni: e.g. "get out of your head" - meaning, pay attention be experiential
    Eliza Madrigal: You mean that when people think that getting creative and spontaneous is going backward in some way
    Eliza Madrigal: to pre-strategic thinking, etc
    Eliza Madrigal: rather than getting beyond it
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, they assume we can't do them together
    Calvino Rabeni: And also assume, that thoughts are about fixed patterns that leave "presence" behind
    Eliza Madrigal: I think all three ways of doing things have their place :) I admit the beyond place is the one I find most powerful
    Eliza Madrigal: and I think it is particularly interesting when we as a group do exercizes that bring us there together...
    Calvino Rabeni: Tell me more about the "beyond place" so I know what you mean
    Eliza Madrigal: showing one another that everything is new
    Eliza Madrigal: Well, rather than 'stop thinking'... stop just thinking... open it up... work with the thougs
    Eliza Madrigal: thoughts
    Eliza Madrigal: What APAPB seems to be about... the expansiveness of life we already have
    Eliza Madrigal: in every little thing
    Eliza Madrigal: and we need one another to remember sometimes....
    Eliza Madrigal: to hold the notes ... the doors open
    Calvino Rabeni: The assumed definition of "thinking" is too limited, it cramps people's abilities
    Eliza Madrigal: til we break through. THERE to me is the potential

    I thought at that time, it would be a good place to wind it up, and so did Eliza.

    Eliza Madrigal: Anyway, I'm exhausted now! haha
    Eliza Madrigal: So much for not talking as much
    Eliza Madrigal: hehehe
    Eliza Madrigal: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: I like it when you do :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Thanks :)
    Eliza Madrigal: And I do appreciate that you have energy and ideas you're bringing to the collective table
    Eliza Madrigal: we all need to do that :)
    Eliza Madrigal: And we need to rest up so that they ideas will keep generating...
    Calvino Rabeni: I always appreciate when people dig deeper like that
    Eliza Madrigal: Thanks for the long post-meeting brainstorming session :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, thanks for lingering.

    Goodbyes were exchanged.

    The conversation then continued in a couple of email exchanges, summarized next.

    Eliza writes:

    Hi there again,

    I become concerned about the general 'equanimity' of flow.

    So I guess I'm thinking of ways we might contribute to the understructure, as it were, without beginning to seem in 'constantly working' mode to others. Does that make sense? I like being a hidden bee, most of the time. :))

    One comment I made in my session today is that in families one person thinks they are discussing, and the other thinks they are arguing. I want to be mindful without being quiet, and I think that is possible by separating perhaps, a conversation like this one, as being a contribution, rather than representing the larger guardian session in which more of us take part... to kind of protect that space. :)

    Calvino writes:


    I read the log of your recent session, a good session.  Wish I’d been at it (and maybe, kept my mouth mostly shut).


    A lot is going on there!  I feel so many conflicting needs in the different participants.


    Some want it to stay the way (they think) it is.


    Some members fear arguments as disrupting the safety, or even a hint of conflict that might be going in that direction.


    People’s ways of handling change/growth/conflict vary – one sees it as looking at possibilities, another sees that as criticism leading to potential schism – one sees it as looking for commonalities among the differences, another sees it as looking for trouble.  And so forth.  My own view is that depends a lot on family background, culture, experience, development, and maturity, the degree of trust between individuals, and how much they trust the “group container”.  (Is that enough J


    You framed the “change” as safety, which is the opposite of the very familiar “people fear change” notion. (I liked that).


    I agree with you point of view --  “it isn’t natural for things not to circulate… it is when things stop changing one should worry”


    I think others feel threatened by change they don’t understand – they like openness if it beings peace, not if it brings “problems”. 


    And there is a way even the notion of “thinking” is associated with “problems”, as I believe you may notice.


    This introduces a familiar dilemma for all groups that are not totally form-bound.


    Openness is radical, it can bring threats as well as freedom.  The dilemma is that since people are reluctant to talk about the threats that come up, they have to find ways to control the potential threats *without speaking of them* and then you get an accumulation of tacit “rules”.  This ups the ante, because when they are tacit, they are harder to grasp and communicate about if it becomes necessary to do so.


    One way to handle that last issue is simply, the “play” aspect.  People play with limits, but keep it light, and back off.  This is effective in several ways.


    Eliza writes:

    You wrote:

    Openness is radical, it can bring threats as well as freedom.

    One way to handle that last issue is simply, the “play” aspect.  People play with limits, but keep it light, and back off.  This is effective in several ways.

    Yes, I do agree here. The thing is, one can't tell others "Okay, play now, and here is what it should look like." Each time we have to find a new balance and dynamic. So maybe it is more attending to the spirit of play.

    Not sure I could summarize your exact concerns back to you, but here are my thoughts / guesses.

    You want the ideas presented in the Guardian meeting to carry a sense of consensus, or of having been ratified by the group.

    You want the “guardians thinking together” mind to have a sense of identity.

    These two (above) would not be how I, in particular, would frame things. I don't want to want or expect anything in particular outside of a safe place or people to voice cares and concerns, and for our naturally supportive environment to operate in freely. :)  

    You trust the “group thinking” and want it to work on its own.

    You are concerned that two individuals could kind of “take over” that space.

    You are concerned with possible limitations resulting from a “problem solving” mentality.

    Enthusiatic Yes, to the three above. :)

    It feels uncomfortable to make definitive and/or analytical statements in a public setting.

    I'm just a little tired of my own diagnosing and want to stay focused on the big picture of Playing and Being, and nurturing a fun environment in which surprises are the norm. : )

    How did I do there, anyway?

    Not bad at all! :D

    About editing the log – I could cut that section and put it in my guardian contribution area (unless you would like to “own” it instead).  However, I’d want to put some kind of link from the meeting log, since it did originate and spin off from there.

     Yes, as I noted above, just perfect. :)

    Thanks for “thinking with” me on this!
    No, thank you! I appreciate the energy and enthusiasm. :)



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