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    This page collects some questions (and answers) about the Original Face group.

    What is the Original Face group about?

    Original Face is a contemplative dialogue group that meets weekly in Second Life. 


    What is a "check-in"?

    A check-in is used to be able to let the day be the day and to focus on the session as well as possible. In a check-in you can tell how you feel in that moment, giving it some thoughts, but always dropping that in the end so you open up space to get more focus for the session.

    This is actually the start of any practice. Focussing as meant in awareness is not so much about dropping as well as to let feelings and thoughts be. So you start with the thoughts and feelings of the moment you are in, but instead of being hardly aware of those thoughts, we start to put in a bit more focus, by first labelint the thoughts, becoming aware of it, then letting it be. By by doing so we make space space, which makes it possible to get into a dynamic dialogue with everything that comes up.


    What do we mean with practice?

    It is useful to define practice very broadly, to set it free from the idea that practice is only something done to get a particular result for a particular purpose.  Every tradition, profession, and walk of life has many activities people do that can be called practice.  Meditation is a practice for some people.  So is a daily exercise program, and playing a musical instrument in order to cultivate skill, and going to a group to learn how to be a good public speaker, and writing in a journal every day, and painting, and remembering dreams and discussing them with a group, and paying attention to one's relationships in order to learn from and improve them.  Virtually any type of activity can be a grounds for practice.  Practice means anything you do intentionally and systematically in order to develop a skill, ability, or even a state of mind. 

    The settings and purposes vary, but all practices have something in common:  You, the person doing the practice. Every activity one does is tied together by this one simple condition.  Capabilities such as awareness, intention, flow, and focus are common to doing all kinds of practices, and to develop them in one area can transfer to (help) others. 

    Another level of meaning of practice is the idea of life practice.  This means to take an overall view of life as a whole as a field of practice, or even as a work of art.  Having a well-balanced and healthy life means that a lot of aspects of living are taken care of and work together harmoniously.  On the other hand, if something out of balance, it will affect the quality of life in other areas.  Some things are very basic, like getting enough sleep, having a healthy and flexible body, having good friends and companions.  These are important to everyone, whether that person is an athlete, a writer, or a business-person.  Meditation is one of those practices that can benefit nearly anyone.  Also important is the sense of doing good work and feeling one makes a difference to other people and to the world.  The idea of a life practice is to survey one's life as a whole and focus on what might be done to keep things balanced and harmonious.


    What is contemplative dialogue?

    In the group we engage in a kind of speaking and awareness called contemplative dialogue.  This is a different way of speaking with people than the more familiar styles of discussion and conversation.


    • Discussion is a "what" activity.  It focuses on "talking about" something:  getting to know an external object or topic.
    • Conversation is a "who" activity.  It is about getting to know people, the ones speaking.  The topics are mainly a way of making contact.
    • Contemplative Dialogue  reaches for a more comprehensive awareness of both "what" and "who":  we attempt to communicate our knowledge and awareness of the focus of contemplation, and of ourselves, the ones who know.


    In practice, this is about balance, the balance of awareness that one has while speaking with the group. External discussion is more about thinking, reacting and talking. Internal dialogue is more about listening, becoming aware of what is going on inside, the thoughts that are coming up when listening to others, the feelings that occur when something is triggered. A contemplative dialogue starts when you can be open minded, also questioning what is happening in a curious way, without judging yourself about what (might) occur.


    How do we share those internal dialogues?

    Actually we do that in the same way as we have a dialogue with ourselves, sharing what we became aware of, asking questions in an open-minded environment, that can be to ourselves or to others.


    What does I-approach mean?

    The "I-approach" is a perspective (first person experiencing) as well as a style of communicating (I-statements).  It also means learning to be closer to one-self; that is, having a richer, more accurate, more appreciative awareness of one's own experience.  I-statements arise from and communicate personal knowledge that is actually "true for me", rather than abstract or hypothetical statements.  I-statements are often taught as a way to communicate clearly and accurately. They are also the way to turn individual contemplation (seeing what is true for me here and now) into contemplative dialogue (conveying insights to other people).


    What does dedication mean?

    Dedication is actually focussing energy you have build up to give it meaning or a purpose. By doing so, the energy will not 'fly away' that easily when we go back to our daily lives. Dedication can be done to build up the iternal dialogue, to offer it to a situation or to somebody else (which is different then 'helping' or 'giving it away'; every dedication is actually a practice, practicing focussing and offering, which helps you for instance to open up more and/or to get less judgemental about yourself and others).


    What does the Talking Stick do?

    The Talking Stick allows a person to speak. The one that 'holds' the Talking Stick is the only one speaking. Technically it is an object (Talking Stick), that can be touched. When you do so, you're name appears above the Talking Stick for everyone to see. When holding the Stick, no-one else can pick it up. After you're finished you can put down the Stick or pass it on to someone else.


    What is the purpose of using a Talking Stick?

    The Talking Stick has different purposes. It allows somebody to speak without interruption. This gives somebody more time to collect his/her thoughts.

    The second purpose is for the listeners. Not interrupting somebody means you need to listen and to take time to listen. Odds are that this will increase the quality of listening.

    When someone is holding the Talking Stick and speaking, they have the group's full attention.  The group does not interrupt, comment, disagree, offer solutions, or give information or advice (unless the speaker specifically requests it).  It's fine though to offer supportive responses that show listening and presence, such as "/me nods", "yes!", and so on.

    Last, but not least, the Talking Stick slows down the process. Instead of needing to type fast in a very active bodily modus, you can now lay back more and take your time. This will give more space and support the internal dialogue.

    An interesting side-effect can be when you like to pick up the stick and somebody is picking it up just in front of you, putting you in the 'backseat' for a while as a listener. This can trigger different emotions and thoughts that can be interesting for your own internal dialogue. And of course those awarenesses can also be shared in the group, since it is simply (and an important) part of the practice.


    How is the Talking Stick used?

    In can be used in different ways. It will be used during check-ins, in which people can speak in turn, going around the circle counterclockwise. When done, you can pass on the stick to the next person. This technique can also be used during dialogues.

    One of the principles of the talking stick is brevity.  This doesn't mean to rush.  It means, when holding the stick, to be aware of saying what needs to be said, no more or less.  Then the stick moves around the group with a lively but relaxing rhythm.

    It is also possible that you ask for the stick, for example when we go around the whole circle and you would like to add something. When the stick has been put down, you can also 'claim' it by picking it up (clicking on it)


    What kind of themes does the group engage?

    In most meetings we have a "theme" to direct the contemplative focus of the group.  Usually Calvino does a brief presentation to get things going, and then we have contemplative dialogue inspired by the theme and whatever it means or evokes for each group member.

    Some of the past theme presentations are posted on the wiki.  The ensuing dialogue is not, however, because of the group's confidentiality agreement.

    Any of the basic ideas for the group could be taken as a theme to look at in more depth. 

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