Back in June 2007 I participated in the life transformation workshop from the CURA Institute for Integrated Learning.
Indeed it was quite a transformational experience for me.
A quick description of the workshop setup: 3 days, a dozen participants, one facilitator and two assistants. A safe TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone) is masterfully created to allow participants to open up and have the courage to step forward and transform themselves. The main purpose of the workshop is to go through a transformational process – there is very little talking. The workshop has no agenda – each participant decides when to step in and request a process. Sometimes a single participants goes through their process while others are observing and helping when needed. At other times several people may go into different processes at once, in which case the assistants support those people. That’s the gist of it.
Friday eve, I went through a strange process, where for about an hour my body violently shook. I checked in and mentioned that I can’t cry, and told my childhood story of being bullied… One of the participants (S.) offered to facilitate a process with me, by sitting in front of me. He suggested that I breathe very deeply, which I did. Mahmud (the facilitator) joined him (after asking my permission), they both had their hands on my body. At some point my body started going numb, and then it was almost paralysed, I almost couldn’t speak, my cheek muscles frozen. My hands felt like sticks and they were almost hanging in the air, as levitating, I felt like my whole body wanted to take off the ground. Mahmud and S. were bringing me into a trance, by each speaking to a different ear of mine and talking about different things (which I knew is a technique to bring one into a trance). I’m not sure whether it worked or not, I was aware of them doing it.
Meanwhile a big part of the group joined in and had their hands on my body, I started shaking and then lied down and started shaking even harder. After a while, my body wasn’t numb anymore. I spinned a bit, choked a bit, but mainly I have been shaking and breathing hard. Some suggested to make sounds, but nothing came out.
I didn’t quite manage to cry, even though I came close to it, when I started hysterically laughing. I think I stood in my own way to allowing that. I did manage to squeeze out a couple of tears while laughing.
My process concluded with a hug from each participant, which was very rewarding for me.
I don’t know what happened during that hour, but afterwards many told me that I looked different. Even my partner on my return home said I looked different, less tense, more open, more gentle. I couldn’t see any difference by looking at myself in the mirror.
Apparently my process helped some people in the group to go through their processes, which was an unexpected bonus.
The Best Part
Almost everybody went through a process during that weekend. It was beautiful. First irritated by people’s problems, I then started seeing the beauty of it all. I felt like I was sitted in the first row of the theatre where the actors played their real lives impromptu. Some actors would push buttons of other actors, and the play would unfold… It was like a gracious dance, even when someone had to scream and stomp their feet – it was an improv dance.
Mahmud was unreally real. When I met Marshall Rosenberg (of the Nonviolent Communication fame) I thought that he was an amazing person, who was so authentic, real and alive. But that was before I got to know Mahmud. Watching Mahmud facilitating processes of others and allowing himself to fully participate at the same level as the rest of the people in the circle was the most empowering experience I’ve ever had. What a teacher!
Needless to say that I was totally present through 99% of the workshop, which is quite an achievement for me.
The next day after the workshop I badly needed a fix of David Whyte. The first day I found him totally irritating, but on the following day, my body was resonating with waves created by his peculiar voice.
My physical process on Fri eve wasn’t transformational (at least to my awareness, but it was according to other people), but watching and playing with others was totally transformational for me.
What I Took From This Workshop
- I realised that we have to be a part of a dysfunctional environment in order to learn and grow. Comfort doesn’t help a person to learn. Once realized that dysfunctional parents, society, etc. are actually a gift, the only remaining part is healing the wounds inflicted by the dysfunctional environment. The healing is done through various technique, such as:- forgiveness: sending unconditional love to those we hated so much- physical processing: reliving the experiences in a safe and supporting environment, and letting those experiences go into the ether through crying, screaming, shaking, dancing, wrestling and other physical activities.It seems that talking is not quite as helpful, but can instigate some of the above processes.
- I discussed briefly my issue with bringing children into the world. I’ve received a very insightful feedback, which stripped me of the last ideological excuses for not having kids.The powerful suggestion is connected to (1) – it’s OK for a child to be born into a dysfunctional family, since that’s a gift for her. Therefore I don’t need to be perfect before I can allow this to happen, and if after birth should there any problem occur (e.g. such as divorce), the child has probably known about that in first place, since she chose her parents.
- Also derived from (1), the counselor in me realized that I don’t have to try fixing everybody, it’s OK for them to have their problems, issues, be dysfunctional. Since by being all that, they provide gifts to others.
- I’ve noticed that when I get to know people, I no longer see their bodies, but only the souls (well, unless I’m making love :). For quite a few people in the group, I’ve perceived them as totally different beings than what they looked outside. It was like if I wasn’t using my normal sight, but more inner knowing.
- An issue of vulnerability came up during the workshop’s closing discussion. The group’s conclusion was that if everybody in the group allows themselves to be vulnerable, miracles are possible. The challenge is taking this idea into a world, which is not so vulnerability-friendly. One needs to be well grounded and have a huge faith in themselves in order to bring this virtue from the safe environment of TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone) to the ACHZ (Anything Can Happen Zone).I’m not sure I was vulnerable during the workshop. I was open and real, yes, which is how I am in the Real World ™, vulnerable – probably not. Which I think shows that openness doesn’t necessarily mean the presence of vulnerability.This is probably something I need to work on. I can see that this fort will be not an easy one to convert into a museum. Perhaps this could be a process I need to go through.