“Is it always like this or are we special?” asked one of the participants of the my latest retreat in Crete. I replied: “Both. It is always like this and it is always magical.” In the months leading up to the retreat I was observing the group coming together – some signed up months in advance, others cancelled last minute. Coincidence? Or is it a complex cosmic law that our limited understanding is (yet) unable to grasp?
It has been two weeks since the end of the Joyful Living retreat in the remote village of Sfakia in the South of Crete. I’m still in awe of the perfect synchronicity – perhaps the best term for that complex cosmic law – that brought this group together. So are the participants who are already booking their flights for the reunion in October. One of them, a theatre producer from Zurich, writes: “I’m astonished at how open and warm we were in the group and this very quickly.” “It was a real joy to see how the group evolved into a small family in just the space of a few days!” shares Mouna, an interpreter from Paris.
The swift intimacy created after sometimes only a couple of hours is a marvel to most people attending my workshops and retreats. In my experience, connection and transformation happen when synchronicity enters the scene. Then meaningful coincidences start occurring, such as people find themselves working on a similar life purpose, or bringing an identical inspiring object to the workshop. Or I will intuitively share an experience which is deeply meaningful to one or more participants.
To trust in synchronicity is one of the cornerstones of being a transformational facilitator and coach. My coaching school CTI calls this skill ‘dancing in the moment.’ To surrender control initially feels counterintuitive because as a facilitator you are ‘doing nothing’ but following the flow of a session. Slowly you build trust that whatever is unfolding, is exactly what participants need in that very moment. When I feel I am working hard, I know now something is wrong!
In fact the only thing to ‘do’ as a facilitator is to role model how to interact with an open heart, a sensitive spirit, a curious mind and a flexible body. Thus you give the group permission to enter into a safe space. They respond by sharing the full spectrum of their humanity. It is as if in this ‘heart space’ we can uncover the strength of our vulnerability. We recognise each other’s stories of feeling intensely alive or of sabotaging our wildest dreams. By “taking the lid off ourselves” (‘The Heart of the Buddha‘ by Chogyam Trungpa, p6) we give each other permission to relax, be present, connect with our inner self and leave our unique footprint.
Occassionally I come across a group where the heart space is unstable. This usually indicates that one or more participants has become sceptical and closed their hearts. The crucial thing to do as a facilitator is to stay curious and avoid closing our heart in retaliation. Fear can easily make us defensive or judgemental. Yet when we stay open hearted we invite a participant to express their doubt and neutralise the impact. Mostly this is enough for the air to clear and for synchronicty to work its magic once again. I remain in awe.
Watch this space for my next piece on how flow and synchronicity are related to gut feeling.