One of our fellow travelers, Terri Monroe wrote a letter to the staff of a conference she directed in January at the University of San Diego, Awakening the Soul: Evoking Collective Wisdom to Energize Groups and Organizations. Terri helps us think about “proximate preparation” for our experience. What follows are excerpts from her offering edited for our Collective Consciousness Conversation and perhaps other contexts where the intentional communal embrace of a different level of knowing is invited.
We are now only a few days away from the opening our experience. Because of my respect for the power of the forces that seem to be triggered by the groups that come together to do this kind of work, I am writing to invite us to join in entering a more intentional and conscious process of “proximate preparation.”
Increasingly I have come to view these kinds of events in terms of a field of collective consciousness that holds our individual minds in a kind of communal embrace. The idea of an underlying wholeness that connects individual consciousness is its own holding environment and key to open systems theory familiar to many of us.
This brings me to the “hypothesis” that the learning field we co-create begins to form well before the formal opening of our collective experience Again, this is hardly a new “idea” as we often regard events that transpire during the preparation process as important sources of data influencing what is occurring in the here-and-now experience.
A new “hypothesis” that I have been working with lately flows from this thinking. If we assume that such a field does indeed exist, perhaps it is something we can work with directly –not just indirectly as if it were a mere inert byproduct of a series of individual engagements in group setting. If the “field” for this event and others like it is already forming, and we are already working on some level with the assumption that our thinking and behavior is already setting things into motion, and is a critical factor in what unfolds, doesn’t it make sense to be more intentional about the way we might influence it?
If you are in any way familiar with the new ideas about consciousness that are emerging today, or attribute truth to ideas of wholeness, oneness, connectivity, resonance, and emergence, then attempting to engage the field intentionally seems like a natural next step in the quest for a more conscious pedagogy that will help close the gap between what we desire and what we manifest.
Our most important collective responsibility may have to do with clarifying intention and projecting it outwardly as clearly and powerfully as we know how. So long as each of us does not assume that I am doing this by myself, but that we are somehow entering into relationship with existing powers and beings that want this effort to succeed – both spiritual guides and the souls of fellow participants become aligned to strengthen our collective intention.
The experience we are entering is sacred work. At this point, I am pretty clear that the core of my own intention is to create and nourish an environment (energetic field) that fosters the process of cutting through that which keeps us small and separate. In doing so I seek to awaken both in myself and others the Consciousness that encompasses and permeates all existence. It involves a desire to heal (in myself and others) patterns and habits that no longer serve us (in particular I am thinking about obstacles connected with dualistic thinking –them vs. us, right or wrong, black or white) – in order to awaken the Soul. As we project our intentions we may well be guided to choices that serve our collective highest good.
I know that this may sound a bit “out there” to some, but I am not asking you to adopt it as your own. What I am asking us to do is to take some time before we arrive to reconnect with the deeper commitments and ideals that drew us to this kind of experience in the first place, and then to clarify and focus our intention for the days to come.
Second, I am asking us to make a genuine effort to bring our fellow participants to mind and hold them in awareness. Sometimes, I find that just reading the names out loud before such an event begins may help us feel more connected to those with whom we will share this profound experience.
For those of you open to the idea of past lives, it may be helpful to consider the likelihood that we have had dealings with at least some of our fellow participants in previous lifetimes. It is also safe to assume, life being what it is, that some of those encounters went well, while others probably didn’t, so residue left over in the unconscious from previous contact could be activated during our experience – so it might be helpful for each of us to spend some time considering our understanding of what is involved in the process of forgiving and being forgiven. In any event, I each of us may want to experiment with some kind of ritual (e.g. reading the names, lighting a candle –whatever “fits” and feels right) that expresses a commitment to work fully with our fellow participants to the best of our ability.
We may not be accustomed fully to think of consciousness as a “real” or significant force in the world. All I can say at this point is that the longer I do this kind of work that allows me to observe the dance of consciousness that takes place in groups, and the more I explore the depths of my own interior life, the more I am convinced of the potency of consciousness and its influence on all we do and all that happens to us. But, I also respect the fact that each of us has to come to our own conclusions and make choices based on our own best lights at the time, and we will have plenty of time later this week and beyond to continue our conversation and exploration.
Be assured that as we work at ‘holding” each other in mind and consciousness the field holding us strengthens and makes itself known.
Safe travels and blessings.
 The deeper issue here, I think, has to do with the degree to which we actually believe in some of the things we do and experience in conferences. Do we enjoy “playing” with these notions during conferences, but then “put them on the shelf” until the next conference, because deep down we really don’t trust that they are real?
 I am using the word soul here to mean the Real or Authentic Self -- a consciousness that is larger than our egoic selves (or personalities). I realize, however, that you may have different understandings or associations. Initially I was a bit hesitant to use the word soul in the conference title because it now crops up frequently in the leadership literature (e.g. Chappell, The Soul of Business; Bolam & Deal, Leading With Soul), and is used with different meanings. Therefore, it is possible that soul could become a big projection screen, upon which both staff and members may envision many different things. Nonetheless. I do hope that staff members, at least, will refrain from throwing the term around in easy slogan-like ways.