The Spirit of Facilitation

More than a few aha moments were had, at least by me, while attending the annual Neufeld Conference Facilitator Training this past weekend. Presentations by Dr. Neufeld and Dr. Deborah McNamara provided a feast for both heart and mind. As I listened to Deborah introduce the ancient concept of the shape shifter I could not help but drift into reflection about my own experiences where resisting the temptation to alter myself has been challenging. These subtle alterations can easily slip under the radar of my awareness resulting in a feeling of inauthenticity that niggles away at me. In my experience the spirit is constantly seeking a state of integrity in which our insides and outsides achieve a vibrational match. A balance requiring a constant state of recalibration. For me, anything less feels like cheating. To alter myself feels like I’m taking a short cut and in the process short-changing myself and others. This is a virtue I strive to model for my children and yearn to preserve and nurture in them. So, do I have the courage to be true to myself, to not alter to please or control and do I believe that I will survive the consequences of living this truth? As a parent it is in the unconditional love for my children, where their joy is as welcome as their eruptions of foul frustration…where neither their successes nor failures can sway my love for them, that I can preserve their spirit.

Recently I was provided an opportunity to facilitate a practicum via the Neufeld Campus Adobe platform. Initially, I was excited by the prospect of being able to lead a group of folks from throughout the province through the material in addition to providing them access to the plethora of rich campus resources I enjoy so much. However, as the start date for the course drew near I was much more aware of the dragon than of the treasure my eyes had previously been fixed on. “What was I thinking?” Although I am a seasoned in-person facilitator this was an entirely different ball game. I realized that I would not be able to read and respond to the reliable cues that are available in a physical format…. the eyes, smiles and nods would be hidden from me. “What would I have to guide me through this technological maze of sorts?”. So the alterations began as I twisted myself inside out trying to take a form I thought would bring approval.

Retrospectively, at least in my opinion, the first session was a disaster. Although I don’t think the participants noticed much. I felt my expression was incoherent and that I presented as being uncertain, lacking confidence and unable to find my center. The articulate and reflective self I normally am had left the building. I felt as if adrift at sea treading water, desperately trying to grasp something familiar and solid. Relief escaped me for that entire two hours. I prepared for the following week with a looming sense of dread and found myself scouring over resources, making notes ferociously, and trying to remember key phrases that I heard Dr. Neufeld say during the recorded sessions. Then it dawned on me. I was trying frantically to change my form. I wanted to be good, I wanted the participants to like me, and I wanted to present as competent and intelligent. This was a performance I had to get right! A part of me believed that there was a form I needed to take in order to succeed, to be accepted and to avoid the heartbreak of a possible failure. Alteration was a necessity! It was in this moment that another awareness bubbled up inside me and along with it the words of my beloved Uncle Mike rang in my head…”just be yourself, you are the best person at it”. Truer words were never spoken; I had to find my own way. I had been trying on different ways of being, attempting to take on a form that did not match my spirit. There was no vibrational alignment here. It felt fake. It was when I finally allowed myself to experience the futility of trying to be something I am not, of avoiding the disappointment of a potential failure and then resting from the pursuit driving me to shift my shape to win favor that my spirit was able to emerge. Just be myself and it will be unfold as meant to. When one’s spirit temporarily aligns with a form that is a vibrational match we experience resonance and it is from this place that we are able to fulfill our passion and purpose. For me it is a state in which I experience a flow, ease and creativity not otherwise available. It is from this place that I find fulfillment, not perfection in my parenting, life and work.

The opportunity to step into the virtual world as a facilitator provided an important journey for me in terms of my own growth. A rite of passage so to speak. Now, I have yet another touchstone of experience to draw on as I move forward. It was in my accepting the futility of the situation that I was freed from the temptation to take a form that was not a match for me and it was from this place that I found the courage to just be myself. Isn’t this what we all long for and deserve? The freedom to be ourselves. So, in the wise words of my Uncle Mike I say to myself, my children and to others….just be yourself, you are the best person at it!

About dmfindlay

I am currently enrolled in the Master of Education program at SFU focussing on Contemplative Inquiry and Approaches in Education. This blog outlines my journey over the next 2 years
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