How does one use embodiment in online rooms?

Session at Applied Improvisation Network conference

My friend and collaborator Christian and I will be presenting a session at the Applied Improvisation Network’s annual conference next Sunday 27 August. To me it is a kind of dream come true. This will be the third time I attempt to attend the AIN conference in some way. The last two attempts failed because for various reasons I was unable to make the trip. This year, though, Christian and I solved half the problem.

We will be attending the conference from the comfort of our home offices.

He is in Austria, I am in South Africa and we will meet together online and on screen to present a conference session in California!

I say half the problem, because, while we get to present and interact for an hour, we still do not get to attend and connect with all the other wonderful contributors and players. Next time!

Our topic: How does one use embodiment in online rooms?

Over the past two years Christian and I have been offering online pig catching sessions and learned a number of important principles for doing embodied exercises online. I have colleagues who do not believe it can be done and when I challenge them, they say: “I am sure something essential gets lost.”

Well, we have found that there is a unique kind of intimacy that develops online when people play together – a kind distinctly different in quality than when you work with someone offline. Part of the reason is because you see yourself on the screen interacting and this creates a certain vulnerability that adds to the connection.

To engage the imagination through the body  requires some innovation when working online.  We found ways to use the unique feature of online rooms to access the imagination and people’s creativity in fresh and unexpected ways.

We have discovered how to contain the work when there is no physical room within which to contain activities and relationships.

We have found out how to bridge the divides between participants and build playfulness and connection in new ways.

All these insights will be shared at the conference on Sunday morning and I look forward to sharing some of the principles here in a blog or two soon.

For the curious, here is our conference abstract:

An important aspect of Applied Improvisation is using and perceiving the body: your own and those of others in the room. It therefore seems logical, that “room” is a physical construct, a place with enough space to move and also to rest.

In a connected world “rooms” in the World Wide Web are part of the reality of more and more people: 3,6 Billion people have direct access to the internet, which is about half of the world population. Especially in Europe (over 70 percent of the population) and North America (nearly 90 percent) using the Internet is a part of daily life. An important aspect in the still growing numbers of direct users is mobile access to the internet via smart devices.

Internet “rooms” are used more and more often to learn together, to plan projects and them into action step by step. Topics are not only “tech related” – they are also about facilitating, coaching, developing various kinds of people, individually and in groups. Live online tools are often used in these contexts. They enable participants to hear and see each other. Nonverbal communication is a key aspect of Applied Improvisation. It is also a key aspect of live online rooms.

In our contribution we will summarize studies on using embodiment in settings enabled  by technology. We will present different improvisation methods that can be used in online settings highlighting its effects on collaboration and interaction on one hand and  and on personal development on the other.

Facilitators

Dr. Petro Janse van Vuuren, petro@playingmantis.net, Playing Mantis and Drama for Life, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Applied drama researcher and practitioner, coach and consultant.

Christian F. Freisleben, christian.freisleben@improflair.at, Halftime: St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences (Didactics in Higher Education, E-Learning); teacher, trainer, journalist in the fields of education, health care and social affairs

[1] Http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm (14. 11. 2016)

Change how you coach and facilitate with Strategic Narrative Embodiment TM

Delegates telling stories

Make your work more effective and longer lasting

Research has shown that processes that incorporate stories and embodiment work in a focused strategic manner, as is the case with SNE, are particularly effective when

  1. Working with millennials
  2. Working in intercultural contexts
  3. The content works with issues of diversity
  4. The challenges the group faces are systemic in nature
  5. The work requires innovation and new thinking.

The reasons for this are that the methods

  1. Incorporate whole brain, whole body thinking
  2. Work with head, heart and hands
  3. Externalise and neutralise power dynamics
  4. Playfully and compassionately identify dominant and habitual narratives
  5. Generates creativity and innovative thinking in the group

In short, it is exactly what South Africa and the world needs right now.

Book your place for the next SNE Essentials course by emailing Faith.Dube@wits.ac.za

Here is what some of our participants said of their experience of our pilot SNE essentials course in partnership with Wits University:

I thoroughly enjoyed the SNE course.  It was eye-opening, challenging and worth the time and effort it required. It is refreshing to look with new eyes at everyday opportunities.  I am looking forward to introducing the methodologies and concepts to clients.
– Karina Reid, Organisational Psychologist | Executive Coach & Team Performance Coach | Master Facilitator

Committed to design, facilitation and coaching practices that drive meaning and impact, I was looking for a learning process to sharpen thinking, tools and skills. The SNE course delivered! The course is a great blend of theory, techniques and practical application. Thank you Petro!
– Elusha Jansen, CEO, The Performance Hub

As presenters, we learned a great deal and are able to give the next cohort an even higher quality experience.

Book your place now, there are already 5 people booked and we expect bookings to pick up quickly now that the lines are open.

The course consists of 2 modules of 2 days each completed with a reflective assessment essay based on a practical application in the workplace. Delegates will be awarded a certificate of competence!

As organisers we take care to design an experience that is rich in diversity, crosses boundaries and lets you experience the value of the methods in their totality.

Course Dates:
Module 1: Fri 6 – Sat 7 Oct
Module 2:.  Fri 13 – Sat 14 Oct.
More detail here:http://www.playingmantis.net/about-us/workshops/playingmantis-essentials-in-coaching-and-facilitation/

Individuals with basic coaching and facilitation training are eligible to apply. Please email your motivation letter with a comprehensive CV to Faith Dube at Faith.Dube@wits.ac.za  copying Petro Jansen van Vuuren at petro@playingmantis.net.
For enquiries call 011 717 4764

Cost R11 800

CLOSING DATE: 15th September 2017, 12H00

For applicants who have completed the 3 day essentials course with Playing Mantis:
You may register for a one day touch up plus assessment and receive the Wits certificate.
Cost: R2850
Date Friday 6 October.
Read more on the course here: http://www.playingmantis.net/about-us/workshops/playingmantis-essentials-in-coaching-and-facilitation/

How do I find time for meaningful focused work in the midst of living and surviving?

You are invited to catch flying pigs with us

Face to face Pig Catching in Johannesburg
TOPIC: Doing focused work amidst the business of living
DATES:  Part 1 Fri 25 Aug
Part 2 Fri 1 Dec.
TIME:  8:30-11:30 – experience (Please come on time for coffee or tea, we start at 8:30 sharp.)
11:30-12:30 reflecting on the methodology
PLACE: 19th floor University Corner Building Corner of Jan Smuts and Jorissen Braamforntein.
FACILITATOR: Petro Janse van Vuuren
COST:  R350 for Part 1 only
R500 if you book in advance for Part 1and 2
DRESS: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
RSVP: by  Wed 23 Aug to petro@playingmantis.net

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

Online Pig Catching
TOPIC: Doing focused work amidst the business of living
DATE:TBC
TIME: 20:00-21:15 – experience
PLACE: a ZOOM room (we will send link)
FACILITATOR: Petro Janse van Vuuren
COST:  R100 oer session for 7 sessions or
R500 for the entire series of 7 sessions
Respond if you are interested and we can negotiate dates  petro@playingmantis.net

More on the topic

You may read in the place of ‘meaningful deep work’ any of the following: time for studying further, time for writing, for painting or designing a new process, or just remembering what gives you courage and significance.  Perhaps you are making a career change and you need time to strategise and execute new ideas.

quil and writingFor the past 10 years my husband, Gerhi, have been figuring out how to write the elusive novel and this year he is cracking the mystery. During the same time I have produced a PhD and published a number of research papers. Through all this we have raised our children and worked either on our own businesses or on teaching. We have tried and failed in so many ways; we have also found ways to succeed. What the course shares with you are the narrative heuristics that will allow you to improvise your own strategies for accomplishing your meaningful work.

The pig catching experiments will become part of my own journey towards writing the online course and perhaps a book on the subject. For now I call the process: ‘The success story spiral’ and I would love you to come and experiment with me while at the same time focusing on your own meaningful work.

Note: This process will take two Pig Catching sessions. This one is Part 1 and the second one will be on 1 December. Book for both face to face sessions and pay only R500, or book for one at a time for R350 each. I would like your permission to audio record  all the sessions. I would also like to use the material to populate the course and the book – keeping your identity confidential, of course.

Book now to secure your place by sending me an email petro@playingmantis.net

Note on the online course:
The online process will take 7 sessions instead of the usual 3, so it is a commitment. I have not yet set the dates of the online course. Drop me a mail if you are interested, so I know what the level of curiosity is. Watch this space for details.

About Pig Catching

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.
Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Coaches, facilitators, game changers, thought leaders like you who can accept the following:

  1. This is not a showcase or sales event geared to impress or win you over. If you come, you already believe that metaphor, embodiment, improvisation and imagination are powerful, fun ways to bring about transformation and you want to know more about using them in coaching and facilitation.
  2. Experimentation and mistakes are part of the process.  You must be willing to play with ideas that may not work or may be a bit uncomfortable, but that could lead to new heights of freedom and insight.

Join our group on Facebook:

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING INSPIRED BY YOU. OINK!

What can happen when you integrate Applied Improvisation and SNE with your own work

Sunrise skyline of Johannesburg

Last Quarter our Pig Catching process dealt with the question: ‘How can Africa become a global economic player? Janet du Preez from Tools of Greatness, facilitated the process and did a masterful job of blending her own work on employee engagement with the SNE methodology she learned from Playing Mantis.

(Remember Last week I posted about the Graphic Facilitation by Lita Currie at the session)

In the group was a mixture of organisation development practitioners and applied drama facilitators and both groups were mesmerized by the process. One of the applied d drama facilitators was deeply intrigued by Janet’s innovative use of well known processes. 

I will tell you of two such memorable moments here.

The props game reinvented

Janet du Preez
Janet du Preez
Janet used the very well known applied improvisation game in a very strategic manner. The game is sometimes called ‘Props’ and sometimes ‘This is not a water bottle /stick etc.’ Usually the game starts with a group standing in a circle with a single object in the centre, or sometimes a small number of different objects in the centre to choose from. Participants then take up the object (e.g. a water bottle) a and say ‘This is not a water bottle, it is a…’ and then they name something else e.g. a cell phone while at the same time using the water bottle as though it is a phone.

How Janet used Props

Instead of either placing one object in the middle of the circle for all to use, or placing a number of different objects to choose from, she gave everyone the same object, a stick of about two feet long.

Secondly, she did not require us to stand, but allowed us to stay seated in our circle.

Finally, instead of using the game as it often is just to warm up people’s brains and let them randomly come up with things the stick could be, she gave it a particular strategic frame in keeping with the principle of strategic intent as incorporated in the SNE (Strategic Narrative Embodiment) methodology.

We were to use the stick in the first part of the workshop as a way to name all the things that stand in the way of Africa’s economic flourishing. In the second part of the workshop we did the same exercise and used it to brain storm a picture of the ideal Africa. At the end of each round she asked the group to consolidate and integrate the ideas into a single representation by making tableaux – image with their bodies. In between the two rounds Janet did a number of other exercises to lend depth to the conversation.

Reflecting on the exercise, participants experienced elevated levels of creativity coupled with increased levels of safety. Sitting down instead of standing up and being able to hold on to their stick throughout the exercise removed a sense of perpetual vulnerability that they often associate with this exercise. Layering it with the strategic frame and integrating it into a larger design with tableaus and other processes, contributed depth and meaning to the experience.

Integrating individual with group images

It is a common practice to let participants build a real image, then an ideal image and then to transition them from a real to an ideal image using wome kind of process Boal style. My experience is that the practitioner usually chooses to work either with group images, or individual images. Janet used a combination of both in a startling manner.

Graphic of Pig Catching session captured by Lita Currie
Graphic of Pig Catching session captured by Lita Currie

To transition the thinking from current obstacles to future ideal image, Janet used the SNE technique called ‘Moving Story structure’. The process is a rather involved technique where the individual moves through a series of individual images that include ones that express our default reactions to obstacles and our defense reactions as well as idealised responses that are not practical etc. The end result is a clear understanding of what is real and practical actions we can take right now to get unstuck and closer to where we want to go.

While this is originally an individual embodiment process, Janet combined the individual work with group work so that we each had a clear experiential knowledge of how we each contribute either to the success or failure of the collective endeavour.

If you take in the fact that the group of people in the room were diverse and representative of various demographic groups of people in our country, such an experience was nothing less than moving and hopeful. Each of us left with a clear understanding of how we may be hindering collective flourishing and what we may be able to do as individuals to move into a thriving Africa.

I felt deeply moved by what happens when people of diverse back grounds and skill come together under the guidance of a masterful and gutsy facilitator like Janet: unusual and powerful things happen.

Join us for the next Pig Catching session on 25 August face to face or online at a later date (to be confirmed). This time our flying pig is: “How do I find time for meaningful deep work in the midst of the chaos of living and surviving?” Read more next week or in the quarterly Muse-letter – subscribe here.

How to capture a workshop process with pictures

Catching Pigs graphic facilitation

Graphic facilitation with 3Stick Men

I met Lita Currie two and half years ago when I was working on a process design for SAB and she was working there. Since then Lita had started her own facilitation consultancy in Graphic facilitation. To market her work, she generously did the graphic harvesting of our last Pig Catching session.

The large rolls of paper are put up on my office wall and everyone who walks in first says “Wow, beautiful handwriting!” and then: “What is it??” I explain that it is graphic facilitation and that it is a documentation of one of my workshop processes done by Lita from 3Stickmen.

It never fails to impress, but more than that, people see the value of it as a meaningful documentation process. No-one is likely to stick it in a drawer and forget about it.

If you want to get Lita to do this for you, or learn from her how to do it yourself, Contact her or visit the 3Stickmen website.

Catching Flying Pigs graphic facilitation 2

Our Pig Catching process she captured dealt with the question: ‘How do we put Africa on the global economic map?‘ Janet du Preez who facilitated the process did a masterful job of blending her own work on employee engagement with the SNE methodology she has learned from Playing Mantis.

In the group was a mixture of organisation development practitioners and applied drama facilitators and both groups were mesmerized by the process. One of the applied drama facilitators was deeply intrigued by Janet’s innovative use of well known processes.

Read more about this next week.

More about Lita and 3Stickmen

Are people falling asleep in your training sessions?

Worried that your conference will be boring?

Use hand-drawn pictures created in real time to promote interest and engagement! Let us create a visual record of your conference, your workshop or your meeting. Your audience will remember it forever.

Your audience can see the discussion taking place as it is captured on a big piece of paper. It helps people think more creatively, make connections previously not seen and create commitment and engagement.

Contact 3Stickmen for a free quote.

Or visit the 3Stickmen website.

3Stickmen Intro to Graphic Facilitation intro course

Africa may soon be digitally connected but can we put ourselves on the world economic map?

You are invited to catch flying pigs with usFlying Pig

Face to face Pig Catching in Johannesburg
TOPIC: Engaging Africa
DATE: Fri 26 May
TIME: 8:30-11:30 – experience (Please come on time for coffee or tea, we start at 8:30 sharp.)
12:00-13:00 reflecting on the methodology
PLACE: 19th floor University Corner Building Corner of Jan Smuts and Jorissen Braamforntein.
FACILITATOR: Janet du Preez
COST: R250
DRESS: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
RSVP: by  Wed 24 Mayto petro@playingmantis.net

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

Online Pig Catching
TOPIC: Engaging Africa
DATE:19, 22 and 26 June (Mon, Thu and Mon)
TIME: 20:00-21:15 – experience
PLACE: a ZOOM room (we will send link)
FACILITATOR: Janet du Preez
COST: R250 or $20
RSVP by Thu 15 Jum to petro@playingmantis.net

More on the topic
As a continent we may soon be digitally connected but can we be cohesively engaged to put ourselves on the world economic map?

Our pig for this session is the engagement of Africa.
Using Strategic Narrative Embodiment and the Dynamic Engagement Framework we will explore:

  • How engagement changes outcomes
  • The role of trust in engagement
  • The character and faces of trust
  • How we foster trust

Are we mad? Maybe a little!
Does this matter? Yes!
Can we be the agents of continental change? Why not?

 – by Janet du Preez who will be co-hosting Pig Catching sessions in February and March.

About Janet du Preez
2017-04
Janet du Preez is a friend and accomplished flying pig catcher. she says about the SNE tools: “The SNE processes are a vital addition to my toolkit because of their creativity and impact. I am constantly seeking new ways to engage whole people in transformational journeys. SNE processes encourage new encounters with beliefs, thoughts, emotions, relationships and behaviours. When people engage themselves and engage with themselves in unexpected ways they learn and grow. We will not see change in the conditions in Africa until we transform who we are as Africans. We need every possible tool at our disposal to enable us to transform if we are to change our trajectory. SNE is a particularly powerful tool.”

Janet is a versatile leadership and organisational effectiveness practitioner and a passionate, provocative and creative thinker. A strategic people developer and engagement protagonist, she is constantly alert for good people, good ideas and good systems which can be made even more effective.  Janet uses her well-honed coaching, facilitation, process development and strategic consulting skills to engage talent, passion, insight and action in pursuit of great leadership and effective systems. She is completing an MSc through the da Vinci Institute developing a universal integrated sense-making framework for engagement in organisations.

About Pig Catching

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.
Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Coaches, facilitators, game changers, thought leaders like you who can accept the following
1        This is not a showcase or sales event geared to impress or win you over. If you come, you already believe that metaphor, embodiment, improvisation and imagination are powerful, fun ways to bring about transformation and you want to know more about using them in coaching and facilitation.
2        Experimentation and mistakes are part of the process.  You must be willing to play with ideas that may not work or may be a bit uncomfortable, but that could lead to new heights of freedom and insight.

Join our group on Facebook:

Upcoming dates: Fri 25 Aug and Fri 1 Dec.

WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING INSPIRED BY YOU. OINK!

Exercise: Short walk to freedom.

This exercise is gaining in popularity. I designed it in a moment of need in the middle of a presentation skills workshop for managers in Mozambique. The guy just could not understand the difference between how he usually is around the workplace and how he should show up when he is required to speak in front of others. The idea of walking himself free from the constraints of an everyday work self into a performative, yet authentic confident self worked like magic. And of course, we all want to identify wit  the wonderfully present  Nelson Mandela and his Long Walk to Freedom –  but without the struggle.

Possible outcomes:

  • Presence and awareness
  • Personal control
  • Building confidence and connection
  • Emotional intelligence

Overview:

Participants walk from one end of the room to the other starting in a state of non-presence and ending in a state of total confidence and present awareness.

Time: 3-7 min
Number of participants: Limited only by the size of the room.

Game flow:

Delegates line up on one side of the room. Facilitator asks them to think of a moment where they felt utterly out of place, intimidated or nervous to enter a room. Facilitator explains: This is your point of entry, where you will be starting from psychologically. (As facilitator you may also use how they are feeling about the session or any other emergent feeling that you may want to work with in this way.) Facilitator continues:

Show how you feel in your body: your spine, your hands, your knees, your breathing, the cast of your eyes, your shoulders, your face, the tilt of your head etc. As you walk to the other side of the room, discard each of these physical attributes one by one and with them the feelings: lift your head, smile, deepen your breathing, straiten your spine, relax your hands, lift your eyes, open your shoulders etc.

Repeat the exercise adding a sound or words starting with something like ‘oooh’ and ending with ‘wha’ or starting with the word ‘no’ and ending with a ‘yes’. Or just let them be creative.

Repeat with different scenarios in mind.

Debrief questions:

  • How was that for you?
  • What was interesting?
  • What was difficult / easy?
  • How does it relate to the ideas of presence, or courage or confidence?
  • How does it relate to the workplace?
  • Where can you use it?
  • Why is it called the short walk to freedom?

How can we vehemently disagree and still remain good friends, colleagues or neighbours?

You are invited to catch flying pigs with us

Long time pig catcher Alison Gitelson will be facilitating.

Face to face Pig Catching in Johannesburg
TOPIC: How can we vehemently disagree and still remain good friends, colleagues or neighbours?
DATE: Fri 24 Feb
TIME: 7:15 am to 10:30 am – experience
10:45am – 12:00 reflecting on the methodology
Please come on time for coffee or tea, we start at 7:30 sharp.
PLACE: 305 Long Avenue Ferndale
PRICE: R250
DRESS: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
Coffee, tea, muffins and fruit on arrival.
Contact us to book

Online Pig Catching
TOPIC: How can we vehemently disagree and still remain good friends, colleagues or neighbours?
DATE:13, 15 and 22 Mar (Mon, Wed and Wed)
TIME: 20:00-21:15 – experience
PLACE: a ZOOM room (we will send link)
COST: R250 or $20
RSVP by Wed 8 Mar to

More on the topic

Much is said and written about finding alignment; harmonizing; finding the win-win; integrating; being a happy family. What happens if we don’t agree? Why should we agree? Few things are simply right or wrong: there are multiple perspectives, multiple truths and even many different ways to achieve the same result.

The more diverse the group the more likely there will be disagreements. And that is part of the benefit of diversity. It takes us away from group think. This article explains how diversity makes us smarter.
However the reality is often an illusion of agreement on the surface with bubbling resentment underneath.

Let’s explore how we can use SNE (Strategic Narrative Embodiment) to discover our individual ways to
handle disagreement;

  • give and receive feedback;
  • feel curious instead of threatened;
  • be open to other perspectives;
  • be assertive without aggression;
  • have the courage to tackle the tough stuff!

My hope is that we will find tools we can use to help our clients and communities.
 – by Alison Gitelson who will be co-hosting Pig Catching sessions in February and March.

About Pig Catching

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.
Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Coaches, facilitators, game changers, thought leaders like you who can accept the following
1        This is not a showcase or sales event geared to impress or win you over. If you come, you already believe that metaphor, embodiment, improvisation and imagination are powerful, fun ways to bring about transformation and you want to know more about using them in coaching and facilitation.
2        Experimentation and mistakes are part of the process.  You must be willing to play with ideas that may not work or may be a bit uncomfortable, but that could lead to new heights of freedom and insight.

Join our group on Facebook:
About  Alison Gitelson (her words)

I am a maximizer, facilitator and management enabler.  Similar to many of you.
In 2006, after twenty years in business and careers in optometry, IT and transformation, I started CanBeeDone to help individuals be the best they can be, and managers to become much, much better managers and leaders. Today I describe what I do as “working with leader-managers to find their new and better way of doing business so that they, their staff and the business all thrive”.
Over the years I have grown my talents and my toolbox as a facilitator. I met Petro in 2013. Each time I was at an event where she facilitated using applied improv games I was as nervous as anything when we started. But each time I was excited at the outcomes: at the power of the tool for discovering one’s own answers and for changing behaviour. So I began introducing AI games into my programmes. I combined them with the sharing of concepts and theories, having focused dialogue and doing other participative exercises. Then in November 2014 I did the Essentials in SNE three day course with Petro.

Since then I have incorporated SNE (strategic narrative embodiment) tools and techniques into most of my workshops, talks and programmes; combining them with my other tools. It enhances work which was already powerful and makes it uniquely me.

I’ve worked with groups as diverse as high school pupils, introverted coaching clients, middle and senior managers, illiterate community members and IT technicians.
I have plenty to learn and plenty of areas where I am still working out how best to use SNE to bring about the shifts we need in society and in business. Hence my wish that you will join me to learn and grow at this Pig Catching. And then perhaps at another session we can help you experiment with some of your ideas.”

WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING INSPIRED BY YOU. OINK!

Contact us to book

Join our group on Facebook:

How to reflect on 2016 in a fun and meaningful way

Grueling, exhausting and a never ending seesaw is how the 12 participants of the week long writing retreat I facilitated at the beginning of this month describe 2016. “Please help us find a way to reflect on the year, make sense of it somehow and find a way to focus on our writing” they asked.

What was your year like? Do you want a fun and meaningful way to make sense of it for you?

On the Wednesday morning before breakfast I offered to facilitate an embodied reflection process with reflecting on and making sense of 2016 as strategic intent SNE style. Here I will share with you what we did and give you a way to do it yourself at home. You may also like to try it with a group. Finally I will offer you a version of the same exercise using drawing, rather than embodiment for people who prefer this medium or do not have the luxury of space just now.

Setting up a spacekufunda

Find a room or section of garden where you will be left alone for the next 30 min or so. A place with a variety of pieces of furniture or rocks and benches and grass is ideal. This space will represent the landscape of 2016 for you. We used a large round thatched roof hut designated as workshop space at Kufunda Village outside Harare, Zimbabwe, where the writing retreat was held. The neat circle of chairs you see now in the picture were grouped arbitrarily around the space, e.g. one on the platform in front, others turned on their sides or standing seat to seat and covered with a blanket. The idea was to create a variety of structures to work with.

Kufunda Village is a learning community 13km from Harare Zimbabwe. It is a self sustaining collective where they farm organic grains. They also run participative leadership workshops, a Waldorf primary school and are open to visitors for workshops and conferences when they are not running their own courses. I was there facilitating a writing workshop for 4 days with 11 members of the SLOW Art network – SLOW is for ‘The Social Life of Waste’.

Transitioning into play

Four participants came for the session and I invited them to move around the space getting used to its new configurations.

“Imagine that the whole space is immersed in a mist – a mist that has settled on your memories of 2016. Let’s whoosh the mist away and out of all the little spaces and hollows.”

We used our arms and voices to whoosh the mist away, Large and loud whooshing for open spaces and small delegate whooshes for blowing it out of narrower spaces, moving our bodies and hands low on the ground or high in the air. The process helped us explore the space as well as warm up our bodies. It also switched on our imaginations and engaged our play muscles.

Into the open experimentation phase

I explained that I will name different kinds of moments that they may have experienced during the year. For each moment I would invite them to find an appropriate spot in the room and place their bodies in a position that expresses that moment for them. There would be 5 such moments and we would place them one by one on the 2016 landscape that is the room.

Typical SNE style, I designed these moments with the mythic structure of story in mind. However, I am mindful of the fact that these moments may not follow one after the other for each individual.

The moments I chose were as follows:

  1. A moment of being called to a higher purpose, where you experienced an inner tug (relating to a call to adventure in the hero’s journey).
  2. A moment of conflict, doubt or confusion (relating to the uncertainty and doubt on the threshold as you cross into the world of adventure in the mythic structure).
  3. A moment of complete ordinariness, even slog (relating to the tedium of the journey and the continuous small trials and tests).
  4. A moment of unexpected joy, surprise or reward (relating to the reward that follows the ordeal).
  5. A moment of utter despair, loss or defeat (relating to the moment of death and sacrifice present).

Note: I did not mention in the workshop that these moments relate to the mythic structure of stories. It is just mentioned here for those of you who are interested in the design aspects of workshop processes in general and in the lens of Strategic Narrative Embodiment (SNE) in particular.

Why these moments? Why five?

I picked moments that were diverse in energy and spread across the mythic journey landscape. I chose five because I find that is the maximum amount of moments a brain can hold without getting muddled and needing a script of some kind as reminder. As it is, people might still get muddled, so you can let them mark their spots in the room with sticky notes. You can use them yourself in a private version of this too.

Here is how I facilitated the process

You can follow along:

1. Plotting the moments

Find moment one: being called to a higher purpose – an inner tug. Then breathe into it three times. With each in breath you imagine that your body is a mould and you are pouring soft plaster-of-paris or cement into the mould. With each out breath it hardens allowing you to cast this moment in time. Once you have done three breaths, climb out of the sculpture and look back on it. Climb back in to see if you can find the position again and then climb out and begin walking through the space once more.

Repeat with moments two and three: (a moment of conflict, doubt or confusion and one of complete ordinariness or slog).

I did this with the first two moments and then we were joined by two more participants. I told them what we were doing and named the third moment, letting them come in at this point. Now we went back and rehearsed the first three moments up till now. I would have done this even if we did not have new arrivals, but as it happened this gave them a chance to catch up.

Go back to each of the three moments and pause in each one by one. As you do, order the moments chronologically in time as they happened during the year. Repeat the sequence and find a flowing movement from one to the other to the next.

One participant asked: “What if the moments slide into each other and reoccur more than once in the year?” I answered that they are free to repeat moments or find a way to move through the sliding.

Play with it.

Once you had established the pattern of chronology you want, introduce moment 4: A moment of unexpected joy, surprise or reward. Breathe into it as before and then slot it into the flow of time. Finally add the fifth moment (one of utter despair, loss or defeat) in the same way.

2. Playing with the journey

For the next few minutes I invite you to move through your sequence experimenting with different kinds of energy: high, light energy; slow, deliberate, heavy energy and any other kind you fancy to try. Continue with this until you run out of steam.

Finally, pick one last energy texture to play with, but instead of stopping at the fifth moment, move through the final moment in your sequence to the moment that might lay beyond it. This is where you rest and come to a stop. Repeat one more time.

3. Reflection

If you are doing this process on your own, take a journal or paper and pen and write about the experience and what it was like for you, Set a timer and write nonstop for 5 to 10 minutes.

In the larger group, I waited until all had come to rest. Then I asked them to pair up and walk each other through their journeys. I explained that they can share as much or as little as they are comfortable with.

4. Integration

The process of moving beyond the final moment into what might lie beyond is already an integration move on the part of the design. However, complete the process in your own reflective writing: give this moment some thought and write a concluding sentence capturing the meaning of this moment for you.

In the group I invited participants to share in the large group what that moment was like and what it meant to them.

Here are some of the participants’ responses:

Louis: “It was rather insightful to me that my final moment was not what you might expect. My fifth moment was the moment of being defeated and instead of the sixth moment being one of breaking free, it was instead a moment of acknowledging that breaking out was not an option at the moment. Rather I should find a place of stillness amidst it all. I just stayed right here in a space of being.”

Johan: “Mine was no moment of acceptance or resolution. I still feel rather tired and caught in it all, though that might just be the hangover talking. I did find the courage to look up and consider new possibilities or perspectives.”

Other comments:

Ingrid: “I found it very emotional to revisit some of those moments, but in the end I found a way to let it go and move on from there. I don’t need to dwell in it anymore.
Ricardo: It was more than just a reflection, it was rather transformative.”

Zima: “I thought my year was just hard and difficult, but I discovered moments of joy that I had forgotten.
Karel: This practice of being aware of where I am and considering what it might lead to is something I would like to try and do more of. I usually just let myself be in the moment without considering the bigger picture. I probably won’t use the body movement thing though.”

The same reflection as a drawing

If you feel like Karel did, you can happily replace the body movement with drawing. Take a piece of black paper as your landscape of 2016. Draw a feature of the landscape for each of the five. A mountain top for the moment of calling, a waterfall for confusion, a cave for defeat, etc. Now you can draw a path linking them chronologically. This represents the path you had walked this year. Take a pen and trace your steps as you walked this journey. Follow the pattern a few times, pausing at each moment and imagining yourself in that place on the landscape.

Finally move your pen to a sixth spot and draw what you think you may find there on the landscape: a tree? A spring?

Again, reflect by writing for 5 to 10 minutes.

Let me know what comes up for you as you do this exercise.

Petro

Let’s solve South Africa’s problems in 3 hours flat!

Final Pig Catching session of 2016

You are invited.

Will we solve the problem of free, decolonised education for all SA’s students?

When pigs fly!

Will we manage to bring our corrupt leadership to justice?

When pigs fly!

Or put apartheid in its place once and for all?

Or reduce violence against women and children?

Or improve service delivery?

Or fix the economy?

Or at least get rich ourselves?

When pigs fly!!

Let’s make them fly!

We will use applied improvisation and Strategic narrative embodiment to explore our deepest desires and our wildest dreams building the SA that we want to live in.

Nothing is impossible when we make believe and when we do, unexpected insights and action steps show themselves. If this does not happen in the session, at least you will have had a lot of fun.

So, come play with me and the other pig catchers when we pull out our magic wands and say abracadabra!

Details:

Date:     9 Dec 2016

Time:    9 to 12 am

NOTE: We will start at 9:00 sharp to make the most of our time.

Facilitator: Petro Janse van Vuuren

Cost: R250

Venue: TBC – I am trying for the flying saucer on the 21st floor of the University Corner building in Braamfontein (it used to be a revolving restaurant)

Dress: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in

Coffee, tea, muffins and fruit on arrival.

RSVP: by  Wed 7 Dec

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Bring your curiosity, your open minds and your questions.

About Pig Catching:

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.

Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Coaches, facilitators, game changers, thought leaders like you who can accept the following

1        This is not a showcase or sales event geared to impress or win you over. If you come, you already believe that metaphor, embodiment, improvisation and imagination are powerful, fun ways to bring about transformation and you want to know more about using them in coaching and facilitation.

2        Experimentation and mistakes are part of the process.  You must be willing to play with ideas that may not work or may be a bit uncomfortable, but that could lead to new heights of freedom and insight.

WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING INSPIRED BY YOU. OINK!

Book by sending me an email