One Bowl

In the July issue of ConsciousChoice, Julia Mossbridge offers notes from her challenging but generally positive experience with Don Gerrard’s book, One Bowl: A Guide to Eating for Body and Spirit. Here are the basic rules for the practice, which she did for thirty days…

  • choose a bowl that holds one to one-and-a-half cups of water and eat every meal out of that bowl
  • eat only when you are hungry
  • put exactly what you desire in your bowl
  • stop eating when you feel full, and
  • eat alone when possible

Sounds like a good, kind, alternative to or preparation for fasting… or this could be adapted for practice with other appetites… touching abundance and satisfaction of all kinds.


Some friends and I have been fishing around for the ways in which we support well-being in bodies, communities (bigger bodies), and organizations (business bodies)… recently remembering this about self-care and self-kindness…

Your well-being touches others and expands the possibility of more ease. The more you rest down, the more benefit you offer. Which is also to say: your ease eases others.

…don’t actually have to DO anything. Though remembering others and letting your ease radiate out sure wouldn’t hurt…

Thanks to Sarah Schubart for restating this bit from Julie Henderson (pictured, at ease).

Organization as Whole Living Structure

I first encountered Christopher Alexander and Pattern Language while surfing around to understand wiki. It was so new and idea and the conversations I found were so advanced, that I left those pages about PatternLanguage not even sure anymore that I even knew what the word “pattern” meant. I could feel that somewhere in my brain, something very old and simple and deep had been loosened from it moorings.

I let it go at the time, as I was really wanting to understand “wiki” just then, but now I’ve come back to Pattern. My experience today upon re-entering the topic, is one of being in a submarine, face buried in periscope, scanning, scanning, scanning… there is sky and birds and water and then… NOTHING BUT DARK PAINTED STEEL! …or alternatively, ONE BIG EYE! In other words, there is something BIG up there, out there. My first thought is that it’s this massive warship… and then it occurs to me that it must be quite a bit more alive and whole and helpful than that. But either way, it’s BIG!

Here is the first draft paper I wrote today to pull together my nascent understanding of Pattern Languages, the Nature of Order, the Generation of a Living World — and the connections I see to OpenSpaceTech and other developments I’m noticing in the World.

soul space

i’m told, by a friend who lives here, that this is a place where one can reconnect with one’s soul, a monastery somewhere in germany. i can’t say more because the absence of many people there is one of its charms.

sometimes it’s enough just to remember that such places exist… as a big truck idles on the street below my window and a big shovel keeps dropping large, loud chunks of concrete into it. a magic truck, apparently, that never fills up, as every drop seems to crash and echo into its biggest loudest emptiness. (grin)

the world in open space

From Shay McInerney, a participant in last year’s OST Practice Workshop in Ireland, in response to an OSLIST question about getting ‘professional developmnet’ training in OpenSpaceTech:

The beauty of Open Space is that there is no professional body. It is, by it’s very nature, a sharing of ideas, concepts and experience among those who have a passion for opening space within which dialogue is invited. There are training events given by people from time to time. I’m not even sure if it is possible to “teach” it as such. Very much “suck it and see”, I’m afraid. If you keep an eye on this OSLIST for a few days or check out the archives you’ll get the idea.
From Harrison Owen in Maryland, responding to a comment about the ease and relief experienced as OpenSpaceTech seeps into our everyday work…
If it is true that life is all about self-organization, as is Open Space, when you remember what you already are, it feels great. Certainly much better than pretending to be something you are not???? Of course, it doesn’t always feel great. Sometimes the great hooded monsters of Chaos, Confusion, and Conflict rear their ugly heads, and things can get downright unpleasant, made even more so if we take it as a personal insult because they are not following our plan.
And Brendan McKeague, host of last year’s OST Practice Workshop in Perth, Australia, reporting on an NGO summit in Thailand… this from one of his participants there:
“I got my money’s worth in the first hour” said a Senior Vice President who had attended from California. “What would have taken me months to achieve through other normal channels we have taken care of here in the first conversation – everything else was a bonus for me. My group started with four people and ended up with fourteen – we got our issues identified, policies worked out and plans into place – we only need a few minor refinements and we’re done. All the right people were here to do the job. I am so amazed especially when I think of all the rounds of emails and telconferencing this has saved.”
These are the sorts of bits that help me remember that the World is working and that, while there is much yet to be worked out, there are many many of us now doing the working — and it IS getting easier.

more ripening

A sunny walk to the bookstore today to check out The Field, by Lynne McTaggart , as recommended by Julie Henderson

very interesting book about various previously unconnected research about quantum vacuum field effects and biological systems. Yes, but it IS easy to read.
Here’s what the publisher has to say about it…
Science has begun to prove what ancient myth and religion has always espoused: that there may be such a thing as a life force. During the past few decades, respected frontier scientists all over the globe have produced extraordinary evidence to show that an energy field

here’s to one ripening!

facsincated by language, i really enjoyed this from Jack Ricchiuto in gassho today…

Very interesting conversation last night about the fact that good and evil were terms in the Greek translations of the original Aramaic. In the Aramaic, good and evil were derived from the words which were originally ripe and unripe. And the term we have as “God” was originally infinite oneness. It would be interesting to see if a profound shift in our world might occur simply from these kinds of profound shifts in our language.
…and happy solstice, a beautiful sunny day in Chicago today feels like the ripening of the North!

The Inviting Organization Emerges in the Territory

Fairbanks, Alaska lies near the center of a really BIG piece of territory. If you head out of town the wrong way, especially at night, you can drive a very long way before you figure that out. For this reason, our driver, a careful sort of Bostonian visitor, refused to leave the driveway of our dinner hosts until we’d located the right map. Easier said than done, however, as the car was littered with the maps people had been drawing for him all week.

By the time we did finally locate the one that would lead us to our place of lodging, the windows of the car were heavily fogged. It was the middle of April, thirty-three degrees, and midnight. The ground still snow-covered, the sky black like crazy, no moon in sight. A steady rain was turning to snow and the roads were turning to ice.

With the windows still fully fogged, our driver eased back out of the driveway and idled slowly up the street, defroster blazing and blowing. The fog cleared quickly, everywhere except right in front of our driver, who began fiddling with the defroster in frustration. “I can’t see where I’m going!” he complained. I looked over at my friend Chris and buckled my seatbelt.

Then I looked at the windshield and laughed, “Well, actually,” I said, “you can see where you are going OR you can see where you are going… And since the map is not the territory, why don’t you give ME the map and YOU stick to the territory.” Leaning over then, I snatched the map from the dashboard, clearing the defroster vent, and the window quickly cleared. I tossed the map on the seat and we headed out into the Alaskan darkness.

Maps, you see, are important for two reasons. First, they give us the comfort we need to get out of the driveway and on our way. And second, they sit there on the seat until such time as we might need them to reorient ourselves in suddenly unfamiliar territory. This “circles and arrows” map of evolution in organization does the same. It gives us some comfort as we get out into Open Space and helps us re-orient and understand what is going on, once we’re out there in the territory.

Click here for the map explained and/or the territory observed. The territory bit is the newest addition to the OpenSpaceTech wiki archive.

technical vs. community – For some weeks now, some of us have been talking about cultivating the “administrative and appreciative” sides of governance on Bowen Island. The “commissioned and community” sides. Extending and expanding the practice of OpenSpaceTech and cultivating consciously and intentionally “inviting community.” The McKnight lines about Systems and Care quoted some days ago popped up in this conversation.

Now I find similar discussion blossoming on the MeatballWiki, a wiki for wiki-makers, including programmers. In WhyWikiWorks, they talk about “technical vs. community” solutions, as they consider what they as programmers must do for users and what the community of users must do for themselves.

They have another whole page devoted to BarnRaising and refer to it often to ground the work they are doing in developing the tools for cultivating community. As I love the metaphor and the process of wiki, it’s not surprising that, I signed up immediately for the real live July 12th barn raising posted in the GlobalChicagoCalendar.

the business of lifeBALLE is not volunteers, committee members, network members, stewards, yada yada… BALLE is an organization of owners of regional vitality. anyone can claim their share of ownership by investing themselves and their business practice (including financial support) in the vitality of the region as a whole. BALLE is cultivating economic, community and environmental quality of life. Penny Scott and I wrote this for BALLE BritishColumbia/Canada, but BALLE is coming to Chicago, too.

Own the regional quality of life. Own your own business. Own your business practice. Own the regional returns.

“Are you a member of BALLE?”

“Well, no, actually… I’m an owner.”

“What do you mean? I thought it was a non-profit alliance or network.”

“It is. A national/international alliance of local/regional networks…. in each place, BALLE is a growing microcosm that represents, and will ultimately grow to include, every business person in the area (even if it’s name and structure morph significantly in the process of that growth). Each local/regional network represents the vitality, quality of life, etc. of the whole area. I’m an owner because I’ve invested my whole business in the regional ecomony, community and environment. I’m managing my business as my share of our quality of life.”

beyond control – it’s not about dessert or drinks. or the money. or sex. not the project deadlines, the curriculum, the protocol. it’s about control, or more specifically still… my persistent lack of it. i want what i want and i want it now. but who cares? …and therein lies the answer, i think.

who cares? do you care? of course you do… but about what? food, pleasure, things? is this what i’m working so hard for? or isn’t there something more, something deeper, going on? what is it that I really want? what is it that allows the tangle of neurons and muscles at the base of my skull to rest, relax and release? eyes and throat softening? what is it that eases by heart and loosens my grip on the wheel? and the keyboard? what is it that allows me to rock and roll and move in the direction of flourishing?

suds. crunch. squish. sand. toes. scooping oatmeal into steaming pot. stretch. time out. shutdown. jiggle. chop chop chop chop. yawn. yes. laugh. touch. irises. sleep. windchimes. wisdom teachers. moving water. sunshine, thank you. i am noticing and accepting such things as kindness. caring that supports sharing. the tiniest moments of aaaaahhhhhh… publish. caring. beyond control.

happy birthday! – to ChrisCorrigan, who turns 35 today. A poet and scholar and giant Maple Leafs fan, Chris recently translated the four principles and one law of OpenSpaceTech into his native Canadian…

The Four Principles

  • Whoever brings the beer is the right person
  • When the puck takes a funny bounce and goes in off the post, well, that

embodying happinessChrisCorrigan has been blogging Pentecost for the last week or so. Fascinating stuff (yawn) that I thought I’d quote here, but now it seems that I’ve already started my Pentecost blogging in a different way, yesterday, breathing peace. Amazing to me how the same ideas are running around the world just now — in so many different languages and forms. Pentecost, again, I think. (yawn)

Chris is blogging Pentecost, interweaving various views, practices, images… and I’m blogging breathing and spirit dissolving into body… and then news by email yesterday of the first Zapchen yawn-a-thon, yawning (yawn) being all about breathing and well-being. Meanwhile, Euan Semple and Jack Ricchiuto are blogging the possibility of choosing happiness and well-being BEFORE we get everything we think we want and require to make us happy.

The first practice of Zapchen is yawning. Julie Henderson points out in her book Embodying Well-Being (yawn) (how to feel as good as you can in spite of everything) that yawning is one of the easiest, best things you can do for yourself. It…

  • relaxes your throat, palate, upper neck, and the base of your brain
  • helps balance the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, which helps keep brain and spine clean and flexible
  • helps you ‘come down out of your head’ (yawn)
  • increases the production of saliva and so improves digestion and enhances flavor
  • increases production of serotonin, the currently trendy neurotransmitter that tends to balance mood, calming when hyper, brightening when gloomy
Yawning supports our embodying the “spiritual limberness” with which Chris concludes his thoughts on Pentecost AND it lets us experience directly and immediately the happy alternative reality that Jack and Euan are suggesting. If “happiness is choice,” as Jack suggests, then yawning is happiness as practice, until it becomes happiness as ground and body. (yaaaaawn)

TRY IT? Yawn on every inbreath and say “ah” on every outbreath for five minutes. OR… Count how many times you can yawn in a row. See if you can get to 100, 108 or more. (aaaahhhhh…..)

breathing enough – the season is dark, but the spirit is moving. look for it now, and breathe it in. breathe it in for the first time, again and again. let it grow in a body, let it go in the world. peace is here. peace is us. and we are enough.

Vincent VanGogh, Still Life with Iris

beauty! …with thanks to Euan Semple and Lori Buerger for making this connection. See The Obvious? for the real thing!

inviting leadership continued – Coming back to the John McKnight quote posted yesterday…

Care is, indeed, the manifestation of a community. The community is the site for the relationships of citizens. And it is at this site that the primary work of a caring society must occur. If that site is invaded, co-opted, overwhelmed, and dominated by service-producing institutions, then the work of the community will fail.
Much of “management” and other forms of organizational leadership will rightly fall into this category of “service-producing” that invades and degrades our community living and working space. When management attempts to do thinking, caring, deciding, energizing, learning and other things FOR people that people can, in fact, do for themselves, the work of the organization eventually fails. On the other hand, when leaders invite passion and responsibility in Open Space, the work of the organization eventually flourishes. And so it becomes a question of time. If you’re in it for the long haul, best to aim for eventual success!

…and on the subject of being “caught in the act of caring” at work, i say this not unfamiliar with the dangers inherent in such a willingness. so i will add a plug here for an excellent shield. Peter Frost’s new book Toxic Emotions at Work: How Compassionate Managers Handle Pain and Conflict is based on research done at two major business schools and is published by Harvard Business Press. It does an excellent job of laying out the current needs, real dangers and practical options for caring at work.

inviting leadership – Penny Scott phoned from the BowenIsland/Vancouver ferry last week to share this from fellow Chicagoan John McKnight, a leader in the development of Asset-Based Community Development

Service systems can never be reformed so they will produce care. Care is the consenting commitment of citizens to one another. Care cannot be produced, privileged, managed, organized, administered or commodified. Care is the only thing a system cannot produce. Every institutional effort to replace the real thing is a counterfeit.

Care is, indeed, the manifestation of a community. The community is the site for the relationships of citizens. And it is at this site that the primary work of a caring society must occur. If that site is invaded, co-opted, overwhelmed, and dominated by service-producing institutions, then the work of the community will fail. And the failure is manifest in families collapsing, schools failing, violence spreading, medical systems spinning out of control, justice systems becoming overwhelmed, prisons burgeoning, and human services degenerating.

Notice, too, that as systems degrade, the results show up as complexity of issues, real or potential conflict, increasing urgency and a real diversity of people and perspectives needed for resolution — exactly the conditions wherein Open Space Technology works best! It doesn’t cause the chaos, it merely acknowledges the truth of it — and gives us room to deal with it peacefully and productively.

Having just posted an updated version of my own paper, InvitingOrganizationEmerges, I will hasten to add that while really open space and genuine care cannot ever be produced by a system, they always be invited by anyone of us who already really cares. This, it seems, is the real work of leadership today… to invite care. And the only way to invite it is to be it… and be willing to be caught in the act.

man in the sun AND the moon – this wonka-esque twist would be Chris “Mike Teevee” Corrigan captured as Ferry Cam meets the annular eclipse. oom-pa loom-pa doom-pa-dee doo…