24 Comments

  1. Ianrowcliffe on May 16, 2013 at 9:41 am

    “Basically, intersubjective awareness involves paying attention to your own nonverbal experiences and body language cues and those of the people you are interacting with AT THE SAME TIME. IT IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE. Most ADULTS, in fact just aren’t very good at this, because the skills associated with intersubjectivity have been seriously neglected in our culture.”

    The CAPITALS are my addition. Linda continues with how the need to improvise becomes essential in the process. Another capacity that is not so much neglected but prohibited and condemned in most walks of life. No wonder our very existence is being undermined! I wonder how we are going to turn this around…



  2. Susan Garvin on January 16, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I was thinking again about the ‘dumbing down’ of minds, and the educational system, and while I agree that schooling today has a lot to answer for, I do wonder if it isn’t secondary to something bigger, i.e. the general trend of our Western societies towards relinquishing all responsibility for our lives and sinking into the soft but dangerous comfort of letting ‘others’ take the responsibility for everything. People no longer say ‘yes it was my doing, I am responsible’, they find someone else to blame. When it is hard to blame anyone else they wriggle and jiggle til they distort the facts enough to be able to blame someone else. The most glaring example of this is perhaps the heavy smoker who blames the tobacco company when s/he gets emphysema or lung cancer.
    I wonder where assuming personal responsibility for our lives, our actions, our thoughts, our beliefs, comes into the scheme of things in the book? Guiding Principles 11? 12? 13? It would seem to me to be a fundamental aspect of shaping a new world order, for if we cannot assume responsibility for ourselves, how can we expect others to behave responsibly? It would certainly help to combat this slide into non-thought, superficiality of communication, and so on. I feel the schooling system just prepares children for the world as it is (becoming) – it is doing a good job of that.
    What if people were no longer able (by their own moral codes) to say ‘I did it because I was told to’ or ‘politicians should save the biosphere’, or any form of ‘they should…shouldn’t’ etc? Won’t a good leader have a strong sense of personal responsibility for his/her actions? If the (buddhist) principle of cause-effect and personal responsibility were to be taught in schools/churches/homes, what would be the immediate consequences in terms of the state of the biosphere and the political scene?
    I’m always a bit nervous about talking about things like this because I might just have missed a chunk of the book so far, or the discussions so far….sorry if that is the case!



    • Ian Rowcliffe on January 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Hi Susan

      There is a lot of truth in what you say – the concept of accountability is a key one. But perhaps we also need to draw on GP 7 vulnerability. People are afraid of showing just how weak they are, how manipulated by the subsidies or those in control of the jobs and, thus, income. Europe is in the grips of a type of debt bondage where people feel that one false wrong move and they are left with absolutely nothing. They are afraid. This is also so true in the education system where assessment has been designed as a type of big brother witch hunt inducing not just fear but neuroticism – teachers who step out of line lose their jobs – and the children/students are reacting but being suppressed by such things as bad marks or even medication.

      But, as is said, there is creativity in crisis such that the ‘control’ is breaking down and so we may have a chance now to enact Linda’s vision:

      “rather than being doomed to repeat history unconsciously, we can all become occasional history buffs to more fully understand where we’ve been, so that we, as concerned citizens and leaders of the future, can consciously alter our counterproductive behavior and move on to greener pastures.”

      Yes, I think those greener pastures are in reach, which is exactly what we all are working for, isn’t it?

      P.S. There were some posts by ‘anonymous’ that I thought interesting but didn’t react to exactly because of the lack of identification. If they are yours, perhaps, you could get Mark to find out what the problem is, for clearly all participants are, in theory, members of the symposium.

      However, we (Mark and I) have also noticed that comments sometimes appear, which have nothing to do with what we are discussing and are produced by some ‘bug’ in the system, perhaps to do with the Facebook comment option.



      • Susan Garvin on January 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm

        Well yes, there are many explanations behind the lack of personal sense of responsibility but I fear that they are as much a result of lack of responsibility as they are of vulnerability. Of course, if one allows someone else to take over the driver’s seat and sits back enjoying the view for a while, it can be hard to get control of the car back when you suddenly notice the driver has taken you rather off track to somewhere you don’t want to go! But as with pretty well everything else Linda is writing about here someone somewhere has to start again trying to put back in what has been missing and what has got trampled into the dust on the way. so yes, vulnerability as an explanation, but still responsibility for one’s own actions and life has to get put back in there. So how would ‘drawing on vulnerability’ get us back to responsibility, do you think? For sure a breakdown of control will only be a positive thing if people ARE able to assume responsibility for themselves, otherwise there will be chaos and anarchy…or should I say Until then there will be chaos and anarchy….
        Re anonymous, I think it only happened to me that time that I pointed out, when I mentioned Rifkin, above.Don’t know about Facebook, don’t use it.



        • Ian Rowcliffe on January 17, 2012 at 12:58 am

          Re: So how would ‘drawing on vulnerability’ get us back to responsibility, do you think?

          Well, each of us feels at times that we are inadequate; that we don’t have the answer(s). However, rather than open ourselves up to the feeling of vulnerability, we tend to let others jump in with their answers, which come with a high price tag. If we follow Linda’s logic, our vulnerability is/provides the information to the specific answers we need and how to act. In this way, we become responsible or accountable.

          For example, I had never trained a horse, but what I saw around me unnerved me as I felt I couldn’t be a part of it. And so out of the blue, a horse ‘carer’ appeared who claimed lots of success with horses although was shrewd enough to say that she was not a trainer. When she yanked at the rope of our youngest foal who was coming along quite willingly, all of us, felt shocked.

          To cut a long story short, it became blatantly clear that my sense of not knowing and feeling myself forward was the healthy option. Turning my horses over to a carer who felt nothing and worked from second- hand strategies with no clear understanding of where they led was terribly destructive. My vulnerability and lack of preconceived notions has proved to be the constructive path.

          The good news is that because of people like Carolyn who has an open-hearted approach to people and horses more of us are forming incredibly unique relationships with our horses.

          In sum, how better to express vulnerability than in terms of open-heartedness such that others resonate with the source energy we become – we respond; we are responsible.



          • Susan Garvin on January 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

            Absolutely, indeed this is one of the forms assuming – or reshouldering – our own responsibility for ourselves and what we do, can take. Through being aware of our vulnerabilities, seeing the message behind the emotion, as you did with your horses! The sticky bit is that vulnerability makes us close up, rather than become open-hearted. And this is what Linda’s book is going to do, i.e. show people the choice behind or within their vulnerability if only they have the courage to recognise and accept that very vulnerability.
            I was thinking this particular conversation over while driving home from work last night. I was looking at it from the point of view that being blind to cause-and-effect we allow others to start running our lives, both in a personal and a global context. To take back that responsibility we need to start once again being conscious of cause and effect and we can start in very small ways. Taking back that responsibility cannot be an overnight here-is-the-revolution affair, not just because of your very accurate vulnerability afgument, but also because it isn’t something we can just command back again, it has to be slowly slowly nurtured back to strength in us. This can be done – has always anyway been done – through stories and literature from the kindergarten up to PhD level and beyond…observing how what people do causes effects that they may or may not like, but in the safety of being the reader not the protagonist. Most often, people need more direct and specific help to get back in touch with themselves enough to realise their own ability to decide what effects they want in life and how to cause them. Harriet Lerner, in her excellent books with the self-explanatory titles such as ‘The Dance of Anger’ and ‘The Dance of Relationship’ charts how people lose their autonomy in the area of their own actions/reactions, and how in order to break the pattern this then establishes (i.e. the ‘dance’) one of the dancers has to step out of the pattern/dance first. This is never easy, even less so if one has been dancing to others’ tunes for most of their lives (husband’s, wife’s, boss’s…). So you begin with very very small things, less scarey and less threatening (here we are back at your vulnerability! people can do this without feeling they are risking their jobs or the ones in debt bondage) – even little personal things, which sows the seeds and favours safe steady growth to something much mightier….most of what Linda is writing about would need this slow steady approach because self-evolution is a very slow and steady affair on the whole! I do so agree that people like Carolyn are really helping a lot….how better to learn about these principles than to have a relationship with a horse! A better litmus test for cause and effect one would be hard pushed to find!!!!



          • Ian Rowcliffe on January 17, 2012 at 11:17 am

            True – it is going to be really interesting as the symposium progresses learning more about working with contagious emotions so that we may be able to survive a tornado. Linda talks about one-trial learning as characteristic of the horse – in some situations, you just have to get it right and not get knocked off balance. Yes, you need to be able to ride the waves of your own emotions and give them direction. Easier said than done, of course.



  3. Anonymous on January 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Once you start on this path and way of thinking you realise others are moving alongside too. I’ve just been introduced to the works of Jeremy Rifkin whose latest book, The Empathic Civilisation, explores many of the themes we are discussing here. This is very interesting, an economist who is proposing ‘an empathic scientific method’ and a geopolitical battle to gain control of the earth’s resources versus ‘politics of the biosphere’ based on empathic relations rather than hostile competitive ones. Re the former – (I’m not quoting from the book here but translating from an Italian article based on the translation of the book so this is a double translation, sorry!):
    ‘It isn’t surprising that generations of children have found the learning experience both disturbing and alienating: they are expected to to stop being amazed, to eliminate every passion, to become disinteresed and assume the role of spectators of existence……..the scientific method is in contrast with just about everything we know of our own nature and that of the world; it negates the relational aspect of reality, inhibits particpation and leaves no space for empathic imagination. Students are in practice required to become aliens in their own world…..’ He goes on to look at some of those who objected to this ‘rationalisation’ (such as Goethe and Bacon) and explores the path taken by psychologist Heinz Kohut, and then Maslow.
    Ian – thanks for the tipoff re Jay Winter, I’m ordering her book now!



    • Anonymous on January 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      oooops I meant that Rifkin examines the geopolitics vs biosphere, I might have made it sound as if he was in favour of the current geopolitical warfare!!!!



    • LindaKohanov on January 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm

      This sounds like a great book. I will order it right away. Thanks for the tip, and the inspiring quote!



      • Ian Rowcliffe on January 15, 2012 at 10:10 am


        • LindaKohanov on January 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm

          Thanks for the link Ian. I just realized that I’ve been quoting another one of Rifkin’s books in my manuscript: The Third Industrial Revolution, as part of chapter eight. It was given to me recently by ML Gould, the Epona faculty member I mentioned above. I just didn’t make the name connection right away. But putting a face to Rifkin’s powerful words and ideas is helpful!



        • Susan Garvin on January 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm

          WOW Ian thanks for this, stunning, so concise and the artwork/visual was amazing…thanks!
          best
          susan



      • Susan Garvin on January 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm

        I’ve just noticed that my name doesn’t come up when I enter a comment, I’ll try to work out why, meanwhile I didn’t want to remain anonymous – it’s Susan (Garvin) speaking here, about Rifkin!



  4. JosselienJanssens on January 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Sorry all, I couldn’t make the call at it’s alotted time but will listen to it in the next days. Yey for recorded web seminars!

    Linda, I loved re-reading the chapter on Washington – as you shared it before with us AP15 students – it is profoundly inspirational to the core. I must remember to think of Washington on his horse on that bridge every time I feel inclined to complain about my own challenges!

    Today I picked the fruit of an emotionally intelligent ‘acting on the message rather than the emotion’ thing I managed to do in the last weeks related to a conflict I got immersed in, resulting in relationships and teams getting stronger instead of breaking apart. Thanks so much for all your amazing work and your keenness to be a leading example in sharing all this. Good luck with the deadline.



  5. Ian Rowcliffe on January 8, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Re: the influence of Linda’s ideas on/in education. At first, I thought dealing with bullies and the bullied relatively insignificant; surely, releasing creative potential must be a higher priority, but then I thought, what if students no longer let themselves be bullied by the system?



  6. Ian Rowcliffe on December 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Re: The tendency to treat the body as a machine already has a good 400 years of history behind it, starting with Renee Descartes’ influential philosophy in the seventeenth century.

    Yes, I was reading the very same thing today:

    ‘Descartes said grimly that the aim of knowledge was to be “masters of and possessors of nature.” For the rationalists of the late seventeenth and the eighteenth century, there was a hatred of “enthusiasm,” for its emotional, wild surges of knowing were too natural, too bodily, too animal. Rationalism demanded superiority to, and separation from, nature and nature’s ways of knowing. The primacy given to literacy and the superior quality ascribed to the written text over the spoken words has deafened us to other voices and persuaded us that our meanings are the only ones that matter.’ P 16, Jay Griffiths: WILD.

    And so you read of the success of far reaching humanitarian values at certain points in history in the rest of the chapter such that, at the end, you ask, so what went wrong after such an inspiring start?



    • LindaKohanov on December 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      This is a great quote! I will order the book today as it fits into a section I’m currently writing. Thanks Ian!

      I’m so much enjoying everyone’s comments. I’m on an exceedingly strenuous deadline to finish this book by March. Lots of all-nighters on the horizon here to pull this off, but I truly feel the power of our growing herd on this web symposium as a model of mutual inspiration and mutual support.

      This question about “what went wrong after such an inspiring start?” actually takes a good three or four more chapters to discuss in depth. I’m so excited that I don’t have to wait until the book is published next fall to share these insights with you all! And the tools/guiding principles that will accompany each chapter will progressively build on each other to help us change these old debilitating patterns, at home and work, hopefully over time shifting the educational system to become more emotionally intelligent so that children won’t have to face what your son faced Nancy. I too found the public school system needlessly limiting if not downright traumatic at times. (Thanks goodness he has your support!)

      Please remember, if you’re feeling impatient about change not happening quickly enough, that if you’re near my age (50 this year), you not only spent over decade of your life learning to read, write, and employ the skills associated with logic, you then spent perhaps 20 to 30 years more learning to suppress emotion (including “enthusiasm”) in service to the cult of rationalism founded by Descates and his followers several centuries earlier . And in business and politics, you were only shown models of power that were heartless and competative, if not downright predatory. Taking six months to a year to learn some EQ skills, and collaborative, non-predatory forms of leadership and power, is drop in the bucket compared to all the time you spent learning the skills our current culture still promotes.

      Best wishes for the holidays and much joy and success in 2012!



      • Ianrowcliffe on December 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm

        Glad you liked the quote, Linda. I was just thinking if you two ladies got together you’d rock the world even more. Jay Griffiths has met wilderness face to face but she hasn’t discover the specifics of horses as far as I know. But that said, virtually everything else ‘talks’ to her.

        But something else that makes her remarkable is her deconstruction of language, or should I say, ‘untethered’ constructions of meaning – really powerful and accessible.

        Re: impatience:

        “True democracy can’t possibly thrive in this country until the abilities that Washington modeled become the rule rather than exception, not just in politicians, but in the population at large!”

        Then I’d practically shout, pounding the dining room table, “This ambitious yet essential goal
        cannot be achieved exclusively through verbal oriented education!”

        I’ve since calmed down considerably, but I still believe I was onto something.”

        Yes, despite your sound advice, you feel IMPATIENCE, too! And how reassuring of you to include it in the chapter. AND your point about trying to think outside our ingrained conditioning is really the crux of the matter. I have connected to the feelings, but, although I try, I find myself mumbling jumbled words when trying to express just why they are so important to me and the future they impart. But as you made clear in the body scan lesson, simply recognizing a feeling or sensation is soothing, relaxing and seems to initiate a process of change for the better – if we act on it, that is – if we begin unravelling its message.

        Sharon introduced me to Mary Oliver and so I am inspired by this:

        “The Journey

        One day you finally knew
        what you had to do, and began,
        though the voices around you
        kept shouting
        their bad advice —
        though the whole house
        began to tremble
        and you felt the old tug
        at your ankles.
        “Mend my life!”
        each voice cried.
        But you didn’t stop.
        You knew what you had to do,
        though the wind pried
        with its stiff fingers
        at the very foundations,
        though their melancholy
        was terrible.
        It was already late
        enough, and a wild night,
        and the road full of fallen
        branches and stones.
        But little by little,
        as you left their voices behind,
        the stars began to burn
        through the sheets of clouds,
        and there was a new voice
        which you slowly
        recognized as your own,
        that kept you company
        as you strode deeper and deeper
        into the world,
        determined to do
        the only thing you could do —
        determined to save
        the only life you could save.”
        ? Mary Oliver

        Thanks for sharing so much with us, Linda – what a journey you have begun!



        • LindaKohanov on December 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm

          Thanks Ian. Yes, one of our treasured Epona faculty members, Mary-Louise Gould, often shares that same Oliver poem during our apprenticeships. I love hearing it and reading it over and over again. It captures the feeling of being called to step outside the box and do something meaningful with our lives, even when at first that calling feels so vague and yet at the same time too powerful to ignore.



          • Ian Rowcliffe on December 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm

            Yes, indeed, Linda. I have been badgering Mark to create a space here where we might share our experience of such yearning and direction. Naturally, it doesn’t fit in anywhere … just yet.



          • NancyProulx on December 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm

            Well put Linda. Ian thank you for sharing poem.



  7. NancyProulx on December 16, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I so agree with your statement ” We were cheated by the public school system” . My son just finished his 4 year college degree with so much difficultly. It was not from a lack of trying. I recognized years ago that memorizing facts was not only difficult for him but didn’t make sense to him. Thank God I recognized his emotional genius and encouraged him, because many children have their sense of self reduced by our education system if they don’t learn their way. I always have felt that we need to teach this work to our children , not just wait until a crisis hits and forces us to look deeper . Important point you make that Washington spent as much time cultivating trust, courage and devotion as much as he commanded it. Another great chapter
    Nancy Proulx



    • Ian Rowcliffe on December 17, 2011 at 11:01 am

      Re:We were cheated by the public school system – Yes, Nancy: check out the Ken Robinson youtubes where he describes how all that works – or rather won’t work for the future. This is the second one but make sure to see the first one if you haven’t already done so:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

      Congratulations on immunizing your son against the programmed absurdity that dominates the system. To call it ‘people parking’ is a gentle way of referring to its hidden agenda of pacification and dumbing down. I, too, I have undergone a constant battle to keep my daughters well adjusted and sane to be able to survive the education system and thrive in their own right.