At a recent gathering of EE graduates, we took a few moments for each person to share an “aha” moment he or she experienced at the workshop. I was touched again and again by the insights and shifts people described. Whether it was a man seeing how asking for support was really possible or a woman getting vividly that she was lovable, or one of the many other stories, I felt grateful and privileged to be in the circle. I have my own experiences too, of course, but at that moment, I permitted myself a feeling of pride for whatever role I had, as Conductor of the workshop, in helping to create a context where people could have such important moments of consciousness.
Many of these moments were from decades ago, but people could describe them as if they happened yesterday. They were moments where something important shifted for them. Afterwards, the world was different – more open, more inviting, more exciting. Sometimes people spoke of sadness about how long they had lived without really knowing what they now saw so clearly, about the costs of living without support or a sense of being lovable. A real moment of consciousness includes that sadness, as well as some fear about the new reality, along with the joy of an expanded world.
Such moments are unpredictable in many ways. Each of us can probably describe some moments of consciousness from our own lives, instants in which a shift in basic orientation took place. The moment you realized you loved someone, the moment you realized you didn’t, the moment you knew you needed to leave your job, the moment you forgave someone who hurt you. By creating a safe place, with enormous amounts of support for each person, the workshop makes such moments more likely. By creating a place where people can really see each other and thus help others see themselves, people have these moments almost predictably. The precise stimulus and the shape of each “aha” remains wonderfully unpredictable, but one of the ways I see the workshop is as a hothouse in which people are supported to have their own unique moments where their lives shift. And, as JoAnne, my wife and assisting conductor likes to say, they end up in a whole different place.