Discovering Emergent Intelligence Together

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A group of friends spent several months reading the articles here and commenting on them to each other. New conversations and explorations started with an article, went on to reading the links, and then making new connections. Several of these readers sensed that there was way more that they could do with what they were discovering than just reading and commenting and sharing.

Carmen is a mother of two, married, and has a business helping single mothers bring their family life and finances into harmony. She was already “in the conversation” with many of the themes covered here, and the articles were expanding terrain, much of which she was already familiar with, with connections she had never considered.

One of the concepts that really struck her was Living Systems as Emergent Systems. She and her family had investigated the links in the posts on health and cut out all grains and were eating a high-saturated fat diet along with lots of fresh, organic, home-grown veggies straight out of their garden along with fermented foods. Carmen lost twenty pounds in six weeks and the whole family was feeling way healthier. The children, who were being unschooled, commented on their improved ability to focus and learn and Carmen’s husband, Juan, was also noticing more focus and more physical energy. He ran a shop doing artistic blacksmithing and casting, and was challenged to be an artist, production engineer, businessman and a leader of his creative and production team.

They were already discovering Emergent Intelligence together, as a family, and Carmen wondered what that would be like with close friends and other families committed to Living Full-ON. She had a network of friends like that. Most of them had their own businesses and, because their income depended on their own efforts, abilities and connection, they valued anything that contributed to their creativity, understanding and relationships.

She knew who her friends were who enjoyed the Deep Freedom Now articles and with whom she had already discussed them over lunch and other get-togethers. She knew something was possible for them together. Her friends inspired her to make the possible real, so she asked me if I would lead them on a weekend retreat. We agreed to discuss it on Skype.

I was deeply inspired by Carmen and what she told me of her friends. She wanted me to do a weekend retreat for them, in-person. I suggested that they start on their own and that I would consult with her on how to do that and then we could craft an event where I would come and contribute in-person.

Carmen signed up to study, with her whole family, with me online. So I included helping her organize a retreat for her friends as part of my monthly mentoring package and suggested that if, after organizing her own retreat, participants wanted to go deeper, we’d create an online format that works for the whole group and then work toward a powerful, creative retreat together that really hatches some fun, enlivening, enriching and interesting adventures for all of us.

Carmen grew up in Colombia and the United States, speaks perfect Spanish and English, and is an entrepreneur who’s motivated and willing to invest in learning. Her life reflects a commitment to mastery and excellence. She has a large enough skillset that after a brief conversation together the value she coul get from a mentoring relationship with me, and turn into many multiples of her investment of time, attention and money, was apparent and mutually motivating.

Carmen doesn’t spend money on courses, she invests  in herself and her skills. That is a subtle difference that makes all the difference in the world. People who spend money on courses generally want to have an experience that they consume, mostly-passively. Those who invest in their own skills and growth, however, have expectations of themselves and their growing skillset, wisdom and contribution, that assure that seeds planted in their soil flourish. They know that they are the ground they are seeding in and value anything that contributes to nourishing and enriching the ground of their Being.

So Carmen sent an e-mail out to her friends:

“I’ve got a burning desire and you’re a part of it. We’ve known each other for years and I’m writing to you because I not only value your friendship but I value who you are. We’ve had fun together and shared in inspiring, challenging, stimulating friendships for years. This is going out to the folks who have been commenting on the Deep Freedom Now articles. Some of us have already had conversations and even shared new readings that got stimulated by some of those articles. We’re seeing new connections.”

“Every one of Journeyman’s articles challenges us to not just read but to go out and explore, pay attention and make new things real for ourselves and our loved ones. It just so happens that YOU are one of those people I not only love but would love to share new adventures with.”

“I’m seeing the reality of Emergence playing out in my own family in incredible ways. We started investigating the health information Journeyman put out, and then implemented it. Health, energy and communication have improved for every single one of us. Even our finances are transforming and we’re finding easier ways to achieve more rewarding results. We’re getting what Emergence is up close and personal and it’s amazing. I’m wondering what it could be like sharing this kind of learning and growing adventure with a group of excellent friends who are sharp, motivated and whom I trust implicitly. That’s why you’re getting this.”

PENTAX Image“As you know, we’ve got a cozy home in the mountains where ten of us could get together, easily, and, we’ve got beds for six more people and plenty of room to camp out on the land for those of you who don’t mind bringing your tents. After all, it’s Spring time and it’s heaven up here. You’ll be camping out in the middle of wildflowers.”

“Journeyman says the value of the articles is not in his words but in our own attention and action, in reality. It’s up to us. Our Quality of Life is our creation. Here’s what I propose to anyone who’s interested: let’s start exploring, creating and connecting on our own. I’m inviting you to spend a weekend, from Friday night at 6 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday at my place. Leave the bread and grains behind for the weekend and let’s share some good, high-quality food and experience what Emergent Intelligence is, together. The vibe of the weekend is relaxed yet excellent, attentive, aware, with the intention of truly honoring every participant with our full attention and making the most of the experience.”

“I contacted the Journeyman to see if he would do a weekend retreat together. He encouraged me to get started, with my friends, right away and on our own. Then, if we want, we can study with him online and work toward a creative, challenging, fun, learning retreat-adventure that generates inspiring results for all of us. He said that there is no need to wait to do something together and he’s going to work with me in shaping our retreat together.”

“Here’s what I’m proposing: Anyone who’s interested, I’ll send a list of seven of the articles to read along with the links inside of them. Each one of us can mind-map what’s in those articles and how they connect to each other and, most of all, to our own desires, relationships, challenges, projects, skillsets and adventures. Make it about YOU and YOUR experiences and desires in relationship to what’s in those article. Use a free mind-mapping program like Freeplane or just do it on construction paper so you can share it with the group.”

“I see that something is possible for all of us in a really amazing emergent way that is relaxed, enjoyable, deep, fun and connects us to ourselves and each other in new ways. There’s a dimension of wealth that’s full and full-on and brings us much more wealth than money, and brings that too, almost as if it was the least of our wealth instead of its primary measure.”

“Let me know by next Friday if you’ll join us and I’ll see you three Fridays from now. Love, Carmen.

“P.S. And bring a cutting board and a chef’s knife.”

Three Fridays later five friends showed up and, with Juan and Carmen, that made seven. Juan and Carmen’s children were spending the weekend on the lake with their grandparents.

Parrillero CompletoThat night Juan made an Argentinean style barbecue, “asado,” and there was plenty of great, grain-free, tasty food. Later, they made a fire outside and gathered round and Carmen expressed how glad she and Juan were that they all came and invited each to share what had inspired them to participate, what they desired from their time together.

All of their friends were independent business owners and people who made a living in their own, self-led, creative ways and had a lifetime of investing time, attention and energy into their learning, growth, capabilities and connection. Just having them all together inspired a tremendous sense of potential. These were people who take it upon themselves to contribute and make an experience excellent, instead of sitting back and “seeing how it’s going to be.”

As each person shared, a sense emerged that this was going to be an extraordinary weekend and the first of many. It was fun and energizing already because the people were FULL ON. That came through as each one spoke.

PENTAX ImageCarmen spoke again: “My invitation for this weekend, is to be together in ways where we share different ways of connecting together from a place of being profoundly connected within. If you agree, I’d like to share the morning tomorrow together in Silence until we get home, probably around 10 or 11 a.m. We’ll get together at 6 a.m., walk to the top of a beautiful cliff nearby with some beautiful and unusual rocks on top, and spend an hour or so in the dawn light, moving, meditating in our individual inner guidance, as inspired. Then we’ll go for a walk down a beautiful trail from there so that we get connected to the land and the Life here, if that sounds good to everyone, and any comments or other suggestions are welcome.”

“There is a kind of Emergent Intelligence that is profound, connected and coherent in an embodied way and that rarely gets awakened between people because we relate so much from talking and rarely have opportunities to just be together from a place of non-verbal intelligence. Silent times shared create a ground of deep connection inwardly and together. I would like your permission to create the Invitation to this weekend. I call this role the “Basket Maker,” as if I were weaving a Basket of Experiences that we share in. I see all of us creating Invitations to shared experiences each in turn. The idea of the “Basket” is to create a container for our experiences that is open and spacious inside. If this sounds like it serves your intention, please let me know.”

They all expressed their explicit appreciation for Carmen’s invitation and their trust in her taking on this role.

On Saturday everyone was up and ready at 6 a.m., even a little before, and everybody’s impeccability in fulfilling their word, their centered, aware presences, inspired everyone else. There were no “laggers behind” here. Each one had shown up with an intention, and They took their time walking and feeling the last of night, as the starlit sky gave way to the first glimmers of morning twilight. About ten minutes after getting to the top, the sun appeared and soon they were peeling off sweaters and jackets, as the light of a new day showered them with warmth.

Everyone found their own place up there in the heights, and spent an hour quietly connecting on their own. Some did yoga, others did tai chi, some stretched, did exercises of various sorts, or sat quietly. It felt good to both be together yet have the psychic space and privacy to connect within and not have to attend to others. There was a connection happening between all present as each found her or his center. It felt good to be both alone and together.

After an hour, Carmen waved everyone into a circle. They held hands quietly, breathed together, and then Carmen let go of one hand and unspun the circle into a walk and pretty soon everyone was walking down the trail, quietly. The whole forest was alive in birdsong and small mammals flitting over rocks and up and down trees.

They walked for a couple of hours in the mountains. The land was beautiful and it was springtime. Wildflowers were in bloom all along the trail. Creeks and small streams were full of water and song. There were lots of tracks. Carmen pointed out mountain lion, bobcat and bear tracks, writing their names in the dirt nearby with a stick. The land was Aliveness and so were they. They began to feel themselves a part of and participant in this Aliveness bubbling inside and around them. They took their time. They were not hiking. They were walking, connecting, noticing and savoring deeply, and there was so much to notice that it seemed that they went slower and slower and deeper into noticing and savoring the land.

They got home around 10:30 with a feeling of energized peace and presence. Carmen thanked everyone for sharing the morning. People hugged each other with tremendous appreciation. Carmen suggested that everyone take time for themselves, take care of personal business, and sometime between 11 and 11:30 they’d start making lunch.

Before that, however, Carmen asked the group to bring their chef’s knives and cutting boards. Matt, who was a professional chef, demonstrated how to use a chef’s knife, how to sharpen and care for it, how to use the cutting board and then went on to show them how to chop onions and other vegetables, like a chef. What was surprising is that all of his gestures were relaxed yet profoundly intelligent, knowing, skilled. There was full connection between him and his knife, the vegetables he was cutting and his cutting board. Everybody then got an onion to chop, one at a time, with everybody else paying attention, and Matt giving pointers. By the time everyone had chopped an onion, they had all learned and experienced the reality of what the Chopping Onions and Initiation article was about.

By noon they were all seated together to eat. Everyone had brought food to share, some of which was still on the stove getting heated up as the burners came free, lunch became a medley of flavors coming one after the other, like delicious surprises, each savored in the deep openness of each friend to taste and enjoy fully, deeply.

Carmen spoke again of the Quality of Emergence, of how Living Beings spontaneously organize themselves in ways that reflect the Qualities that each Particularity brings into the Mutualities shared with other Particularities that then organize themselves into Greater Levels of Coherent Organization and Mutuality.

She invited her friends to notice and reflect on the qualities of experience already emergent in their short time together as well as the qualities that each one lived in daily life and to share what they noticed, what they desired, what they were seeing that was possible for them to support the emergence of qualities of aliveness, engagement, collaboration and connection that they deeply desired in their lives. Participants shared their experience from this place of deep connection that had come from their morning together in Nature and to take their time, to speak from a relaxed place.

“Speak from noticing, from feeling, from connection and from the questions and curiosities that arise for you, more than from a place of setting yourself up for another project or goal. Speak from the edge you notice in your experience, where old habits and new experiences and sensations are meeting right now in your noticing.”

Lunch lasted a long time and was a symphony of new dishes interspersing people’s heartfelt expressions of what they noticed at the edges of their habitual ways of living and new qualities and possibilities that were coming alive.

This was a new way of noticing and sharing for them, and it was challenging. A lot of folks talked about how they were seeing a broader context and possibility for their lives that wasn’t about “progressing” toward something different, but about connecting more richly with what was already present in them and around them. They realized how much could go unnoticed in a lifetime of busy-ness and from always engaging with others from a place of talking, activity, projects, but not real deep noticing. Many saw a possibility of a different quality of attention guiding their lives, and other possibilities and realities of living and being well beyond what they had pursued up until then and it was closer than what they had spent their lives pursuing.

They took their time eating lunch and listening fully to each other. Lunch ended around 3 in the afternoon. Each person spoke, uninterrupted and with the full attention of the others. There was a sense of something growing between the participants. Almost all of them had already known each other for years in social contexts. A much deeper mutual appreciation and awareness was growing. Carmen suggested breaking and relaxing, or taking a nap for an hour and then gathering in the living room at 4 p.m.

At 4 p.m. everyone got together again, sitting in firm chairs in a circle. Carmen set up a projector that would plug into the laptops of the participants. She suggested that each person in turn share and speak of their mind-maps, mapping the connections between their own personal, family, cultural and geographical lives with the contents of the articles everyone read before convening. Everybody was given 20 minutes, with 10 minutes in between for the following participant to hook up their computer and for folks to take a break. The break times were dedicated to quiet, without any prohibition of talking, but with the encouragement to allow that time to absorb what the last speaker shared.

There was a depth of openness, respect and discovery. Emergence was at play. As each person shared and spoke of their mind map, their life, their desires and their challenges for learning and new things they were noticing, new connections were arising in people’s appreciation of their own, each other’s and their ancestral journeys, challenges and desires. People were appreciating old and new friends in new ways.

Afterwards, they made supper together and then another fire under the stars, sang songs, told stories, shared jokes and reflected on the day. It had been a good day. People reflected on what they had learned together.

They agreed to spend the next morning up on the rocks and walking on the same trail, seeing what more they could notice. They agreed that mornings spent this way, sharing quiet privacy together, was not time wasted, but fed their whole experience. Carmen spoke:

“We all remember the Chopping Onions and Initiation Article and we know that that’s not just about onions, right?” Everyone smiled and nodded. Something about that one stuck with people. “Everyone of us has one batch of onions to chop, metaphorically speaking, that slows us down, that we often procrastinate around, or get into conflict about, or maybe it’s something we desire profoundly and have tried a hundred different ways to achieve. Perhaps there’s a way we approach that aspect of our lives that we’re so sure of, just like chopping onions, that we fail to see possibilities that are right at hand. Get present to what the biggest ‘onion’ is for you. Mind-map the realities around it, the people it’s connected to, the approaches you’ve taken and how you’ve defined it so far, to just see it outside of your own head. To become curious about it in new ways.”

Sunday morning saw the whole crew up and ready at 6 a.m. and up on the rocks before dawn. Everybody’s “morning practice” was much more relaxed and less self-conscious. People got into the enjoyment of movement, stillness, and the amazing beauty and presences of an Alive World. The morning deepened in this Awareness and Connection which grew in each person and in the group spontaneously. These friends began to experience

Come into the World of Aliveness!
Come into the World of Aliveness!

 Emergence, as a property of all of the Aliveness inside, between and all around them. It seemed as if the world, the birds, the animals were happy to see human beings enter this quality of Being-Together, and everyone noticed a lot more animals much closer on their relaxed walked through the mountain forest.

They got back to the house around 10. Carmen suggested that they take until 11 or 11:30 to work on mind-mapping the connections between their “onion” and the elements in their lives, things they had tried, people and situations involved and any clues they had gotten from the weekend or from the Deep Freedom Now articles. She suggested bringing the spaciousness of the morning into the task and doing from a relaxed place, noticing the tracks on their own trail, like they had noticed tracks on the trail that morning, more than from “doing” and effort.

They agreed to prepare and enjoy lunch wordlessly and in the deep connection they were enjoying, and to use words if and when necessary, without prohibition or censorship. The spirit was to continue communicating in this deep, wordless exchange, experiencing a Togetherness in which everyone was free and didn’t need to be directed or negotiate verbally all the time, even in a crowded kitchen. Communication came from noticing, instead of continually asking. Carmen gave everybody free reign of the kitchen, to open the cupboards, use pots and pans, bowls, utensils, and to notice.

Lunch preparation proceeded as a spontaneous, graceful dance in a kitchen full of people giving each other space and room to move. Working together became easy, efficient, pleasurable. People were using the knife skills Matt had taught them the day before, and relishing the simplicity, speed and ease that it afforded their cooking.

Lunch, too, was enjoyed in a Silence that was rich with a communication woven of Presence, of appreciation, tasting. This was a different way of being silently together than everybody doing their own movement up on the rocks, or on the trail. Here everyone was face to face, present. They maintained a softness and broadness in their gaze that allowed each one to be present to every single person and the group, without staring at people or trying to draw them out, and with gazes and smiles of appreciation freely and quietly exchanged. There was a centered ease in each person that contributed to a centered ease for the whole.

People got up and went to the stove once one of the four burners came free. Lunch became a symphony of tasty dishes coming one after the other, in proportions where participants were regaled with flavors, with the deliciousness and care of one and another of their companions’ creations; enough to deeply enjoy each dish, without getting stuffed, in spite of sharing in many dishes.

After lunch, they took an hour-long break and then reconvened in a circle at 2 p.m. Carmen invited everyone to bring out their “onion” mind-maps and share them, in that same format of taking 20 minutes each, with 10 minute breaks in between. The intention was to begin seeing the connections in that quality of deep observation and noticing cultivated in Nature, and it was to be seen deeply by the others, but not in a way that spouts off with rapid-fire advice or quick tips. Only the person sharing their “onion” spoke. The rest listened. After the retreat, everyone would share both of their mind-maps to everyone else in the group. They would use a shared Dropbox account and store the files there.

Once again, the quality being worked with was one of Noticing and Emergence, aligning themselves with the living qualities necessary for any transformation to mature; not efforting and all kinds of talking and doing.

After everyone presented their “onion,” many had already gained new insights. They set aside another twenty minutes, at the end, to add to their mindmaps and to take notes for insights to pass on to the others.

By that time it was 5:30 p.m. Carmen had a big, rich salad, ready and they sat down to one last meal together before each heading home.

Each took turns sharing the high points of their experience together and their desire for future shared experiences. Many expressed surprise at the level of communication that was happening without words, and a feeling of being more connected and of knowing everyone else more, and in a very different way through being silently present to each other. Several people commented on how they felt a level of intimacy that they had always desired with others but never experienced in such a sustained, simple way with so many different people. Now they had, and there was a richness in what was happening for and between people.

As they were coming to the end of their meal, Carmen suggested that each person send both of their mind-maps to the Dropbox account and download all of the other mind-maps from the others. The intention was for everyone to look at everybody else’s mind-map every day but just long enough to get a fast visual on each one, even for 5 seconds. I had turned Carmen onto Paul R. Scheele’s The Photoreading Whole Mind Method. She was sharp enough to realize that mastering the technique meant simply using it, repeatedly, and stimulating the new neural connections that would help her realize greater and greater levels of proficiency with it. She explained the gist and power of simply getting a visual on something on a daily basis, instead of “reading” it and “studying” it.

Once again, it was about stimulating, and not about heroic efforts, the way that Natural, Growing, Living Systems, including our own Intelligence, naturally emerge and develop new connections. She encouraged every participant to get a visual on both maps for every participant, including their own, on a daily basis, and taking no more than 10 minutes total for all fourteen maps: there were seven participants in total, and less if possible.

This was not about “thinking” or “trying to figure things out.” She explained that as they did this, they would get fresh, powerful, new insights to pass on to the others. She also gave each participant a small, pocket-sized notebook to write down insights as they emerged, for themselves or to share with others. The idea was to collect those insights as they emerged, and specifically with respect to everybody’s “onion,” and then, at the end of one month, distill out the one most powerful, impactful, freeing, fun, creative insight and pass it to the person that it was for. The quality of the insight shared had to be that it would reduce the overall amount of effort that each person was devoting to their “onion,” focus their efforts precisely and catalyze their efforts and attention by connection to a greater ecology of intelligence and creativity out there.

This was applying the “onion chopping” technique: aligning effort with form and function coherently. This was about doing something, doing it consistently but minimally and allowing the emergent intelligence of doing it effort-LESS-ly to guide us. This comes from practice and noticing, hand-in-hand, and not from applying more and more effort according to some predefined method and goal. Not without effort, but with less brute effort and more precise attention and action. To use the Tai Chi wisdom: “moving 100 kilograms with 5 grams of effort.

After supper, everyone had a profound sense of what Emergence is, and how it emerges, inside of themselves and with each other. It seemed like they were only at the beginning of an adventure and growth that was immense and wonderful. Carmen reassured the others to cultivate and work with this Emergent Intelligence. One of them would be inspired to be the “Basket Maker” for another gathering emerging from their invitation to the others.

Two weeks later I held a conference call with this community of friends committed to learning together, and began to work with them on a monthly basis via a forum, online conference calls, and regular, creative learning adventures twice a year.

After six years of traveling around the world giving courses, workshops, retreats and working one-on-one with small groups, I’ve decided to make a maximum of that content available via our newsletter, which you can receive, with our compliments, using the blue boxes to the right and below. For those desiring to go deeper into the content, and participate in an online community, once or twice a year there will be opportunities for more in-depth study to which our newsletter readers will be invited.

Right now my focus, rather than giving workshops, is working with groups of individuals who are committed to excellence, learning and creation together. Carmen’s group is a perfect example of the quality of individuals with whom time and money invested is going to be mutually and amazingly rewarding and multiplied. If you have a group of friends who inspire you with their excellence, start a group on your own right now. This article can serve as a guide for doing so. If you’d like my support, let me know! Even two or three people getting together in this way can generate an Emergent Intelligence the likes of which will surprise and inspire you, and where you learn to multiply your investments of time, attention and money as you discover Natural Alliances and Mutualities that allow you to live more enjoyably, vitally and richly. The key is the Quality of Individuals you bring together.

If you’d like more information from me personally, feel free to contact me via the newsletter.

Have a Good Journey!

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