Below are some emerging thoughts as our We-Space team of Spring Cheng, Joe Shirley, Chris Clark and Joseph Friedman move toward articulating the principles and practices of Resonance We-Space. This is a work in progress.
What is Resonance We-Space?
When people come together in a group, a particular quality emerges from their interactions. A field, a feeling. A system with its own particular flavor. We know when we enter this field because we can sense it in our sense of ease, or unease, within a particular group. Our “I” becomes tuned to the “We.”
We know what it feels like to be a part of a collective space that doesn’t feel very good. We sense there are aspects of who we are that are not allowed in this particular group. We experience how certain ideas and perspectives seem to slide off the collective attention without going anywhere, while other ideas engender combat. At the same time, we’re also acquainted with those groups in which we sense an endless welcome. These groups, rare as they are, tend to stick in our hearts and minds for years to come. The quality of presence in this group lends one to share more of one’s self than less. In this kind of healthy we-space, a collective intelligence emerges alongside a sweet sense of intimacy.
Many people believe that the way to get to this latter space, a healthy we-space, involves minimizing each individual’s propensity for “lower density” or “egoic” behaviors. People have had much experience having the work container disrupted by fear, judgment, sadness and anger. Therefore these expressions are marginalized and deemed to be “not okay” by the group. In order to reach higher levels of accomplishment, grace, and ease, many people believe one must minimize one’s faults and messier emotions–to tame one’s monsters, so to speak–to prevent them from taking over.
In Resonance We Space, we are treading a new route. On this new route, we welcome those marginalized selves to lead the way in our creative process. We believe deep resonance (as opposed to a false peace) arises within groups that not only embraces dissonance but woos and dances with it. Groups and communities that know how to work with dissonance as a creative resource and the threshold to surprise become more capable, resilient, authentic, and vibrant. To embrace and transmute dissonance into resonance, a group will need to agree on a collective stance towards welcoming what spontaneously arises, a commitment within each member to work on the resonance within their own individual we-space, and perhaps most importantly, the willingness to be touched and transformed. Not merely once, and not merely for the sake of getting “back to business,” but as a process of fertile destruction and renewal.
What is the Individual We-Space?
Key to understanding Resonance We-Space is the realization that what happens outside us as groups of humans, is mirrored inside ourselves as a system of interconnected parts. Each of these parts is expressed through feelings and sensations, along with corresponding thoughts. Taken together, these parts in dynamic relationship are what we call the “Self.”
Yet far from always being in agreement, these parts often represent various needs and wants which come into conflict. Much like a group of people getting together to accomplish some purpose, our internal parts have different ideas about what’s most important. We experience resonance and dissonance inside ourselves in much the same way a group experiences these qualities inside itself.
As in groups, the way to experience increasing levels of vibrancy, resilience, and creativity as a Self is through embrace. Rather than shun them, we move towards our most difficult parts. Yet the skills of working with feelings to invite and evoke our whole self are not yet well developed in the mainstream culture.
As a result, we learn that these messy and chaotic aspects of ourselves are not welcome in the various groups in which we take part. Our families and peer groups, educational and academic institutions, workplaces and communities of practice all contribute to teaching us to what is allowed and what is not. These rules maintain the status quo within the social order as we don’t yet have a way to contain the potential chaos and destruction brought forth by those messy parts. At the same time we don’t get to realize the tremendous creative potential pregnant in the chaos. Over time, these rules are internalized systematically until our inner parts and personalities are sufficient representatives of external culture.
Resonance Path Institute was founded partly in response to this gap. Through processes like Feelingwork, developed by Joe Shirley, we explore the dynamic inner landscape of feeling that allows each part to be heard, welcomed, embraced, and invited to change. The result is ever-increasing dynamism and creativity in the self as a whole system. The work of Resonance Code, developed by Spring Cheng, cultivates the well being of a system based on a more holistic paradigm thinking that dances with the chaos instead of taming it through force.
What kinds of experience does a Resonance We-Space make available to groups and individuals?
There is an old alchemical saying: “As above, so below. As within, so without.” Far from being esoteric or impractical, this phrase represents the fundamental driver of human health and wholeness in a Resonance We-Space. Whereas in most groups and human systems, behaviors are constrained such that people become less creative and diverse, in a Resonance We-Space behaviors that take the group off track, introduce tension, or feel messy and personal are gracefully engaged as a source of creativity.
If we understand that consistent oppression and marginalization of aspects of the self leads to a calcification of the limber human spirit, we can use this insight as a lens for understanding the next layer of system between individuals. As that group system becomes better able to embrace the monsters of fear, judgment, distraction, and emotion, each member is better able to embrace the source of these tensions within themselves. The better each member can include their own voice, the more they can hear others. The result is an amplifying feedback loop of resonance.
This cycle of embracing dissonance for the sake of greater resonance transforms our experience of dissonance from something to be avoided, to something to be sought. Dualities of “good and bad” transition towards a more fluid space where surprise is possible around every corner. Group endeavors become more creative as belonging increases. As belonging increases, groups become more resilient to disruption. Not only that, but even disruption itself becomes a welcome dancing partner in the cycle of learning and growth.