In the Moment ‘Form’  

A question I’m often asked by new and seasoned Three Principles practitioners is about developing some sort of form to support their work in various work environments.

For example, a client working in education with youth has created a curriculum for teachers and students that is being shared around the country. It’s a beautiful work of art, with practical tips for teachers on how to engage youth and to draw out the best in them. The curriculum also contains wonderful heartfelt stories for youth; examples meant to prompt insight and a sense of community for the students, so they can see that their peers are going through similar experiences and finding solutions through engaging their innate wisdom.

Another client working in the judicial corrections system has also developed a handbook with modules so that the team working with the inmates have something to follow when they’re teaching.

Been there—done that. I understand the need for form in this world that we’re living in. When I was working for juvenile justice, I was required by the organization that hired me to prepare a handbook highlighting modules that I would be teaching for the year. I was hesitant to create too much ‘form’ because I was learning that when there is too much form, it can entice the intellect rather than wisdom.

However, as I reflected on this, I knew that the opportunity presenting itself was too good to pass up and I came to trust that Mind had a lesson in store for me. I developed a manual with modules that incorporated the Three Principles, the health of the helper, the power of innate health, rapport, deep listening, and so on.

The manual contained some of Sydney Banks’ writings, some of my own, and questions at the end of each module to draw out what the students had learned.

It was fascinating to see what unfolded in the training. For the first couple of months, we pretty much stuck to the manual but gradually the tone of the meetings became more about student’s intellectual questions starting with ‘why’ rather than them having insights bringing them the answers.

This was curious to me as when I first started working with juvenile justice, I didn’t have an agenda. I’d been invited to do a two day seminar to see how the staff responded and if the response was good, I’d be brought in to deliver a yearlong training program.

The deep feeling that became evident in the first two day training brought out a wonderful response and amazing insights occurred in the moment. So why was the new training not bringing the same results?

One day, when once again, I went to the next module in the manual, a student asked if we could talk about something that had happened that morning that was of grave concern to the counselors and probation officers.

It was a situation concerning a youngster who had been admitted the day before who was so terrified at being in ‘juvy’ for the first time, that he had attacked an officer. The staff in the training wanted to discuss how best to handle this situation based on the Principles understanding. They had their own traditional ways of dealing with this but as their level of understanding was deepening; they intuitively felt there might be a better, gentler way of reaching this young lad, rather than confining him in a strait jacket.

We had an open, heart to heart conversation. I listened deeply and drew out from them their own insights, supporting their common sense in how they felt they could move forward and redefine their procedures for handling this in the future.

The feeling of the engagement amongst the staff was heartfelt, creative, and suggestions flowed with ease. It was such an energizing, enriching day that no one wanted to leave at the end.

The next month when we met again, I opened the manual for the next module but someone mentioned something else they wished to discuss in the moment, so I honored that and away we went into another totally different conversation than was planned in the next module.

As time went on, I reviewed the notes I’d made at the end of each training, briefly detailing what topics we’d covered. To my surprise and delight, I found that we’d covered all the modules, just not in the same order or even using any of the readings contained in the handbook.

I will say that the group all had copies of The Enlightened Gardener, by Sydney Banks, as well as my first book, Wisdom for Life. I always recommended that they read Syd’s book when moved to do so and I found out that they did.

For the rest of the yearlong program, the manual stayed in my briefcase. We carried on with conversations that were relevant in the moment. I discovered that having form in our work is a necessary part of the human work experience. I also discovered that form created in the moment has a distinctly different feeling from form created in the past.

When Dr. Roger Mills and I were primarily working in inner city communities, we used a manual, the Health Realization Primer, that Roger had written, and along the way, as his request, I had edited, as did a few other colleagues who helped us. As time went on, we could see that the facilitators who worked with us in the communities began to depend on the Primer, to the extent that they lost their own voice, in terms of sharing their wisdom, rather than the wisdom in the Primer.

We actually added a caveat to the beginning of the Primer, counseling facilitators to trust their own wisdom more and to use the Primer only as a support, not as a total presentation. Some did; some didn’t.

To me, the most important point in sharing the Principles with others to have as little form as possible. If you are required to have a handbook or whatever form necessary, treat it as a support, and really help your students understand the essential importance of that point.

Find your own voice; use your wisdom! After all, isn’t that the promise of the Three Principles? Discovering the unlimited potential within?

12 thoughts on “In the Moment ‘Form’  

  1. Beautiful and so helpful. I’ve been indecisive in this area, thinking I needed the right form so I could share better, when what I really need is practice.

    1. Hi JUdy, thanks for your comment. I appreciate you reading my blog. The only thing I would add is that sharing the Principles is not about ‘practice’, although it helps as you get more used to sharing. The real help is trusting your own wisdom to guide you in the moment. I remember when I first started to share and stumbled around my words. Then I settled down as I shared my first insight, and wisdom took over and the words flowed. Trust your wisdom! Kindest regards, Elsie

  2. Wonderful Elsie, The settling down in the moment and hearing what occurs i didn’t get until some time ago I offered 50 coaching sessions for free to whoever turned up. I wanted to take the fee out of the conversation so just turned up and listen to both the person in front of me and also to my thoughts… What occurred was astonishing, I began to hear questions to ask that were from somewhere deeper than me.. I couldn’t understand at first as they didn’t appear relevant but as i asked them something happened to the conversation, It took us in a completely unexpected direction and the client got helpful insights and I felt touched by something very deep than i hadn’t seen before. I discovered then to slow my self down and listen for wisdom – it’s there to guide us both with the conversation. The other thing is I never plan the conversation – the thought makes me laugh – it’s like planning a date with a strict timetable of events… 🙂

    1. Hi Martin, I love your story. So great that you trusted your wisdom. It’s a beautiful example of wisdom guiding the conversation far better than we could. Thanks for sharing. Kindest regards,

    1. You’re very welcome, Stacey. I’m glad you found this blog helpful. I know it was important to me to see and trust form ‘in the moment’ so I’m happy that others are also finding this helpful. Kindest regards, Elsie

  3. Thank you, Elsie, for sharing your experience on manuals, modules, handbooks, homework, etc. When I was in La Conner last month at the Practitioner Training we had a conversation about this. Dropping the reliance on form and knowing that Mind can be trusted. Linda said in a talk a couple of years ago; “Share from impact.” I’ve loved that. Sharing from what has impacted me. I smiled when I read “For the rest of the yearlong program, the manual stayed in my briefcase. ” It can be hard to just leave them in the briefcase, but it really does make sense.

    1. Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your wisdom. The feeling of freshness that comes from sharing in the moment can’t be overstated in terms of ‘impact’. That deep feeling is our true nature speaking to true nature. What a gift! Kindest regards, Elsie

  4. This is answering a question I had for a long time Elsie. Working with big organisations they always want something in the world of form. A slide deck, a book, milestones etc and it never felt right to me to do so. Throughout the years I have become very comfortable with the request to “just put people in the room” and having a fireplace kind of chat. That has always worked the best. So I totally agree with you; I make some drawings in the moment if that makes sense but I don’t lead with them. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    1. I’m glad this blog has been helpful, Rich. And I also appreciate you sharing your experience with offering ‘form’ or being in the moment, with form supporting, when appropriate. I know how much this has inspired the organizations and communities I’ve worked with. They tell me they really have felt my ‘presence’ simply because I’m in the moment with them. Well done, Rich!

  5. What a great reminder! My busy, lovely, mind is always looking for form and plans. Such a relief to let go of that and allow the flow and insight possibilities!

    I’d love to know how to contact your client about her youth programs, something I’d like to share in my area.

    With gratitude!

    1. I’m glad the blog has been helpful, Barbara. However, I’m sorry that I can’t divulge the name of my client as I respect her privacy. I know you’ll understand.

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