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Tending to the system by the system for the system Published in Dare to Think the Unthought Known? Ed. Ajeet N. Mathur, “You are not in the body, the body is in you.” Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj This chapter explores some of the subtle processes that determine the dynamic fabric oforganizational life. The purpose is to extend the conceptualization of well-being inorganizations within the frame of the group relations approach by taking into accountlatent and manifest, mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual processes.
Group relations can be seen as an evolving framework for exploring human behavior inorganizational systems. Revisiting some of the assumptions that underlie group relationspractice, surfaces questions as to how these assumptions may both serve as well as limitthe work of the consultant and of the organizations with which they work.
The material presented here is based on the dissertation “Body, Soul and Role: Towards aholistic approach to well being in Organizations”. The approach looks at metaphors fromgroup relations theory, mind-body disciplines, and different spiritual traditions to offer anintegrative framework for understanding and cultivating health and vitality in humansystems. In this chapter I assume the reader’s familiarity with the group relationsapproach and suggest that integrating the complementary perspectives available inspiritual and mind body traditions can contribute to the evolving discipline.
The approach taken in this chapter is explicitly a metaphoric one with the intention ofoffering fresh and useful metaphors for thinking about how group relations and itsderivative approaches can contribute to well-being in organizations. The process ofabstractive seeing embodied in metaphor entails describing one thing in terms of anotherin order to evoke new ways of seeing and knowing. The juxtaposition of group relations,mind body and spiritual disciplines invites new metaphors to emerge in an integrativecontext.
A metaphoric stance is one that suspends the notion of reality and asks “what if”questions about possible links. What if the organization has a “psychic matrix” in whichall the individuals participate? What if the organization has something like a “dreambody” – a dynamic psyche-soma in some ways similar to that of an individual?What if the organization has a “soul” and an “essential purpose”? What if…? And whatare the ways that these pictures can enrich or enhance understanding of the differentdimensions of organizational well-being? The creative potential of a metaphor lies, to an extent, in the willingness to maintain anexplorative attitude toward it. No matter how encompassing and comprehensive ametaphor, it is necessarily limited in that it offers only one of many possible prisms. Theseductive quality of a particular metaphor may lead to the temptation to reify it. Thefaded metaphor can then become a prison rather than a prism, an exclusive and excluding“truth” that limits creativity.
Group relations was conceived in the 1960’s and was inspired by psychoanalytic andsystems thinking of that time. While these fields have since evolved significantly, someof the premises from that time still guide group relations practice. Core to the grouprelations approach is the practice of exploring ways in which conscious and unconsciouspictures or metaphors of organizations held in the mind not only reveal but alsodetermine the experience and behavior of the people in the organization. In applying thismethodology reflexively towards group relations as a system, it is helpful to ask whichmetaphors may have become reified or faded and to look at the way in which some of the“collective enough” pictures in the minds of practitioners may color the nature of grouprelations work in unconscious ways.
In this chapter I present some of the complementary systems concepts from grouprelations spiritual and mind body perspectives. The purpose of the discussion is to offer aglimpse of what a dialogue between these fields may look like and to offer a reflectivework/play-ground for generating an integrative understanding and practice oforganizational well-being. I look at how these systems concepts may be reflected in theconcept of primary task that is central to group relations and the implicit and explicitpaths of healing and wholeness through which the field can contribute to society.
Group relations
First time members of group relations inspired conferences are often awed by the verypalpable experience of being unwitting participants in collective unconscious processesof which they have little awareness and over which they have even less control. As theconference proceeds they learn about the way in which emerging patterns of behavior ofindividuals and subsystems offer insights into the dynamics of the conference institutionas a whole. They may notice how seating arrangements, the time when specificindividuals speak, the length and tone of interventions, metaphors that are used, theclothes people wear, punctuality and lateness, and even changes in the environment, suchas hotel staff entering a working session or the incessant buzzing of a bee all become partof a curiously interwoven drama around emergent common themes. Early in theconference they may wonder at patterns that surface and brush them off as unlikelycoincidences or curious synchronicities. However, often an unfolding apprehension that something else is at work develops - a deepening sense of being part of a larger dynamicin which they find themselves unconsciously taking up their own roles in often surprisingways. Engaging with the possibility of a group unconscious, some kind of subtletranspersonal informational field of which one is part, can be an enticing yet somewhatuncomfortable undertaking. Learning about the workings of such phenomenon withinand between systems and the way in which one is activated by unconscious matrixes,confronts one not only with the limitations of one’s own autonomy, but also withprofound questions regarding the nature of perceived boundaries and of reality. It is atthis junction of the nature of perceived boundaries that modern science and ancientspiritual wisdom are today meeting.
One of the basic precepts of group relations work is that there is a group or systemmentality that is largely unconscious and determines the behavior of the group as awhole. This can be described in terms of the matrix postulated by Foulkes and Anthonywho in their work on group psychoanalytic therapy differentiated between theoccupation, which is the manifest declared activities of a group, and the preoccupationswhich are the latent occupations that a group may have.
The network of all individual mental processes, the psychological medium inwhich they meet, communicate, and interact can be called the matrix. . Infurther formulation of our observations we have come to conceive these processesnot merely as interpersonal but as transpersonal. (Foulkes & Anthony, 1957, p.
26) Through the psychoanalytic systems prism, organizations were seen by group relationspractitioners as open systems in relation to their environment and to the interdependentsubsystems within them. A purposeful human system is viewed as having a primary task– “ a task that it must perform if it is to survive.” (Miller and Rice, 1967, pg.25) Thefunctioning of a system is generally explored through its capacity at any moment toeffectively further that task. Miller and Rice described the primary task as “a heuristicconcept which allows us to explore the ordering of multiple activities… (and) toconstruct and compare different organizational models of an enterprise based on differentdefinitions of its primary task” (Ibid pg.25) The existence and survival of any human system was seen as depending uponcontinuous interchange with its environment, whether of materials, people,information, ideas, values or fantasies. The boundary across which these“commodities” flow in and out both separates any given system from, and links itto, its environment. It marks a discontinuity between the task of that particularsystem and the tasks of the related systems with which it transacts. Because theserelations are never stable and static, and because the behavior and identity of thesystem are subject to continual renegotiation and redefinition, the systemboundary is best conceived not as a line but as a region. That region is thelocation of those roles and activities that are concerned with mediating relations between inside and outside. In organizations and groups this is the function ofleadership; in individuals it is the ego function. (Miller, 1989, p. 11) “In this view, emotional experience is not bounded by one’s own individual skin,and is not the property of the individual alone. Rather it is bounded by the systemor systems in which individuals interact in collaboration or in conflict with eachother and with their context” (Armstrong, Bazalgettte, & Hutton, 1994, p.4).
In viewing groups as open systems, practitioners paid attention not only to the tangibletransactions across boundaries within and between systems of an organization andbetween the organization and the environment, but also to the intangible transactionsacross the boundaries -- to the transfer of emotions, attitudes, images, and fantasies and tothe essential interrelatedness of emotional experience. The unconscious emotionaltransactions across the boundaries were understood primarily in terms of identification,projection, projective identification, introjection and other psychological mechanisms. Aguiding question derived from this metaphor is: What are the so-called boundary regionsof a group/system matrixes, what is the nature of the psychological movement acrossthese boundaries and what does this mean about the functioning of the system? In thissense group relations practice may still be bound by a “boundaried” picture in the mindof human systems that looks primarily to psychoanalytic theories to understand how thesetransactions occur across these hypothetical boundaries.
With the evolution of science over the last century, we have witnessed significanttransformation in the way systems are conceived. There has been movement from amechanical analysis of components of a whole to viewing phenomena in terms of theinteraction between system and environment; from a search for fundamental buildingblocks of matter to the exploration of the organizing patterns of a whole considered as anentity beyond the aggregate of its parts. The emphasis has moved from a view ofcausality as linear to one that is non-linear and even to the possibility of co-dependentarising. Whereas atoms were seen as existing independently in empty space there was ashift to viewing space as full, as force fields with transitory areas of coherence,entrainment and pulses with relatively stable manifestations. The view of disorder anddissipation of energy as destructive and leading ultimately to entropy has been replacedby a belief in the essential role of disorder and chaos in bringing about higher levels oforder. Living systems are no longer considered predictable or as functioning according todeterministic laws, with change being somewhat reversible. Instead, specific events areseen as unpredictable and as such, the source of creativity and generativity withinsystems - concepts that had no place in previous models. A separation between form andmeaning, and between structure and process allowed new concepts to arise. Systemswere understood to be energetically open while organizationally closed, and aholographic model was put forth as an alternative to the hierarchical one. An either /orview of conflict between opposing theories was replaced with the belief that opposites areessential and integral to systems, and paradox is an inevitable aspect of human beings’necessarily partial view of nature. Even the notion of boundaries, so fundamental to theearlier view of systems thinking, has been put into question by quantum physics. In biology and physics the concept of global coherence due to iterating patterns acrossnetworks emerged as did the idea of non-local causality based on the whole being morethan the parts and the structure of the whole as an ongoing embodiment of implicitenfolded organizing patterns. These new insights about systems offer fertile ground forcontinuing to explore the way in which mental, emotional, physical and spiritualdynamics play themselves out in human systems.
From Taylor’s time management studies, through cybernetics and system engineering toconcepts of complexity and creativity in organizations, scientific theories about systemshave provided evocative metaphors and practical tools for thinking about organizationalsystems. The messages of popular management theorists (Wheatley, 1992: Zohar,1997;Lewin & Regine, 1999), who draw on the new scientific theories coincide with andreinforce some of the latest trends in organizational theory. These trends emphasizepatterns of relationships within the organizations, free flow of information, embracingchange and the creation of flexible organizations, promotion of diversity, and porous andchangeable boundaries. Many organizational theorists are arguing for a holistic view ofthe organization and its environment. They advocate value-driven organizations thatserve the environments of which they are an integral part, decentralization of authorityand responsibility, and the active encouragement of play and risk-taking to stimulatecreativity. Within organizations, hierarchical discrete organizational structures are beingreplaced by nimble, networking, project-based, re-configurable super-teams that claim toembrace chaos and complexity. Leaders are challenged to think of their organization notonly in terms of what is manifest, but in terms of the unseen relational, emergent patterns,and in terms of the potentialities which need to be nurtured. They are encouraged toloosen their reins and lead with a trust based on creating shared values and visionsthrough ongoing processes of dialogue and reflexive learning which promote thecapacities of the organization for self-organization and self-renewal. These approaches,inspired by scientific theories are however often prescriptive in their analogies, and havenot addressed the complexity of the human psyche and the unconscious human dynamicsin organizations. They use the new scienctific understanding of complex systems andquantum physics to infer what healthy organizations should look like. Howeveradvocating noble causes and explaining the rationale with scientific analogies does not initself address why it is generally so difficult for organizations to function according to theimpressive values they formulate. When group relations expands its psychoanalyticopen systems perspective to include the new scientific theories, it will have a uniquepotential to explore some of the discrepancies between the new organizational trends andthe difficulties in actualizing their values.
The desire and intention to “do good” or to “embrace complexity” is only a small part ofactually doing it. From the psychoanalytic point of view, the wish for harmony and thefear of conflict can lead to a process based more on flight than depth of understanding. Infear-based flight to happy, healthy, conflict-free environments that embraces ideas ofdiversity, cooperation, respect etc. the very human struggles relating to power, sex, envy,competition, aggression and fear of mortality are often denied. In such a dynamic, fear isgenerally repressed rather than dealt with in a constructive manner. Slogans such as “embracing diversity”, “family values”, “stewardship”, and so on, used withoutacknowledgement of emotional and unconscious dynamics may induce repression ratherthan encourage introspection. The repressed material is then likely to fester beneath thesurface only to later burst out in more violent ways.
It is revealing to work with an organization on exploring where the culture of theorganization actually cultivates the very inverse or shadow side of the values they overtlyuphold. This process is often evident in NGO’s and non-profit organizations that sufferfrom the very issues they try to fix in the outside world. Examples of this are: conflictresolution organizations that fall apart from internal conflict, women’s organizations thatwork to assist abused women and develop strong persecutor-victim dynamics among staffand welfare organizations where staff work in depleting, restrictive and joylessconditions. When issues such as those of power, competition, and sexuality are drivenunderground, repressed emotions are likely to erupt with greater force. They maymanifest in a variety of mechanisms from scapegoating to scandal or irreconcilabledivision within an organization. Violence, for instance, can be denied within anorganization by exporting it in the form of pollution, unethical behavior towardcompeting organizations, or the outsourcing of poorly paid manufacturing operations tosweatshops. Group relations offers a prism for exploring these and other forms ofconscious and unconscious dynamics as a system, but until now has done so primarilythrough the open systems prism. Quantum theory and other new sciences offer metaphorsfor accessing additional levels of organizational dynamics and exploring alternative waysfor understanding the source, location, potential and manifestation of emotion, fantasyand behavior in a system at any given time.
Quantum physics also provides a potential bridge for exploring the spiritual dimension inorganizations. In the interface between studies of consciousness and science, there areincreasing references to the concept of a non-local mind, or impersonal mind. Thepersonal mind is seen as somehow part of and having access to the non-local mind, partof the spectrum in flow through which non-local mind is manifested. It is in theseconcepts that the new sciences revisit age-old spiritual wisdom about the nature of realityand the essentially systemic understanding of interconnectedness and oneness.
Quantum theory, says David Bohm, points to “the need to look on the world as anundivided whole, in which all parts of the universe, including the observer and hisinstruments, merge and unite in one totality. In this totality, the atomistic form of insightis a simplification and an abstraction, valid only in some limited context.” (Bohm, 1990,pg.11) “The proposal for a new general form of insight is that all matter is of this nature:That is, there is a universal flux that cannot be defined explicitly but which can beknown only implicitly as indicated by the explicitly definable forms and shapes,some stable and some unstable, that can be abstracted from the universal flux. Inthis flow, mind and matter are not separate substances. Rather they are differentaspects of one whole and unbroken movement. (Ibid, Pg. 11) Given, he says, that measure is insight created by man. A reality that is beyond man andprior to him cannot depend on such insight. The immeasurable, he says, is the primaryreality. “The illusion that the self and the world are broken into fragments originates inthe kind of thought that goes beyond its proper measure and confuses its own productwith the same independent reality.” (Ibid, Pg. 25) These scientific insights are concurrent with our rapidly changing sense of social reality.
We no longer live in discrete communities. From global politics to pollution, technology,travel, and terrorism, our concepts of boundaries of time and space as we knew them, arerapidly dissolving. The economy is moving from tangibles to intangibles in anincreasingly virtual marketplace.
Psychoanalysis traditionally considered the oceanic feeling of mergence, and mysticalexperience in defensive terms. While this may be accurate in some cases, to frame themystical primarily in this way, can also be a defensive strategy, in that it maintains afantasy that the mind through study can master analyze and comprehend the mechanics ofan ultimate truth. This scientific “picture in the mind” excludes the possibility of a levelof reality that cannot be measured and can only very partially be apprehended in non-rational, intuitive or even mystical moments. Psychoanalytic thinking today is revisitingthe nature of mind and consciousness and there is a vibrant discourse betweenpsychoanalysis and spiritual traditions, in particular Buddhism.
It is challenging to speculate on how a spiritually and scientifically imbued understandingof interconnectedness can offer group relations new possibilities of exploring the natureof consciousness and human experience in organizations. Within group relations therehas been reflections on the concept of a global mentality where intergroup (intercultural,inter-institutional, interfaith, interracial and international) dynamics are played out. Howfar are we willing to go in thinking about the limits of the global matrix? What aboutconsciousness beyond human systems? In the past this was the realm of spirit andreligion. Today it has also become the realm of science.
In group relations the guiding assumption is that it is the unconscious of the people insideand outside of a specific system that affects the behavior of the system. But what aboutthe possibility that consciousness, or the non-local mind, the infinite field of intelligenceor whatever we wish to call that dimension of experience, is the determining factor, andthat psychological defense mechanisms are surface expressions of a far moreencompassing informational pattern of which human consciousness and behavior are justone limited aspect? The discovery of the individual unconscious by Freud catalyzed ahuge shift in paradigms. Its implication was that we were far less rational and in controlthan scientists or philosophers over the last few hundred years would have had us believe.
The possibility that there may be a group unconscious necessitated an even greater shiftin our willingness to contemplate the limitations of our autonomy or sense ofseparateness. To think in terms that consider human consciousness as just one aspect of alarger consciousness that goes beyond human beings, demands letting go of far deeper assumptions. Group relations conferences can provide an opportunity to explore thisquestion through experience, but in order to do so it requires integrating that which grouprelations has itself excluded. It necessitates letting go of some of the pictures in the mindregarding the nature of reality, the cosmos and God or no-God that group relations, givenits scientific and psychoanalytic roots brings to these questions. Quantum theory andspiritual perspectives for instance imply that human consciousness is interwoven with theconsciousness of non-human aspects of creation. What are we as group relationspractitioners willing to explore around these question in conferences and in our work inorganizations? There is still an inherent tension in group relations between the older scientificworldviews of which open systems theory is a part and the potential for exploring theinfinite aspect of interconnectedness beyond systems theories. Gordon Lawrence suggeststhat with the evolution of social thinking, the ecological spiritual worldviews are now amore accepted domain of study. The microcosm of the large group he says can be apowerful space to explore the “imagos or no-imagos of the cosmos” that we carry withus. I would suggest that this is true also for experiences of the transcendent as theyunfold not only within the large group but also within other events of conferences.
There is a form of engaged Buddhism called the Tiep Hien Order, the Order of“Interbeing” founded by Thich Nhat Hanh in Vietnam during the war. The termInterbeing he said is a new word in English which conveys “The many in the oneand the one containing the many”. …“I am, therefore you are. You are, thereforeI am. That is the meaning of the word ‘interbeing’. We ‘interare’”. (Nhat Hahn,1987, p. 87) The sefirotic system is the basic kabbalistic framework and language throughwhich reality is perceived. .The sefirot are powers or potentialities inherentwithin the Infinite light which traverse from infinity to the finite creation. (Theuniverse described by the sefirot is relative to, and is affected by, the viewer, asexplained in relativity theory and in quantum physics.) The two infinity points ofthe microcosm and the macrocosm unite in their one genesis, the primordialtzimtzum (constriction – my translation). .A man who looks into his psyche seesthe same universal structures and processes that are active in the physical world.
This is the basis for the power of man to understand the Cosmos and to achievecommunion with all levels of existence. (Afterman, 1992, p. 96) All that we see is a reflection of consciousness, and to see requires pulling theveils from the eyes, pulling away the illusions that limit us in time and space, theillusions that say we are separate. We are not separate. We are all together.
(Ywahoo, 1987, p. 73) The Native American worldview sees cycles of life and death and the individualalways in relationship with family, clan, nation, and planet. This relationship isbiological, mental, emotional, spiritual, economic. The circle is inclusive. Byvirtue of being on Earth, being a member of the family of humanity, we areincluded in the circle of life. (Ibid p. 139) We are in a very delicate balance within ourselves and with other people and ourenvironment. We are all vibrating together, we are one resonant field, one field ofmind. If there is an excess of unclarified emotion in the heart of the people, thenthere is unclear emotion expressed by the nation. There is no way to separateyourself from your nation and planet. This is your home. (Ibid p. 179) The predominance of the scientific and rational paradigm in Western society, establishedcredibility on the basis of what could be seen and measured, with little value placed onknowledge attained through intuition. Soul, spirit, and symbolism were relegated to therealms of the arts and the mystical. The arts had a more socially accepted function thanmysticism, which was generally placed at the fringes of society and, at worst, invalidatedas irrational and mad. In this fragmented mode of existence in organizational life, thehigh value placed on the rational led to a large degree to the repression and even splittingoff of the spiritual from the organizational context. In other words the spiritualdimension was the repressed, excluded aspect.
Today, in the wake of the predominant scientific worldview, the spiritual dimension, orperversion thereof is surfacing in global awareness in different ways. This includes onthe one hand the new age spiritual movement that looks towards a reawakening of theuniversal essence of spirituality. This movement however is often in danger of notdealing fully with the darker aspects of human experience. On the other hand we see theperversion of the spiritual in wars and terrorism in the name of religion, and exclusiveownership of God and truth. To understand these dynamics and access and work with thespiritual dimension in group relations conferences entails expanding our own experience and mapping of the transcendent with faculties and worldviews beyond thepsychoanalytic systems prism. Healing the split created over the last few centuriesbetween the rational and the spiritual involves de-demonizing the concept of spiritual andreintegrating it into its natural place (alongside and not instead of reason and science).
The shift of the scientific stance out of an omnipotent one, opens the way back to thespiritual in the everyday.
Albert Einstein was asked one day by a friend ‘Do you believe that absolutelyeverything can be expressed scientifically?’ ‘Yes, it would be possible, ’hereplied, ‘but it would make no sense. It would be description without meaning -as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation in wave pressure.’(Einstein, quoted in Suzuki, 1997, p. 29) A human being is part of the whole, called by us the universe. A part limited intime and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as somethingseparate from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. Thisdelusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and toaffection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves fromthis prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures.
(Einstein quoted in Suzuki, 1997, p. 37) While I will draw on different texts and personal experiences to explore the spiritualdimension of organizational life, I do so as an outsider of any formal tradition andtherefore run the risk of misunderstanding certain concepts or taking them out of context.
Spirituality is such a broad construct that for the purpose of this chapter I choose to focuson one aspect of it: the deep recognition common in many spiritual traditions that eachindividual is a unique but integral, and in some ways undifferentiated part of a largersystem with a unique evolutionary path and purpose in service of the whole.
From this perspective, spiritual wisdom is inherently systemic, pointing to one infinitesystem in which all is interconnected. It views the diversity of all as reflecting the infinitewithin the finite, and emphasizes the integral relation between spirit and matter andbetween thought and what human beings perceive as reality. The new scientific paradigmdescribes interconnectedness in ways surprisingly similar to spiritual insights over thecenturies. In the book “Einstein and Buddha” (McFarlane, 2002) presents parallelstatements about the nature of reality by modern scientists alongside others from ancientand current spiritual texts.
From the systemic understanding of interconnectedness, the spiritual approach derivesprinciples of meaning, purpose and values as to the implicit evolutionary path of humanbeings. Spiritual growth entails moving beyond the prisms of duality and separationtowards the growing recognition that each aspect of existence, human and non-human is aunique but integral, and in some ways undifferentiated part of a larger dynamic andconstantly evolving and transforming divinely imbued system. From this perspective, spiritual development is the evolving connection with one’s unique core in the context ofcontribution to the larger system, the belief in a higher wisdom and the acceptance of theinevitable paradoxes and challenges life brings. Interconnectedness and its behavioralimplications cannot be apprehended by the rational mind, and spiritual language is one ofmetaphors. The paradoxes of separation and unity are transcended in the language ofstories, poetry, koans, and ritual and point to an experience of transcendence that cannever accurately described in words.
The level of reality where things are perceived as separate is not denied. In the spiritualview described here, there is a pervasive attitude of celebration of the manifold diversitythrough which ‘the one’ expresses itself. Each aspect of creation is seen as holding aunique aspect of “the one” and a unique path back to “the one” or to the dimension ofunity. The prism that is aspired to is one that is able to contain the diversity and theoneness simultaneously.
When one sees Eternity in things that pass away and Infinity in finite things thenone has pure knowledge.
But if one merely sees the diversity of things, with their divisions and limitations,then one has impure knowledge.
And if one selfishly sees a thing as if it were everything, independent of the ONEand the many, then one is in the darkness of ignorance. (Bhagavad Gita XVIII,20-22, Quoted in Mascaro, 1965, p. 19) Spiritual contemplation in which all is interconnected and imbued with divinity isconsidered to have clear behavioral implications for “right action” and to offer pathwaysfor transcending suffering. If all is inseparable, any action that affects another living ornon-living entity necessarily affects also the one who perpetrates it. From this view, mostsuffering results from the alienation caused by dualistic prisms of everyday perception.
Spiritual contemplation attends to the unique place of every aspect of creation through aprism that is non hierarchical and non judgmental and thus fosters the ability to containparadox and ambiguity. The prism of separateness and value-laden hierarchy leads toframeworks such as ‘us and them’, ‘good and bad’, ‘win and lose’, ‘plenty and scarcity’and arouses fear, greed, envy and aggression to self and others. Transcending thesehabitual prisms through understanding interconnectedness is thus considered more likelyto promote well-being on the individual and collective levels.
The idea of the purpose inherent in the dimension of diversity is central to the spiritualperspective. In his book, The Soul’s Code: in Search of Character and Calling, JamesHillman put forward “the acorn theory” in which he revisits the idea that each individualis born with a special calling. “You are born,” he said, “with a character; it is given; agift, as the old stories say, from the guardians upon your birth” (Hillman, 1996, p.7). Inthe book, he tries to bridge between psychological and spiritual concepts of ‘calling’.
The call to an individual destiny is not an issue between faithless science andunscientific faith. Individuality remains an issue for psychology – a psychology that holds in mind its prefix, “psyche,” and its premise, soul, so that its mind canespouse its faith without institutional Religion and practice its careful observationof phenomena without institutionalized Science. The acorn theory moves nimblydown the middle between those two old contesting dogmas, barking at each otherthrough the ages and which Western thought fondly keeps as pets. (p. 11) The idea of the unfoldment of innate potential is reminiscent of Jung’s approach to theunfolding of life. Stevens suggests that Jung’s psychology actually became a cosmology,because Jung saw the journey of personal development towards fuller consciousness asoccurring in the context of eternity. Jung, he said, saw the psyche as an objective part ofnature and subject to the same laws that govern the universe.
The infinite, the eternal, the imperishable were ever present and imminent for himas the bedrock of reality, all the more fascinating for being hidden (occult). “Lifehas always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome,” he wrote. “ Thepart that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away– an ephemeral apparition…. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that livesand endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom that passes.
The rhizome remains.” (MDR)1 The great secret is to embody somethingessential in our lives. Then, undefeated by age, we can proceed with dignity andmeaning, and, as the end approaches, be ready “to die with life”. For the goal ofold age is not senility, but wisdom. (Stevens, 1994, p. 29) Jung’s spiritual approach to psychology drew attention to the unique creative potential ofeach individual. His term “individuation” refers to the lifelong developmental processthrough which a person gradually works toward developing his or her consciousness,self-awareness, self-expression, and uniqueness. Tapping into the creative wells of theunconscious and the illumination of the shadow aspects of the self, furthers the process ofactualizing one’s potential. It entails recognizing the operation on the archetypes, as wellas the inherent conflict of opposites.
For Jung, aging was not a process of inexorable decline but a time for the progressiverefinement of what is essential. ‘The decisive question for a man is: is he related tosomething infinite or not?’(p. 28) The spiritual perspective holds that what is essential or core, is the unique potentiallinked with, nourished by, and in service of that which is transcendent. To achieveindividuation, or to actualize one’s essential, special, or implicate purpose may thus entailpeeling off non-essential layers of personality, letting go of ego, transcending falseperceptions and negativity, as well as tapping into one’s infinite creative resources inservice of the larger system.
The idea of calling can metaphorically offer a more holistic understanding of the conceptof primary task on the group level or organizational level? In integrating the spiritual perspective it may be appropriate to use the terms ‘essential purpose’ or ‘calling’ ratherthan primary task of an organization. These terms add the element of refinement of thecore potential of the organization that has the potential to be unfolded and refined inservice of the larger system and in the context of infinity.
What about the possibility of a calling or essential purpose beyond the individual level?What about the possibility of a calling or essential purpose of an organization? The ideaof a collective purpose beyond the individual is not a new one and can be found inspiritual literature. In some Native American traditions, each clan and each nation is seenas having unique collective purposes in relation to the whole. (Ywahoo, 1987, p.184,Simine Forest, 2000) Simine Forest’s discussion of the four inherent walls of the ancient Medicine Wheel canbe interpreted in this way.
The ancient Medicine Wheel teachings show that there are four inherent walls,each specific to a race. Every race must move through them and the wall that isfaced is not necessarily the inherent direction a race may represent. These veilsdemand to be faced, learned, and transcended by every one of us. For the Redpeople, the wall of past and shame in the South appears as a dark hole within,where hope is often buried deep in the shadows and nights of our hearts. …. Inthese times, the Black people, the Africans and Afro-Americans, share the samewall of shame as the Native American, while the Eastern people must meet theirwall in the East. This wall is called the wall of religion or dogma, oftentranslating into their religious system as an obsession for illumination or as abloody fanaticism that we have observed, for example in the last decades,bringing terrible clashes between opposing the religious beliefs.
Ultimately, the White people have two walls to penetrate: the western wall ofarrogance, self-importance, and illusions, and, afterward, once the lesson islearned, the northern wall of conditioning and lack of true wisdom. (SimineForest, 2000, p. 17) Similarly, in Jewish tradition the idea of the collective purpose is also common.
An individual’s destiny certainly includes the unique mission he or she has in hisor her particular life. But as Jews, our ultimate mission is to play our part asmembers of “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19.6), ruling overthe angels through our prayers, Torah and mitzvot. When we rise to this missionwe become true b’ney Adam, children of Adam, the pinnacle of creation. This isthe ultimate healing. The takhlit of the Jewish People is the starting point of“Sound of the Shofar – Dominion. (Greenbaum, 1995, p. 235) In human being’s anthropocentric way, we tend to view people as creating theorganization. However, we can perhaps see the collective, in this case an organization asa manifestation of an energetic core principle around which people collect and disperse.
From this perspective, the core energy or ‘soul’ of the organization could be seen as asthe organizing principle magnetizing and organizing its members no less than membersimpact the organization. In the same way that Jung saw the process of individuation as a“progressive refinement of what is essential,” the principle underlying an organizationcould follow a similar process of ongoing refinement in discovering and expressing itsessential purpose. As people join and leave the organization, they would contribute to orhinder this process. The idea that an organization may have a consciousness of its own,that the people within it are somehow a part of, is likely to arouse resistance… but whatif.? The apprehension of unity achieved through spiritual contemplation is neither anintellectual understanding of interconnectedness nor a moralistic device. The fullapprehension of unity, however, can be seen not as thought or behavior based on rulesand regulations but, rather, as a deep comprehension, insight, or awareness which, whenexperienced necessarily changes one’s perception and mode of engagement. The mysticalexperience is often described as one that apprehends the place beyond paradox. It is inthe spirit of enquiry that the psychoanalytic and spiritual paths can meet. For this tohappen it is essential to look at those psychoanalytic prisms that limit the full explorationof the transcendent realm.
Gordon Lawrence in his paper Signals of the Transcendent (1993) addresses in new waysthe exploration of the transcendent within the large group in conferences.
When people participate in the large group and come to know the text, as I amcalling it, in a hermeneutic-spiritual way, they lead in to bringing into being theunspoken—what is behind, below, beyond the text. This is parallel to thetranscendent becoming immanent. …In particular, consultants offer workinghypotheses from their experiences of being-with the group in their roles to addressthe significance and signification of the psychic, political, and spiritualrelatedness present in the context of the large group. …Psychic and politicalrelatednesses are well-enough recognized. The term "spiritual" I want to use inthis context as being evacuated of all conventional religious meaning, and to use itin the sense of linking, being connected to whatever is the Other beyond ordinarysense data. Since conferences began, participants are more aware of ecologicalissues, for example, which is a view of the world that is ultimately spiritual. "Theconnections between science and spirituality is through the ecological world viewof science" (Wijers & Pijnappel, 1990, p. 67). To have talked about the spiritual,except in a conventional religious sense, 20 years ago in working conferences,would have been to enquire into aspects that, then, were not part of the accepteddomain of discourse. (Ibid) Using the new scientific theory, Lawrence goes on to suggest that the large groupprovides opportunities to explore the “imagos, no-imagos” of the cosmos, and suggeststhat in the large group the “contained contains the container” and that the “implicateorder of the large group, if you will, contains the implicate order of society, etc.”Lawrence describes his work with nuns in Ireland as alerting him to the transcendentdimension in the large group in new ways. He describes a situation when a nunmentioned they should pray for the work of the group.
It took me some time to catch on that she was using prayer in her sense ofworking at the primary task, paying attention, coming-to-know the life of thelarge group with its implicate realities. Attention involves an act of concentrationand a submission to what is there that is not of oneself alone. It implies awithholding of ownership, wishes, desires in order to experience reality as theOther. It is "hearkening." Prayer I now take to be an invitation to the act of reveriethat makes possible a different mental disposition, which, as yet in the history ofthe group, is not available to participants in the group. What the nun's leadershipresulted in was a thoroughgoing exploration of realities.(Ibid) He describes the feeling in a large group in Zagreb, when people were reflecting onpersonal tragedies that the feeling in the room was one of intense listening, patience, butnot despair. He mentions how he had to resist to interpret with a premature metaphor inorder to order his disordered feelings. Such a metaphor he said would "destroy thepossibility of being with the incomprehensible." I did have associations to Turquet's Oneness, but the oceanic feeling was notthere, for the tenor of the group was of being committed to work. The group knewthat we were in a mental space none of us had experienced before. At the time, Ifelt that there was an element of sacredness in the spirit of the place, the room inwhich we were working. On reflection, I felt myself to have been at somepersonal interstice in history, in the sense that one was posed with the perennialquestions: How come things come to be what they are and what future is there forus? (Ibid) To describe the feeling he uses Peter Berger’s concept of "signals of transcendence," inthe sense of “transcending of the normal, everyday world”. This experience he said was aturning point in that “It has made me try to come-to-know what may be present spiritually in groups,as well as being alive to the psychic and political phenomena; to attempt to beavailable for Thinking 2; to value reverie and attentive hearkening; to be availablefor any connections between the transcendent and the immanent; to be neither lostin the Self nor the Other.”(Ibid0 Chattopadhyay looked at the implication of seeing boundaries as illusions inorganizations (1999). While ideas of reframing boundaries are not new in organizationalwork, psychological and spiritual prisms contribute different emphases. The grouprelations perspective highlights the emotional coloring and tendencies, and the wayboundaries often serve as social defenses against anxiety. Within the spiritual context, theidea of boundaries as illusions is not just an intellectual practice of deconstruction but anexperiential awareness of the interconnected, infinite and transcendent context of theboundarylessness. Questions that would accompany the exploration of the boundaries inthe mind, would thus include those that explore which illusory boundaries serve the wellbeing of the larger system, and which create a sense of fragmentation, alienation,isolation, and hostility. What aspects within the self are denied by the creation ofboundaries and how are those aspects in their exclusion exaggerated and perverted so thatthey become even more fearful? To what boundaries do we cling and why? What are thefears behind releasing those illusions? What is our sense of relatedness to those who weperceive as on the other side of the boundary we have created in our mind? What are thequalities of the bounded concepts we have reified? To what extent do they promote asense of co-creation within a larger context, or to what extent do they feed fear, war,conquest, acquisition, and neediness? What kind of organizational practice can be usedto develop the organizational consciousness (consciousness implying a sense ofcompassionate interconnectedness and awareness of all boundaries as illusions includingthose of the self and the organization)? How does this understanding suggest practicesthat serve the organizational essential purpose and well-being and those of the peoplewithin it? Group relations conferences offer a unique opportunity to study the transcendent in theeveryday and the finite within the infinite. They provide a space for exploring theprocesses related to the actualization of the essential purpose and core potentials ofindividuals in an organization with those of the organization itself. To do this,practitioners need to be available to explore this dimension. As in the psychoanalyticstance, the position is one of enquiry rather than prescription. The spiritual stancesuggested here is an explorative one that is willing to look at and through the infinitemanifestations of dark and light that confront us individually and collectively in the hereand now of our experience.
Holistic Approaches to Mind Body Health.
The mind body approach to health and healing is also essentially a systemic one andlinked in some ways to a spiritual perspective of the deep interconnectedness of all ofcreation.
Heal, whole and holy all have the same root and (that) holistic healing requiresthat the way we achieve wholeness not only makes us more complete asindividuals, but also reintegrates us into the whole of nature. The unique value ofmedicinals made from natural substances is that they weave us back into our place in the body of the earth. But there’s an even more profound dimension to thedeepest healing: it’s also spiritual. The same root that gave us heal and wholegives us holy, too.(Ballentine, 1999, p. 5) The state of wholeness that heals us must be extended to include the spirit, andreconnecting to the whole means freeing yourself from the narrow consciousnessof the constricted ego. Letting go the fear and isolation of the narrow ego allowsyou to open up to a larger sense of who you are, to identify with a moreencompassing consciousness -- the universal matrix that sustains us, the healingforce or higher power of the great spiritual traditions. (Ballentine, 1999, p.10) On an individual level, holistic approaches to health and healing take into consideration aperson’s lifestyle, emotional and attitudinal links with his/her physical symptoms, as wellas environmental influences. Likewise, a holistic approach to organizations takes intoaccount general life and workstyle of members and the relationship between individualand collective well-being and organizational cultures, structures, processes, products, andproblems. Metaphors drawn from the developing disciplines of mind-body studies andalternative medicines also suggest holistic ways of looking at the relationship betweenlatent and manifest processes and structures as well as the link between mind and bodyand between consciousness and matter in organizations.
The conceptual separation between mind and body attributed most notably to Descartesimpacted the evolution of modern medicine. The development of mind/body medicinereflects a return to previous knowledge of the inseparability of the two. On the notion thatmind is distinct from the body, Candace Pert, a neuroscientist said: Well that just goes back to a turf deal that Descartes made with the RomanCatholic Church. He got to study science, as we know it, and left the soul, themind, the emotions and consciousness to the realm of the church. It’s incrediblehow far Western science has come with that reductionist paradigm. But,unfortunately, more and more things don’t quite fit into that paradigm. What’shappening now may have more to do with the integration of mind and matter.
(Pert in Moyers, 1993, p. 180) According to Pert, her research indicates that emotions are manifested biochemically inneuropeptides that transmit information throughout the body as a kind of “psychosomaticcommunication network.” The mind is some kind of enlivening energy in the information realm throughoutthe brain and body that enables the cells to talk to each other, and the outside totalk to the whole organism. Study of neuropeptides and their receptors furthersthe understanding of the integration of mind and matter. (Ibid, p. 189) There is a current revival in the West of age-old healing techniques developed throughintuition, study, and experience within a wide range of cultures. These include amongothers, acupuncture, shamanism, herbal and flower remedies, and healing through energyfields. Common to all the practices is an understanding of the interconnectedness ofbody, mind, environment, and lifestyle. Physical symptoms are viewed as expressions ofsystemic imbalances, the cure for which must take into account the whole system (theindividual, his/her mental, emotional, and in some approaches spiritual state and theenvironment in which he/she lives). While the more scientific and psychologicalapproaches focus primarily on understanding the connection between mind and body,approaches based on age-old traditions generally integrate attention to spirit and nature inwider holistic conceptualizations.
In their application to organizations, metaphors from these disciplines evoke a holisticview of well-being, which draws attention to the multiple factors at work inorganizational life that need to be taken into account. For instance the repressed,excluded, or split-off parts of the organization can be seen as manifesting themselves inphysical processes and behavioral symptoms of the system as a whole. Diseases whichplague a society at a certain time can be seen as reflections of emotional or spiritualchallenges facing that society. McWhinney suggested that tuberculosis, a disease of thebreathing mechanism predominant in the industrial age, can be seen as manifesting “theloss of spirit in the fetid factory environments” (McWhinney, 1990, p. 12), Myss linkedthe polio epidemic in the United States to the “crippling” economic depression. (Myss1996, p. 105) In his book Radical Healing, Ballentine reviews different alternative approaches tohealing. Many of his descriptions lend themselves to rich metaphors for thinking abouthealth and vitality in organizations. He explains how natural remedies use anunderstanding of the subtle informational patterns that exist in the universe and that arefound also in human beings and in nature.
Natural remedies are made from any number of substances plucked out of thecomplex web of nature: leaves, roots, flowers -- even mineral deposits or insects.
Each such component of the natural world has some basic quality or essence thatsets it apart and makes it unique. Analysis of humans also reveals groups ofsimilars, groupings of functional likeness… In the Western mind, however, classes of plants and classes of humans belong toseparate universes. If I asked about a similarity between the daisy and thehyperactive child, I’d be regarded as confused. One of the least known truths ofnatural science, however, is that there are basic organizational patterns that cutacross our commonly accepted categories. A given quality or essence canunderlie both the flower and the hyperactive child. This is based on the fact thatboth are functional components of a larger, encompassing natural order… Two classes of “cells” in the organizm called Nature -- a particular plant and aspecific person --can share a certain pattern of function. When they do, theircongruence creates a resonance that can be used therapeutically. Such patternsmay be obvious in the physical appearance of the plant. Their expression in theperson, on the other hand, is likely to be subtler, coloring physiologicalfunctioning perhaps, or even the way thoughts flow in the mind. For example, theaspen tree has leaves that tremble or “quake” in the wind. Its flower essence isfrequently used to calm the anxious mind. Something of the nature of that plant isechoed in the person’s neurophysiology and in his or her mental processes.
Although this principle is quite foreign to what has until recently been consideredscientific thinking, it may become a key element in the science of the future. It iscertainly a fundamental part of the medical wisdom of the past. (Ballentine, 1999,p. 26) Diagnosis and intervention take place to a large extent on the energetic or informationallevel: It may be helpful to conceive of this reorganization as occurring first at a levelwithin the body-mind complex that is more subtle than the physical. You mightthink of this as the “energy level.” Just as the acupuncturist's needle will redirectthe flow of energy or chi in a specific channel or meridian, so might an herbalremedy reorganize, in a more general fashion, the overall pattern of energy flow.
The result, the energy shift, then has an impact on the physical body and how itfunctions. (p. 27) The healing approaches described by Ballentine pay particular attention to the way inwhich subtle informational patterns cut across human consciousness, emotion andphysiology and nature. The implications for organizations are manifold. This perspectiveinvolves broadening and deepening observational skills and knowledge relating toinformational patterns of states of mind and emotions within the organization. It exploresthe links between these and the manifest physical disease or dysfunction in individualsand groups within the organization as well as in the organizational processes andstructures relating to the primary task of the organization. It also raises questionsregarding the relevance of informational patterns that cut across man, nature, andinanimate objects and the workings of energy in organizations.
While the group relations approach provides some insight into the kind of emotional andattitudinal patterns that influence behavior in organizations, it does not deal adequatelywith the spiritual or somatic aspects of organizational life, nor with the physical, natural,and man-made products and environment of the organization. The following discussionabout a homeopathic, miasmatic approach to disease and its implications fororganizational diagnosis and treatment is just one example how metaphors from thetheory and practice drawn from mind-body and alternative medicine disciplines can beused to throw light on aspects of organizational dynamics.
Ballentine wrote that Hahnemann who articulated the principles of homeopathy in thelate 18th century noticed that there was a tendency of diseases to return after they hadcleared up. Hahnemann then postulated that there was an “underlying pull towards thestate of illness -- a sort of undertow that operated beneath the calmer waters he had beendealing with in treating the sick. He called this underlying derangement a miasm.”(Ballentine, 1999, p. 99) The miasmatically affected body is, like a culture plate, the soil the germ growsin. Finding the gonococcus or the scabies mite thriving in a patient showed thehomeopath which miasm was present. This is confusing for those of us who areused to thinking of the germ as the cause of the disease. The concept of miasmsapproaches disease from a perspective that might be considered more spiritual,since causality is seen as operative on a higher or subtler level, not merelyphysical. The organizational state of the system creates vulnerability to microbialgrowth. And it’s on the subtle organizational level where the high-potencyhomeopathic remedies work. (p.103) Ballentine sees “ miasms as the manifestation of unconscious belief systems andarchetypal psychological structures that furnish the underpinnings of our thoughts andideas.” (p. 100) A metaphor of organizational miasms invites attention to the miasmaticclimate of an organization that provides a culture in which certain diseases may flourish.
Organizational miasms can be seen as the beliefs and assumptions that operate much ofthe time outside awareness yet shape patterns of thought and direct and circulate subtleenergy in organizations. From this perspective, one asks: What is the “characteristicordering of thought energy and physical function” responsible for chronic symptoms andproblems in an organization? At the level of group consciousness, this approachcomplements the spiritual approach and group relations theory by highlighting theenergetic link between consciousness and matter. Intervention can occur on both levels.
One may either promote awareness about the limitations of the belief systems that blockthe flow of energy, or one may intervene in a behavioral way that is directly linked to therelevant aspect of consciousness. The following discussion about psychic miasm couldapply equally to organizations.
Ballentine presented the three basic miasmatic patterns underlying chronic illness definedby Hahnemann. They are: Scabies: (the itch): The disorder is focused on the skin. While it is the most obvious to
the eye, it as also the least serious. The underlying pathologic process is one of
deficiency.
Sycosis: (gonorrhea) are disorders of the mucous membranes -- the linings of the
passageways that lead into the body (sinusitis and bronchitis, mucous colitis, middle ear
congestion, and gonorrea). The underlying pathological process is one of excess.
Syphilis: which destroys innermost aspects of the body. Diseases involve vital structures
such as the brain, heart and bones and often entail erosion and destruction of those
organs. The underlying pathological process is one of destruction or erosion.
Ballentine noted that we might wonder what is being said in the language of disease byeach of these processes about the mental and spiritual state of the person affected.
In a similar way, I suggest that metaphors drawn from this framework can inspire new
ways of thinking about chronic illnesses in organizations and alert us to different qualities
of organizational miasms in the mind and their typical manifestations, for instance:
Disorders that are skin deep - based on deficiency or neglect of human and material
resources (e.g. Unattractive or neglected facilities, poor public presentation of products,
etc.).
Disorders of the passageways that lead into the organization, the processes, and
structures which connect with the outside world and are diseased by excess (e.g., waste or
hoarding based on greed, unmitigated competition, etc.).
Disorders that destroy the innermost aspects of the organization, such as the basic
ability of the organization to function as a unity (e.g., power or envy-based conflicts often
fuelled with fear, greed and aggression which lead to organizational splits or dissolution,
irreconcilable differences among central figures, etc.).
In the same way that this miasmatic framework can be applied to exploring wellness andimbalance in organizational life, so can other frameworks such as the chakra mapping ofenergy centers provide insight into ways of understanding energetic processes andprocesses related to well being in organizations. (Ostroff, 2000) Ideas of group mentality, collective consciousness and the collective unconscious arerelatively common and accepted within certain disciplines. They do, however, in someways reinforce the conceptual split between mind and body. Mind-body medicine andalternative approaches to healing emphasize the integral link between consciousness,emotions, and physiological processes. Some of the mind-body traditions work with theidea of a subtle body that can be seen as the informational field linking mind and spiritand the physical body.
On the individual level, the concept of a subtle or dream body is evident in a variety ofspiritual traditions and psychotherapeutic and body work techniques.
The gaseous, fluid and rhythmical nature of dreambody experienced by the yogicontrasts with the conscious concept of the body as an amazing machine with a hidden spirit. The flow and rhythm of the dreambody constitute a “field”experience to use a term from physics. The field is a definite sensation of one’sself as a process with only vague extremities in time and space. In contrast, thereal body can be defined as an object with a certain weight, temperature, etc.
Instead of particles we have relatively high field densities at certain areas in spaceand time. These field densities and their associated discontinuities and intensitiescorrespond to what classical physics calls matter. According to Albert Einstein, “We may regard matter as being constituted by the regions of space in which thefield is extremely intense.There is no place in this new kind of physics for thefield and matter, for the field is the only reality.” (Mindell, 1982, p. 15) The concept of the dreambody as a relatively high field intensity also correspondsto Taoist concepts. In Taoism the world is permeated by dragon lines of force .
which coalesce so to speak, in certain objects. The Tao is a force field permeatingthe universe. The human being in a certain place and time picks up a certain Taoand lives this in his own way. (p. 16) What is the implication of the metaphor of a dreambody for groups? Is it possible, forinstance, that there is also a collective psyche-soma or collective dream body which canbe explored when looking at groups, organizations, or even nations? The metaphor of acollective dream body evokes the idea of a relatively cohesive dynamic energy field thatlinks a group, organization, or nation as a whole. The field would probably influence andbe influenced by the energetic purposeful core, soul, or spirit of that individual orcollective entity as well as its changing consciousness. This would imply that individualsare part of numerous collective dreambodies including those of their families and thegroups and organizations of which they are members. The impact of these energy fieldson the individual will depend on the varying degrees of intensity of the connectionbetween the person and the larger collective systems to which he or she is linked.
The mind/body perspective suggests a symbolic link between a symptom and the nature of thespecific thoughts and feelings. Family systems theory and group relations raises questions as tothe link between specific dynamics of a system and the way in which individualsunconsciously choose and are chosen by the system to take on a role at a certain time. The wayin which a member of a family may symbolically translate family dynamics into physicalsymptoms is an area that has begun to be explored. Pictures and accompanying emotionsprevalent in the system are translated symbolically by members into somatic symptoms. It islikely that a person who embodies a symptom somatically has a special relationship to theparticular issue that is being symbolically expressed through him and anemotional/physiological predisposition to the symptom he develops.
What is going on somatically for people within an organization has not been studied in termsof its systemic meaning. The argument put forward previously is that the thoughts and feelings held by individuals are not only of the individuals themselves but of the system as a whole. Asmind/body studies make clear, thoughts and emotions have physiological components.
Therefore, thoughts and feelings of the system held by an individual have a physiologicalcomponent as well. If a manager has a heart attack or a back problem perhaps it reveals adynamic of the organization as a whole that is located within the person because of what herepresents within the system as well as because of his own personal predisposition. Thephysical symptom may be explored as messengers of unconscious dynamics that are otherwiseintangible and hidden.
Once again, parallels can be drawn in thinking about organizations. Various organizationalphenomena such as chronic neglect of the building, or lateness in delivery, faulty products orincessant staff conflict can be seen as symptoms which symbolically express some unexpressedissues of the group matrix, the unconscious informational pattern in the organization. Thesymptoms need to be understood by exploring the possible symbolic messages expressed bythem and by taking into consideration the unique history and characteristics of the particularorganization.
It is not unusual for writers to use body imagery when talking about organizationaldysfunction or health. Tom Peters used images such as “merger indigestion”(Peters,1987,p.38) and describes how “During the last fifteen years, most big paper companieshave been hemorrhaging badly”(Ibid. p.68). In their book, The Healthy Company, Rosenand Berger used numerous metaphors of this type. “If American business is not yet in thecoronary care unit, it certainly suffers from a severe case of structuralarteriosclerosis.”(1991, p. xvii) “Values”, they said “are the center of the enterprise; theycirculate through every cell and artery of a company”( p.10) and they spoke of “a vitalbusiness that lives and breathes a healthy philosophy”(p. 11). Moss Kanter wrote that“increasingly the desire for ‘fat’ organizations, which relied on redundancy, encouragedoverstaffing, and could afford to waste people on nonessential tasks, has been replaced bya preference for ‘lean’” organizations with focused efforts.” (Moss Kanter, 1997, p. 140).
In another book, she said “some companies assume that if a little cutting is a good thing,a lot must be even better. They starve themselves into a state of organizational anorexia,the disease that occurs when companies become too thin” (Moss Kanter, 1989, p. 98).
In these metaphors writers seem to be tapping into an important archetypal dimension ofthe way in which we tend to project onto the corporate or collective body of theorganization. Perhaps they also imply the possibility that there are similar informationpatterns in dysfunction in individuals and organizations with parallel symptoms. Indeed,an organization with anxiety around the issue of adequate staffing may developsomething like organizational bulimia. The dynamic would probably involve fits andspurts of hiring and firing during stressful periods. The preoccupation aboutorganizational leanness may develop into something like “organizational anorexia.” Thismight be manifested in the organization constantly working at cutting down staff and thepreoccupation with leanness taking precedence over and sabotaging the work.
We will not be able to ascertain whether this way of looking at organizational health anddisease is just a useful metaphoric link, or whether there exist parallel processes wherebysimilar patterns of thoughts and feelings on the individual and the organizational levelsare translated into physical phenomena. The ways in which diseases are described inmedicine are also only limited approximations of reality -- names, metaphors, anddescriptions of phenomena rather than accurate and comprehensive accounts of cause andresult. Thus the question as to the relevance of this metaphoric way of looking atorganizational phenomena must rest on its usefulness and the richness of information thatit can provide. The proposal presented here is that exploring the organizational dynamicsthrough mind/body prisms may offer diagnostic insights as well as possible opportunitiesfor healing interventions. By identifying processes in organizations that are reminiscentof certain diseases, one may look to the mind-body disciplines to explore what the typicalthought patterns are that are associated with such symptoms as well as processes forrestoring health and well being. It is then possible to explore the implications of thisknowledge for transforming those thought processes and images within the organization.
Many approaches to organizational development have emerged from the same scientificsystem as modern medicine. Like medicine, management theory has often reflectedsymptom-based, highly specialized approaches and analysis and intervention based onconcrete measurable data about what is considered relevant aspects of the system. Thepsychoanalytic approach has similarly been criticized for focusing on pathology andsymptom rather than a proactive approach to holistically nurturing optimal development.
The holistic approach means not only working on healing what is diseased but alsopromoting and maintaining optimal well-being.
A parallel can be drawn with approaches to organizational development. The holisticapproach emphasizes the need to attend to the preventative and health-promoting aspectsof the organizations, rather than focusing primarily on a crisis intervention approach.
Until now, I have discussed some of the complementary systemic perspectives in thethree different disciplines. The following are some reflections on the primary task andother aspects of healing and wholeness that may emerge from an integrative approachthat draws on group relations, spiritual and mind-body areas of knowledge.
The Primary Task or Essential Purpose and Methodology In order to contemplate an integrative approach it is useful to look at the framing of theprimary task of group relations. On the group relations web page we see: Group relations conferences are designed to provide opportunities for learning bytaking part in all the sessions and interacting with other participants and staffmembers of the conference in a variety of groups and settings. The conference isseen as an institution in its own right and the sessions are destined to mirror realorganizational settings.
Most group relations conferences focus on issues of authority, leadership andorganisational life. For example, the aim of the Tavistock Institute’s LeicesterConference is to bring together understanding of the conscious and unconsciousprocesses of work groups in human systems, in order to be more effective inworking with the underlying dynamics within and between organisations andbetween these and the wider, indeed global, society. Some other group relationsconferences have themes of contemporary social issues. (Available online athttp://grouprelations.com/index. (accessed 16 August 2005) As reflected above, the primary task is generally framed in terms of providingexperiential opportunities for learning about different aspects of organizational life.
Traditionally this learning is about leadership and authority in systems. Because of itsroots in psychoanalysis, the learning task is often explicitly differentiated from the taskof therapy. The purpose of the learning is not always explicitly stated. When thepurpose is stated as above it is generally framed in terms of learning for greatereffectiveness in leadership.
What pictures in the mind are contained in or evoked by the primary task defined interms of learning? Does the concept of learning for greater effectiveness reflect ascientific, pragmatic paradigm where knowledge is seen as a value in itself and asserving greater mastery of the world? While “learning” in itself appears a seeminglyneutral (value free) task it may in fact reflect implicit values of pragmatism andobjectivity. The reasons for differentiating the learning task from a therapeutic one areclear, however, this explicit differentiation may also create an artificial split anddelegitimize or repress the possibility of learning for individual and collective healingthat is an inherent potential of the conferences.
There seems to be an implicit wish on the part of practitioners to contribute in healingways to society through the learning, yet there is an inherent tension between this wishand the pragmatic, seemingly objective framing of the learning in the primary task. Thistension is reflected in the vignette about Ken Rice, described by Lawrence Gould.
“In 1969 - the last conference Ken was to direct before he died - the I.G. 2 onceagain became the focus of powerful current social dynamics. Namely, racerelations and racial equality. In that year there were a substantial number of blackcolleagues in the membership including Rhetaugh Dumas, Ophie Franklin, RachelRobinson, Leland Hall and Claude Thomas. You will not, however, be surprisedto hear, that there weren't yet any black members on staff, nor were there anyother minority groups represented. Nor, excepting Margaret, were there anywomen on staff. In any event, Ken had sent around an interpretation in the I.G. 2that the issues around race were so important and compelling that they could notbe constructively dealt with within the boundaries of the conference - that is,interpretively - and as such, a focus on these issues made the task of learning allbut impossible. Little did we imagine that with this message, Ken was already formulating a plan to engage these issues, which he announced to us at our staffmeeting later that evening.
Namely, he had decided to meet with the group of black members - alone -outside the working session boundaries of the conference, to engage them in anexploration of their relatedness to the conference institution, both in the here andnow, and in the future. Well, we once and future revolutionaries bleated like stuckpigs. How, we demanded, could he even consider doing that? And why couldn'twe join him in such a meeting if he did? And how about the impact on the rest ofthe conference membership? And didn't this violate everything that he taught usabout primary task and boundaries, and sticking to them? And wouldn't doing thisdestroy the conference? And so on, and so on, and so on. Ken heard us out, quiterespectfully at first, but with increasingly ill-concealed irritation. After patientlytrying to explain his reasons, to little avail, he told us in no uncertain terms thatthe issues raised were more important than the conference itself, that alienatingand insulting the black membership by only responding to their quite realconcerns interpretively, would have long-lasting and destructive consequences forthe future of group relations work in America, and that finally, on the point ofbringing us along to such a meeting, he felt that none of us were sufficiently clear-headed about these issues to constructively play a role. This lecture left us, all atthe same time, furious, chastened, ennobled by Ken's example and in deepadmiration of his extraordinary courage. It was a lesson in leadership none of uspresent would ever forget. And, as in my previous anecdote, the proof of Ken'sextraordinary sensibilities was that virtually all the members of that groupsubsequently took staff roles, and recruited, directly or indirectly, a large numberof the next generation of black members, who themselves stayed with grouprelations work.(Gould, 2000) The way in which Rice worked with an intentionally healing intervention in relation to apainful societal issue outside the boundaries of the conference, and the indignantresponse of the staff members is telling. It seems to reveal some of the implicit picturesin the mind held by practitioners. It raises questions such as: Are the healing and learningtasks mutually exclusive? In what ways do the collective pictures in the mind of staffserve and limit their ability to fully take up the healing potential of the conference withinthe current understanding of the methodologies? As the spiritual and ecological worldviews becomes more mainstream within globalpolitics, today’s organizational leaders are gradually integrating social responsibility intothe raison d’etre of their organizations. The “spiritual” dimensions of meaning, purpose,healing and values and their contribution to the larger system are increasingly beingintegrated into the explicit framework within which corporations work.
What would the integration of meaning, purpose healing and values into the primary taskof group relations look like? In what ways would it impact the field and how would itnecessitate a transformation of basic methodologies? What is the unique potential of the group relations enterprise in proactively serving the well being of the larger whole? Is thetask to provide opportunities for inquiry into the dynamics of groups and organizations?Or, is the task to contribute to the well being of society by providing opportunities forlearning about these dynamics? What would the difference be between a conference witha task defined as “to learn about leadership and authority in systems” and a conferencewith a task “to learn about how processes related to leadership and authority contributeto the health and vitality of human systems?” In what ways would conferences holdingthese tasks be similar or different? Drawing on the spiritual idea of the unique purpose of each individual, I suggest that theterms essential purpose or calling described above expand our way of thinking aboutprimary task. The term “essential purpose” reflects the relationship between themanifestation and evolution of the essence of an individual or collective, and the purposeof unfolding or expressing the unique essence in service of the larger system. Theemphasis is on relationship - the relationship between the core of each aspect of thesystem and the larger whole.
The idea that an individual, team, organization or any collective has an essential purpose,a unique gift/, that is its life path to uncover and manifest, has implications for the way inwhich we conceive of leadership. From this perspective, leadership is not located in anyone person but in every part of the system.
Leadership can be seen as a process that serves the essential purpose of the whole and ofthe parts. It is a process of aligning the core of the subsystems and the larger systems, theparts and the whole. Leadership can be seen as the process of revealing and offering anaspect of one’s uniqueness to the whole so that others are able to link with or discoverthat aspect within themselves. This can be true for the individual, organizational or anyother collective level. For instance, one organization may play a leadership role bystimulating other organizations to express that same aspect within themselves. Healthyleadership thus contributes to the evolution of the self and the system. Leadership is notlocated in any one person but moves and alternates among the individuals in the systemby highlighting the aspect held by the person that can most serve the system at any giventime. If as in the holographic model, the whole is reflected in the parts, then all theingredients are within all, albeit with different intensities. In any system at any givenmoment a different part may need to take the lead in illuminating or revealing its essencein order to awaken that aspect in the whole.
Over the last ten years questions relating to the meaning, purpose, healing andmethodologies of group relations are emerging among practitioners. Sometimes moretraditional conferences may integrate themes of spirituality or healing processes withinthe conference. In other instances, conferences inspired by the group relations traditionuse significantly different tasks and methodologies. As the open system of grouprelations integrates new knowledge from other disciplines the identity, task andboundaries of the field are shifting significantly and requires questioning some of thebasic assumptions with which practioners work.
An approach that synthesizes the group relation, mind body and spiritual perspectiveswill look at a system in terms of the way in which it furthers its essential purpose. Theessential purpose will be defined in terms that give expression to the core potentialities ofthe system within the context of service to the specific environment in which it exists.
This approach encourages learning about unconscious processes and limiting pictures inthe mind, in order to be able to liberate and redirect energy for work on the essentialpurpose. Identifying these processes also enables individuals and groups to take up theirroles with the optimal authority and creativity rather than being unconsciously activatedby what is being projected into them.
The spiritual perspective highlights the need to explore the quality of the task itself andthe quality of the intention of the individual or group in the way they take up their role inrelation to the task derived from the essential purpose. This involves discovering andaligning the essential purpose, potential and values of the individuals in the organizationwith that of the organization as a whole. It emphasizes the need to find ways that thefunctioning of the organization will contribute to the well being and holistic evolution ofthose within the organization as well as in the wider community. It will look to foster thecapacity to work with a sense of love, service, and spiritual growth through learningabout, managing and transforming conflict, pain, and dilemma.
Mind/body traditions, which deal directly with the concept of well being on an individuallevel provide a wide variety of metaphors for thinking about the optimal functioning oforganizational systems. Many mind/body disciplines integrate wisdom frompsychological and spiritual fields, and their contribution is particularly in linking theemotional and psychological with the physical realm. This is done, for instance, inlooking at the possibility of energy flow and blocks that impact organizational functions,the link between the emotional, mental, and spiritual processes and their impact on thesubtle body of the organization, and on the concrete and behavioral dimensions.
How would integrating these dimensions into the task impact the methodology? Grouprelations focused primarily on the mental emotional aspects of human behavior. Inconferences, most of the learning occurs by sharing of feelings, thoughts, insights andimages. This is generally done while members are seated. Every modality offers certainlearning possibilities and inhibits others.
In the early 1990’s I initiated the use of art materials in conferences suggesting thatevents using art materials may offer additional opportunities for learning aboutorganizational behavior. At the time I wrote in an unpublished paper “The work with art materials expands the framework’s parallel to that of aworking institution by providing an additional medium for expression,exploration, creation and transformation. The activity involves the active use ofpersonal and external resources, including material resources, in the processesof creating tangible products. The art materials are materials of activity, creativity, and productivity. During the activity with the materials the systemenacts metaphorically its struggles with its creative drives and inhibitions aswell as the evolving relationships and relatedness between systems.
Like speech, the work with art materials and its symbolic visual imagery, is bothan arena of action as well as a medium for exploration. The primary andunfamiliar nature of the visual symbolic images that is less given to rationalcensoring than the verbal medium provides an additional window into theunconscious. With verbal exploration, the events are generally sequential. Theprocesses involved in the physical activity with the materials, bring to the fore awide range of simultaneous verbal and non-verbal behavior as modes ofexpression typical of the complexity of action and interaction within aninstitutional setting. The dynamics of movement around resources and activity intime and space are made available for reflection - both in the process of theactivity as well as in the product.
The verbal mode of input is not necessarily the dominant mode in all individuals.
Individuals in an organizational setting have different styles of functioning andcan express leadership and authority and can innovate in a variety of ways.
(Ostroff ,1990) In mind-body disciplines the somatic experiences and symptoms are crucial messengersof the person’s emotional and mental processes. The body is constantly learning andprocessing information and has its own ways of knowing. In traditional conferencesattention is paid to non-verbal behavior most commonly in terms of seating arrangementsand acting out around the physical boundaries of time, space and structure (the chairs).
By virtue of the fact that most learning happens while people are seated in particularstructures, and by sharing verbally thoughts and feelings, the access to the spectrum ofsomatic experience is necessarily limited.
In the Body, Soul and Role conferences1 members are provided with an opportunity toexplore health and vitality at work. The events are designed to surface issues related tomental, physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of their experience in institutions.
One example of such an event for instance is the social sensing matrix, inspired by thesocial dreaming matrix. The social sensing matrix invites attention not only to dreamsand reveries but also to the somatic experience of participants as a way of exploringexperiences of interconnectedness and of developing an understanding of the psychic,political and spiritual pictures of the evolving system in the mind. The assumption is that 1 Body, Soul and Role: An International Pilot Conference on Health and Vitality in Organizations held in Israel 1998.
The conference was sponsored by The International Forum of Social Innovation, IFSI (France) and Tmurot (Israel).
Numerous Body, Soul and Role conferences have since been held in different countries in Europe some under thesponsorship of IFSI, France and FIIS Belgium and one was also held in India co-convened Gouranga Chattopadhyay andShelley Ostroff.
the physical sensations reveal symbolic aspects not only of the individual but also of thecollective system. In the same way that a thought is not only of an individual, theconcept we are working with is that often times the physical sensation belongs not only tothe individual but may be held by one person on behalf of the collective. In other eventsof the conference, using art materials, movement, sound and other modalities membersand staff are able to explore, express and reflect a wide range of experience inorganizations. In the ‘Gaia and Group Relatedness Conference2: A Conference on Natureand Creation at Work’, participants are able to explore the way in which relationship andrelatedness to internal and external nature impacts the way they individually andcollectively take up their roles. A number of the events in these conferences take placeoutside in natural surroundings.
For many years Gouranga Chattopadhyay has integrated a yoga event into theconferences he leads. The ‘FLAM’ conference held by IFSI on Femininity, Leadership,Authority, Masculinity, inspired by Jacqueline Ternier David and David Gutmann,integrates movement and sound of members and consultants as essential parts of themethodology. At the conference ‘Being, Meaning, Engaging: Resistance andTransformation in Systems’ sponsored by the Grubb Institute this year, the values aremade explicit. In the conference brochure the director, Bruce Irvine states “Theconference provides the opportunity for participants to use their full human capacity,intellectual, emotional, spiritual and experiential as a resource for transformation.” In theopening plenary the director presented the opportunity to explore the possibility learningfrom experience about interconnectedness and oneness within the conference institution.
Faith and belief were core concepts offered as resources in understanding institutionallife. These are a few of the many examples of the dialogue at the boundaries of grouprelations and institutional transformation (IFSI) with the explicit integration of thephysical and spiritual dimensions within the task and methodologies of conferences.
Concepts of healing and wholeness from an integrative perspective In all the group relations, spiritual and mind body approaches, the way in which thoughtsand emotions are held in the body-mind are core to understanding well being. The grouprelations approach provides a way of looking at the symbolic, systemic aspects ofthought. It explores the nature of collective projections based on common enoughexperience, especially in the way that they activate behavior. Spiritual perspectives focuson the illusive nature of habitual relating resulting from ordinary perception. Work isdirected toward liberating individual and collective attachment to concepts andcultivating a deep understanding of interconnectedness in a way that enhances love,community, and service. Mind/body perspectives offer metaphors that draw attention tothe link between thought and physiology and to the way thought is symbolicallytranslated into physical symptoms. Applied to organizations, one may explore howthoughts are symbolically represented in physical manifestations in terms of 2 In 2000 a new conference was developed called “Gaia and Group Relatedness: A workshop on nature and creation at work”. It was held for the first time in Israel and co-convened by Gouranga Chattopadhyay and Shelley Ostroff organizational structure, behavior, and even architecture and design, and in turn affect thefeelings and thoughts of the people. An integrative approach works flexibly withmetaphors from these different realms where appropriate. Such an approach recognizesphysical sensations similar to thoughts and emotions, as being “of the system” andsteeped in common enough collective experiences, pictures in the mind and attachmentsto concepts. It recognizes that pictures in the mind, are accompanied by emotions andalso by somatic experiences, behaviors, and manifestations in the subtle energy field andphysical matter and opens new opportunities for addressing this level of diagnosis andintervention in organizations.
All three approaches use the experience of the “here and now” as a central tool forlearning and also for growth. The emphasis of each is slightly different and one mayconsider how these different aspects are or can be utilized in a group relationsconference. Group relations training involves creating spaces for learning through thehere-and-now’ experience of participants. Members are provided with opportunities tolearn about their own dynamics and those of the system by examining links between whatoccurs and what is expressed in terms of feelings, images, associations, and behaviors.
The combination of action and reflection directs particular attention to the unconsciousdynamics, and repressed and projected aspects in and of the system, and to the way inwhich individuals are given or take up roles in relation to these dynamics. There is anongoing opportunity in the “here and now” to confront the relatedness with the actualrelationships and thus transform the way in which one engages individually andcollectively with the other.
A central concept of the spiritual prism described here, that is supported by the newsciences, is that all is flux, all is flow, nothing is permanent. This dynamic view ofconsciousness and matter has implications for well being. Spiritual contemplation ofimpermanence cultivates the capacity to let go of the pictures of past and future and theillusion of control, and in doing so fosters the capacity to be fully ‘present’ in the‘present’. “Reality”, whether painful or pleasurable is seen as composed primarily ofpictures in the mind. As human beings we tend to want to hold on to concepts,experiences, objects and relationships and even develop ideas of ownership towardsideas, people, things and even of land. This is an attitude that Buddhism often refers to asa ‘clinging’ or ‘attachment’ of the mind. The holding attitude may, on the one handprovide the illusion of control and of comfort in the known, however it also creates ananxiety around the issue of loss. Understanding and accepting the transience of all thingsallows for a greater acceptance of the principle of death and life in each moment. In eachmoment there is a death of that which was and a birth of that which is, that is embodied inthe act of breathing. In the meeting of spirit and matter embodied in the breath there is aconstant renewal that is the essence of life. The attitude of holding on or attachment isseen as obstructing the flow of the life force. The attitude of curiosity as to the presentmoment, and a relinquishment of the illusion of control allows one to greet the presentmore openness and wonder. Spiritual contemplation with attention to the breath allowsone to get in touch with the nature of the mind-body and its tendencies to hold and to let go, to control and to allow, to fear and constrict or trust and expand, to take a position ofknowing versus one of allowing and discovering. The breath is a tool to focus experiencein the here and now and to expand ones experience of the infinite and the transcendentwithin the finite. All of the above are some of the healing and well being principlesinherent in this particular type of spiritual approach.
Alastair Bain opens his paper “On Being Frozen in Time” with the following hypothesesand examines this concept in the area of group relations.
1. Everything else is a defence against the experience of the present moment.
1.1 The failure to realize the experience of the present moment results in thecreation of Time.
1.2 When a group comes together to study the experience of the presentmoment, anxiety about catastrophic change is aroused.
1.3 The catastrophic change that is feared is being one with creation(i.e. without time).
1.4 The anxiety concerning catastrophic change causes a dispersal of groupmembers into the past, the future, and what is ‘known’.
1.5 In this they can become frozen. (Bain, 1999,pg 127) Numerous spiritual disciplines, in particular the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, alsoinvolve cultivating awareness of the here and now but with a different emphasis. Theemphasis is not so much on learning about or analysing what is going on in the individualor collective mind. It is more on noticing how busyness of mind interferes with the abilityto be fully present with any task whether it be eating, reading, or working on a project.
Rather than being preoccupied with future worries, past regrets, and the infinite pictureshumans tend to project onto any situation based on previous experience, practices ofmindfulness encourage what is known as “beginner’s mind” (Suzuki, 1970), the capacity toexperience fully and freshly the uniqueness of any situation. The practice involves alsolooking directly, as an observer, at disturbing thoughts and feelings. It entails surfacingthem in order to be able to encounter the way they limit and cause pain. Awareness is notrepressing what is considered ugly, evil, or unharmonious. It is looking at these elementsmore objectively as the illusion that they are, so that one is less caught up and identifiedwith the related thoughts and emotions.
Mind/body traditions also emphasize the cultivation of awareness of “here-and-now”experience as an important factor in well-being. Like spiritual practice, the breath is centralto learning and healing. By being fully present to the most basic aspect of experience – thebreath -- and by following the ongoing cycle of inhalation and exhalation, one is able toachieve deep levels of relaxation. (Benson, 1975) Attentiveness to the nuances of one’spsychosomatic experience is encouraged in order to notice and deal with subtle symptomsbefore they develop or become chronic. The body is also seen as holding importantknowledge. In his book Focusing, (1978), Gendlin discussed techniques for tapping intothe wisdom of the body and for using the knowledge the body holds as a resource forguiding one in choices and behavior. The learning about and through here-and-now experience by delving into less conscious aspects, attending to the body as a resource andguide, and cultivating being fully present in ones actions together contribute incomplementary ways to well-being which can be applied metaphorically on theorganizational level.
All three areas of knowledge emphasize the importance of being with what is, and of notrepressing, splitting off or denying the painful aspects. The path to healing and growth isone of integration and is seen in the capacity to listen to the pain breathing into its physicalsensations and thus letting it move. Sometimes it involves exploring its causes in thepictures in the mind and in so doing releasing the fears and thoughts that are its source.
Breathing techniques are often used to transform pain both in birthing as well as in otherhealing techniques. The underlying idea is that fear creates constriction and does not allowfor the energy to flow. Often pain will become chronic when one does not listen to it. Themore one denies it, the more it has to shout. Listening to the pain does not meanimmediately taking a pain killer. It means attending to its symbolic messages. Often if onejust listens to the pain and breathes through it without necessarily understanding it, the painwill be able to move and leave the body.

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