Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0354, Aug 6, 2008
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Did you know the top three attributes for facilitative leaders are Authenticity, Presence and Compassion… Can one learn these attributes? This week’s article is about learning to practice presence by turning our attention and awareness to our mental stories.

For those of you who missed Peter Block’s interview last week, the audio and notes are now available for purchase. In the interview Peter shed light on the key factors for driving change in communities. We enjoyed his great sense of humor, wisdom and got a lot out of his interview. We wish the same for you….

We are excited to announce a revolutionary, practical yet thought provoking book, Art of Resilience that will guide you and your organization to minimizing resistance and maximizing resilience (see offer below)

Please continue to send the wonderful feedback. Thank you for being a part of this growing community.


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Art of Resilience
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The Point

The Story
Do you fall for every story you tell yourself…

Intervention Skill

There is a story churning on the surface or the deep subconscious mind whether we are aware of it or not... The mind is on the go from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep and then another part of the mind comes alive when dreams take over the stories… Only during deep sleep does the mind rest. The difference between fiction and mental stories is that the latter does not particularly follow any logic. Mental stories have neither a beginning nor an end. For instance, the story can begin with a future theme triggering a memory, while switching to the past and then switching gears to something totally unrelated and possibly unrealistic… This jumping from one place to another is the nature of the mind and the senseless stories it sometimes creates. We end up falling for the story each time we lose our sense of awareness… Sometimes we buy into the story even if it makes little sense. If you can imagine a super highway with bumper to bumper traffic, furthermore the direction of the traffic is uncontrolled and unsupervised… this image of total chaos comes close to what a mind can create in a matter of few seconds when we give it free rein…

So what does this have to do with Facilitation?

As facilitators it is important to be vigilant and notice the difference between what mental stories are creating and what is actually taking place in a group. Mindful vigilance has the power to take groups from segregation to collaboration and trust.


Yesterday was my mother’s 73rd birthday and my husband and I had called to wish her happy birthday. As we began to sing for this wise and wonderful woman, I noticed subtle thoughts rising in my mind and within seconds they turned into a sad story of OMG what if this is my mother’s last birthday… and with that story my eyes became teary and I was unable to continue the birthday song. I was glad my husband continued to sing while I collected myself to talk with her in a cheerful voice. She was laughing and joyfully talking about her plans for the day. Since her health has been deteriorating, thoughts of losing her rise in the mind, stealing the joy of being with her in this moment. When we succumb to the stories, we become entrenched in the characters of the story and lose awareness of present moment. Have you experienced being drifted from the group with your mental stories? Without awareness it is easy to lose track of the goal…

Many such moments of losing the present moment awareness have shown me the way to mental freedom. It appears that even though the mind is extremely powerful, it lacks the ability to distinguish between the past, present or the future. The ability to consciously bring our awareness to the present moment is two folds;
2 Witnessing the arising thoughts in the mind and
2 Being fully engaged with what is

This twofold awareness requires clearing the traffic jam in the mental highway and finally observing the place of stillness that lies underneath the stories. When the fog lifts, the obvious is in front of you… In my case when the fog of the stories of the fear of my mother’s death lifts, I clearly see her in front of me, laughing, vibrant and alive.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could master the art of detecting the story nano seconds before it begins to cause chaos in the mind?

Can you think of times when you give into mental disturbances caused by stories of work, children, money, life, etc. By giving in we fall into the abyss of discomfort… and one way back to the flow of the obvious is through our natural intelligence, using our attention, breath and present moment awareness. Easier said than done – let us take a look at how we can create a present moment practice.


There are many techniques and tools one can use for a short term effect to bring the awareness back to the present; however, eventually we would want to live the practice to become master facilitators… 

Preparing to live the practice requires practice of stillness and presence…  Practice begins with observing reactions…  Instead of reacting to the mental disturbance, practice watching the disturbance as ripples on the lake.  The lake remains and ripples appear and disappear.     

Four Step action…

2 Ask yourself, if the story is creating resistance in you in the form of a reaction?  For instance if a group member’s behavior builds a muscle tightening reaction in your body, chances are you have a story around what you hear or the group member.  Look at your reactions as an opportunity to discover what is beneath your story…  By simply asking what direction your mind is taking in this moment and gently bringing the mind back to what is in front of you.  Without the reactions, the practice is impossible.  So embrace the resistance through the practice of searching. 

2 Create a self-awareness alliance with close friends, partner or family.  The objective for forming the alliance is to practice brutal honesty, openness and trust. Honesty cuts through nonsense the mind buys into, openness helps embrace discomfort that comes from disturbances, and trust creates self love and acceptance.

2 Increase the capacity for comfort in discomfort.  This is about becoming comfortable with the mental disturbance stories can create…  The mechanism of stories keeps our natural intelligence or presence hidden from our own awareness.  The more comfortable we become with discomfort, the further we can dive to the still waters where presence is found. 

2 In the process of witnessing the disturbance, make breath your ally.  Make use of your breath to dive deep.  Without the diving accessing the beautiful inner presence would be impossible.

This Week's Offer



Creating presence & spontaniety
How to lead with a lasting and positive impact

3 Day Teleclass
August 18, 20 & 22, 2008 | 1 -2 PM EST

Creating Presence & Spontaneity
This class meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to cover age old wisdom of creating presence and spontaneity. Together we will create specific action items we can take to lead with a lasting and positive impact. This course is for facilitators at any level or group members that simply want to know more about creating presence so that they can make the groups they are a part of more effective. Being spontaneous eliminates the stress of what should be next and brings the attention to fully being engaged.

Master Facilitator's facilitate their inner process so that they can be present with those they're facilitating. They maintain a learning orientation to life, remaining open to new ideas and input. They are committed to their own self-care to maintain the high energy and awareness required of a facilitative leader, and as a model for others.

Click here for more information

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