I signed up for Adventures in Clean because I wanted the professional development. I thought it would be a great opportunity to see five of the most experienced users of Clean Language doing their thing – and that was my focus for the first afternoon and most of the following day. I was watching different people come forward for clean sessions and I was writing down their words and what was happening during the sessions, as well as my own insights and Ah-ha! moments.
Part of what we were learning was how to ask modelling questions of the facilitators in order to learn more about what they were doing. Some of us were having trouble with how to phrase the questions, and James Lawley said: “If you are asking questions to confirm your own model of the world, you’re not learning anything.” This had a big impact on me and I realised this is the essence of clean. So as I was thinking about what questions I could ask, I started asking myself, “Is this curiosity?” and “What’s the most I can learn here?” It was such a great opportunity to be able to observe and ask questions in the moment, that I was determined not to waste even one question.
I learned so much about facilitation and what Clean Language is all about and I gained a deeper understanding of where it all comes from and how it works. Things I knew about in theory came to life over the four days, such as asking a question of a new metaphor when it appears, in order to honour it. I built a deeper respect for helping someone to build their metaphor landscape.
I knew that everyone who attended would be doing at least one personal development session, but hadn’t given it much thought until we were lining up on the first afternoon according to how much professional and how much personal development we wanted to do. I realised that a lot of people were there for personal development and I started to wonder if I might be missing something… When I knew it was going to be my turn, many ideas went through my mind that seemed baseline, boring or banal – they were things I’d worked on before and hadn’t managed to change. So I asked myself, “What could I change that might change all those things?” This question only popped up after I'd finally volunteered for a session and I stood by the fireplace in the oak room surrounded by many observers. And I decided to work on how I regard myself.
The following day, it seemed that everyone else happened to be working on things that resonated with me. For example, someone was working on her relationship with her mother and she was describing a very similar situation to the one I’d been in with my mother. I could really relate to the way she was feeling about it. This was a really tough day; throughout the day my landscape was transforming and reassembling as I ‘piggy-backed’ off the other sessions, whilst also doing my best to pay attention to what the facilitators were doing. It wasn't easy but perhaps it facilitated the big change I'd asked for. It reminds me of what they teach at Nasa: keep the conscious mind occupied and focused on one thing (i.e. what was going on in the room) so the subconscious can get on and do it's best work.
It was a wonderful space with so many people wanting to learn, and the support didn’t just come from the facilitators but also from other participants. When I was upset that day, someone offered me a hug. When I told Penny Tompkins that I needed to ‘move through’ something, she suggested a walk, and one of the other participants went with me. When another participant was invited to find a bed and lie down, I took the opportunity to do the same. Although it was tough, the whole thing flowed perfectly.
At the end of that day I worked with Marian Way and Caitlin Walker on reclaiming the power I'd given away in the past in the expectation that I would be looked after (but wasn't). It was a healing session and I am so grateful for it. Simply by bringing my awareness to the past situations and acknowledging them, I was able to let go and realise more of where I am and what I am now. I was more able to be, respond to myself and be responsible. At the time it didn’t make any sense, and afterwards I wrote, “What just happened? It feels like nothing. I felt feelings and I got information, but just because I have gone through this process, is it so? Got to practice. Keep her safe, feed and water her and let her go her own way and have fun. She is your guide, regard her as such.” Later, when I read what I’d written, I realised that this was me regarding myself differently and that my initial outcome had been fulfilled.
In the past, I’ve done all sorts of workshops and crazy things, and although I have had experiences and insights, I have always yearned for massive change and hoped the event would do it for me. During Adventures in Clean I realised that the biggest potential for change lies simply in the grounding and daily practice of what the event has brought to my attention. This opened a door for me to start working in a different way. I am now going to bed earlier, drinking less wine and doing more yoga – and I seem to have more time in my life.
Seeing five people do ‘clean’ in their different ways has also taken off the pressure I was putting myself under to get it ‘right’. There is so much freedom in that – and it is not just in relation to working cleanly. I am more willing to give things a go in other situations, and I’ve let go of trying to work things out beforehand. I have a deeper sense of trust.
Although I signed up for professional development, I, along with everyone else, went through my own personal journey that weekend, and I believe that has helped me with the professional stuff. I think you can only facilitate a client to as far as you are yourself.
Tags: adventures in clean, personal development, professional development, james lawley, marian way, caitlin walker, penny tompkins, clean language, metaphor landscape, change, personal journey, modelling