What is the experience of being? I explored this inquiry in a two-part blog. In part one, I explored an interdependent understanding of being. In this blog, part two, I will introduce the 12 practices that support this new understanding of being.
This new dimension of being views humans as co-creators of our world. However, most psychological models relating to the self and human functioning imply that the self exists as a discrete, separate, and independent entity. Therefore, learning professionals, seldom appreciate this interdependent nature of being nor the generative capacity it reveals. They both impact learning and require unlearning.
To live between learning and unlearning entails a primary focus on intention, inquiry, imagination, and contemplation. We must clear our minds to sort out identities, penetrate distractions, prioritize concerns, disclose concealed impediments, and tune in to an intersubjective experience to co-create our existence.
If we can become open to this possibility, the question then becomes how to clear ourselves to reveal and tune into the vessel that we are?
Getting Closer to the Experience of Being
This journey requires much more than mere knowledge of theories and concepts.
We are not proposing practice in what we know or how we do things. We are proposing practice for differentiating being to clarify who we are.
This kind of practice requires becoming present to our humanness as a fluid, interdependent, interconnected being – to become aware of the felt experience of being. The practice of being opens up a dimension of our humanity that can increase performance without increasing the compulsion and wants that also increase anxiety.
Practice precedes performance. We become intentional to test our understanding of knowledge, to question our assumptions and to reveal the causes and conditions that intersect to create experiences.
These practices discovered through research and contemplative learning will expand our presence to reveal our interdependent being: our temporal nature, internal state, and our possibility as co-creators (as distinguished in part one).
Our 12 Practices
As we have grown to become Bhavana Learning Group, we have also codified our multi-year inquiry into the practices for developing an interdependent awareness.
Part of our shift involved exploring and examining rigorous practices that access our being to expand our presence: To weave together our past and future, reveal impediments, integrate lessons and realize possibility.
I have organized these 12 Practices in three vessels, each preparing learners to integrate wisdom into an interdependent awareness.
- Grounding Vessel– Practices 1 through 4 – develops a foundation for our view, speech, and actions.
- Fruition Vessel– Practices 5 through 8 – expands grounding to cultivate commitment and possibility.
- Fertile Vessel– Practices 9 through 12 – extends and deepens the previous learning to co-create.
The key for each practice below denotes how we exist with or without each practice. I have also linked some resources after each practice to support an inquiry.
= With PRACTICE = Without PRACTICE
This practice cultivates my attention so that I observe my experience – the perceptions, emotions, thoughts and other causes, conditions, and contexts that influence me.
I react to events and circumstances, and I allow deadlines and tasks to determine my actions.
This practice honors my word as whole and complete, and it affects my speaking, action, livelihood and agreements to cultivate trust.
My fragmented attention and casual speaking create incongruences between my words and deeds, causing confusion, uncertainty, and distrust.
The practice of bringing conscious thought to the present moment. Being deliberate and responsible in my motivation, attitude, and direction, manifesting as mindful choosing, speaking, and action.
My reactions rest on sentimental wishes, wishful thinking, and my casual aims and heartfelt desires.
With this practice, I take custody of my unified being – who I’ve been, who I am and who I will become. My interactions reveal the possibility of being fully human.
My preoccupation with fitting in, adapting to norms and my self-image guides my priorities, concerns, and actions.
This practice focuses my awareness of deepening concentration below the surface to gain insight.
I automatically react to events and tasks, skimming, and scanning communications. I am unable to delve below surface thoughts or emotions for a sustained period.
I practice reflecting on things as they are. I recreate others, acknowledge situations, and receive concerns from a foundation of wholeness and background of possibilities.
My split attention leads to stepping over items, ignoring details, and taking shortcuts. I learn to tolerate unnecessary missteps, which requires more time and energy.
7. DEEP LISTENING
My practice of bare attention and receptive awareness allows things to be revealed — for me to be with others as they are and to receive their concerns fully.
I listen only for the information I need to manage my tasks and solve my problems.
With my practice of devotional resolve – cognitively, emotionally, and volitionally – I find serene direction in surrendering to something larger than myself.
My life consists of obligations and perpetual, monotonous tasks that find me aimlessly drifting without direction.
My practice of envisioning possibilities opens untapped potential beyond daily activities, problems, and what seems conceivable. This practice taps into a nonlinear view and poetic mind, which seeds my empathy to be with others’ experiences.
I am a practical and analytical problem solver and effortlessly discover solutions to resolve problems. Within a linear view, I am seduced by quick fixes and immediate results.
With the practice of rigorous focus and attention, I can cut through noise and distractions to choose wisely among different needs, concerns, and priorities to gain clarity.
My indecisiveness has made me unable to scrutinize, evaluate, or penetrate the morass of choices and distractions, becoming inattentive to the quality of my output.
This practice challenges me to live in the question and explore situations with humility, curiosity, and interest in the face of the unknown.
I reflexively seek out answers and solutions and stop questioning once I discover them.
12. COMMUNITY AS CONTEXT
This practice ultimately determines what it is to be a person because becoming a “self” happens in community. This practice expands my view of “self” and community as mutually dependent on causes and conditions – a point of view that unifies and views coherence in the flow of experiences.
I believe I am a discrete, fixed, and solid entity. I am an independent and individual identity to protect and defend.
Practice Cultivates Wisdom
The experience of practice is quite different from behaviors, knowledge or “tools.”
- Each of these 12 Practices expands our view to cultivating the experience of being as interdependent.
- Each is connected through a progressive sequence: the first vessel (Practices 1 – 4) is fundamental, and the subsequent vessels (Practices 5 – 8, and Practices 9 – 12) expand on previous vessels.
- Each lives beyond conceptual understanding to include experience (not simply knowledge) for deeper understanding.
- Each also opens a new perspective and framework with techniques and trainings that establish routines and rituals to cultivate wisdom.
- And finally, each includes resources to begin an ongoing practice.
The practice of practice leads to greater clarity and wisdom by 1) applying new understanding 2) internalizing our learning, and 3) embodying our experience of learning on the way to 4) expanding to an integrated being.
Many programs promise these same results, but such promises stem from a mistaken conclusion about learning, unlearning, and wisdom: to know the content (about the thing) is not living the context (felt experience of being).
“We are not proposing practice in what we know or how we do things. We are proposing practice for differentiating being to clarify who we are.”
I’ll leave the larger implications for another blog. Suffice it to say that only greater clarity of causes and conditions reveals the beliefs that lead to our consumption and desires that impede the experience of greater satisfaction that already exists.
Our (dis)satisfaction is rooted more in unexamined assumptions rather than one more “missing” thing to consume, acquire, or leverage. As the Buddha taught, “Those who act with few desires are calm, without worry or fear.”
With this deeper awareness of being, we view concerns about performance as mutually dependent on the wisdom found at the source of our freedom.
And that begins with practice.
Reading Time: 8 min. Digest Time: 15 min
Tony Zampella is the learning designer at Bhavana Learning Group, which serves coaches, educators, and learning professionals and executives.
As an instructor, researcher, and designer of contemplative learning programs and practices, Tony’s work explores the human side of change by bringing wisdom to learning. His focus includes ontological inquiry, Integral meta-theory, and Buddhist wisdom to sustain contemplative practice.