Lessons unforgettable salons

Lessons unforgettable salons

For about 10 years, CHE has organized a salon every two weeks, with speakers who know and can go to the edge of their knowledge. This also requires an open, active attitude from the participants. Can they attune themselves to the subject in such a way that new knowledge becomes available?

People slowly trickle in on such an evening. They have tea, strike up a conversation with someone they know or look around when they first visit a salon. At seven o'clock sharp we start sketching the frame. The person who accompanies the evening, the host, sets the tone. This is not a lecture or a debate, but an evening where we want to develop awareness about the topic that will be brought up by the speaker. A group of people is not just a collection of individuals. It is also an evolving field of consciousness that can bring forth new ideas and ways of doing things.

There are different people in every salon. The group is never the same and yet over the years we have seen a special development that you could call a group-independent coherence. The field we've built up with the once-a-two-week pulse can be felt by first-time visitors. It is as if you enter a house where it is good to live and where you feel invited to step into your potential for a joint journey of discovery. Over the years we have discovered that there are four conditions for an unforgettable salon. A cloverleaf.

1. Activate the field

Suppose we can connect with all the knowledge that is available to humans, with the knowledge that is already known and the knowledge that is still untapped – what could we discover? The salon host has the task of being so connected with himself and therefore with the field of the salon that the attendees can click, as it were. One way to support this is to mention the destiny of the CHE – integral social renewal as a dedicated partnership in life – and the principles that mark the path we take to get there: we start from unity, we recognize the hierarchy in all life and fulfill the role that is our own, we act when the time is right and endure if not, we elucidate creative tension until new insight presents itself and we act on the basis of mutual trust, always willing to account to each other and the whole. Naming the destination and principles not only awakens the consciousness in the people present, it also activates the field of the salon.

2. Adopt an open attitude

What is there to discover tonight for you, for these coincidentally gathered attendees, for the world in transition? Discovering together requires an open attitude at all levels. Can you approach the subject with a beginner's mind, ie assuming you don't know what you don't know? Can you be open minded? Can you open your heart which includes not judging? One may talk a little weird, the other is unclear and the next says something you don't like. Despite that, can you remain curious, not respond to your own likes and dislikes, but keep your heart open (being open-hearted), for people no matter how baked they are?

The third aspect is open will. When you come to a salon to hear or learn something specific, you often come home with a rude awakening. The question here is whether you can go along with a process that unfolds as if it were a cautious first flower in spring. Can you want the highest attainable of the evening without imposing your will? Staying open in all three aspects is dancing on the tightrope. You always threaten to fall off and thereby place yourself outside the group, outside the process. Then you stand there and look at it and you are no longer a co-designer. Only when you have opened your mind, heart and will again, the adventure opens up for you again. It's like putting on goggles through which you suddenly see the fish that always swim below the surface of the sea but were previously invisible to you.

3. Speaking From Not Knowing

In a salon we conduct an exploratory conversation. After an experience and/or an introduction, we often break up into groups to exchange what the subject has triggered in everyone. What have you learned and what else can you learn when you listen to another's point of view or experience? You don't have to join. Each contribution is like a piece you build in the mosaic that only over time reveals the pattern that is being laid. As long as you speak from ignorance, everyone is on the edge of their seat. Where consciousness reveals itself, that's where you want to be.

It is also immediately noticeable when someone speaks from 'well-knowing'. It feels unmistakably as if a teacher is talking and explaining how the world works. In the first few years, the carefully constructed field of consciousness was immediately shattered. Then we had to start climbing again to a level where we could see new distances. Such an incident made it clear that we were working on something special together. After a few years, it turned out that those in attendance – whoever they were – could keep the field going when someone was riding a hobbyhorse. The group had to recover for a while, but after a short time was able to continue on a level of connection where the new makes itself known. In fact, it doesn't happen often anymore that someone can't resist the temptation to present themselves as an expert. The field is strong and it turns out to be much more attractive to discover what you want to bring in the middle without knowing in advance what it is.

4. Slowing Trust

When someone else expresses a thought that was still formulating itself with you, you get goosebumps. At such a moment it feels like you are creating something together and then it no longer matters whether the next piece of information comes through your mouth or that of the neighbor. Connected you follow the flow of insights that are gained in the now. That is a salon at its best. Our experience is that the chance of this happening is increased by delay. The first, quick response is often one of the ego getting excited by what is being said and wanting to participate. Wisdom has a somewhat slower pace. It lets the ego movement pass by like a ripple on a pond and then reveals from the depths something that has never been said or seen before. Speaking from the silence and letting the silence absorb what has been said is indispensable. In the silence after a speaker you can also feel whether it is your turn to add something. Sometimes you want to but you notice that you are not moving. Those who trust the process often go home feeling that while so much more could have been said, everything of significance has been shared.