For several years now, I have been wanting to offer my in-person workshops and one-on-one sessions to interested folks who live far away or are unable to attend in person. I am not alone in this desire, and I have watched as virtual interaction has become a burgeoning new field in teaching and learning. There is something in me, though, that is stopped not just by the technology or its learning curve, but perhaps by its remaining lack of seamlessness in communication. I am a highly single-focused person, and my work shines when it is just me, the person or group I am working with, and the sacredness of the space we are in.
I have been holding a belief that long-distance learning has to include live audio or video participation in a group, recordings of the group for those who are unable to accommodate even the distance sessions into their busy schedules, written background or class notes, supplementary informational videos, an online forum for everyone to engage in stimulating on-going conversation, and a passel of related gifts for joining. None of this matches the energy, intention, or spirit of my own work.
I have also been coming to believe more and more firmly that stepping outside our comfort zone is not always the best path to success. (Granted, my definition of “stepping out” seems to be a bit more intense than others’, but that’s another story…) I am finding more and more that allowing myself to do simply what comes easily to me, and is the most fun, supports my endeavors best.
And that brings us to the Great White Paper Experiment.
It is as simple as this. I thought it would be fun this summer to offer a weekly gathering for interested people here in Missoula to explore self-healing with me, based on a wide range of ideas and experiences which have grown out of my own self-healing adventure. I was faced, again, with the question of how can I include those who are interested in the thoughts and material but who cannot attend the in-person explorations with this group?
The simple answer was to use my gift. I write well. People typically enjoy my writing, and it also benefits me to organize my thoughts in this way. My own deepest learning often comes from sitting, alone, with a written word – either someone else’s or my own copious notes from workshops or conversations – and taking it in over and over again. This idea quickly grew into the White Papers.
My summer “gathering” now has two aspects. Interested folks can sign up for the in-person group for the summer (which includes the white papers), or, for half-price, can sign up to receive the white papers only, via email. These come out each week after the live session and are developed for each Exploration based on the organic progression and growth of ideas as the summer progresses. Anyone who signs up is welcome to open personal discussions with me via email about the material and thoughts being explored, as my time permits. Anyone may sign up to receive the full set of white papers at any time between now and Labor Day. When the availability of the in-person group ends, the availability of the White Papers ends as well. I will be on to something else.
The outcome of this experiment remains to be seen. So far, it has been encouraging and gives me lots of room to play. It is easy to forget, in this world of business competition and marketing hype, that there are plenty of people out there just like me – people who are interested in thoughtful and authentic ideas and who appreciate the opportunity to revisit them in a written form and simply sit with them in silence.