“awakening a giant within me”

Thursday, November 27th, 2008 | Uncategorized

a week ago in namibia we had a design team meeting preparing a workshop with the top team at the ministry of health. one of the participants of that meeting happened to be a director of the Ministry who had participated in the first offsite workshop that we had conducted with that group back in August. asked what his experience of that first offsite was like he responded by giving several examples in terms of changed behavior (leading through listening) and higher level of self awareness and self reflection. he summed up his account by using a phrase that i had never heard before: IT FELT LIKE AWAKENENING A GIANT WITHIN ME. the moment i heard that phrase it connected to a whole set of other experiences that resonate with that phrase. i realized that over the past few weeks the intensity and the transfomative power and presence of collective workshop experiences has probably gone even more up. its true for many different settings, sectors, and cultures over the past few weeks.

Mary in her comment to the last post gave her own account by talking about the boston presencing program:   “the experience created a sense of personal power (with not over others!) to contribute to making the world different…  I have made one or two first steps at engaging others to create the future but am still a bit dazzled by the light of the workshop. The door feels open for us to walk through- I’m making some early steps…”

Just now the past 5 days i spent in bali with a group of 29 amazing young leaders from indonesia:  its a tri-sector group from business, government and from civil society that uses the ELIAS model of a U type collective transformation and renewal journey, with the intention to prototype new ways of innovating across sectors. i first met this group at MIT in september. this was the second longer workshop (sensing and presencing). very moving and powerful what happened among us throughout this process. it just takes my words away…  AND it resulted in a powerful outburst of collective creativity and the crystallization of five prototyping initiatives…

what is your experience? do you also experience that the intensity, sacred presence and the transformative power of the collective experiences you are having is going up? is it a more widely spread phenomenon? or is it different?


11 Comments to “awakening a giant within me”

Chris Corrigan
November 27, 2008


Yes noticing that, noticing a hunger for exploring collective leadership that happens within a collective experience of “field” as opposed to “team.” Some of us who deliver Art of Hosting workshops were joking recently that it’s only a matter of time before we start saying that these are collective spiritual retreats!

It does speak to something of the experience that people have when they work like this. In the context of decolonizing work – like the work I do in indigenous communities here in Canada – that experience of awakening the giant is felt as “practical decolonization,” or the recovery of power that was unknown, forgotten or lost. It happens on an individual level and then, when we get it right, on a collective level. When it emerges in community, things really start to shift and very old teachings begin to appear, Elders lend themselves to work in a more profound way, and youth become solidly integrated in the present and future of their communities.

I can’t say that every piece of work we do has those kinds of results, but they are more and more frequent. It may be because we are paying attention more in our work and therefore noticing the power when it awakens and pausing to acknowledge it and inquire into what it might do. Regardless there is a quickening of this experience and it has important implications.

Dave Ebenhoh
December 3, 2008

That giant is the force of our true identity – our deepest power, beauty, holiness and vision – expanding with a force and energy from within the very center of who we are, surrounding, lifting, and then carrying our surface identities out into the world.
Chris mentioned “joking” about these kinds of collective experiences being “spiritual retreats” – and I find it interesting that wherever I go and in many conversations, people hesitate to use this language of the spirit and spirituality, even among those who are clearly pushing this envelope. Why are we still afraid and/or embarrassed to own that we are awakening the spirit? It is time to reclaim this language from its distorted usage among so many structures of organized religion. Our hesitation in calling the spirit what it is holds us back in this movement forward.
As the late John O’Donohue said, “The spirit and soul dimensions are not luxury items but are actually the very origins and source which will enable everything to flow…. the invisible world is a secret hidden resource.”

Ilma Barros
December 3, 2008

This story reminded my own quest for understanding the experience of wholeness some years ago. I asked the question: what is wholeness, as part of my studies. And in order to free my mind from data, readings, and so on. I took pottery lessons and there is an interesting concept in the art of pottery called centering, which means to go back to the center, to find personal strengths within. In order to accomplish a strong effect in pottery one must be supported on his or her own axle. In this process the person becomes one with the wheel and the clay, and then a piece of art will come out of this integration. But it requires the complete immersion of the person in the process, complete presence, and total awareness of the present. I wrote this piece in 2001 in my Ph.D. dissertation, and I remember questioning whether or not one could purposefully learn such process without practicing pottery. And it was only in 2006 that I realized, when I went through the ELIAS and experienced the U curve, that in fact it is possible!

Ria Baeck
December 3, 2008

Since a longer period of time I am noticing that gatherings, conferences, workshops ‘build on each other’, even when the participants are not the same. Recently I named this as ‘building grooves’ in the collective consciousness. The more we design and have these experiences, the easier it is for the ones coming next into that experience to pick up the resonance or the frequencies. There have been research experiments to check this and it really exists. Also related to the work of Rupert Scheldrake about morfogenetic fields.
What happens if we are more consciously aware of this, and use it intentionally in order to support the intentional evolution of humanity?
Thanks for your books Otto!

Chris Corrigan
December 4, 2008

Lovely Dave…it’s true that the language of spirit is one of those languages that is sometimes scary. Perhaps that is because of the connotations and implications that come from using it. It is really true power, and when unleashed it’s hard to put back.

Harrison Owen, the creator of Open Space Technology, is unrepentant in using the word spirit for what happens when groups find their next level. It’s the basis of his work on inspired organizations.

The O’Donohugh quote is terrific. I’ll report that one on my blog.

Corina Velicu
December 10, 2008

A new option of views comes into place. Maybe it has been there all the time, but our perception to it was not yet ready educated. Seems like a whole generation founded a new tool which we have no clue yet how to use. Still my thinking is that we all should take it as real and quit doubting it… and so, we don’t use the time finding evidence, but we enjoy it. Also because the ones sensing that need no further proof. This is here, getting conscious life. The giant is the unique ability that is in us to be one and the acknowledgment of that suddenly offers infinite possibilities, lessens fear, increases communication, decreases depression and anxiety, creates a new reality and so a new perception of life. It happens. Is here. Open Space, Systemic Constellations, Mindfulness, U theory, it bursts out like a waterfall, now there is no finish to it. My question would be (rhetorical) are we going to learn to guide this huge energy so we implement workable and sustainable solutions for a healthy world? Or we will keep on sleeping in the comfortable bed of righteousness and ignorance?

Clarissa Sawyer
December 10, 2008

Within my circles in the Boston area of consultants and energy healers I also feel a building/emerging shift. The dominant paradigm of knowing/doing/sensing is being released, and something ancient and timeless that was set aside and denigrated centuries, but never forgotten, is now reemerging. Sleeping in the bed of ignorance is no longer possible because it is now a bed of nails. The challenge is helping people to feel and know with their whole heart, mind, and spirit, that in any moment, anything is possible.

December 23, 2008

wow. what a great dialogue here. so yes, this all seems to be part of a bigger picture. it is appropriate to use the language of spirit. but, dave, as you said, its a word that is damaged by organized religion. which is why i ended up using the term presencing: a (made up) word that has no history, hence that does not come with any baggage.

Toni Stafford
December 23, 2008

What I notice is that everyone I connect with on a regular basis has accepted that humankind is standing at a major crossroads of some sort. What’s interesting is that each individual has his/her own explanation for what is occuring.

Of course, there’s a continuum of experience ranging from fear and chaos to hope and co-creating a positive future. Which, of course, also mirrors the U.

I appreciate all the comments here. To Corina, “are we going to learn to guide this huge energy?” — my personal daily answer continues to be: No, we are awakening to the realization that we are already co-creating the ‘huge energy’. Once enough of us accept responsibility for having co-created the current socio-economic-environmental status, then we may become responsible stewards of all of the interdependent planetary systems.

Otto, thanks for creating a container for this conversation.

January 19, 2009

yes, toni, its true what you say: everyone recognizes that we are standing at a collective crossroad. that is particularly clear now here in the US as we happen to be on the eve of the obama inauguration event…

February 12, 2009

Hi all,

Awakening the Giant within is a book by Anthony Robins, but you probably know that! It is interesting to me that this ‘concept’ is such a timeless one, which is labelled and sought in so many ways. All of the enlightened ones of the past not only described it but fully awakened that true self within. I really connect with the idea that what we need to do is remove what did not originally belong to us, in order to truely find that pure and original spirit. I am attempting to stumble along that path. I love reading the past scriptures, alongside so much modern wisdom. I would really recommend Echkart Tolle, A New Earth too, which you’ve all probably read anyway…i hope that i can realise that potential within, and that i do not only understand it as a mental concept!

At the moment in Australia we are in the midst of great tragedy. Within the loss and sufferring there is of course so much awakening and realisation – in terms of the spirit of empathy, giving, community, and much more. Is anything really good or bad, and what is the true purpose of sufferring? Again there are many answers to be found but can i realise that from within? Can we that find unconditional gratitude and love, and realise our intrinsic oneness? Can we afford not to?

There is a story of a little sparrow. It was lying in the ground with its feet up in the air. A man walked past and asked, what are you doing there little sparrow? The sparrow answered that she was holding up the sky, which was at risk of falling. The man replied mockingly, you are so small and insignificant, how could you make a difference?! The sparrow explained, it is because of that attitude that they sky is falling.

I like that story, it reminds me that I make a difference, in one way or another. It reminds me to turn my thoughts and shift my energy toward brightness. I hope I can make a difference to the world today.

Thanks for all your care and efforts to make the world a better place.

All the best,

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