This page is about group practices. For do-it-yourself practices, read Start Your Day Right with the Fundamental Skills Routine and Handle Any Challenge Using Our Existing Applications. For two-person practices, read The Secret Practice of Old-Timers in Joyful Wisdom: Co-Mentoring and Supplementary Methods.
In the Joyful Wisdom Community Groups, we practice a yoga of centered and sacred conversation that is based on the four fundamental skills on our index page. We accomplish this through five practices, three of which are unique to us.
Our groups consider conversation and community to be Practices with a capital P. As in yoga, our conversations are practices that you would ordinarily not use in your daily life. As in yoga, you get the greatest benefits when you establish a regular practice.
Just like in a yoga class, our groups employ a warm-up period, a section of main practices, and a completion section.
Fundamental Skill: Activating your chakras. Every group begins with a heart chakra meditation. During this guided meditation, we activate the heart chakra through breathing, and then flow more and more energy through it to various groups and wider circles of people. This leads to a palpable sense of deeper compassion (including for difficult people), a connection to other people that is unmarred by self-interest, and a sense of oneness.
When chi energy is flowing at its strongest, we contract our focus to just the people in the meeting. This sets the state for the rest of the meeting, and helps create the energy shifts that most people experience most of the time.
In the process of activating the heart, we sometimes spontaneously activate many other chakras, occasionally changing the focus of the meditation altogether.
Fundamental Skill: Visualization. The topic varies greatly, depending on the group. Sometimes the topic is a guided meditation or other method, sometimes it is a personal request, and sometimes it’s a video or book that we’ve looked at or read between meetings.
In recent years, here are some of the different topics our groups have used.
- A meditation or method from someone like Jean Houston.
- A video by Matt Kahn or a movie, such as Wayne Dyer’s “The Shift.”
- Members take turns choosing the topic, which could be a personal problem, project, a goal, or a concern.
- A social problem, such as our tendency to “partition” ourselves from other people (i.e. how we set up walls between ourselves and other groups or individuals).
- A common goal, such as improving health.
I’ve identified the Fundamental Skill that’s related to the Topic as “Visualization,” because this is where it’s most likely to show up as part of the practice.
However you choose your topic, you’ll enjoy the Chrysalis, which is the next element of our meetings. You’ll end up:
- Knowing more about yourself
- Clarifying your dreams
- Having insight about the real truth
- Overcoming the fear that holds you back
- Being clear about what to do next
- Understanding the reasons for your confusion
- Becoming motivated and in motion
- Letting go of unhappiness about what’s bothering you.
Fundamental Skill: Inner Silence. The Chrysalis alternates between inner silence and dialog. The difference this makes is profound and impossible to really convey, because the results are so far outside of our normal experience. In general, communication within a Chrysalis has the cleanest energy of any communication you’ll ever encounter. People report a sense of expanded energy, a feeling that ego has disappeared, and an almost telepathic connection within the group.
Inner silence is difficult, so we don’t just go back and forth between talking and inner silence. After each person has spoken, for instance, we have a step where we silently notice our reactions. This brief moment of simply acknowledging our reactions enables us to later let go of them completely when we move into inner silence.
After letting go completely, we speak more authentically from the heart, we listen more completely without judgment, and we reflect more deeply on the message we’ve just heard.
The Chrysalis tends to put everyone involved into an altered state of consciousness. To enable participants to remember why they’ve made such a profound shift in their life energy, we’ve added several steps, such as writing new insights in a journal at the end of the Chrysalis.
The Acknowledgment Round
This is a fundamental skill from Positive Psychology. Most children are raised with more criticism than acknowledgment, and most of us live our lives without having the opportunity to acknowledge others or to be acknowledged by others. In addition, we are trained to avoid acknowledging ourselves.
In the Acknowledgment round, each person in the meeting acknowledges something in each of the others, as well as something in themselves. We’ve found that this practice tends to generalize to other parts of our lives. Thus, this practice makes a big difference to ourselves and our communities.
Conscious Evolution or Boosting
Fundamental Skill: Directing your chi energy. In all of my years of research, I’ve never found a process like this one. Basically, in this exercise, you think of all of the positive things that other people in the group have just acknowledged you for or that you have acknowledged about yourself.
Choose just one thing. Then you send energy into that thing. It’s like watering a plant to make it grow.
You can learn to use this method privately at this link: Conscious Evolution: Boost What You Will Become. However, what we do in our groups is slightly different.
The Parking Lot
This is not a fundamental skill. The reason we have a Parking Lot in our meetings is to provide a place for topics that come up that don’t belong in our meetings. Unrelated conversations would detract from any yoga class, so the Parking Lot is simply a method of keeping those distractions to a manageable level.
The History of Conversational Yoga
In the Joyful Wisdom Community, we’ve experimented with a lot of different conversation formats, and although we’ve settled on several of them as our main method, the other two formats were very powerful when we were using them.
In 2011 at the very beginning, the Joyful Wisdom Community (which was at that time called the “Clarity Community”) consisted of groups of two people each who got together with one another once a week to have a Joyful Wisdom Conversation. These dyads were called “Clarity Buddies”—who were (or are) essentially practice partners. (We still have some Joyful Wisdom Buddies who’ve continued meeting since that time.)
We used three basic conversational “asanas” (or exercises), based on which one fits the topic we’re discussing.
- The Chrysalis
- A Talking Stick, Talking Mirror conversation
- The Clear Choice Conversation
We reciprocated. If I wanted to talk about my worries or hopes today, next week, we’ll talk about my buddy’s concerns. We were not therapists—just friends who knew how to tune in to our deepest wisdom and share it.
Almost year later, we started having groups. We dropped the Clear Choice Conversation, which is essentially only a two-person method. We began experimenting with meetings that used other topics, other meditations, and the like.
The pieces of the meeting that stuck are the things we do today. Other elements of our meetings did not stick so well, and Talking Stick, Talking Mirror, though not officially gone, is seldom requested in our groups.