The subtle and the physical. Both are all around us all the time. The eyes see the physical and we perceive it as “real”, tangible. It often takes more than the eyes to “see” or sense the subtle. Since we have learned to rely on our eyes, we have lost much of our conscious connection to the subtle. Yet, it is all around and within us even as many of us are oblivious to it. It is a natural extension of the physical phenomena or/and the physical is a natural extension of the subtle. Yet we complicate our understanding of the subtle, ignore it, believe it inaccessible or non-existant. Or, believe that if it does exist, only a few really gifted people can access it.
Speaking for myself, up until a few years ago, I didn’t believe those gifted people included me. Now I know we all have this “gift”. It is a sense many of us are re-learning, remembering how to tune into.
This understanding was one of the things at the heart of the call for Hosting From a Deeper Place: The Art of Hosting the Subtle, co-hosted by Narjara Thamiz, Gustavo Prudente, Jerry Nagel and me. Our time together was guided with the purpose of “joining together in a learning field to deepen individual and collective capacity to host complexity.” Implicit in that purpose statement is the notion that in order to host complexity well, we need to tune into, discern and understand the subtle, the energetics, the deeper patterns that are also at play. Tapping into this in an intentional way has the potential to shift the nature of the work we are in and the results we achieve.
Openly talking about the subtle has challenged many of us in the work we do. Too many times we have bumped up against hearing that this way of working is “woo-woo“. “Don’t want any of that “woo-woo” stuff here, we need practical results.” Yet, when work is in flow, when it is emergent and generative, people understand that something different happened, that something impactful, useful and powerful has influenced the results, the actions flowing out of the work. We have been trying to find ways to describe it, words and phrases that are understood and accepted in the world of business, government, non-profit. Yet truly hosting from this deeper place is beyond words, beyond knowing and beyond not knowing. This is the exploration that called us. What does it means to access this place with intentionality, a place of presence.
The first time I explicitly remember hosting from a deeper place was with Jerry Nagel the first time we hosted together in Nova Scotia in 2011. We looked beneath individual behaviours that were sparking to discover the patterns underneath, working with the subtle field. Tapping into the deeper patterns elicited design ideas that produced a complete shift in energy, in relationship and conversation within the group. We happened upon this through inquiry and, when we noticed the palpable shift in the space, became curious about what we had tapped into.
In my last post, I wrote about our design process, about being in the not knowing and riding the waves of emergence that kept surfacing during our time together at Hosting From a Deeper Place in Brazil. It was all part of working with the subtle and working with the subtle went much deeper than that.
Some of the people who came, came because of an intense curiosity about the subtle, including people who have had near death experiences, experiences with shifts in consciousness, with tapping into different dimensions. They arrived with curiosity about what we meant by the subtle, invisible forces, that which is before the naming. Their experiences, our experiences, as diverse as the number of people who came.
The subtle field showed up, in subtle and not so subtle ways. The beautiful property of Espaço Arco-Íris was designed for this kind of work and hosts groups in this kind of energetic field.
Despite interest from many parts of the world, the people who responded live in North and South America. In our opening circle, Narjara remembered a dream she had in the early days of our conversation about this gathering. She had dreamt of a condor, not knowing what it was, discovering the Hopi prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor, a meeting of cultures and energies, a shift from leadership from the mind (North America) to leadership from the heart (South America).
The hosting team designed for the first day and a half. The third day was co-created with participants. The fourth day was open space. We were holding the mystical and practical in our field and this too showed up in the open space. A session on tarot cards was offered for messages related to our gathering and other events in Brazil at the moment. Jerry offered the flow game, a mystical tool itself applied to deep and often practical questions people bring as they host themselves.
I offered a question about spirit guides, guardian angels and power animals, what do they have to do with our work? As I write this I notice my own tension between wanting to share this story and my uncertainty about how it will be perceived by people who read it, who were not there, wanting to honour the integrity of each of us who were part of this overall experience of Hosting From a Deeper Place, not all of whom were part of the session I called.
Taking a deep breath, I am continuing to share, inviting those who continue to read to bring your curiosity and open heartedness to what you read.
My open space session turned into two as someone in the circle shared that one of the participants channels a guardian and would we welcome the guardian into our circle with any messages meant for us?
Anita Gomes joined our circle, noticing that the guardian she channels was indicating she wanted to share with our circle. The guardian’s name is Vó Antônia or Grandma Antônia. She is a “Preta Velha”, from Umbanda, a Brazilian religion that blends African religions with Catholicism, Spiritism, and considerable indigenous lore.
Vó Antônia is an old black woman with completely different characteristics and mannerisms than Anita. She also has a lovely manner and a beautiful sense of humour. Those in our now expanded circle had both personal questions and broader questions for her.
There were key messages that resonated for me. Vó Antônia shared with us there is no need to doubt the existence of the subtle. It is as real as the physical. There are entities, beings, guides that support each and every one of us, whether we are aware of them or not. We are on the same team, we just live in different houses. When asked if we should be looking for signs she told us it is long past the time when we need to look for signs. No books falling off of shelves, windows being rattled, doors opening mysteriously, smoke signals being sent. It is far simpler than we make it out to be.
We rely on our eyes too much. They give us false information. We look for physical beauty. We look for ways to show how special we are, how gifted we are. Seeing through the heart allows us to see through many false pretences. Seeing in this way we will be in our knowing. We will be able to trust our knowing, trust ourselves.
It is not too late to save the planet. We are already working in service of the planet. We do not need to be afraid. As above, so below. As within, so without. As in the physical, so in the subtle.
Our gathering might seem small but its impact is significant. When we leave, we simply need to keep doing what we are doing, seeing from the heart, knowing all is intertwined. Walking the paths that call us, living purposefully, meaningfully, intentionally. We are weaving the web of the past and the future together for the present moment.
For me, I came home from this experience in Brazil in the space of expansiveness, remembering from time to time to take a breath and sense beyond my physical form to where the boundaries blur and my consciousness swims, intermingled with other essences of and from the subtle. To remember that it is not two separate things – the physical and the subtle – it is all part of the same essence, each in its own way. To remember that my spiritual journey, my life journey, my career path are not separate things that I need to think about how to combine, work and the sacred are all essences of the same thing.
It was and is, of course, different for every one who was there. The group is still alive and sparking in beautiful, interconnected ways of story sharing. Many are sharing how they are hosting from a deeper place and what that means to them. Most of us are still in the discovery of what it means, how it is showing up, how the subtle and the practical are dancing together in powerful, beautiful, noticeable ways.
We are curious to see what more the story is becoming, what more we are each becoming, individually and collectively.
And, while we were told we didn’t need to look for signs, the pictures taken on our last day in our opening circle outside showing orbs of light in the sky and around each person in the circle no matter where we were standing seems a pretty good reflection of the energy field expanded by our time together in exploration of the practical and the subtle. Tricks of light or just light? Simple, really. Beauty and grace. Expansiveness from the heart.