I’m writing today to officially announce and describe a new program designed to support practice in daily life. I’ve decided to call it “Practice Partners”. Here is how the program will work:
• There is one requirement in order to be eligible to participate. The requirement is that you participate regularly in sangha (in the virtual groups offered Thursday and Sunday evenings and/or online classes, workshops, retreats, etc.)
• At the beginning of the program, and then again once a quarter, there will be a training session over Zoom. The training will focus primarily on the practice of facilitation, but will include other aspects of the program as well.
• Everyone who signs on to participate will be assigned a partner. Your partner will be someone from the sangha—someone who does this practice and is also seeking support for their practice.
• You and your partner will set up a time to talk for an hour once a week.
• When you get on the phone with your partner you will decide who is going to process first, and who is going to facilitate.
• The person who is processing will use the time to talk about anything they choose, in terms of practice. Said another way, they will use the opportunity to bring awareness to some issue or challenge that they are facing in their life. I will talk more about how to process in this way during the group training call.
• The person who is facilitating will practice their facilitation skills while the other person shares. The primary skill is called “reflective listening”. This is a simple but profound technique that assists people to actively listen and support another person while they speak. The secondary skills are called “drawing out” and “clarifying”. During the training call we will explore these skills so that everyone understands what they are practicing while they are in the facilitator role during the calls.
• Halfway through the calls you will switch roles with your partner. If you were processing for the first half of the call then you will facilitate during the second half, and vice-versa.
• If there are problems that arise in the partnerships you will have a way to communicate with a volunteer (whom I will be actively supporting) who can help sort things out.
• Your commitment to the program will last for one quarter/three months. At the end of the quarter we will ask everyone if they would like to continue to participate and we will invite new folks to join. We will then pair everyone with new partners, do another training call, and begin again.
• It’s possible as well that we’ll do support calls occasionally during the quarter so that people have an opportunity to talk about their experience as facilitators and to get some additional coaching.
That’s the scoop! I hope you will consider participating. I know from my own experience (I have several practice partners of this sort in my own life) that it is wonderfully supportive and inspiring to have someone to practice with in this way, and I anticipate that you will enjoy the experience of having a relationship with another person that is founded in spiritual practice. If you would like to join in, just let me know by sending me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your attention, be safe and well, and I hope to see you before long in group!