I started writing this blog while in Portland, Oregon - in a five week intensive Processwork course. What I share below are my reflections based on my experience and interpretation - hence I am responsible for the views expressed.
"What is essence?" someone in the group asked.
"Watch this." said the facilitator. Stood there, eyes closed, quiet, knees bent, and ever so slightly swayed. From there, emerged a movement - a signal of something wanting to emerge. She began to amplify this movement to what looked like an expanding belly size expressed through her hand gesture, and then it began to grow into a big bubble (all the while we are only interpreting and she is still with eyes closed - and sharing only when she has an "Aha!" moment about what she is sensing). It started with being conscious about her belly area, to being a little shy, to feeling a sense of expansion and connectedness, to becoming aware of her essence: she is in that moment experiencing love - for teaching, for the work, and for sharing it with us.
In Processwork there are three levels of awareness that occur in any given situation or group.
First let me offer a book definition of what Processwork (Process-oriented psychology) is.
"It is based on the idea that one’s life process carries its own meaning. Process-oriented methods attempt to support the flow of the life process wherever it appears. New developments or changes are brought in from outside but also arise from within oneself through careful processing and unfolding of what is already happening." Process Work has become a holistic/comprehensive therapeutic system, with its own set of skills and methods, designed for "working with the entire spectrum of human experience" and applied to many areas such as working with conflict resolution, altered and extreme states of consciousness and group processes.
Processwork is rooted in Jungian psychology, alchemy, shamanism, Taoism and physics. With this influence, it is based on the premise that the solution to a problem is contained within the disturbance itself and provides a practical framework through which individuals, couples, families and groups can connect with greater awareness and creativity as they unfold their "process" or flow.
So back to the three levels of consciousness. What are they?
1. Consensus Reality: what is generally agreed to and visible i.e the sky is blue, the earth is round, science as dominant subjective way to interpret the world, medical system as the dominant way of treating ailments
2. Dreamland: an unknown/invisible realm for what is emerging and not agreed to yet, where a process is unfolding or wants to happen i.e signals and flirts (noticing indicators that express something that is not said), ghost roles (speaking about something not present), edges (saying something but looking like you don't mean it, giggling about something that makes you nervous, etc.)
3. Essence: a more unknown/invisible realm, background intelligence, gut instinct. This realm has the potential for tendencies to arise, but they haven't arisen yet, the point is, this is the place where they could (the source) and we don't know what could arise, but 'dropping into essence', means we are giving space for them to emerge, and for us to explore. In a group setting, this is referred to by Arnold Mindell, founder of Processwork, as the 'mmm' of the group (the sound the group makes).
Essence can also be referred to as purpose: "If we don't remember that something is moving us, we burn out." Hence the process to 'drop into essence' involves movement: closing your eyes, connecting, and allowing yourself to be moved. From this movement, you can start to sense and then to "see" something happening or that wants to happen in you or in the group that hasn't yet.
What this premise on a fundamental level re-instates is that there is so much more happening beneath the surface that we cannot see. There is always much more than meets the eye. As a facilitator especially, it is important to note that. Processwork is one way to take a peek and see what's there, inside, closer to the depths, and also to allow it to become visible.
Take this abstract information and concepts, and go back to the beginning of this post with the example I shared. Does it make more sense regarding how to 'drop into essence' and why?
In reflecting on what I shared, I express again as a new student in Processwork, these concepts are still rather difficult to explain, yet I am breaking down and sharing as best I can to offer you value in what you can take away from them - and trusting you will take away what you need.
Some reflection questions to leave you with: In which level of consciousness do you spend your time? How do you sense into the situations, decisions, and experiences in your life?
If you are a facilitator, consider when facilitating or being present in a large group - are you aware of what is emerging, are you sensing the group's "atmosphere", are you aware of how you are showing up? These are all key questions for someone stepping into a facilitation role. I often take a moment to breathe in, drop into essence, and become present before entering into the room (literally or figuratively) in my role as the facilitator.
If you have questions or comments please post them below and I'll be happy to respond to them.