Summary of Sicily

Tuesday 4 September, 2001

Karaj, Ishwar and I left the hotel early in order to get some space from the rest of the group. We tried in vain to get on an earlier flight which would have been ideal, especially in view of the fact that our flight ended up being delayed by three and a half hours. We made it back to England very tired and relieved to be home.

Responsibility

Karaj handed me all responsibility for organising everything, for making sure people were satisfied and for looking after and supporting him throughout. I heard him tell Dev on the first day to come to me with any problems because that would give me the power I needed to be effective in my role. He was right. I thoroughly enjoyed the responsibility and did not, at any time, allow the power I had been given get the better of me. It allowed me to see more clearly what it means to be a man. There were other occasions when this was further reinforced and it was at these times that I realised how much growing I still have to do – I am still a little boy in many respects, but the Sicily experience allowed me to see for myself that I can handle responsibility in a mature and appropriate way, and it showed me what I need to do – in short, be unreasonable.

Seeing My Negativity & My Emotions

The head wound on day two opened a clear pathway to the negative part of me which has always been there but which has gone unnoticed. I realise now that there is a part of who I am which constantly tries to sabotage my life and undermine me in any way it can. Strangely, I felt enormous relief at this realisation because it all made sense to me – I could identify the source of my negativity. Furthermore, I was not frightened of this negativity – as Karaj would tell us later on in the workshop: half the battle is recognising negativity and keeping it in sight. Over the next few hours and days I acknowledged this part of me and could even predict when it would register its intent.

Because of the intense nature of the course, my emotional side was exposed to me in a way which allowed me to see just how controlled I am by my emotions. That has been a great help to me because, in the same way that the identification of the negative aspect of my being has helped me to predict my negativity, so it is with my emotions. I have no idea how I can combat them but from what I have learned over the past 18 months, all I have to do is acknowledge their existence, be aware of them when they rise, and relax.

Congruency & Procedures

From the model we studied, the homework we did and the comprehensive, written feedback I received from the men I have a very good idea of my own congruency and, moreover, I know what I need to do to check it and improve it – verbalise who and what I am to those who can give me useful feedback.

I also learnt that life is all about procedures. It is not about the big things, the great insights or the major breakthroughs. They are there to encourage us on our journey but the emphasis must be on the little things. Life is all about what happens from second to second which is why Karaj goes to such lengths to explain the importance of foundations. We need solid foundations before we can build any major structures and those foundations are maintained and strengthened with procedures. Without procedures we stand exposed and will most definitely suffer as a result.

Verbalisation

I become tired and unclear in the presence of women. Why this happens, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter – it’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is. This week has also further reinforced the power of verbalisation. It is vital that we talk to each other about what is happening to us, that we check our assumptions and that we feed back our perceptions to each other.

Detecting Negativity

I found positivity in the episode of negativity with Robert (and Ishwar). I could never have imagined that so much negativity could come from such a seemingly innocuous source and have such a devastating effect on EVERY single one of us. It taught me that negativity may not be obvious and that it can come from anywhere. It also taught me that the best thing I can do with it is to be aware of it, keep it in my sight, smile and get out as quickly and as quietly as I can. This episode also highlighted the effectiveness of good detective work – going back, systematically, through events to pinpoint changes of mood. That way we can identify why we feel the way we do. (See also: ‘Discover When, How & Why’.)

The Essence of Relaxation

I saw the essence of relaxing. Whenever I needed to see someone – usually Ishwar to hand over the room key – they would cross my path. Whenever I needed information it would fall into my lap. In the relaxed atmosphere of Sicily, even with all that was going on with the workshop, I was able to let go and everything worked out wonderfully. Furthermore, in my relaxed state I was able to appreciate the company of men more, and in my interactions with them I surprised myself. I was calmer, more comfortable, more entertaining and more eloquent than I ever imagined I could be.


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