Since 1979, Council has been our primary practice supporting group interaction, conflict resolution, storytelling, decision-making and co-visioning. It provides a primary tool for building community and, along with mindfulness practice, forms the core of TOF’s form of governance. The roots of Council also can be found in many earth-cherishing cultures around the world, as well as in classical Greek culture. Council trainings occur at The Ojai Foundation and in many parts of the United States, Europe and around the world.
In recent years, Council is being used increasingly in a variety of settings such as communities, schools, prisons, churches, groups of healing professionals, families, couples and in the business world as well. It has provided a timely context for exploring differences without the pressure for agreement or even consensus. The underlying intention of Council moves us towards a partnership model for action, rather than one based on the hierarchy of dominance. It helps a group to build a state of interactive meditation in which sensitivity, patience and spontaneous compassion are encouraged. In Council we learn how to release the personal sense of having to “do it all,” without abdicating our individual responsibility or power to initiate. Through time and practice, we develop a felt sense of interbeing and an awareness of our interconnectedness.
WHICH COUNCIL TRAINING IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Generally speaking, “Council Training 1: Introduction to Council,” is the best place to start. This weekend offering is a powerful and inspiring introduction to the practice of Council and provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the roots of the practice as well as the unique lineage of The Ojai Foundation. The fundamentals and nuances of the forms and modalities in council are explored in some depth and a good deal of background is offered on the intentions and languaging used in the practice. In addition to a grounding in the basic forms and tools of Council, the broader applications to a variety of personal and professional settings are explored. It is a rich and dynamic opportunity to immerse oneself in and explore the foundational practice of Council and its application to the participants’ lives and work.
“Intro to Council for Educators,” focuses on preparing teachers (as well as counselors and administrators) to facilitate the process in their classrooms. This training is recommended as a follow-on to the Council 1 course. It offers an opportunity to delve into the specific issues that are uncovered as one integrates Council in the classroom and into a school community, spending time on Council in mainstream pedagogy and issues of classroom management and practicalities. In addition to experiential sections, Council for Educators offers a variety of didactic elements, including: a look at specific curricular “content standards” and ways in which Council may offer a unique and dynamic delivery system across a variety of disciplines; how to address interpersonal issues in the classroom; how to explore issues that the students themselves want to address; how to use the Council process to address local, national, and global issues that affect student wellbeing; and how to integrate the practice systemically into the greater school community. Typically, these trainings are larger and participants bring their own meals, leaving for the evening.
“Council 2: Deepening the Practice” is a powerful opportunity to deepen one’s practice and explore the more complex contours of the work. This training is geared toward folks who have been facilitating Council for some time and have had direct experience with challenging situations, conflict and shadow dynamics in groups. Facilitators may also be starting to look at some personal obstacles that have shown up in their development as a practitioner. This workshop delves into the specific forms of Council suited for a variety of situations and explores the joys and challenges of bringing Council into different parts of our lives. It offers a chance to develop more facility with “Reading the Interactive Field” and learning to invite “The Witness” perspective. One of the primary intentions of Council 2 is to support facilitators who are starting to encounter the sometimes powerful energies released in Council and to encourage them to move out of their comfort zones and “Turn Into The Skid,” learning how to navigate and best serve the circle, while maintaining safety and containment.
“Council 3: Living the Way of Council” is for experienced Council practitioners who are discovering that it is possible to live the way of Council as a life path, and want to do so, in addition to facilitating group interaction. This advanced workshop focuses on the three challenges of becoming a carrier of Council: devotion to the practice, reading the interactive field and being able to simultaneously participate in and witness the process (including oneself). Much material is integrated, including exploration of energy-field work, movement, sound, ceremony, and the relationship between nature and Council. Council 3 leans into the question of what is sourced and what is served in the practice of Council.