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Our practice

I give below my personal account of what goes on in our inquiry group meeting, in terms of Shekinah, and at the end in terms of three types of inquiry. Each person in the group has their own experientially-grounded belief-system about what we do. There is no one correct account, but a family of related accounts with varying degrees of mutual overlap and resonance. John Heron.

Shekinah in Hebrew means ‘residence’, ‘dwelling’. In Jewish tradition it is the name for divine immanence, for the divine presence as it makes itself known in the material world, ‘overshadowing’, ‘hovering’, ‘indwelling’. It is also associated with the feminine aspect of the divine, concerned with interpersonal relationships. In the mystical system of the Kabbalah, Shekinah is linked with the tenth Sefirah of Malkhut and the manifestation of the divine kingdom on earth. In what follows Shekinah refers to the spiritual reality that is between humans, and between humans and other presences in other realms.  It is the reality of the relation between.

(1) As people arrive and gather we socialize with cups of various kinds of tea.

(2) When we are well settled in, round a low table with candles and other items, someone proposes or starts a check-in round. This round accommodates a whole diversity of options: simple reportage of current life-events, routine, joyful, challenging or traumatic; an account of current spiritual, psi, psychological, interpersonal, energetic/sexual/somatic dynamics; a cathartic release of some current and/or archaic distress with self-generated insight; self-transfiguring spiritual assertions; and more. Group members support and bear witness to the person checking-in, but rarely interact or comment, because the check-in is somehow directed to what is between us.

(3) There may then be a period of silence, or a period of silence plus someone stroking the rim of a Tibetan bowl with a stick of wood to produce a tone.

(4) At a certain point there is a very distinct and spontaneous qualitative shift in the group energy field, and one or two people are moved, and gradually and idiosyncratically each one is moved, to open their bodily, incarnate energy to what is between us, and between us and presences in other realms, by posture and gesture, by movement, by vocal toning, by rhythmic sounding of a diversity of rattles, drums, bells, tambourines, etc. This is also an opening of the heart. The posture, gesture, movement, toning and sounding are improvised in the living moment out of a heart-communion with the between.

(5) This dynamic, charismatic body-heart opening goes on for a considerable period, with series of crescendos and diminuendos which are potently co-created with the rhythmic life of the between.

(6) There is an unmistakable final diminuendo. We become entirely still. We draw together and hold hands, or sit silently apart, and for a long period feast on the extraordinary depths and presence of Shekinah.

(7) This also has an unmistakable ending. It may, or may not, be followed by a sharing, an affirmation, an inquiring review, of what has been going on.

(8) We close the meeting and people depart for their homes.

What may be interwoven with the above are spontaneous episodes in which one or more members may speak out of, and speak as, archetypal powers and presences interfused with the event.

And there are three types of inquiry with which we engage. The first is our bedrock inquiry process which occurs at every meeting. The second and the third are procedures we adopt at varying intervals:

(1) The active discrimination during charismatic expression, exercised on-the-hoof, with regard to how we are doing it and in relation with whom or what. For a more technical, epistemological account of this see the final section, Evaluation,in the paper on Coming into being.

(2) Co-deciding an intentional project beforehand about how we do our charismatic expression, then doing this, then sharing feedback on it, then building on this in a second action-reflection cycle, etc.; or in the milder version of this, simply reporting back on what has been going on for each of us during our emergent Dionysian charismatic expression.

(3) Using part of a fortnightly meeting to plan individual or agreed spiritual practices to be taken as an action inquiry into daily life before the next meeting, when each of us report back on our inquiry strand.

Inquiry group guidelines 

Empathy: transpersonal/emotional; empathic resonance; soul resonance.

Emotional and interpersonal competence; no dumping; awareness of one’s distress and the ability to manage it appropriately; the ability to own and report on down/negative states.

Authenticity: openness to self; the ability to choose to be uninhibited charismatically and emotionally and in aware relation with others.

Sense of humour; enthusiasm.

Not being a spokesperson for any external spiritual authority; non-dogmatism; spirit of inquiry.

Tinkerbell effect: the ability to entertain imaginative worlds. Heron’s beard: the ability to give unusual experiences the benefit of the doubt, to let them unfold their potential.

No meddling, no tinkering, with another person’s check-in.

Commitment to regular consistent long-term attendance.

Confidentiality with respect to the self-disclosure of other group members.

Back to Papers on the inquiry group