Three Times is a Charm--3rd English SALT initiation weekend in Brussels

A drizzly February Friday afternoon, but soon the halls of our new training venue (Institute of Neurocognitivism) is filled with warmth and laughter around the cocktail tables filled with edibles and drinks.  Our 12 participants have all arrived and are getting to know each other.

But of course, that is only the timid beginning of a weekend filled with more connection, intense reflection and the resolve to jump into action (at least for some ☺).

We begin with a short “landing” meditation, followed by a tell-your-name-and-add a gesture game.  This helps us to remember each other’s names.  To go a bit deeper, we invite everyone to talk about their personal objects.  Everyone remembered to bring one or at least produced a meaningful object from the bottom of their bags.

We then go quickly over some Constellation background and the SALT process.  Also, we present the concept of the envelopes and notes of appreciation. And to get started on the practice, we begin with yourself, as suggested by Alice: the first note in the envelope should be a letter to ourselves, as if written by a dear  friend, pointing out our OWN special qualities.  How come we have so much trouble writing these?!  Finally, we all managed to find something good about ourselves, a little love note to ourselves.

The village exercise (we are not our labels) and a quick debrief on the exercise conclude our evening.

Saturday, February 3

We begin with a heartbeat meditation and continue with our WHO ARE WE?, this time getting together in pairs, listen to each other’s words and body language, around  the question(s): Tell me about a time when you have overcome a challenge or a time when you felt truly human?  We then note down the qualities and strengths we detected in the other  on little oval note cards.

Before stashing away the “compliments” i.e., the qualities and strengths our conversation partner recognized in us during our conversations, we create an oval with our ovals.

Consolidating our new feelings of connection with another village exercise:  Looking into each other’s eyes, we remember that each one of us has hopes and aspirations, challenges and hardships that we have overcome.  Emotional for many of us . . .

Following a short break, we get ready for the Dream.  Given the abstract setting inherent in trainings, we try to identify three themes that are close to the participants’ hearts.  What we come up with is: Citizen engagement, (Mental) health and education. 

Our lunch, i.e., the incredible edibles, are brought to us by Collect’actif (For those who have FB, here is the link to their page, a group of migrants who use organic food stuff that might be thrown away to produce heavenly meals.  Mohamed and Ished agree to spend some time with us to talk about their dreams, mission, work--to allow us to do a SALT visit with them.

Well nourished by our lunch and inspired by the conversations, we launch into the individual and group dreams.  This cohort of participants proved particularly adept in creating their dream images (and we also had some visualization professionals among us, which added a special note to their dream.) 

Following this hard work, Jean-Louis stopped by for a visit. 

Curious about the questions the participants might have, he first asked for those, and sure enough, these questions brought up stories about the genesis of the Constellation, recounting frustrations with the “expert” approach used by most large organization--as opposed to using people’s strengths to address their local issues. Nothing like having the co-founder of the Constellation there in the flesh, to connect the theoretical nature of the training weekend with what is real. 

It has been a full day.  All that remains to do is a little preview of tomorrow’s attractions and a quick check-out.

Sunday, February 3 

Miriana regales us with a beautiful meditation that helps us arrive in the space again ☺.

The structure of SALT allows us to identify the practices that will bring us closer to the realisation of our dream. To ensure the flow in a project,  Alessandra guided us through a physical “Stuck” exercise to made us experience the sensation of being stuck in our lives, in a project, etc..  We immediately continued with the unstuck exercise and realised that being stuck is not sustainable, basically it's just a short moment in time. Other insights gained were that the entire network will be liberated by us getting out of the stuck situation and that even in a stuck situation we feel forces that will help us towards liberation.

Now we are ready to identify the practices, i.e., describing each element in our dreams in sentences, habits and continuous actions we need to engage in if we want to achieve our dreams.

Without further ado, everyone gets right to work and in no time, the groups come up with an impressive list of ideas.  We prioritize them using “dotcracy,”  i.e., everyone gets to distribute three dots to the subject closest to their hearts.

The auto-evaluations of the practices lead to some “existential” discussions particularly in one group, prompted by the abstractness of the situation. That, of course, is the challenge we face in every initiation session, except if, as in one of our groups, the practices were applied directly to a concrete and real case.

But in the end, everyone was able to overcome the mental hurdle of having to operate in a “fake” environment and we managed to produce three solid Action Plans, some of which are most likely put into practice in real life.  We are all eager to have a progress report a few months down the road.

Our last day is coming to an end.  This group of valiant participants is tired (yep, the action plan takes a lot out of us).  But we are not leaving before everyone has received their certificate, handed out by the participants to each other.  Hugs and smiles all around--and the resolve in many of the participants to putting what has been learned into practice, no matter how large or small the scale.  Given that the members of this learning group struck us as already being extraordinarily SALTy from the outset, applying the lessons learned should be a piece of cake. (And yes, every good cake has a pinch of Salt in it).   (P.S. See the SALT and the CLCP (Community Life Competence Process) cycle below).




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Comment by Marie Lamboray on February 26, 2018 at 3:19pm

See here for more on the village exercise.

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on February 13, 2018 at 8:53am

Dear Anita,

Who were being trained? How will they use what they learn in their work?

Would again like to learn from you on the village exercise:-)




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