Meetings as Sacred Practice???

I imagine “sacred,” “spiritual,” or “spiritual intelligence” are words you do not associate with meetings. (See quote in the graphic above.)

For my purpose here, “sacred” means being devoted to one important purpose or use that is worthy of being treated with respect and care. For example, as the purpose of a charitable organization is sacred.

“Spiritual” means that it relates to or affects the human spirit or soul. But, to what does “spiritual intelligence” refer and what does it have to do with meetings?

In “Centered on the Edge: Mapping a Field of Collective Intelligence & Spiritual Wisdom,” philosopher Jacob Needleman explores of what he means by “spiritual intelligence.”

He asserts, “It takes no great insight to realize that we have no choice but to think together, ponder together, in groups and in communities. The question is how to do this. How to come together and think and hear each other in order to touch, be touched by, the intelligence we need.”

It seems that spiritual intelligence is, at least in part, what occurs when we think together and allow ourselves to touch and be touched by intelligence that comes from individuals, the group as a whole, and from the surrounding context or field in which people are talking. Context includes the culture of the organization or the community along with the tone and atmosphere that you create as a leader or you contribute to as a participant.

The following questions arise:

  1. Are the purposes of your meetings sacred? Are they worthy of respect and care?
  2. Do your meetings engender spiritual intelligence? Do they help people think and ponder together; hear each other; and touch and be touched by the intelligence that is needed?

Making your meetings sacred practice combines at least three elements: your commitment, your practice, and the meeting process itself.

Your commitment could be to find the sacred in the mundane, to plan and lead meetings with respect and care. For example, could you plan and lead meetings in a way that enables people to “share their perception and attention” and become conduits for a different, even spiritual, intelligence? Even when the topic of the meeting itself might appear to be mundane?

Your practice could be to ask, “Where is the sacred in my work? In my leading? In my meetings? What is the important purpose of meetings that deserves respect and care?”

One of my practices is to do the best I can to behave as if there is a “leader in every chair” and that we are inexorably and deeply inter-connected. Although I rarely use the terms “sacred” or “spiritual” when leading or facilitating to avoid triggering or alienating anyone, I hope the quality of my presence along with my actions contribute to engendering “spiritual intelligence.”

The process of your meetings could include elements that encourage people to think together, hear one another, and be touched by what they are hearing and open to an intelligence that is emerging from individuals, the group as a whole, and the context in which you are meeting. Many of my blogs include tips and tools on how to design and conduct meeting for this purpose.

Taking a slow, gradual and incremental approach is often the best strategy. I encourage you to take 30 seconds right now to ask yourself, “What is one small step I could take to make my meetings sacred practice, and to engender “spiritual intelligence” during them?” Note down your thoughts.

If the ideas in this and previous postings interest you, I will be co-hosting a series of interactive Exchanges starting February 12 with David Sibbet and Bill Bancroft on “The Neuropsychology of Collaboration and Design.” Please check the Global Learning and Exchange Network (GLEN) for more information here

* The inspiration for this blog comes from “The Leading as Sacred Practice” program of The GLEN.

1 thought on “Meetings as Sacred Practice???”

  1. Hello Mary,

    I must admit that, although it seems correct to me, I would avoid to use the word “sacred” with many groups I facilitate. It seems too far of their way of thinking at the moment.

    Your mention of “The Leading as Sacred Practice” pointed me to Anne Dosher and her definition of sacred as “that which has value in and of itself and gives meaning to the whole.” I think the word “valuable” conveys more or less the same idea as sacred and I would be more comfortable with valuable than with sacred. Can we make every meeting valuable for every participant, during the full length of the meeting ? That would be a revolution in many organizations.

    Anne Dosher, in the true spirit of the World Café, “views life itself as a conversation”. I personally like to design meetings as “fruitful conversations”. Maybe “valuable conversations” ?

    Also, I like very much your attitude of “a leader in every chair”. The first small step for people in many organizations could be to behave as if there is a “human being in every chair” …

    Thank you for your post,

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