I am looking forward to doing some more work with the Kawa Model as a tool for personal development and leadership skills. Although I have been focussing my attention on the more bread and butter aspects of life recently, the river is showing signs of broadening and deepening once more. Boulders that have sat in my path for some time are starting to loosen as the flow increases. Driftwood that has been caught on the rocks, lying idle and redundant, is freeing itself and running with the river.
I have been thinking about an exercise I learnt at an Evolving Minds meeting a few years ago. The exercise requires one to perceive objects, to hear sounds and use all sensory faculties to allow information to flow in. We were then coached to “shift focus,” (ie turn our attention elsewhere) as soon as we started thinking about the information being received. For example I might be looking at an object which is brown and has a warmth to its texture, which has long shapes underneath it and a flat surface on top; but as soon as I start thinking it is a “table” I shift focus to reset my cognitive function. The idea is to access our “pre cognitive” brain so that we can experience the moment with more clarity and definition, without the clutter of attaching abstract meaning. I have experienced similar exercises in theatre workshops (malapropism for example.) The exercise has been reported to help with psychosis because it encourages one to avoid thoughts in place of a flow of micro experiences which trigger a kind of meditative alertness.
When I relate this exercise to the Kawa model, I think of how we are constantly required to perceive, decode and respond to verbal language, which is often extremely unreliable as a vehicle for expressing experience in the moment. Physicality and musicality are far more efficient tools for the communication of meaning, but the decoding process requires specific knowledge – or does it?
Do we really need some kind of special training to understand musicality or the language of physical theatre (for example,) or have our synapses become so clogged with learned abstracts and constructs that we are blocked to the language of intuition and are thus unable to experience the exhilaration of FLOW. Keith Johnstone talks about the barriers to spontaneity, we build psychological defences that we develop to survive in a world of adversity and negativity. It is these defenses that shut down our intuitive communication skills and restrict our ability to access true creativity. If we were to bypass these social filters (which we do need at times) would we be able to communicate in a way that transcends language, where meaning goes beyond the confines of words and concepts and becomes a tangible entity.
Kawa is all about transcending the prescribed, and allowing different world views to connect and flow together so that they might find their own natural synergy. I am looking forward to playing with some of these ideas and working on “de tuning” participants so that they can get away from all the noise and clutter of prescribed cognition, and begin to access a more fluid and natural state of understanding. This is how we can best use the river as a communication tool, and as a knowledge framework – we have to first submit to the constant state of flux that is the river. From this point we can then begin to use the river as tool for creating “spheres” or shared experience, rather than the more usual hierarchical approach to leadership and development.