Like all good Californians, we at Zen Center periodically undertake trainings for different skills; over the years I have done sessions on diversity, multi-culturalism, conflict resolution, being an ally, difficult conversations and so on, and I have learned much about myself and my fellow sangha members through doing so. Recently the senior staff at City Center has invited Zen Center alumnus Marc Lesser for some trainings, and on Monday we looked at team building.
We assessed ourselves as a mostly cohesive and functional team, but there is always room for improvement, and a chunk of the afternoon was given over to each of us offering suggestions, one on one, to the other members of the group, as to how they could be more effective in the team. As Marc anticipated, most of the answers each of us collected revolved around similar themes, and the main theme I received was to express myself emotionally more.
This and the other suggestions were all interesting and to the point, and evoked a certain recognition in me. I think of how Blanche often said during practice period at Tassajara, "Everyone can see how you are, you might as well see it for yourself". This expressiveness is something I have been chewing over in different ways recently. Part of my effort to meet people where they are is to put aside anything that I might be feeling as best I can at that moment, so as to have fewer obstacles in the way. Regardless of how I might feel about the person, or the emotional state I might be bringing into the encounter, I want to be present for them. The more I work at this, and at sitting with emotions, the less power they tend to have. I tend to think though, that even if I do not articulate to others how I am
feeling, I am usually fairly transparent in showing my joys and pains. And it was especially interesting to leave the training and be confronted with a situation that brought forward some negative emotions, which I have been having a hard time shaking since then.
Simon, my fellow countryman, retorted, when I told him of the group's suggestions, "Didn't you just tell them that you are English?"