The Male Journey UK – Way
of Council Training
Participants Feedback: July 2016
1. What was the best thing about the training?
MH: Difficult to pick out one thing as the whole package was really good. But
probably the highlight was the way the group gelled together and the high levels
of trust that enabled us to do some profound work together.
SL: The best thing about the training was the power of bringing the witnessing
element into the awareness of everyone. It sharpens the focus and allows us to
go deeper. The fact that the council could hold what came in the spectrum of
emotions and unforeseen events, everything and everybody belongs.
PP: The doing stuff.
SB: The chance to spend extended time experiencing council and learn by practicing.
Spending a whole weekend in a spirit of 'wisdom'. Learning from an ancient tradition.
Connecting with other men on a similar journey.
MR: The best thing for me was Rob and Yven as a pair of teachers, both bringing
something different and complimentary in their style. It was well held and felt
safety to share.
PN: Sitting in council with experienced facilitators, and other men from The
RS: As ever, the best thing was being together with men who are open to sharing
their lives in depth and with vulnerable honesty - prepared to be real and giving
everyone else permission to be real too.
2. What did you wish had been done differently?
MH: It would have been good to have done the training with another
person form our group in Manchester so that we could then work
together to with the group. But I can see the rationale for just
one person from each group at this stage.
SL: I honestly can’t think of anything I would want done
PP: Well, in Denmark we have a more Christian flavour in our gatherings.
I can do without, but I guess if there is no singing, praying,
scripture, ritual og anything you will miss out of the Christian
SB: I would have liked more chance to practice Way of Council when
used for making decisions, finding wisdom and discernment.
MR: It was a very busy weekend and I would have preferred more
free time to walk and relax in the beautiful grounds, less is more
PN: Honestly can't think of anything. No concerns or niggles regarding
planning, execution or follow-up.
RS: To have devoted more time to practising the various forms
of Council, and a little less on the ‘games’.
3. Please list at least 3 ways the training has improved your ability
to serve your Local Group. Please be as specific as you can.
MH: -Bit soon to say as we have not met yet since the training,
but I feel I have much clearer and deeper appreciation of the Way
of Council, and expect this to pay dividends as we move forward.
-I am also using the approaching other work I am involved in, including ACTA
(A Call to Action) which seeks to promote dialogue and a more democratic way
of working within the Catholic Church. In fact yesterday I was talking to members
of our steering group about the Way of Council and how it might serve us in
our work together. They were incredibly open to this. Really encouraging...
-My wife are currently bringing together a group of 13 people for an initial
meeting (conflict resolution). I’m hoping we will use Way of Council
as our approach
SL: I have the confidence to take risks and work with what comes and adapt
with what comes if necessary as a stoker. Me practicing it will enable others
to do the same.
I feel able to introduce the witnessing element to the group. That will
pull us together and help us go deeper. I feel confident to introduce Response
Council. We had already just begun it recently.
PP: Being clear in ledership, i.e. express what I want. Experience how fish
pool works. Reading the life of a circle.
SB: I feel more confident facilitating a circle knowing the wisdom behind some
of what we do. For example, having a candle or chime to signify moving into
council; the different purposes of moving the piece round the circle or having
web-style. Having practiced council, I feel more able to be alive to what is
happening in my own body when in a circle, and to what is arising in the circle
generally. I feel I more able to pass the form and wisdom of council on to
MR: i) it has helped me to recognise and name the different processes such
as the witness and this validates what we had a organically moved in
ii) I will be more confident in bringing in the idea of themes
to use the way of council to explore, I think our group was mainly checking in.
iii) A reminder of the core essence of sharing will be more in
my mind and heart.
PN: I can explain what council is and the intentions which make it most effective.
I can create an effective prompt question that wil encourage men to share deeply
from their experience.
I can suggest and facilitate different styles of council.
I can explain where our lineage of council comes from.
Having met men from other groups in the country, I am more confident about
the role our organisation is playing in Men's lives as a worthwhile effort.
It has encouraged me.
RS: Reflecting on how we operate as a local group I think the training will
help me to offer:
a) Greater attention to preparation of place, making it a place of beauty,
attention to the ‘centre’ (candle etc) to help our awareness
that this is sacred space.
b) The practice of using ‘prompts’ for Council, naming a
possible focus to start us off…I think this will help to keep the meetings
fresh, whatever direction the Council then takes.
c) The opportunity for us to re-visit the four intentions of Council and so to
renew our commitment to this way of growth and being together.
4. What factors most helped you to
learn and grow through the course? (eg the material, the theory,
the hands-on… )
MH: All the ingredients were vital including wonderful trainers.
SL: Hands on was an important element, that makes it stick and
makes it real.
PP: The modelling
SB: There was a good balance of theory and practice. I wouldn't
have wanted any LESS theory, but it was important to get us out
of our heads as much as possible so learning by practicing. The
concept of 'witnessing' was reasonably new to me, and was very
helpful in reflecting on what we were learning as we went along,
as well as developing an ability to be present and attentive to
what is arising when in council.
MR: I think I was helped by the practical experience of
taking part in the councils, and experiencing the difference in
PN: Being with the men - deepening understanding, making friendships,
letting go of the need to record everything.
RS: I was most helped by experiencing the varied forms that Council
can take: the basic Council that we are most used to, doing the
round with the taking piece…but then also the spiral Council
and the dream Council (if we have a couple of overnights as we
have thought of doing) opened up new possibilities.
The hands on experience of supervised ‘paired facilitation’ was
quite a learning curve. Renewed respect for facilitators - not
as easy as it looks!
5. What factors most hindered your learning and growth?
MH: Cannot think of anything
SL: I was not in a good place emotionally. I held back. I
am not so comfortable with larger groups. Some smaller groups would
help. Outdoor sessions, undercover if it rains would be good.
PP: I was free and easy going, so no hindrenses.
SB: Being stuck in one room for much of the training became a little
tiring. All the opportunities to move into other spaces were welcome.
We were somewhat hindered by the weather from being outside more.
MR: My own factors hindered my growth, I felt irritated at what
felt like some peoples verbal and emotional incontinence. It was
however helpful to experience the difference between people displaying
emotions and those expressing feelings.
PN: My own expectation for intellectual learning over bodily understanding.
RS: Some of the games: not so much hindering my learning and growth
as putting me out of my comfort zone. No bad thing in itself, but
when feeling challenged in the Council circle you can take care
of yourself by choosing to remain silent…but when a ball
is heading in your direction there’s no real opt out clause!!
Not easy when it triggers childhood shaming. So is this a case
of being ‘forced’ out of one’s comfort
6. Is there anything else you think we should know about your experience
of the Way of Council training event?
MH: Nothing further to add.
SL: A massive thanks to you, Dave, for arranging this.
PP: I do not think so
SB: The chance to spend a short time with the Perth men's group
round the fire was really encouraging.
MR: The venue was OK. It was close to a busy road with traffic
noise. The food was not very good and the kitchen staff were not
really sympathetic to supporting retreatants. The gardens were
thank you for organising a great weekend training.
PN: It was ace. I loved it. Thank you.
RS: Just gratitude. It was a wonderful experience. And, thank YOU
for all your work in making this happen. It was a wonderful experience.
We missed you. I’m really sorry you couldn’t be with
us…but even more so that your son has been suffering. It
is good to hear that he is making a good recovery. You have been,
and continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.
7. How would you rate the trainers?
MH: Extremely highly
SL: The trainers were excellent.
PP: Wonderful, open and experienced.
SB: Rob and Yvan were excellent. They clearly brought with them
a wealth of wisdom and experience of council, and created a strong
and warm container. They attempted to be flexible as to what material
was covered in response to the needs of the group.
MR: The trainers were excellent and a good combination of knowledge,
clarity, challenge and gentle humour.
PN: First class, they used transparent facilitation so we could
see how they were facilitating us - what considerations may be
useful etc. They also shared with us how they felt they could have
improved as part of the recap at the end.
RS: 100% brilliant. Nothing less than generous in giving of themselves
and their wisdom…in great humility.
8. How confident are you, you will put your learning into practice?
MH: Very confident, but would feel even more so if there were someone
else nearby who had been on the training and with whom I could
work as co-facilitator
SL: It was a lot to take in, so I know I/we will have to
get into practice quickly to hold it.
PP: I have been working this way many years and I am glad to get
SB: I am certain I will put this training into practice, not just
in my men's group, but also in my church, and hopefully in social
groups and with family and friends. I left feeling more inspired
than ever that Way of Council offers something unique and desperately
needed in finding a way forward for healing in our society and
MR: I am confident that I will be putting what I have learned into
PN: I already am! Holding Council with my partner, Men's group
- offering it to the Charity I work with in Barnsley...
RS: Apart from a social gathering when we will enjoy a night out
together, my own men’s group will not meet until September…but
I am confident they will be receptive to what I have to offer
from the training, and look forward to enjoying the fruits of the
new life I am sure it will bring to our council.
But let me share a story of how I have used the training in another
context. I am part of a working party set up by our bishop to look
into ways of better offering support to the priests in the diocese.
We have been meeting for a few months, examining various models & action plans. Another meeting was
scheduled just days after our time at the Bield. I knew that following our
experience I just COULD NOT go into this meeting and sit around a table shuffling
papers and discussing more ‘plans.’ So I emailed the guys
and asked If they wouldn’t mind if I took the lead at this one. No problem.
Following the principles of Council, I moved the meeting into another room,
away from the conference table, where we could sit in a circle. When all had
arrived I set out the centre, with its candle, and named it as a sacred space & time
together…then inviting anyone, when moved to do so, to light the candle & dedicate
the meeting. One of the participants got up and dedicated our time to the name
of one of our colleagues who had recently died, who had been a recovering alcoholic
and, for many years, a great support to guys who were in any way broken. The
opening up had already begun.
I then named the four intentions of council and, given the reason for our gathering,
by way of focus asked them to tell of a time when they had felt most
deeply supported…introducing the use of the talking piece to do so.
I was frankly stunned and deeply moved by the level of shared vulnerability
and outpouring of honesty that followed. I think at the end each of us was
rather dazed at what we had heard and said. In being real, we certainly did
give each other permission to be real too. And everyone wanted more of it,
and for more of our brothers to experience this level of sharing.
If you knew the degree of defensiveness that is usually present in gatherings
of priests, you’d have an idea of what a shift this represented! It was
a real joy…and hopefully to be built upon.
from other sessions –
were at a crisis point in our relationship and the space you
held helped me to connect and process some dark and truly uncomfortable
emotions. I had felt totally disempowered, fearful and spiritually
void, which is a terrible position to be in when one is at loggerheads
with one’s partner and about to have a child. I found the
experience transcendental and shamanic, in that so much of the
detritus was cleared without the need for words. Having you come
on such short notice to mediate for us was a priceless gift.
I felt truly supported and part of a real community!
I’ve no doubt that the journey we three took through council helped our
son to be born safe and well in a peaceful, loving and welcoming environment.
Blessings on you and many, many thanks'
....during our council session with him (Rob)
we experienced a deep sacredness in our communication together, and the impact
of this on our relationship has been profound
found the council a few weeks ago deeply moving and inspiring
and it has appeared to facilitate S and I taking the step to
actually gift each other with freedom and commit to unconditional
love. We will see how that unfolds for us as individuals and
I notice you used 'heart full' to describe your experience and that is exactly
how I experienced your facilitation: i wanted to thank you for that.
a group we were all finding the pace of life stressful, our ability
to communicate our feelings, concerns and ideas became increasingly
harder to achieve. Over-reacting emotionally led quickly to arguments
and further distress for us all.
Our group session with Rob unblocked the energy, feelings and concerns that
we were all suffering. By having the opportunity to speak uninterrupted in
a safe and regulated environment allowed us all to witness and empathise with
each others concerns. It removed much of the defensive and fearful aspects
of engaging in debate. We rapidly moved forward and began to enjoy our exchange
of ideas and feelings. This has led to a greater feeling of mutual and harmonious
solidarity. Change for us now is very dynamic and exciting. I think I can speak
for the group by saying that the experience was both rejuvenating and healing.
C.G. – UK
for Rob's help! One day with Rob's help our family quickly ended
the kind of dreadful atmosphere in our new life. His gentle attitude
and bright ideas quickly opened all of our hearts to the sunshine
and now we can get warm sunshine from each other! We could talk,
criticise, communicate easily and we are in such a harmonious happy
family. We are thankful to you Rob!
L.Y.J. – China
was a pleasure even for that day. We applied the council with
Stella my wife, it seemed like the most honest and real conversation
we had. It's like it dissolves fear of judgement on the one part
and judgement altogether on the other.
M. – Greece
And I want to share that I
invited to and held a family council last Sunday with my family
(brother, father and mother). Basically I had really badly cornered
myself in my relation to them, thrown a few bombs and was not
able to see any other reasonable solution than inviting for a
council (which I think I always thought impossible to have with
them) or quit all further contact with them.
Pushing the send button for the invitation
I was shivering all over.... And waiting time was a bit unbearable
until they all accepted.
So they went into council without knowing
anything about it. I spent 15 minutes framing it very clearly
and opening (mother decided it be fire to open council) the council
I was actually able to let go of facilitator role and let the
council carry us through. Feelings were intense and lots of old
stuff was shared. But everyone stayed all way through both physically
and mentally and listened to eachother.
WAUUUU it was and still is a fantastic experience
what we were actually able to share in those one and a half hours
the council lasted. And afterwards the general feedback was very
positive. For me I feel I am no longer holding back a part of
myself from my near family whish is such a relief. It feels like
some rinsed our relation with nurturing water and we can all
breathe freely in the relation again.
M . – Denmark
atmosphere at these meetings reminded me a little of present
opening on Christmas day. People sitting around giving,
while each of us was invited to open ourselves up and get a
chance to really check out the person inside. This person
had been boxed up under the tree for long enough and I felt
that mixture of expectation, awkwardness, fear and exhilaration. From
the circle I felt loving kindness and the reassurance that
it doesn't matter so much what comes out, as much as
how we respond to it in our hearts. I found the
experience by turns delightful, scary, transformative, mysterious,
embarrassing, something to be cherished... It felt like
I had started to discover, with the help of every single person
in the group, an ancient portal into a healthier way of living. Delicious
for an inspiring set of WOC gatherings. I found the experience
a very moving one. Something about pure listening and
being listened to. So far from the usual round of "conversation" and "discussion". I
thought the group was magnificent, it all ran so beautifully,
I thought, for everyone. I felt very safe, and included,
and I felt lovely things were happening all around. I am very
hard to put into words what the group has meant to me, but
it is big! There’s a warmth of community, a spirit
of joyfulness & an opportunity to grow from the heart that
has enriched my life & my soul. Thank you, what you
do is very special and much needed in our world. Someone
said something on a retreat last year about an atmosphere of ‘kindly
appreciation’ allowing us to be who we really are, and
this really resonates for me about my experience of WOC'
J. Wright –
really got a lot from the circles that I did attend...I
feel like I learnt something core, about the value of the real.
I will definitely be attending more circles in the Autumn.
And possibly attending some drop in sessions too ...'