Beth Cross, hub host at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), reflects on their first session together and how she embraced her voice of fear:
I’m sharing u.lab with PhD students at UWS this year to help students look at world changing research and a changing world. Big claim, but a journey of a thousand miles I hold can start with a few steps supported by u.lab.
It was quite something to listen in on the live session (21 Sept 2017), to be reminded and hear again the elements that come together, to be inspired by the contributions from people around the world and to settle into some deep being in the moments of mindfulness. But I was experiencing this with another eye to it, not that of a participant but of a facilitator trying to gauge how the group of participants here at UWS might find this.
Most of them hadn’t seen the videos of 0.x (intro module) which do really set a context, using the campus of MIT wonderfully to provide a sensing journey of where the team is situated. So the Voice of Fear was in my thoughts asking questions: what if they can’t connect this to what they are studying? What if they don’t see the systems crisis points as affecting them? What if the mindfulness action is just too far a stretch from how they operate as a graduate students?
As the live session came to a close I limited the live screen to a box so that the twitter feed column was visible. In it, I saw Keira tweet about courage.
And I saw other tweets from very inspiring people I’ve met along my u.lab journey. This meant I felt them with me a wider circle around the circle of chairs in the seminar room at UWS. And the thought popped into my head, I should share with them these questions from the voice of fear, but also that through my own u.lab journey I have learned to let other voices in such as this one that emerged in the closing moments of the live session: what if the graduate students in the room actually understood better than I did some of what u.lab is about, what if they could surprise me, lead me further on the u.lab journey?
When I shared with them the example of my Voice of Fear, but also this Voice of Co-Presencing I felt the common shared culture of the room shift to a more expansive place. Participants quickly shared in a very animated way, what they appreciated, what they understood, and some, bravely, that yes they had felt overwhelmed or unsettled by what they had just heard. Their own life experiences did mean they could appreciate the mindfulness practice and they spoke movingly about what transpired for them at different points of focus. Many of the Algerian students related that they could identify with the exercise from the yoga they regularly practice–which both surprised and delighted me.
Overall there was a lot of enthusiasm to explore further and the group committed to form coaching circles. As the session as a whole closed I related something Kuladharini from Scottish Recovery Consortium had shared with me earlier in the week. She said: “u.lab gives us the chance to practice some very simple things.” As she spoke she had held up her pointer finger. “But all the resources of u.lab give us a chance to understand so much that surrounds these simple practices.” She drew a wider circle around her finger. “And each time we get a chance to practice these simple things it is richer for what we’ve discovered through the resources. That’s why I’m in u.lab. Each time I get to practice some simple things in a richer way”.
As Kuladharini drew her finger in a spiral around the simple point of her finger, I felt included in her richer outer journey. And instead of feeling flustered about could I be enough or do enough preparation to facilitate? I felt grounded. Sharing this with the participants at UWS I felt had a similar reassuring effect—and so the ripples are at work as u.lab gets underway.
Do you have a story or reflection you’d like to share on the blog? Please get in touch with Keira at Keira.Oliver@gov.scot and perhaps you’d like to share your reflections for the u.lab hub hosting team:
“Maybe you have noticed the visuals we started to share on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. We started the campaign to bring in more voices and faces of the community. To inspire and to engage. Who is doing u.lab and why / how and who could use u.lab… We would love to bring in some inspiring hub examples. If you want to be part of the campaign we need a (good quality) picture, a quote (5 sentences to address why you think u.lab makes a difference and how you use it). Finally, don’t forget a bio (name, place, function/organisation if relevant.) You can send this to Simoon email@example.com.