Talking Stick and Spirituality LO20276

Richard Charles Holloway (
Thu, 24 Dec 1998 19:49:53 -0800

Replying to LO20268 --

hello, Sherri--

happy holidays to you!

your reminiscence about Talking Stick is quite the type of scenario I was
thinking of when I voiced my personal objections to it's use. It was
inappropriate for your group, despite the reverence held for the process
by the facilitator. A lot of the conversation about spirituality in this
list of late reminds me that we each hold different spiritual values than
the people with whom we often interact. I wasn't at your meeting where
the Talking Stick was used, and accept your word that there was no need to
change your "discussion" to a "dialog."

I've used the microphone prop successfully many times. It's not about
controlling conversation. It is about slowing conversation. When we all
get a turn to speak; when we must wait to speak with the microphone--then
we are more likely to listen. Our speech patterns slow down and we have a
chance to be deliberate about what we say. I've found that conversations
started this way will continue after a break without the prop. What this
signifies is that we've developed a capacity among the participants for
deep conversation.

There are certainly times and topics for dialectic and debate...and these
can be quite fun (competitive, defined winners and losers, etc). They
also sharpen the wit...but don't necessarily develop wisdom.

By the way, I don't believe that these are "natural tendencies" that we
interrupt with the use of a prop such as I've described. These are
"learned tendencies," along with the interesting characteristic of people
raising their hand to speak (I always get a kick out of that one!).
School, home and church are wonderful places to establish rules and
protocols for speaking that are taken into the workplace.

At any rate, it's not a method that should be used without careful
consideration of the time, place and participants. I would never use it
with people who aren't interested in hearing what other people have to
say, for instance.

A word concerning "political correctness," mentioned a couple of times
during this long-lasting thread:

At one time, other words described what some may now consider "pc"
behavior--these words included forebearance, dignity, respect, love,
kindness, gentlemanly or lady-like behavior, etc. Now someone can say
that I'm being "pc" and that should be enough to change my behavior back
to arrogant, rude, impatient, disrespectful, etc.

It's quite easy to be integrated in a dominant culture (that assimilates
and uses almost all cultural icons from other cultures with whom it comes
into contact, without understanding the underlying cultural relevance) and
pooh-pooh the attempts of suppressed and dominated cultures to protect
what little remains to them. This is the essence of hubris, the Achilles
tendon of all dominant cultures. When we hear an objection, it's easy to
feel offended and discount the source of the objection and finally
rationalize a response that attacks "political correctness." An
alternative, though, is to listen to the objection and learn about the
cultural relevance and decide (from an intellectual and spiritual
perspective) the validity of the objection.

my best wishes to all for wonderful holy days--whatever days you

"Mindfulness is the practice of aiming your attention, moment to moment, in
the direction of your purpose.  It is called mindfulness because you have to
keep your purpose in mind as you watch your attention.  Then whenever you
notice that your aim has drifted off, you calmly realign it."  -Frank Andrews

Thresholds <> Meeting Masters <> Richard Charles Holloway - P.O. Box 641, Long Beach, WA 98631 Voice 360.642.8487 ICQ# 10849650

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