8 tips to do non-doing

Surrendered Leadership and Presencing (Theory U) have a “surrender” at it’s core. By letting go of our subtle tendencies to control, we open our will to align ourselves with life, with something bigger than us.

Subjectively, this feels effortless, elegant and graceful. Systemically, this opens up the space for true co-creation and collective intelligence. Only when we let go of our structures, we give space for something truly new and creative to emerge.

I find this effortless non-doing immensly fascinating and peculiar. How does this effortless happen? How can you do so much by non-doing? Why doesn’t this happen if you do nothing?

When I have expectations of what should happen, it tends to block the process and move it to holding and doing, rather than just being. Then again - forcing yourself to have no expectations is an expectation in itself: “I expect something to go wrong if I expect too much”.

How to let go and fall into this deeper layer? How to “do” less and “be” more?

Apart from the inherent mystery, I’ve discovered some dynamics that seem to be fairly consequent.

1) It’s not what you do during the session, it’s what you do before.

In particular, the more time I spend on

  • Grounding. This is feeling my body and directing attention to the ground, legs and pelvis.

  • Being present. This is slowing down, noticing subtle changes.

  • Emotional hygiene. This is caring for inner conflicts and whatever emotions are alive in me.

  • Having a clear vision or intention. This comes to me in an imagined felt sense, or an imagined sense of the dynamics in the field, not in fixed way of acting or doing things.

2) Whenever I notice a conscious effort to do something, I drop it.

This is a meditation instruction by Shinzen Young: “As soon as you notice you’re consciously using effort to do something, drop the effort.”

Which doesn’t mean: Stop everything. Because my mind, feelings and body are doing lots of things by itself. Things I don’t have conscious control over. It’s not about avoiding, ignoring or surpressing that. It’s not even about findings things you put effort in - as that would be an effort in itself. It’s simply noticing spontaneous moments in which you recognize a conscious effort, and then dropping that.

3) I’ll ask “what wants to happen?”

Or: “Where does life want to take me?”. And then I wait until I’m inspired to act by something beyond my will. It seems to come out of nowhere, as an idea, impulse, thought, movement or emotion.

4) It’s continuously, but spontaneously, discovering which polarities I’m not seeing and integrating.

This is why emotional hygiene as preparation works so well. The less stuff I have to deal with, the easer it is to integrate it on the spot.

So rather than “frustration has me”, I can clearly see “I have frustration”. And rather than avoiding that (“frustration is bad”), it’s about integrating and embracing that (“what’s the beauty of frustation?”)

5) I’m noticing how stressed, hurried or activated I am - and slow down when I notice it.

Another emotional hygiene practice: I notice when my nervous system is activated. Pressure on my chest. Less spaciousness. Less groundedness. Feeling rushed. A strong desire for something to change. All indicators I need to pause, breathe, ground and connect.

6) Energy flows where attention goes

Directing my attention to qualities of “beingness” seems to stabilize and strenghten it. I can feel it in rest, silence, dancing, peaceful felt-sense, groundedness, spaciousness, vertical alignment.

It’s also appreciating the basic goodness of all things moving. The basic goodness of energy moving, or emotions changing, of the field, of the little details on the floor, my clothes, all that.

7) Context and intention are key

It’s like domino day: During the event, the dominos fall effortlessly in all these crazy contraptions and beautiful patterns. The effort is in setting up these dominos.

Setting the right context requires some effort. If it’s set the right way, you can drop all effort and fall into grace.

And: everything counts as setting the context. If somebody already knows Circling - that’s context right there. If this person knows you as a dancer, a therapist, a coach, a mediator… that’s context right there.

8) It’s a capacity that comes online with a certain level of adult development.

There is a certain way you can set the context and direct attention to make yourself fall into effortlessness.

Rather than having a sense of self that is fixed in time (Kegan’s Self-Authoring Mind), you’re sense of self is mediated by the relationships you have in the present moment (Kegan’s Self-Transforming Mind).

Or, in Terri O’Fallons Stages model, it requires a shift from Strategist (4.5, subtle-collective-interpenetrative) to Construct-Aware (5.0 metaware-individual-receptive) or even Transpersonal (5.5 metaware-individual-active).

What I get is that instead of playing in the subtle field, where you explore emotions, thoughts, feelings, connections, you’re playing in the metaware field, where you explore awareness, intentions and contructs.

As with all these developmental stages, the first tend to come in peak experiences of temporary states. As you grow, they become more stable and common until you don’t even notice things were different before.

It is here where I see the leaders capacity making a huge difference in circling.

In some Circles, it never seems to move beyond the subtle realm: An exploration of the truth as it appears in our subtle feelings, emotions, polarities, patterns, thoughts, etc…
In this place, you have an “open heart” (borrowed from Theory U)

In other Circles, it seems to move in the realm of awareness: being moved by something greater than me, falling into effortlessness, sensing what wants to emerge, sensing the collective intelligence. In this place, you not only have an open heart, but also an open will.