We can appreciate open space stories. We can
read articles and books and begin to understand how it works,
perhaps even envision using it in places where we live and work.
If we go furthrer, we can enact open space in those places, go
through the motions of writing the invitation, walking the circle,
explaining the principles, opening the marketplace. We know that
if we do this, we get better meetings, toward better organizations.
And still there is more; there is the potential to embody openness,
movement, spaciousness and power in organization, as organization.
And this embodiment starts with one individual, a facilitator,
a leader, a manager, perhaps, but not necessarily.
To understand the difference between appreciation,
envisioning, enacting on the one hand and actually embodying
on the other, the practice gets so much simpler than open space
technology, or even blowing bubbles. It starts with one person,
you or me. It starts as simply as yawning, yes, yawning. We've
said open space technology runs on four basic mechanisms: circle,
bulletin board, marketplace and breathing. The first three, however,
get most of the attention. So now, it's time to focus on the
heart of it all. Breathing. Really spirited breathing. Breathing
that takes your breath away. It's called yawning!
The practice can be as simple as taking a
few minutes to yawn one hundred times or taking five minutes
four times through the day to do nothing but yawn. Let yourself
yawn as big and open as you can on each inbreath. Let yourself
say 'aaaaahhhhh...' as loudly or softly as feels good on each
outbreath. If you're able to have a few minutes of napping after
each yawning session, the benefits will sink in deeper and last
longer. And the benefits are many, but you can discover them
We have said that open space is a practice
in invitation. So invite yourself to yawn. Open a bigger space
inside yourself. Stretch a little. We've said open space is about
finding one more thing to NOT do. Yawning is a great way to not
DO anything. We've said it's a practice, this opening of space.
And yawning, too. Can you yawn on every breath or does it take
some practice. Are any yawns the same? And we've said open space
is about letting go of traditional control. Are the best yawns
not spirited little moments when your breath seems to take you
away, as you ease up to an edge, slip over, and then come back
renewed, stretched, open, bigger? These are just a few of the
ways that we can begin to embody the invitation, practice and
letting go that are open space. But open space is also about
passion bounded by responsibility, so you'll have to practice
this yourself to really embody the spaciousness of it all.
And as you do practice, five minutes here,
five minutes there, see if you don't find that all this yawning
leads to what you might call a better way to be alive as body,
in the same way that open space technology, invited, practiced,
surrendered doesn't lead to better ways to be together as an
organization. You might notice how many times you're able to
have big, climactic, breathtakingly stretchful yawns in that
five minutes. You might notice how long your 'five minutes' really
lasts. You might look around in your body to see what shifts
occur away from the apparent center of your yawning. Notice,
perhaps, what you do with your attention while you yawn. Where
do you focus, concentrate, cajole or otherwise try and effort?
Does it help? And finally, notice how you are with others after
one of these sessions. Does it help your work? Does it radiate?
Then look to see the same subtle shifts in
organizations in open space. Yawns and other openings happen
already, all the time. But the intentional, invitational practice
of these kinds of little, momentary, subtle surrenders still
hold great potential. Or more accurately, we all have great potential
for spacious, easy movement. The heart of the challenge of opening
space in organizations and communities, however, seems to begin
with an invitation to ourselves... to breathe, to stretch, to
open, to yawn. And I think the spirit that moves organizations
in open space must come from deep down inside of all of us, from
the same place that those big, stretching, catching, deeply satisfying
yawns come from. All we need to do is find that place, to find
that we already embody it all...yawn...aaahhhh.....yawn yawn
yawn yawn....ah ahahahahahhhaahhaaaaaahhhhhh...oh!
Our open, yawning spaces resonate deeply,
ripple out easily, radiate brilliantly ...through body, in organization,
as community ...aaaahhh...hhhaaaaa...
* * *
Body rests like a mountain
Breath moves like the sea
Heart like the sky
Thanks to Julie Henderson, who taught me
to yawn, after
I'd nearly forgotten how. Her work is called Zapchen Somatics.