Class 1: Expectation

Expectation and assumption can formulate and change our experiences based upon positive or negative influences from the outside, sometimes with positive or negative results.  I entered this course with few expectations or assumptions.  Focusing more on my excitement for the unknown and exposure to new ideas and teachings, I arrived Saturday with an open heart and open mind.

At first glance, the building holding the Common Ground courses blends in with the rest of Center street with many college-aged students strolling and hurrying to and from the UC Berkeley campus.  Past construction outside and upon entrance into the “office” portion of the school, the welcoming sound of a bamboo fountain and calming yellow hues help dissipate the hustle bustle feelings felt via transport by BART from San Francisco to downtown Berkeley.

Chaco’s removed and notebook in hand, I tip-toed across the wooden floor to join my new course-mates already engrossed in Awakening the Dreamer.  Looking around, I was pleased with the warmth and overall energy felt in the room and ready to take part in a new and awaited experience.

Arriving late, my day began with the final half of the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, leading into a multitude of facilitated activities and presentations.  A few that stick out the most at the moment include a video on city repair, the Elm Dance, the stretching time activity, milling exercises, and the bowl of tears.

The intersection intervention video segment was engaging and gave me hope of the future state of some of our more liberal cities.  That it began in Portland, OR does not surprise me and I look forward to learning more about it through outside research.  It seems like a great way to reconnect our severed communities through artistic expression and an actual physical space set aside to achieve a supportive community.

It wasn’t until the Elm Dance that I began to feel a connection and sense of community with everyone in the PDC course.  What were presented as simple movements at first, turned into a fluid transmission of energy and emotion.   Introduced as a practice used by Joanna Macy, it is a beautiful dance that I look forward to taking part in every week with my fellow classmates.

The stretching of time exercise was one of my favorites.  Sitting across from an “ancestor” I, the “future generation”, listened as profound questions were asked then answered.  Such questions as, how humanity ended up in such a mess and “what did you do” in response to the state of humanity were the general ideas behind some of the questions.  Some of the answers I heard deeply resonated with my beliefs of what needs to be done now and also in things that I could be doing myself in the near future.  Once it was my turn to speak as a representative of the future generation, it almost felt like I was giving hope to the “ancestors” on the outside circle.  Through our descriptions and visualizations of what could be, we are hopefully transcribing what will be and what can be actualized in our future as humans and a part of Gaia.

In order for some of us to remember and realize that we are all connected with Gaia and are a part of it, we must also realize that we are all connected with one another.  The portion of the milling exercise where each of us chose two people which to maintain equal distance between was a great example of the connectedness of all our movements and actions.  The movement of one affected the movement of us all.  This was especially noticed once an elimination round was experienced.  The removal of one person from our system led to the eventual exponential removal of us all, or the demise of the entire system.  It is a great way of showing the cause and effect of all our actions whether small or big in all we do everyday, regardless of the context.

Finishing the evening with the Bowl of Tears was a great way to wrap up an amazing day, continuing with the theme of connectedness and visualizations.  The simple notion of repeating the words “we hear you” after each person’s turn solidified our unity as a group and was a way of demonstrating active listening.

Thank you to everyone who was there this Saturday.  I have learned much from you all.  I look forward to spending more time with you and the coming weeks.  Thank you all for being present and giving me the opportunity to feel comfortable and be myself.


– Amy N.

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