Gentle but Firm Call Back to Self-Responsibility

Sometimes and Pathwork helper has to do what a Pathwork helper has to do, and such was my Thursday (July 26) session with my Pathwork Helper Moira. I was whining about things going on in our Pathwork community, things that to me were diluting the Pathwork by introducing so many other modalities into our Pathwork program. And the community seems so excited about learning all these other modalities, more excited about adding breadth it seemed to me than about advancing their own Pathwork depth.

Moira caught my whining and pointed out that I was disparaging Pathwork leaders who were finding other modalities.  She also pointed out that they are finding other modalities because I am not showing up in my passion for Pathwork. Yes, they are hungry, but I am holding back my passion for Pathwork, and in so doing I am creating a vacuum for them. And with the void they will go elsewhere to get their needs met. So I have a responsibility for my frustration that I have manifested by not showing up.

And this “showing up” is not about my “promoting” things like Erena’s Pathwork Graduate Program, but rather about simply letting my passion for Pathwork flow out of me freely. This flowing-out Pathwork energy would be effortless effort!” So there was the gentle shove from Moira to show up more in my passion when I am in our Pathwork community.

I had also discussed with Moira my inner conflict in my leadership role in Mid-Atlantic Pathwork between “open to any outcome” and my felt weight of responsibility for the consequences to people affected by whatever outcomes may arise – consequences to Pathwork students, Sevenoaks staff, other groups coming to Sevenoaks, and other stakeholders.

A Pathwork friend had reminded me just before my call with Moira, “Gary, you are not that powerful to be responsible for all outcomes.” That was helpful, but Moira challenged me on this. “Gary, you ARE responsible, but not for the outcomes in the organization that you serve but rather you are responsible for being in your own integrity, for SHOWING UP, fully showing up in your Essence, your passion, as your Board ponders these matters, especially at the upcoming Board Retreat.” Again, this was a gentle push to step into the ring of life, especially at the Retreat happening this weekend.

In my 8-hour drive to Sevenoaks on Friday I pondered my session with Moira. A stream of consciousness emerged over the long but pleasant drive. All kinds of thoughts arose from within. “Fill the void.”  “Gary, show up!” “ Showing up is not more work, but more authentic Presence.”

But I could also feel my fear of showing up at the Board Retreat. Do I not trust the cosmos, my higher self, or my passion for the Pathwork lectures? Or perhaps I fear resistance from the Pathwork helper community and other Board members. “How dare you say there is a void!” But I do sense there is a void, nothing offered after Helper Training that supports our ongoing growth in Pathwork, taking us to our cutting edge in our spiritual growth.

Yes we go on and take on all kinds of things after helper training, but they seem to broaden us without deepening us. We get together for peer supervision to solve problems in our classes or with our workers, and yes we learn and grow from this, but does this lead to personal vertical growth toward our home in God? Or we get together as a helper community and do emotional processing with each other and sometimes go away thinking, “Wow, that was doing our Pathwork!” But is it? Is this all that Pathwork offers: more and more emotional processing? It seems to me that emotional processing, while helpful to a point, is not inspiring us to connect to God. And this growth toward God is my passion.

So what do I do to answer my hunger for growth toward God? Good to pause and consider this, to make my growth plan more conscious. I read and listen to Pathwork Lectures – these enliven me. I do my daily meditation in the morning, have coffee time with Pat – speaking deeply, sometimes over two hours. I have my biweekly support calls with my Pathwork buddy Jenny. And Jenny, Mary, and I have now done three two-day retreats over the past year where we share deeply what is going on in our lives and explore our Pathwork process. I have conversations with many folks interested in spiritual matters and growth. I have my helper sessions with Moira and my Hakomi body-work sessions with Ed. Pat and I did the couple’s intensive with Sage Walker and Anthony Wilson and plan to continue working with Sage and Anthony is biweekly Skype calls.  In November I begin Erena’s graduate program. I spend reflecting time in writing these blog entries. Yes, lots of energy goes to answer my hunger for coming home to God!

So why do I care about what others in the helper community do? In part because I am in Pathwork leadership and feel responsibility for offering the best Pathwork we can offer. I get frustrated when so many ancillary activities get added to our Pathwork programs: breathwork, core, dance, and all the emphasis on emotional processing even after two years of taking the Pathwork Transformation Program. What happens is that I lose faith in the Pathwork programs we are offering and want to see them revamped as more spiritually-oriented programs.

But what do I do about what I sense? I carry impressions so far, but stop short of letting my passion for Pathwork show up. And I notice my fear OF pride and self-will. I get fearful that somehow if I express myself I shall be revealing my pride, arrogance and self-will. So I back off and let others take the program where they think it should go. I am not willing to express my passion for fear that I might be “wrong” (that is, human) after all.

So in our Board Retreat how will pride, self-will, and fear actually show up in me? Pride could show up in one of two ways. First I could think I have things figured out and be arrogant and impatient in my presentation, putting down the approach of others with their Pathwork. “See! See how I have this figured out!” OR, on the other hand, I could express my pride by feeling less than and inferior to other helpers. “Oh, you’re right. I know nothing. I’ll sit back down.” And in my self-will  I could close my ears to what others are saying and plow ahead. Or, conversely, I could collapse in submission.  Good to have this awareness going into the retreat.

In my Thursday session Moira reminded me that the world is in crisis and needs Pathwork. Am I not willing to overcome my resistance to showing up so Pathwork could be helpful in helping others?  Is this not purpose enough for me to express my passion for Pathwork and for Erena’s graduate program?


It is now Saturday evening. The Friday evening-Saturday Board Retreat is over. How did it go? I noticed Friday night that sometimes I felt lost, like I just did not fit in with the other Board members. This goes back to what Pat observed several weeks ago when she watched me interact with some of these same leaders. “You just look disconnected from the others, and like you were finding no joy in what you were doing.” Yes, a pattern in me. So this was last night’s session. Yet it seemed to be a good session overall. I’m not sure what this “not fitting in” is all about

Then this morning during meditation I got a download of how the two Sevenoak business lines should run: the retreat center and the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork. First for the retreat center. What is our identity, our purpose?  The words “balancing heaven and earth…” came to mind as a byline. This phrase is the title of Robert Johnson’s autobiography, which I so like. We would not re-invent the wheel but rather would find out how other retreat centers work – their governance, staffing, board composition, source of funds – including revenue, donations and grants. What would the critical success factors be? What would a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) assessment look like? Etc. I found excitement in contemplating these matters related to the retreat center.

For Pathwork ideas also flowed in my meditation. We need to build the apex of our programs – going beyond the Pathwork Transformation Program with a graduate program, a program which could be lifelong for those on their spiritual path. To these we would add our existing training modules for those gifted and called to teach (Advanced Pathwork Studies) and those gifted and called to become Pathwork helpers (Helper Training). This continuing self-education program beyond the Transformation Program and beyond Helper Training could help assure that those teaching and helping as well as those of us who simply living Pathwork are all encouraged and supported in finding our edge.

As with the retreat center, we would not re-invent the wheel but rather consider how other spiritual paths work. What other paths? Perhaps we could look at A.H. Almaas, his Diamond Approach and his Ridhwan School for teaching teachers. Or Integral Institute with their Integral Life Practices programs, or the Enneagram communities, or Stan Grof’s Holotropic Breathwork community, etc. How are these spiritual paths organized? Funded? Operated? Are they growing or waning, etc.?

Third we could build a much wider range of Pathwork programs. The entry levels would be regional and perhaps begin with Spiritual Exploration Programs where folks could safely share and explore their spiritual and psychological lives, their level and sources of happiness and unhappiness, their sense of meaning and purpose, etc. There could be a segmentation of these groups: people going through midlife, people in a 12-Step Program of some sort and wanting to go deeper, etc. From there interested folks could go on to classes teaching Pathwork concepts, processing groups, small local workshops, larger Sevenoaks workshops, and then the Pathwork Transformation Program and finally the Life-Long Pathwork Growth (graduate) support program.

By the time my Saturday morning meditation was over I was really wound up and inspired. But where would I go with this excitement? Could I allow this passion to flow out from me in our Board Retreat as it continued into day two?

Well I did bring these things up, somewhat unskillfully, but nonetheless I did it. Some ideas were received well – like the theme: “Balancing Heaven and Earth.” Other things were more of a struggle – like my sense of the void at the top of our Pathwork programs and teachers needing to be in continuing education to keep themselves at their edge.

This was the Saturday morning session, and I felt alive and in my element. I also eagerly integrated the ideas of others into my thought process. But then the afternoon came and we dove into details. While important, I found myself overwhelmed, like a deer in the headlights. So many many things to look at. As one Board member suggested, this was déjà vu – we have had these brainstorming lists of marketing and other ideas numerous times and never been able to carry them forth.  This is disheartening, and I felt the energy drain out of me with all these ideas and details sketched onto five or six pages of the flip chart.

I ask, “What bothered me so much, other than feeling overwhelmed and overpowered by all the work these flipchart pages implied?” I could not understand what was going on in me, only I knew that after only two hours in the afternoon session I was exhausted and drained after having been enlivened in the morning session and my meditation. Again I felt out of place and lost, disconnected and head spinning.

But perhaps there is a reason for my disquietude. Lists of action items seem beyond what we know. The strategic framework has to be established first. We have to compare ourselves with others and see our niche and establish our identity. While I have no interest in this for the retreat center side of the business, I do have energy for finding this sense of identity on the Pathwork side. This would mean revitalizing the revamp program and really developing what Pathwork could be as an offering into a world of suffering and seeking. This strategic understanding would lead to right action for program development and marketing. It would not be simply a random list of good ideas out of context with the unique Call we are to serve.

But, as I said, the meeting is over. What will I do now? It would be easy to back away and let others run the show. But would running away from this be my Call? Part of me says,”Yes.” Or rather do I have a role to play in helping to bring order to all of this well-meant but unfocused creative energy to take Pathwork forward?  I’m in a process of discernment and am requesting your prayers for wisdom and courage.

Shared with love, Gary