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Partnering Each Other: Building Workshops

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During the past two years, I’ve taught Touch Practice workshops ranging from a simple 2-hour introductory session for eight, all the way up to full weekend retreats for 24 men. While I am still committed to individual work, teaching groups of men about Touch Practice is my current passion.

I’ve said before that I don’t own this work, didn’t create it, and don’t consider it “mine.” The most accurate way for me to describe the situation is to say that I am a carrier of the work; I give arms and legs to the work, but it comes through me, not from me. And there are many carriers for the work.  Every time I hold a workshop, I find a few more, and I encourage them, sometimes nudge them, to go out and carry their own version to the places where they live.

Touch Practice is a form of partnership. Even when I am “leading” a session with someone completely new to the practice, I resist being called the teacher or leader; I prefer to think of myself as a skilled partner, someone with a lot of experience. Ultimately, it’s about learning how to partner each other, not about me teaching you what I know. You know things that I don’t know; I’m interested in learning those, too.

Yes, I will acknowledge some leadership role here. I don’t own Touch Practice and didn’t create it, but I do own the domain touchpractice.com, and I did commission a website there. Even the website is a wonderful form of partnership. I do write, and write, and write. I take the lead in holding and creating safe space for workshops. But for the most part, all I typically have to do is get things started on the right foot. Like a good potluck supper, each man brings something wonderful to the practice, and it is, ultimately, the sum of what we all contribute to it together.

The work in its highest form occurs when the men who engage it realize that there is no teacher/student, leader/follower, therapist/client arrangement here. Rather, we are partners who agree to practice partnership together. I might be a skillful partner, or a very experienced partner, but in the end I’m just a partner, just one half of what the two of us, together, can build.

And that vision is symbolic of how I see the world, and the world of men, needing and wanting to move. Less emphasis on who is more powerful, who is bigger, more experienced, stronger, or who has mightier weapons, and more of a realization that “we are in this together; we are partners, and we have to build this together.” Less hierarchy, more partnership.

I’m about to announce the first of a series of small group workshops which will be based on a form of partnership, rather than a commercial or marketing model. Rather than a typical workshop where there is a specific fee charged, we custom build workshops together. It might mean I come to you, at your location or with your group. It might mean that we meet at a beautiful, secluded little retreat center here in New England. It might be a private workshop for a pre-established group that wants to build a stronger sense of team, or it might be an open enrollment workshop for men from all over the country.

Because I don’t accept any fees for Touch Practice, the cost of a workshop is, literally, just the “cost” of the workshop. We add up the cost of any facilities rental or lodging expenses, my travel to/from the location, sometimes the cost of a co-facilitator as well, any other group costs (for example, if meals are included for longer retreats) and we divide that sum by the total number of participants. That’s the cost per individual. If we have money left over, it can be redistributed to the participants or can be donated to a charity that we agree on together.

This way of building workshops requires teamwork from the very beginning. It requires that we build mutual trust and honor commitments we make. But that has always been my experience, with Touch Practice.  It seems to attract honorable men, men who want to live lives of integrity and commitment. I like the model very much (and just had a very successful run with this model during a January workshop) because it establishes that sense of team even before we meet, and often allows people to stay connected long after the weekend is over. Touch Practice isn’t commercial; it’s a spiritual practice. I hate the idea of a “selling” a workshop, like a product. I love the idea of custom building partnership with each other.

If you’ve been thinking, “I wish I had something like this in….” then reach out to me, and maybe we can build it together. I can’t promise anything, but I can tell you that Spirit goes before me in this work, and everything I have and everything I have done has been given to me from a source outside myself. When I simply follow where the work directs me, it’s easy and simple. Things fall into place. Miracles happen. Everything unfolds exactly as it should. There’s never any strenuous effort required.

So, if you’re sitting there (as many of you are, because you’ve written me!) in the middle of Idaho, Utah, an island off the coast of Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, India, wherever you might be–hey, you never know. Maybe one day here in New England or some day on that island off the coast of Denmark, we’ll build something together that people will remember for a long time.

Be well; be encouraged. The days are getting longer (at least here in the north.) Take care of yourself first, and hold others when you can. See you next week.

Have thoughts you’d like to share?

Touch Practice is a sacred practice for me, and part of that is keeping confidences sacred. While a name and e-mail address are required to post a comment, feel free to use just your first name, or a pseudonym if you wish. Your e-mail address will never be seen by or shared with anyone. It is used to prevent spam and inappropriate comments from appearing in the blog. I’d really like to hear from you!

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