Tapping into the Mind and Body – Episode 26

In this episode, Beth Cougler Blom talks with Mirjam Leunissen about reconnecting to our bodies when working with groups to inspire emergent and serendipitous thinking.

Beth and Mirjam also talk about:

  • Playfulness and pushing people out of their comfort zones
  • Practicing sensing what’s going on in our bodies
  • Metaphors and analogies as inspiration
  • Building upon the cognitive tasks AI can do with what only we as humans can do

Engage with Mirjam Leunissen

Other Links from the Episode

Connect with the Facilitating on Purpose Podcast

Connect with Beth Cougler Blom

Podcast production services by Mary Chan of Organized Sound Productions

Show Transcript

[Upbeat music playing]

[Show intro]
Beth
Welcome, to Facilitating on Purpose, where we explore ideas together about designing and facilitating learning. Join me to get inspired on your journey to becoming and being a great facilitator wherever you work. I’m your host, Beth Cougler Blom.

[Episode intro]
Beth Cougler Blom
Hello, thank you so much for listening to the podcast today. I’m appreciating that you’re here for Episode 26. My conversation today is with Mirjam Leunissen. She is an embodiment engineer and creator of workshops that spark new ways of seeing, thinking, acting and connecting. I have first hand experience of this because I have been a participant a couple of times in Mirjam’s virtual workshops. She and I met through an online conference that you’re going to hear us talk about in the episode. And I did find her to be a really, really creative facilitator. And I knew I had to learn more from Mirjam about how she does it, where she draws her inspiration from, and how she uses embodied practices in her work as a facilitator with groups. If you’re looking for anything that could inspire you, when you’re designing your next learning events or your next meeting that you’re facilitating, I think this episode will be one for you to listen to, because I know I came away inspired and I hope you do too. Enjoy the show.

Beth
Mirjam, it’s so great to see you. Thank you for being on the show today.

Mirjam Leunissen
Yeah. Thank you for inviting me. I’m very excited.

Beth
As we start off here, I thought I would do something a little bit different with you. I have a phrase I’d like you to complete and maybe it will help us learn a little bit about you and what you do, briefly. Here’s the phrase. Can you complete this: “In this wild, wild life I am ______”

Mirjam
Very much myself.

Beth
I love that [laughs]. That’s it? Anything else you want to say?

Mirjam
[Laughs] Yeah, that’s it. It has been a long journey to be very much myself and to not be thrown off by this wild, wild life. And I actually think there’s a lot of wonderful learnings in there.

Beth
Definitely. Oh, I can’t wait to hear more. To me it looks like your work is all about imagination and creativity. I did see that in you, I was able to be part of a couple of your facilitated experiences that you did at the NeverDoneBefore Festival last year. To me, you were one of the most creative facilitators at that conference, and so it is a reason why I followed back up with you and wanted to hear more from you today. Tell me a little bit about what your work looks like and some of the things that you’re passionate about in facilitation today.

Mirjam
Uh yeah thank you for sharing that. That you were tickled by my imaginative sessions. Basically just bringing in what I’m excited about in life. So I have a bit of a diverse background. I started in physics and then I went into data visualization. I did coaching, and now heading into facilitation and also coaching facilitators. And what I really like is to just take, you know, a topic that I’m excited about and see if I can make an interesting learning experience out of that.

To be concrete, one of the sessions at the festival where I think you actually attended was this session called “What Would Pippi Longstocking Do?” [Beth: That’s right.] And it was actually a coaching tool that I learned a while ago. And when they were explaining it to me – it’s called the Ofman Core Quadrants – it sounded like it would be a lot of fun, like a fun eye opener, but the way it’s presented is always very boring. They basically tell you, “so what annoys you in another person?” and then start filling out these quadrants to see how that relates to your own strengths and challenges. And I think it’s very exciting to do this. Like, “oh, what annoys me in another person” and then learn something about yourself. But they always explain it in a very boring way. So for the festival I designed a session with Richard de la Rosa where we actually used this method to analyze Pippi Longstocking’s behaviour. So, Pippi Longstocking from the movies in the past, right? The series on television – this quirky little girl [who is], at the same time very inspiring and also very annoying. We used [the quadrant activity] to analyze her and then to invite the participants to sort of in a playful way also start to figure out about themselves, like make it a little bit more playful and surprising. This is very much me, I think. This is what I do in my sessions to turn it into a playful experience that really invites people to maybe take themselves a little less seriously. And then, yeah, it invites them to explore new areas.

Beth
I do remember coming into your virtual space and just looking at you and Richard and, you know, you were dressed up – and immediately I did have this sense that “OK this is going to be different than maybe I’ve had before…” or you were doing things differently even than people at that festival – which the festival itself was all about – the intent was – for people to do things differently. So it really stood out to me even just entering the room that it was going to be a different experience. I remember having really deep conversations in – I think – I’m pretty sure this was the session where you’re putting us to talk with other people about this tool or this exercise, and I think we were able to get really deeply into conversation, maybe more quickly than in some other activity we would have done elsewhere. Right? So it was a meaningful experience. Absolutely.

Mirjam
Yeah it’s great that you got something out of it. And I think what’s part of the magic is actually this little bit of playfulness around it. It makes it more light-hearted. Then I think people are also more inclined to go a little deeper. It makes you feel like there’s no judgment, no right or wrong. It creates this safe space to play around a bit more and see what you find.

Beth
Yeah less formal, less – I don’t know, I’d like to redefine the term ‘professional’ – you know, ‘professional’ can be fun like that. That’s what we want, right? But why do you think we don’t see it as much? Why is a session like what you ran with us unusual in the world of facilitating learning these days? Why don’t we play more?

Mirjam
Yeah, I’m not sure if I have all the answers to that. I suspect there’s a bit of a tendency to take ourselves too seriously because we want to keep up the image that we know, right? Maybe also the fear of judgment by others. So you become a little less playful. Um, I think there’s this belief that everything needs to be planned in a very organized way to get to an outcome. And I think it can actually be a little bit more loose than that, where you leave some room for emergence and exploration and serendipity – the unexpected finds and encounters. It actually may lead to new insights that you would not engineer into your session, right, if you run into something unexpected.

This reminds me of another workshop that I now do from time to time. It’s out on the streets in Amsterdam. Actually I call it a ‘Walk Shop’ because we go for a walk – and it’s all about this – it’s about wandering, not choosing a destination but wandering and seeing what you encounter and then really following what attracts you. Or steering away from what you don’t like. Then we use this to answer a question that you may have. So you come with a question, for instance, “what’s next for me and my career” or “give me some new ideas to communicate better with my partner.” You walk around with that question and you just look for these – your little clues. For instance, in the name of a boat here in Amsterdam, right? Or, um, what you see on the street or in a shop window. And then this sparks your imagination as to how could you look at your question? What could be a different way to look at it?

Beth
That’s such a neat idea. Do you then release people to walk all over the place by themselves, and then you come back together as a group? Or how does that work? How do they just do whatever they want? [smiles] And then you must have some debriefing at the end, do you?

Mirjam
Yes, we do. So actually, I follow the scheme of Street Wisdom. So it was developed by David Pearl and the way we start is by really slowing down. First you give people some exercises to slow down so that you really start to see your surroundings and to also tune more into yourself. Like, “oh what does look appealing to me or not?” And then you let people free. So then you decide: “What is the question that I want to answer?” Then people walk around freely for maybe half an hour. Then we come back together in one location and we do a sharing, like: “What did you find? What happened?” Frequently people found a lot of inspiration and also they see a lot of connections between each other. It’s really amazing what emerges from that. And there’s very little structure to it, right? It’s a very open design.

Beth
That sounds wonderful. I want to come over to Amsterdam and do that with you [laughs a bit]. That sounds like a fantastic – and you’re right, the word you used before – ‘serendipity’ – I could see that happening with the people that were doing that together, that somehow it would all work out that you can be learning from their walks that they were taking as well as your own and sharing that at the end. Sounds amazing.

Mirjam
It always works. It’s always the right people in the right place at the right time somehow.

Beth
I sometimes say that too, that whomever is in the room, it’s just that right group at that particular time to be there. You know, it was meant to be. Yeah. It makes me think to ask you about structure because there’s a lot of us that like structure, but then we realize that of course facilitation is all about flexibility within structure, but that is such an unstructured event. Is that more indicative of the type of things that you facilitate? I guess tell me about your relationship with structure and maybe the detriments and advantages, I guess, within. [Smiles]

Mirjam
I think this is a wonderful question actually because it relates to all of my life, sort of on a journey from being very rational and structured and wanting to keep control and being very prepared, to letting go more and more of all of that and basically go[ing] with the flow of what emerges. I think if you design a session where you have a certain purpose in mind, right? – “Do you have a learning goal?” – that there’s always a bit of structure, but I think it’s an interesting exercise to see how much you can let go of that. So I found during the Testival, for instance, it’s another festival of the NeverDoneBefore community, that the session where I did – the most impactful actually and the one that was really thought through and we had a Mural board and it was, you know, in all sorts of steps and stages – it just fell flat. It didn’t really work. It took out the playfulness; the air to breathe. The other session was – it was a Nonverbal Troika. So you mentioned the Liberating Structures earlier. And normally in Troika Consulting you come together in these trios and you share a challenge and you get advice in a verbal way. And I did a session where we did it without speaking, so just in movement, postures, facial expressions – super simple and very impactful. Everybody was glowing after the session. It was really wonderful.

Beth
Wow, I would love to see that because I have facilitated Troika many times and I’ve never done it like that [sounds excited]. Yeah. And you’re bringing people’s bodies into that experience as well. It’s not – we can so often just rely on what we’re saying and the text, learning online, or whatever it is. So what is bringing people’s bodies into that experience do? It seems like a scary thing, but you’re saying it actually was really well received and people loved it, it sounded like.

Mirjam
Yeah, absolutely. So the thing is I was super scared before I hosted it. Like “oh this is going to push people so far out of their comfort zones they are not going to like it.” But there was no issue. And I think part of it was not throwing it in as just one activity in a bigger session, but really structuring the whole session around it so that you lead people into this nonverbal expression. So I did a bit of warm up with them and I gave them a bit of an example of what it might look like, to make them feel comfortable. The other thing is not making a big deal out of it. And maybe part of that is that I have a background also in dance improvisation so I’ve been dancing dance improv for 10 years. So I feel very comfortable – for me the nonverbal is my comfort zone much more than talking on a podcast. And I think I sort of radiate that. Like, “it’s not a big deal. You just move and you express,” and then people go along with that. [Smiles]

Beth
So you’re giving people permission basically. The way you’re entering into that space, and maybe what you say too, but there’s something in your body that’s saying, “this is fine. We’ll just, try this. It’s OK.” [Laughs] I suppose. Yeah. Does that come naturally to you? Do you think intentionally about what your body’s doing? Does it just, I don’t know, exude from you because you’ve had all that dance improvisation training? Like when someone’s not used to using their body, how do they start using it to help themselves and then help their groups?

Mirjam
I think I developed the awareness indeed during the dance in the last 10 years where I became much more aware of what I was doing with my body. And then before that, I think I was not so aware, but of course we are always communicating through our bodies with a lot of nonverbal language. We also read a lot of nonverbal language without us even being aware of it. So it’s basically just putting the spotlight on that. It’s not that you cannot. It’s shifting your attention, like “OK now we are going to listen to the nonverbal…” But it does help to practice this, because it’s really practice to really sense what’s going on in your body to know where every body part is in space and what the sensation is. Is it warm? Is it cold? What’s the pressure? Does it feel good or not so good? That’s helped me to also connect more to who I really am, like really connecting to my feeling, my intuition. Yeah, make me more myself. So this is the journey again from the rational structured head to the body that just goes a little bit more with the flow and follows the gut feeling.

Beth
Yeah, it sounds like you’ve become more aware and then maybe intentional over time than about – I don’t know in the early days maybe you didn’t realize you had a body [laughs] as a facilitator or in your work, but then you really – now you’ve become conscious of what was unconscious before. And it’s a journey we all have to go through in some ways?

Mirjam
Yeah, ‘have to’ is a big word [laugh together]. I just think it’s very – I think it’s a very important tool in your facilitation toolkit. I think more important than looking for new methods or activities is your own presence in the space and how do you influence the group with your presence? Because we all do, and you can do it consciously or unconsciously. Like change the energy in the room, or do you seem very chaotic or structured. So what are you putting in the room? Right? And yeah, what can you do to help participants be more calm or have a higher energy or be more creative in a brainstorm. I think you can influence this with how you show up yourself.

Beth
Yeah, I think so. So the more we’re aware of what’s going on with us then we can kind of tune into that and try to correct it maybe if it needs to be corrected or just use it to inspire what’s going on with the groups. You’re making me think of these past few years, I guess, recognize that that’s something in myself I really want to continue to work on. You know, I’ll go for a massage and the massage therapist says, “So like how was that part of your body feeling?” And I’m like, “I don’t know!” [laughs a bit]. Like, I recognize in those kinds of situations outside of facilitation that “oh I’m not really in my body a lot.” And so bringing awareness to that: What does that mean for me as a person? What does then it mean for me as a facilitator? And how do I grow my skills in that embodied awareness? It’s a real journey for sure. When some of us feel like we’re real cognitive/head sort of people and to kind of realize there’s something else going on in the rest of our body that we bring into the experience. It’s a journey for sure.

Mirjam
So how do you go about it now when you realize that you forgot about the body part?

Beth
I know. Sometimes I’ve – I’ve done work with other friends who are probably better at this than I am, too, co-facilitating something. We’ve done workshops on whole body activities and really intentionally tried to bring those into the sessions that we’ve done. But do I do it all the time? No, I probably should do it more, even just saying – you’re on Zoom and you go into a breakout room. It’s like, “Hey stand up if you need to stand up and wiggle or …” some more of those invitations I probably should do. Are there things you do in the – you talked about taking the ‘Walk Shop’, but what do you do when you’re online? Like, how do you help people realize that they have a body that needs tending to or can be part of the experience online?

Mirjam
I have to say that in the sessions that I have done it was always the theme of the session. So using exercises from dance improv to learn about what does it mean to lead or to follow, to really listen to someone else. So then it’s kind of obvious. I have not done a meeting where you sit down together to – I don’t know, align on a vision for your company for the next few years. And I don’t know if you would say, “OK now stand up and jump around.” I do think you can do it in very subtle ways, actually. When people are stuck in the process, let them go for a walk. It’s the same thing, right? When you go for a walk or into the shower you suddenly have this breakthrough idea. I think to not stay stuck in a room on your seat, but go for a walk and mix it up a little bit and maybe when things get a bit too heated, um, help people get centered again, grounded in whatever way helps them. I don’t think it needs to be this big like ‘energized jumping up and down dance moves’ [laughs]…

Beth
Which can be really uncomfortable for some people for sure.

Mirjam
Yeah, it can be very subtle.

Beth
Even just leaving enough room for lunch. You know how some people when you facilitate a day long workshop where there will always be people to say “Oh can we just take half an hour?” I don’t know if that happens where you are in the Netherlands, but it certainly happens here in Canada. And I want to resist that type of group decision. Somebody is kind of making that decision for the group. We need to have that hour, we need to have that time to go for a walk or cross the room and talk to someone else or that kind of thing. So that’s a very easy thing to do, isn’t it?

Mirjam
It’s an easy win if you can get out of this productivity thought that it needs to go fast and efficiently and – yeah, go more nonlinear is how I would formulate it. Cut off the A to B linear thinking, and leave a bit more room for wandering.

Beth
How do you keep inspired yourself? I mean you’re sitting down designing some sort of a workshop or learning experience. How do you draw in inspiration for yourself in that process and then, you know, to translate that onto the people in your groups?

Mirjam
So first of all I like to look at what excites me in a topic and then how does it relate to something I know from my life, which could be the dance, right? And what’s also a great source of inspiration is to look, for instance, for metaphors which you can then really draw out. I did a session where we use the tree metaphor and a forest metaphor to sort of find connections in the group of the participants, like “what kind of tree are you” and then “what kind of forest do you form together?” And again we really drew this out where I even dressed up like a tree [laughs]. This was a bit overdoing it maybe, but yeah – like find a good metaphor and it can really also give you new ideas of how you might look at the session idea.

Analogies. I also love analogies. I did an exercise for connecting online through Zoom, but again without using words. I really like to find these edges where – like where can we do it without the words? Looking at fireflies. So fireflies, they synchronize when they blink in the forest so that they all blink at the same time. So we were playing with that. Like how can we synchronize flashing our hands on the screen? And it was very connecting. So just taking inspiration from different areas.

Beth
Do you feel that you’re always on in that way moving throughout your life? And you know, you’re just walking down the street or you’re going into some building or – I feel this is something that I bring to my life as well. I’m wondering if you’re the same, that I see connections sometimes that people haven’t seen that are sort of weird [laughs] to other people. [Mirjam laughs.] I remember sometimes I’ll go and troll a library in the nonfiction section and just be pulling out books going “OK …” – I remember one example was quilting. It’s like, “I’m not a quilter but I’ll just pull this out and see. And oh yeah they’re talking about a design board and how could I use that concept?” I don’t know. I just tend to make connections like that through things that are sort of odd. [Yeah.] And oddly put together.

Mirjam
Yeah! I love that. It’s like transplanting one thing from one context into an entirely different context. [Exactly, yeah.] And it’s very inspiring. I think I have the same mind like you where I always see these weird connections and then I get really tickled by that, like “oh, this is funny.” In the past people thought like “oh, you’re weird” [laughs] but now it’s actually appreciated as a skill.

Beth
Yeah! Oh, you’re making me think about this conversation – I had attended one of the Washington, DC Liberating Structures group and it was about AI in facilitation and knowing that I was going to meet you, I was thinking back on the AI conversation and going, “OK we can use AI as a thinking partner.” But one of the arguments – and I do, and I should say I’ve benefited from that – but one of the arguments I want to make about not solely relying on AI as a thinking partner is that it will never give us the spark of creativity, the innovation, the inspiration that hasn’t been thought of yet. Because it only knows what has already been thought of. Can I put you on the spot and ask you about AI? I mean you as a human being will always be a better partner to someone to help them bring out their creativity more than a robot, basically. What do you think?

Mirjam
Interesting reflection. I have been thinking about this myself too. And of course I don’t know what you discussed in the meeting [Yeah.] and who the experts were because this is just my private reflection. I actually think that we overestimate our own creativity. So frequently – we also just recombine existing information, like just making a new connection between two dots that were there already. And AI can do that. It can make random connections. The thing that AI cannot do very well, I believe, is thinking in concepts, like the bridge as bridging two different cultures. It will take the bridge very literally. So that’s where I think we still have an advantage.

Beth
I think you said that we overestimate our own creativity. Do you mean we underestimate it ourselves? Is that what you mean? [No.] Maybe I’m not understanding.

Mirjam
Yeah, I think we overestimate the creativity of humans. I think it’s frequently stuff that you take from different places and recombine. And AI can do that too. It can recombine information. So there I don’t think there’s a lot of difference. And yeah you already heard it. I’m very excited about reconnecting to our bodies. I think the real opportunity in the future with AI is to leave these tasks to AI – the more cognitive tasks – and then we have more time and space and stillness to tap into our own bodies again, to really listen to what’s going on there. I think we actually need it because AI doesn’t have a body and it cannot feel what’s good for us. To make better decisions that really align with what we need as humans, we need to tap into the wisdom of our own bodies.

Beth
AI can’t go for that walk that you were talking about and just be in the world and down the street noticing and making connections. Who knows, 100 years from now, 200 years from now, maybe it’ll be able to do it, but it doesn’t do it now, does it? [Yeah.] It’s nowhere near what that kind of experience is.

Mirjam
Yeah and AI doesn’t have a gut feeling of what it likes and dislikes, right? So maybe the easiest illustration for this is like how do you decide what you want to eat for dinner? You’re not making a spreadsheet with how much protein and fat and sugar have you had this week so then this should be your next meal. But you feel what you feel like, right? [Smiles]

Beth
Yeah it’s cold outside so you want pasta or something [laughs], or comfort food.

Mirjam
Yeah and I think AI cannot do that. Yet.

Beth
Let me ask you another sentence starter. I’m going to see if I can spark some of your thinking. [Mirjam laughs.] How about this one? This is sort of metaphorical, so we’ll see if it crosses across cultures. I don’t know where this one came from but just from the Liberating Structures community. “A house that needs burning down is ______”

Mirjam
And what do you mean by a house?

Beth
I was going to say …

Mirjam
Is this is an English expression that doesn’t translate to …

Beth
Dutch is your first language, isn’t it? [Yeah] OK, it’s basically like “what things do we have to tear down in order to have the things that we want?” I think is what it’s saying. [Mirjam: Ooh.] So is there something that needs to be dismantled to be able to have more creativity or inspiration or whatever?

Mirjam
Yes. A house that we need to burn down is the productivity myth, that we are more productive if it’s all planned, structured, scheduled, fast. Some of the biggest leaps forward come from I would say incubation where you take time to go into this unconscious brain that connects all these different dots and have a new idea bubble up.

Beth
Yeah, slower. Take our time more with it. You’re right. I think we don’t do that enough. We’re very speedy in our world these days.

Mirjam
Yeah. And people know this, right? Because sometimes when you’re stuck you step into the shower and then the idea comes. [That’s right.] So we know that we need to do this.

Beth
Yeah, I know. And why do we constantly struggle about that? That adding in that white space to allow more thinking. We can do it for ourselves as facilitators who plan things, but how do we do it with our groups particularly too? Johnnie Moore, who I had on the podcast – I don’t know if you know Johnnie in the UK [Yes.] I think he also talked about this concept where – just waiting for the group and giving it time, and [that] he doesn’t know all the answers, and he’ll see how he could be helpful. [Laughs] But he is a very, very skilled facilitator with many, many years of experience. So, you know, when I hear someone who has a lot of experience saying, “I really just need to slow down and see what’s going to happen,” this says a lot.

Mirjam
Absolutely. And I think the challenge is to be comfortable with the discomfort of this sort of uncertain, open space for a while.

Beth
Yeah, yeah, you’re right, because you can get comfortable maybe if you do it a lot but there’s that kind of entry in that we need to get used to. Letting go – it’s sort of thing about letting go, isn’t it, of that structural piece. [Yeah.] Here’s another sentence finisher for you, to finish. “Just over the horizon I can see ______.”

Mirjam
Just over the horizon I can see a future where facilitation becomes more and more important actually, as we need all of the people to contribute to the solutions for the future. I think it’s very important to have all these like more bottom-up initiatives to democratize the problem-solving for the future and not individuals that are in leadership positions and frequently don’t have the time and space to be very imaginative, maybe, to solve the problems.

Beth
Yeah, you’re probably right.

Mirjam
Yeah crowdsource the solutions. And I think it’s best done if you can facilitate this very well in the process, right? To get everybody onboard and heard. And yeah …

Beth
And just maybe individuals thinking of themselves as being able to have facilitation skills. I sometimes talk about this with colleagues that when we want to talk to people who facilitate but they don’t know that it’s called facilitation – they’re just some other role, right, in their title – but we actually want them to use facilitation skills to be able to lead themselves and their colleagues in day-to-day conversations or in groups or whatever, towards these more creative ends. These skills are accessible to all of us, I think, aren’t they?

Mirjam
I think they are very teachable provided that you have enough self-awareness. Yeah, recognize where you are at when you are in this role, right, so that you don’t get triggered by the group and then start to steer it in weird directions, for instance. I think it does require a certain level of self-awareness to be able to step into this facilitator role. And a lot of it is very teachable. Yeah.

Beth
Are there things that are really important to you in your work right now that are in the vein of what we’ve been talking about that you want to bring forward that we haven’t talked about yet?

Mirjam
So there’s one more thing about the imagination, I think, that’s also teachable and can be used as an imagination sparker, and that’s to ask ‘what if’ a lot. So question all these assumptions that are out there. It’s really about thinking for yourself. “What if we don’t need words to connect to each other and understand each other?” That’s what I did with the Nonverbal Troika. “What if we don’t know who’s in the room?” Because, for instance online and in Zoom we always want people with all the cameras on but what if we turn them all off, and then it opens a new space for more anonymous sharing? Maybe you get a whole different kind of sharing. I know that Myriam Hadnes did a workshop like that and it really made people share very deep things, because they were all totally anonymous.

Beth
I think Jan Keck did something like that as well. I’d have to –oh we’ll look up the examples and put them in the show notes.

Mirjam
Yeah. So a question all the assumptions. “What if you do an activity in half the time of the usual time? How does it change the outcome?”

Beth
Or double the time or triple the time maybe based on what we were saying before.

Mirjam
Yeah. Or what if in a brainstorm you only brainstorm questions around the topic instead of solutions.

Beth
I’ve done that and it’s really a wonderful experience. I’m sure you have too. Yeah.

Mirjam
Yeah. So I think we can play a lot with that.

Beth
You’re right I don’t know if I ask myself that enough when I’m in the design stage for something, you know: “What if I did this a different way? What if I … what are all the ways I could finish that ‘what if’ statement for myself around that thing that I’m working with then?”

Mirjam
Then I think it opens up a whole new area of exploration.

Beth
Yeah. And what if you asked your colleagues what they would do to kind of get outside ourselves and ask for inspiration from others as we’re working too.

Mirjam
Yeah. And then if I may, the other thing I’m very passionate about is all the embodiment. So now into Embodiment Coaching of facilitators and trainers, because if you can really connect to what’s going on in yourself, I think you also have a much better connection with what’s going on in the group.

Beth
Yeah definitely. I can see that for sure. I’m always so grateful for these kinds of conversations because – ostensibly we’re talking about designing and facilitating learning but there’s so many other things in and around that core practice that you’ve been able to take us to today – and all my guests do – but this has been really exciting in terms of that: “How do we unleash what’s going on in our bodies and leads to creativity and inspiration,” so thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and your inspiration with us today.

Mirjam
Yeah. Thank you for inviting me. It’s very nice exploring with you.

[Episode outro]
Beth
It was so wonderful to have that conversation with Mirjam. And I’m coming away thinking about so many things that I think are going to inspire me to do something different in the next meetings and workshops that I facilitate. Even just a couple of weeks ago, when I was facilitating a one day workshop with a group, I took them outside for something in the afternoon, and it was just inspiring. It was fun. The group started laughing together, and we just enjoyed even the 15 or 20 minutes that we stood around and moved around outside with each other. I facilitated them through the 25/10 Crowdsourcing activity of Liberating Structures, which is always a fun one because it involves music and milling around and passing cards and so on. So just 15 or 20 minutes of doing something embodied really helped the group keep their energy up, especially in the middle of the afternoon. So, talking with Mirjam really just helped me remember I have to keep doing that stuff with my groups because we not only learn better together, but we actually get to know each other a little better as well.

I really loved the idea of Mirjam’s “walk shop” that she talked about where she invited her group to just go wandering around the streets of Amsterdam and noticing things based on their question prompts that they had developed for themselves, and then coming back together with a group to debrief that and learn and grow together. That just sounds like a fabulous time, doesn’t it, and a meaningful time? And don’t we all want to have more of that with our groups? So, I hope you found some inspiration from Mirjam today. I know I did and I look forward to continuing to watch her more on social media and I hope you will as well.

The next episode of the podcast is a solo episode with me. What I’m going to be talking about are some of the mindsets that I hold near and dear to myself and to the work I have with my team behind the scenes here, doing work in learning design and facilitation. People often ask me what it’s like to own a business like this and what happens behind the scenes? What does it look like to run a business like this? There’s all sorts of things as I dig into it that I need to grapple with, to realize, to stay true to myself and to hold dear with and for my team that I thought I could discuss next time. So join me for Mindsets of a Learning Entrepreneur on the next episode. We’ll see you then.

[Show outro]
Beth
Thank you for listening to Facilitating on Purpose. If you were inspired by something in this episode, please share it with a friend or a colleague to help them expand their facilitation practice too. To find the show notes, give me feedback, or submit ideas for future episodes visit facilitatingonpurpose.com. Special thanks to Mary Chan at Organized Sound Productions for producing this episode. Happy facilitating!

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