Tuesday, October 9, 2018

S is for Slow Canary

is for Slow Canary 

Welcome, dear readers to another gripping edition of The ABC's of Compassionate Dialogue!

Today, it's time to go slow. Let's talk about the Slow Canary!

Slow Canary (SC herein) is one of the main canaries to first emerge from the group field, though it is just one little birdie in a whole flight of canary roles! We will get to those in future articles.

In a dialogue, one of the most critical aspects at play is its sense of cohesiveness (ease, enjoyment, flow, expansiveness), which we refer to as the We-Space.  The SC is often the least active role in the flow, and also is often the most integral. 

When the group is going slow enough to feel the resonance and dissonance in themselves and each other, optimal decisions can be made for the group in a replenishing manner.
Art by Kelsey A. Wyman

It is in going too fast during group interactions that things can become draining. Amazingly, going slow ends up being faster in the end! It may sound counter-intuitive, and in actuality the cohesion leads to fewer interruptions and a more even pace. 

Whoever is the most keen at sensing when the group is going too fast, missing a resonance or dissonance point, would be the best candidate to assign the role of SC, for that meeting.

In an ideal world, our interactions are replenishing, nourishing and inspiring.


meetings, gatherings and doing work would feel as nourishing and expansive as it does when we are enjoying coffee or tea with a close friend. 

The key to keeping things closer to that end of the spectrum is sometimes just to go slow (and there are other things too like bringing in humour -- but we will save that for the rest of the canary fleet). 
Bringing in a level of mindfulness into our meetings and interactions, and sharing language and culture for keeping things sometimes slower, and more fun (or at least less hard) can really help.

How do we actually do this at a workplace, house meeting or date with a friend who you might get into a heated debate space with? 


There are two ways we have come up with that you can try: 
the timer method, or the chime method. 

First, use your cell phone or a kitchen timer and set it for 7 minutes (you can vary the time depending on how intense the conversation is). Then whenever the timer goes off you can stop and take a slow breath in together. Or create some other shared ritual, like shaking it out, taking a stretch or maybe even a mini dance break! Anything goes as long as you stop (mid-sentence) and reconnect with yourself and each other. 

The idea is to try and remember what connects you. 
Why are you here? What is the bigger vision, goal, mission that connects you?
How can you consciously get back to a space of creativity, ease, and enjoyment together?
Is there something you can do to help things feel better right now for yourself or others in this moment? To support yourself or others better? (like making a fresh cup of tea, giving someone a sympathetic smile, or requesting to table a topic for a better time)

The second method is the chime method. This is where someone volunteers to keep track of the tone / energy level, and especially pace of the conversation. If it seems like people are starting to speed up and lose eachother, like someone is starting to get close to pink in the face (stop before red in the face), it might be time to signal the group to slow down. 

You can use any device you like such as signaling by ringing a gong, or a chime, or even singing a song! Anything works, and it is up to your group to create the shared tradition around this that works best for you. At Vibrantly we use a tibetan singing bowl because it is so relaxing it is hard to feel too upset at anything after just a few chimes.

The SC reminds us to return. Return to our center. To find balance, and take pause to reflect on what emotions we are feeling, what sensations in the body. It gives us just a little bit of a break to self-regulate and shift our own energies indivudally and collectively.

We would love to hear how this is working for you? Or what strategies you have come up with for your group or partnership! Leave your comments below or email us at thewayofvibrantly@gmail.com.

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