Experiencing “The Way of Council: A New Paradigm for Leadership”
The Way of Council: A New Paradigm for Leadership is a perfect workshop fit for anyone in a leadership position or working towards leadership. The workshop is geared for spiritual based leaders especially those doing community work like teachers, caregivers and healers. Grandmother Kaariina Saarinen is a crone with wisdom that flows out of her like a river down a mountain. She shares wisdom from many traditions including Native American, yoga, Buddhism as well as the Christian perspective. At no time does she distinguish one religion instead she focuses on the path of the shaman.
There was a lot going on for me personally and my spiritual path the week of Grandmother’s workshop. I recently started a program for seniors called Let’s Dance, and the week of the Grandmother’s workshops in Boulder, we had a half dozen gigs in Colorado Springs. Let’s Dance serves the elderly community with music by Hang PANArtist, Bright Hawk. I gently guide them with movement while Bright Hawk plays “soothing and mesmerizing music”. Bright Hawk and I agreed to attend and support this workshop together. Bright Hawk’s ability to adjust to every situation with her instruments continues to amaze me. The live Hang PAN music added a presence to this workshop that cannot be underestimated.
The work with Grandmother began with an evening generously hosted at River House, a local community in Boulder, CO. “Activating the Wild Heart: Release Scarcity and Self Sabotage“. I found this workshop interesting in how well attended it was and the work that was done with participants. I was impressed at Grandmother’s strong compassionate demeanor that lead the participants to healing. Teaching things like non-violent communication, personal responsibility and personal reflection. I recognized the work these participants were doing was not just profound but life changing for them. The room was packed with all ages ranging from a ten-year old child to crones and sages. I watched as everyone listened intently to the wisdom that was shared. It became apparent to me in the first meeting with Grandmother that she was invested in empowering people, something I strive to do as well. We both empower people in different ways, from the roots of our experience, we seek to lift each other up.
Grandmother empowers by encouraging self reflection and personal responsibility. The respect from the community around her grew as she continued to teach.
The workshop on Friday night led me to meditate about the current shift in humanity. In my personal experience, I have noticed that there is a shift among humanity that incorporates a closer connection to nature, divinely led careers, and a general movement towards a more evolved existence. Grandmother shares my perspective that “our cup” is fullest when we follow our divine path.
In this workshop a conscious effort was made to love and accept each other, of course reflected by the support for gay marriage. I noticed that my gender bending was celebrated rather than perceived as weird or perverted. I appreciated the recognition directly from Grandmother that celebrated my gender queer identity, something often tripped over and shamed in many communities. She even discussed and talked about how often shamans or people that identify as shamanistic usually embody both male and female traits. Although I wouldn’t identify myself as a shaman this fact can help us gender benders feel more celebrated and less like we are simply being tolerated.
Entering the weekend workshop I was totally exhausted from several days of service in elderly communities. My tired self was more than ready to open to the breath work that Grandmother led. Following the breath work I was thrilled to dance with my peers in a celebratory way. Both activities were equally beneficial in relieving my stress and helping me understand my path more fully. Although the workshop was lecture based, Grandmother certainly made an attempt to have the participants move their bodies. I appreciate free form body movement because of the tension and stress it releases, as well as the personal expression it encourages. I practice breath work every day but during such a stressful time it was nice to have breath work in a group led by Grandmother. At the end of the first night, I personally felt like I was on the edge of something profound – something that might just change my life. I committed to the rest of the weekend with the intention of leading a divinely led life.
Saturday brought great work to all the souls that attended. I felt the group embrace the teachings and apply them in their personal experiences. Grandmother invited us to connect with our most compassionate ancestors to guide us to our divine path and empowerment. This exploration helped us truly connect to the intention of our soul’s purpose for this lifetime on earth. I admit that the workshop requires a general belief that we are all here for a reason, that all of us have a divine path and our choices affect our humanity as a whole. My personal beliefs in human evolution, personal choice and each having a divine path, made it easy for me to connect to her message. To get the most out of the workshop I feel it helps if the participant is comfortable with a mostly lecture format interspersed with some personal expressive movement, guided meditation and breath work.
Sunday was an “eyes wide open” type day, including the third eye. I felt confident in my work, my current path and my future path. I felt so confident I brought my physical expression of the divine, Jake my gender bending snake. Everyone was thrilled to share time with the snake. By the end of the day I felt empowered and divinely led. I finally felt like I was good enough, strong enough and possibly even wise enough to lead in my spiritual work. I felt like the work I had done with this group had empowered most of us. Throughout the workshop we were asked to pair with someone and on Sunday I was divinely guided to sit with a young girl that had missed Friday and Saturday. I had met her briefly on Tuesday at the Riverhouse. She confirmed that the work she had done on Tuesday was intense and she had now emerged and felt empowered and divinely led. I was impressed that this workshop was
working for her. As we did our work together, discussing our own process, I felt inspired to support her in expressing her process. I created space for her to fully express a spiritual “download” she had experienced. She was very grateful to have someone she saw as already being a spiritual leader empower and validate her experience. There was a kinship with her that I appreciate to this day.
Overall I felt like the workshop in itself was very empowering and certainly great work for anyone that wants to explore themselves deeper, especially as a spiritual leader of any kind. Being spiritually led is what can disappear those feelings of scarcity and often, if we just get out of our own way, we might discover a part of ourselves that might be labeled as shaman, priest, priestess, goddess, or god. I know now, I am already divinely led, and appreciate the empowerment and confidence received in working with Grandmother Karriina.
Gender benders that meet Grandmother can be assured that if your willing to speak your gender pronoun preferences, Grandmother is willing to flex with you. I respectfully asked Grandmother to avoid gender pronouns for me and she smiled as she agreed, a welcoming feeling for gender benders of any kind.