Karlskrona, Sweden. Summer 2023. Our first day of AoH began at 11am with registration at the Blekinge Institute of Technology campus, located on Trossö – built amongst the islands of the Blekinge archipelago. At noon, we were invited to lunch, which provided an opportunity to mingle with our new classmates and hosts.
The official program began at 1pm with a circle gathering in the main hall with an engaging welcome and introduction. The hosts emphasized the central purpose of the training and briefly introduced themselves. To create a sense of camaraderie, we participated in various embodied mapping activities that had us moving around the space and allowed for brief, evolving mini-conversations helping to create tangible representations of the dynamics present in the room.
The group then divided into subgroups of ~10 where we checked-in outside, by the water – allowing us to connect at a level deeper with each other and our surroundings. We used circle practice to introduce ourselves with our names, place of origin and deeper motivations for attending the event. This activity sought to harness the collective wisdom of the subgroup and foster a sense of shared purpose.
Back in the main hall, we were introduced to ‘Levels of Listening’ theory. We learned about the different levels of active listening and the importance of deep listening for effective communication and understanding.
Story Triads were formed during fika, made up of three participants, who would switch between the required roles: storyteller, witness, and listener. Participants shared stories that captured moments in which they felt the future in the present. This was an interesting exercise that quickly allowed us to reveal aspects of ourselves we were happy to share while at the same practising the method from the perspective of each role.
Back in the main hall, the Four Fold practice was presented as a framework for personal and collective growth throughout the event. The steps are: 1) host yourself – be fully present, 2) be hosted – listen to understand, 3) host others – contribute and be of service, 4) host together – actively participating in co-creation, with the central goal to engage in practising the art of having meaningful conversations.
After exploring the Four Fold practice in subgroups, we reconvened into our large group circle. Participants had the opportunity to reflect on the day's activities, share their views and ask questions. This helped to promote collective learning and deepened the connections within the room.
Before closing, an overview of the following day's activities was provided, allowing us to plan our participation and sign up for specific sessions of interest. From day 2 onwards, we, the participants, take over hosting responsibilities – with training, support and guidance from the facilitators.
After the day’s formal activities, I took part in a coaching session on how to host a 'Meta Harvest' session with Narayan Silva. This session focused on the theory of harvesting the essence of a conversation/meeting/workshop/experience through reflecting collectively and distilling the key learnings and insights – providing an opportunity for further introspection.
After a quick swim in the afternoon sun with some of the participants and hosts, I went home to reflect and process the day's activities in preparation for day 2.