About the ZEGG-style Forum
We explore and experience the basic issues involved in community implementation. We practice different methods of creative communication with an emphasis on the ZEGG Forum process. This process work acts on the inner level to feel ourselves deeper and to learn to let the others see what is inside us and receive their feedback. In short: we raise inner awareness and create transparency. It can be used for staff training, for resolving conflicts by making them more open and transparent. It can also be used to grow personally in the mirror of others. The ZEGG Forum creates a space to experience social communication in a more intimate atmosphere of trust.
In our experience trust is the key and the glue that keeps community together. Trust is created when processes in the community are transparent and understandable for all involved.
Empowerment happens for all involved with every person who shares his/her deep feelings and motivations in the centre of a group’s attention. The more we learn to support each other in this openness the more the whole group grows in solidarity. And the more we open up we can learn that our our permeability is our greatest protection.
The universal communication of future communities seems to be a gentle and fearless contact between all beings of creation.
You are invited to learn to:
- get to know the method of Forum and its underlying ideas/world view
- learn to allow others and yourself to see what is inside you
- train group communication skills
- train deep inner listening and awarness
- learn to walk your talk
The ZEGG Forum (of no relationship to Landmark) is a group process developed at ZEGG (The Center For Experimental Cultural Design) which provides a stage for whatever is happening inside the person: one’s true motivations, deep feelings, ideas, and emotions. The ZEGG Forum helps facilitate transparency, sharing and clarifying unsolved situations of daily life, and, in many cases, can also be a catalyst for one’s own personal growth. The ZEGG Forum is about liberation, understanding, and communication NOW. It provides a framework for investigating human nature. Over time the ZEGG Forum becomes a powerful basis for raising the lever of awareness of the whole community. It’s a dynamic process and is usually facilitated by 2-3 people from the community it’s serving.
The ZEGG Forum is an artistic way of organizing sharings, a stage for whatever is happening inside ourselves. Here, one’s true motivations, one’s deep feelings, longings, ideas and emotions become public. The focus is on transparency, sharing and clarifying unsolved situations of daily life and make it an invaluable catalyst for one’s own growth. Because we believe that each one’s personal issues are exemplars of a general human issue, the ZEGG Forum elevates these personal issues, by putting them onto a common human stage. A meaningful ZEGG Forum needs a mental-spiritual basis among the group utilizing it. The ZEGG Forum is designed to work with people who are living together, sharing a common vision and who are committed to certain values such as trust, truth, love, solidarity and responsibility. A central and essential value for the ZEGG Forum is trust.
The individuals making up a ZEGG Forum sit in a circle. One person goes into the middle as though going onto a stage and the others form the audience. The presenter gets the full attention of the group with the power and the space to speak and act without being interrupted by the others who initially play the role of perceiving spectators. Each ZEGG Forum, usually lasting about 90 minutes, is guided by a facilitator. The facilitator alone may intervene in the presenter’s process. The qualities of a facilitator include a high awareness of ones own emotional character, motives, thought-forms and feelings. You could accurately characterize the facilitator as a channel focalizing the energies, issues, and processes. In the beginning it is important that everyone in the circle, which contains the potential presenters for the session, delegate to the facilitator full trust to direct the process. Facilitating is far from a neutral moderation because the values underlying the ZEGG Forum imply a partisan position. The ZEGG Forum supports what is authentic, alive and true. It supports what comes into the light beyond politeness and the daily games of hiding and disguise. The ideal of the ZEGG Forum is to bring out the beauty of the person revealing their highest potential.
When the “presenter” has finished, then others can step into the middle of the circle to give feedback and express what they perceived. Now the presenter can learn what others think about them and what they have to say which supplements, broadens, and sharpens the personal issue he or she brought forward. The discovery of what others think and value about us, what perhaps keeps them from loving us, what meaning we have for them provides the essential social feedback.
What comes to the surface when we begin working in the ZEGG Forum process is not always nice. In the beginning, the suppressed and the hidden emerge into the light of awareness. However, an effective and skilful ZEGG Forum will bring out the dark side with humor, or in some other theatrical way so that it can be perceived without judgement. The ZEGG Forum wants to lift the energy level, wants to trigger the life force and its expression. When the energy can be successfully raised a change of perspective on both the body and soul level happens. Sometimes this energy shift can be very simple, as when the facilitator invites the presenter to move faster, or to exaggerate gestures, or to put a sound to the feeling. Trying out different ways of behavior and theatrically acting out emotional processes is an important step toward dis-identification. I come to see that I am not this anger, I am not this fear, I am not this jealousy. To lose identification with these passing states means that you have found an inner position of witnessing what is going on, of standing back from it. You have found your unchanging center. At the same time the ZEGG Forum is no substitute for each individual’s ongoing inner work.
There has recently been an interest from other communities to use the ZEGG Forum as a “method” for building interpersonal structures strong enough to withstand the conflicts that arise out of living and working together. To assist their work we began to offer ZEGG Forum courses and seminars. These formulated rules and forms cannot be used in a rigid and fixed way. Through actual experience a group grows in competence and unity and eventually it leaves the rules behind in the way a child learning to ride a bicycle eventually leaves the training wheels behind. Once understood well and internalized, the forms become a kind of ceremony that raises the energy and magic of the moment.
Said slightly differently and with greater detail…
A central and essential value for the ZEGG Forum is trust. And there are two distinct but complementary fields of behavior in every community that must be sharply separated before people can trust each other or not. The community must make a clear differentiation between problem solving involving information and factual discussions, versus a process designed to aid transparency of ideas and intentions. In both fields questions of power, money, sex and love will invariably arise. If these issues are not transparent, paranoias, distrust and alienations arise which will invariably undermine the community’s problem solving ability. The ZEGG Forum is thus a critical process for ensuring the transparency so essential to the community. It is there that we reveal our patterns in power and decision making, where we lay bare what is happening in our love-lives, where we bring to awareness our real intentions, where both the light and the dark get their due.
The Forum constitutes an artistic way of organising sharings, a stage for whatever is happening inside ourselves. Here one’s true motivations, one’s deep feelings, longings, ideas and emotions become public. This focus on transparency, sharing and clarifying unsolved situations of daily life make it an invaluable catalyst for one’s own growth. But the ZEGG Forum is also a unique kind of research model for the study of what constitutes a human being. Because we believe that each one’s personal issues are exemplars of a general human issue, the ZEGG Forum elevates these personal issues, by putting them onto a common human stage shared with general social issues like money, war, love, violence and power. The individual in the ZEGG Forum is reassured by knowing that what he or she brings up is true for many.
In order to create this transcendence the individuals making up a ZEGG Forum sit in a circle. One person who is “working” or “presenting” goes into the middle of the circle as though going onto a stage. So the “actor” holds centre stage and the others form the audience. The actor gets the full attention of the group, with the power and the space to speak and act without being interrupted by the others who initially play the role of spectators.
When the “actor” has finished, then others can step into the middle to give feedback and express what they perceived. Now the actor can learn what others think about him and what they have to say which supplements, broadens and sharpens the personal issue he brought forward. The discovery of what others think and value about us, what perhaps keeps them from loving us, what meaning we have for them provides the essential social feedback and clarity that shapes us as social beings.
Each ZEGG Forum, the length of which is agreed in advance, usually about 90 minutes, is guided by a facilitator whose task is to direct the presentation to bring out the general character of the personal issue. Thus each and every ZEGG Forum becomes a learning process for all present. The facilitator alone may intervene in the presenter’s process, sometimes to confuse the presenter, sometimes to interrupt or to divert him if he or she gets stuck in repetitive thought trains. It doesn’t make sense to allow somebody to speak forever if the personal drama becomes too drawn out and boring. Transparency is served when the person in the middle finds out about this boredom arising in his listeners. The facilitator has sensed that people were passively listening and silently thinking how boring is the story. Can the presenter be thankful for the intervention that brought to light the effect his words were having on his audience?
The more knowledge one has about one’s own habitual patterns of thinking and behaving the faster one can perceive them in others and intervene in a supportive way. The facilitator who doesn’t feel love and acceptance for the actor probably should resist intervening. Thus we see that the qualities of a facilitator include a high awareness of ones own emotional character, motives, thought-forms and feelings. The skilful facilitator possesses a broad human knowledge, a high social consciousness and a deep sense of responsibility. At the same time the facilitator remains merely the member of the group who has taken on the temporary role of directing the ZEGG Forum process. You could accurately characterise the facilitator as a channel focalising the energies, issues and processes. To some extent that does mean directing and shaping the process. Nevertheless, the facilitator has no answers, proffers no solutions, but rather remains in the role of a “focaliser”, asking questions to bring out and broaden the issue, mirroring the actor in a way that opens up the issue, reveals connections, and connects with the vitality.
Before beginning the ZEGG Forum it is important that everyone in the circle delegate to the facilitator total trust to direct the process. So the circle, which contains the potential actors for the session, gives the facilitator the power to invite the presenter to sing a song, to stand on one’s head, to be a chicken, or be whatever the facilitator intuits would be helpful for breaking a habitual pattern. And the facilitator can only fulfil this role faithfully when the full trust of the entire circle is given. And that trust must extend to the actor who sets aside questions about the direction of the facilitating. For all this conferred power, the facilitator is not above the group; he or she remains a member of the community and can be questioned and or criticised after the ZEGG Forum. Only when the focaliser enjoys the full trust of the group can the high energy emerge which makes it possible to break through old habits in a co-operative, creative and playful flow.
The ZEGG Forum is not primarily aiming at the solution of an issue. Rather it is about making the essence of the issue visible. You could say, accurately, that it is about seeing what is, because seeing is loving. When we see the core essence of a person a feeling of love that transcends personal sympathy wells up in us. The ideal of the ZEGG Forum is to bring out the beauty of the person revealing their highest potential.
Often the ZEGG Forum is also about sorting out the different factors and feelings that have an impact on the situation. The solution of an issue more often than not turns out to be a letting go. So first there is an understanding and then there is the releasing of an attachment. This letting go never happens by attacking the issue directly. It is more likely to occur by taking a playful detour which at first sometimes seems to lead away from the solution. Perhaps I am in pain about the jealousy I feel when my friend has gone to another, and the facilitator directs me to sing a song. The ZEGG Forum wants to lift the energy level, wants to trigger the life force and its expression. When the energy can be successfully raised a change of perspective on both the body and soul level happens. Sometimes this energy shift can be very simple, as when the facilitator invites the actor to move faster, or to exaggerate gestures, or to put a sound to the feeling. When the energy shifts, a new position may often be discovered from where the solution of the problem can develop. In this sense the ZEGG Forum aims at change in the moment, leading to liberation of the actor and the group.
Facilitating is far from a neutral moderation because the values underlying the ZEGG Forum imply a partisan position. The ZEGG Forum supports what is authentic, alive and true. It supports what comes into the light beyond politeness and the daily games of hiding and disguise. We have become so used to hiding our feelings that we often lose touch with them. We laugh when we feel like crying, we reject those whom we desire the most, we say no where we feel yes, and yes where we mean no. In the Forum we experiment with different sides of ourselves to find out how they feel when they are given permission to speak. So you might go to one corner and speak from one voice inside yourself and then go and stand in another corner and speak from another, perhaps opposite, voice inside yourself. Theatrical suggestions can shift the energy sufficiently for a thought buried deep inside to be expressed.
Just by stepping into the ZEGG Forum, inviting witnesses to your process, and making that commitment to trust and authenticity, you begin to discover flexibility and ease in dealing with your own emotions. Through playing different roles and possibilities of behavior, for example, one may discover that being angry with someone is just a surface emotion. At another level you may discover that the deeper wish you didn’t dare to express is one of a closer connection. As soon as one comes into contact with a deeper need and finds a way to express it and have it heard then the anger disappears.
Trying out different ways of behavior and theatrically acting out emotional processes is an important step toward dis-identification. I come to see that I am not this anger, I am not this fear, I am not this jealousy. The way I am thinking and reacting at the moment is actually only one possibility out of many. To lose identification with these passing states means that you have found an inner position of witnessing what is going on, of standing back from it. You have found your unchanging centre. In that place you find yourself no longer attached to the seemingly so important plans, needs, fears and calculations that are present in this particular moment and which will be replaced by a host of new ones in another moment. That insight allows an easier and more playful stance. From the witness position you do not project the experiences of the past into the future, you are no longer tied to the restrictions of the ego and your intelligence is freed to act. For example, when your partner or your lover makes plans that do not include you, and you react with fears of abandonment from the past, in that moment you are totally identified with this fear of loss. Then in the ZEGG Forum as you express your worry and your sadness through some theatrical performance, that very expression brings you back to your own joy and humor of existence. You dis-identify from that fear and are able to see that behavior of your lover or partner is simply his or her true path in the moment, and you can be the detached witness from it.
This kind of work leads us to our core, our inner truth, to expression freed from hiding and pretense. The stage that is the ZEGG Forum is above all about truth. Not truth as a moral category, but what shows up when we listen deep inside and allow ourselves to trust others. The truth that emerges when it no longer makes sense to maintain fences and wear masks.
What comes to the surface when we begin working in the ZEGG Forum is not always nice. In the beginning, the suppressed and the hidden emerge into the light of awareness. However, an effective and skillful Forum will bring out the dark side with humor, or in some other theatrical way so that it can be enjoyed. The group learns to express fear, competition, envy, jealousy, and malice as theatre on the stage of the forum. Keeping these patterns and feelings buried underground pollutes the environment.
At the same time, the ZEGG Forum should not be misused as a dumping place for undigested emotions. There is no substitute for each individual’s ongoing inner work, nor can the ZEGG Forum replace the community’s need to evolve it’s standards, values, guidelines for behavior, it’s vision.
For the ZEGG Forum to make sense, the development of a life and love culture in which truth is highly valued is essential. Whether what one showed in the ZEGG Forum was nice, whether it was malicious, whether you showed the light or the shadow sides of yourself, all has to come from inside without pretence. When essence comes through it will always evoke love, because all things expressed with truth and honesty evoke love in those that take part in this process.
The ZEGG Forum is a school, one devoted to the exploration of Life. Sometimes you will be surprised what you say when you step fully into the role of the actor in the centre of the ZEGG Forum and the process begins to flow. You are surprised, from what you see in yourself and from what you see in others, to discover the complexity of the human phenomenon. You may see as in a kaleidoscope its beauty, its potential, its confusions and its violence. In the ZEGG Forum you may experience the echoes of human history reflected though the experience of different individuals. All these discoveries pave the way to change and development. Doubtless the path to social consciousness, compassion, and contact requires an inner metamorphosis and the ZEGG Forum, because it is simultaneously personal and social, has the power to bring this about in us. As Dieter Duhm has put it, this metamorphosis
“…means that love and hatred are freed from their mutual embrace, that one feels no fear when one needs to fight, and no inhibitions when devotion is called for. It means that one does no force a smile when one would rather cry or scream, that one learns to differentiate between love and the need for someone to lean on, between a yes that stems from the heart and a yes that stems from the fear of being rejected. It means that one no longer confuses one’s lover with one’s mother or father; that one does not confuse feeling of sympathy with empathy, or the rage over being personally hurt with the indignation against the destroyers of life, and one’s own cowardice with tolerance.” (Toward a New Culture, 1996, p. 36.) In the ZEGG community we have learned to limit the ZEGG Forum to the area of emotional issues. When we want to problem solve, plan, or discuss factual decisions that concern the whole community we do that in a large group session we call the Plenary. The ZEGG Forum remains a platform for the emotional, sexual, and personal processes that concern the community or the individual and is not concerned with intellectual problem solving.
The residents of ZEGG meet once or twice a week for a Plenary. Additionally, they meet at least once for a ZEGG Forum and once for a Sunday “matinee.” The matinee is a sharing in which individuals present their ideas about goals and visions for the community. They may also share ideas about political events, historical perspectives, suggest goals for personal development, or float ecological or pedagogical proposals. This is an intellectual platform, one we value highly for keeping alive and developing further the vision around which the community came together. If a community wants a strong supporting human basis, then its members need both a deep understanding of one for another, and a living vision which goes beyond the personal desires of the individuals which make it up. So the ZEGG Forum, the Plenary and the Matinee complement each other.
Further ad hoc meetings that build community occur depending on interest and need of the individual living and working groups. Should anyone have a conflict with his or her work team, they can call a ZEGG Forum. Indeed, anyone can call a ZEGG Forum at any time, on any issue sufficiently charged and significantly interesting to attract a group and a willing focaliser, who can be emotionally neutral on the issue.