“Things seem to be getting awfully strange …”

By Simon Bell

“Things seem to be getting awfully strange. Politics, economy, weather … The weather is very strange. Here is a mindful story, first published in May 2019.”

NEW NORMAL

New Normal illustration

It had been blowing for days on end. The wind had been raging for so long now no one could remember quite when it began. Unusual? Certainly. An emergency? What would an emergency for lengthy periods of wind mean? What would it mean in terms of the reasons for it and what would it mean in terms of the lives impacted? These are braided questions.
“Just the new normal”, Ken at the corner shop had suggested in his deep, jovial voice. “No need to worry, we still get the dog-food delivery!”
Trying to reassure her, he added with a wink:
“We’re not going to run out of bread and milk in the near future Jenny”.
He did not say anything about the regular shortages in fresh veg, paper, cooking oil, potatoes. Fruit. The list went on. She did not think it wise to spoil his optimistic mood. She had smiled uncertainly as he helped her with her bag and then took time to open and close the shop door for her, lest it whip from her hand as she angled her body out into the wind-blown street. Some-how his easy kindness and smiling assurances were not convincing.
As she laboured up the hill towards her small semi, she realised just how tired she was of the wind. It was constant and inescapable. Moaning around her house, slamming the doors, making it impossible to open windows, it was a constant presence but a symptom of what?
The dog was not keen either. Walks were short and sometimes plain dangerous. Falling branches had claimed many lives and falling trees a lot more. Not that there were too many trees around her bit of town anymore. Even so, getting from A to B was a nightmare. Recreational walking was a hazard. Her dog was not happy and nor was she. Who was?
It had been months ago that the TV news had noted the dip in the jet-stream. She had not even known what the jet-stream was until then. In conversations with her neighbours it appeared that there was to be a threat of a prolonged period of gales. Of course people had begun talking about the windy autumn and some said it was the windiest on record. But, the older members of the community poo poo’d the idea. It had been much windier in 1987 they said. But surely that was not right?
It had begun innocently enough. Certainly, the leaves had come down early and in great abundance causing all kinds of issues on road and rail but, you expected winds in the autumn. But then, there had been no let up. Days of high winds had turned into weeks. Autumn came and went; winter began and now the winds howled with a new ferocity. Snow and sleet made all kinds of event impossible. Winter fairs and sports events were cancelled or indefinitely postponed. Visits from friends and family were scratched from the calendar and still the wind keened and wailed.
Now it was Spring and ‘new normal’ just about summed it up. Winter receded but as the warmth began to build a new threat emerged in the form of a protracted heat wave. The inverse of an Indian Summer. Summer before summer. And the wind showed no sign of abatement. The gales continued and this brought to the public mind a new challenge. Tempests and heat. An evil combination. New words and phrases were appearing on the news. Gone were “flood” and “tree-loss”. The new vocabulary included; “desertification”, “massive soil-erosion”, “dust-bowl”. Was this new normal too?
Turning on her television and clicking the volume up to combat the never-ceasing racket from outside, Jenny settled down to try to take her mind of things. Outside the wind continued to howl and moan, a mindless cypher of the change inherent and emergent from the human achievement. A kind of marker of a unique inflection point. The moment had come and gone five months earlier without fanfare or even much notice, other than comments from a few worried looking scientists whose dire prognoses did not make it onto the prime-time news.
But the die was cast and ‘he who sows the wind’… as they say.
A consequence emergent from complex interactions, each of them as unremarkable as the fluttering of a butterfly wing but the outcome scaled and geared on a spring of titanic, possibly civilisation-breaking inevitability.

Let the story sink in. When you are ready, here are the questions for you to consider:

Question 1. What is the main meaning of the story?

What message or core or essential meaning does the story hold for you? There may be many meanings which occur to you but for now try to prioritise just one.
When you feel clear on this, hold it in your mind and read the next question:

Question 2. How is this meaning of relevance to you?

How does the story impact on your life and your challenges right now? Why is it important to you at this point in your life? What element emerges as being most relevant?
Again, give yourself time to think of your response and when you feel prepared try the next question:

Question 3. Think about what is the main value that you can draw from this relevance of the story.

What does this value bring to the concern you identified earlier?
Don’t rush your response. Take time to think about the value. The word ‘value’ is an interesting word. What do we value and what of value is here? When you are set try this:

Question 4. What insight does the identified value provide for you?

Finally:

Question 5. What action might you engage with as a consequence?

Don’t expect instant results from considering a mindful story. The whole point is that the story can act as a gateway to another level. Give yourself time to let the ideas which come from the story settle down. Each time you reconsider you may get to a deeper level of meaning and this could result in new ideas.

Artwork © Rachel Furze

London Leadership Academy Summit

Simon recently spoke at the London Leadership Academy Summit. His experiential workshop on Double Task and Mindful Stories was packed-out. Thanks to all those who came along. 

URA Mini-Symposium Initiative 2019, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Professor Simon Bell was invited to speak at  the URA Mini-Symposium Initiative 2019 at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. The Symposium topic was: Internet of Things  and AI in Agriculture and Simon’s presentation was: Surviving the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence: innovating methods, minds and technologies. The talk covered many Bayswater methods including Socio Technical systems, Double Task, BECM, Fear Analysis and Mindful Stories. 

The aim of the talk was to underline how groups can achieve superpowers when dealing with technology.
The superpowers are: 

    • Different thinking
    • Willingness to take a risk
    • Assessing impact on community &
    • Co-dreaming the future

The Symposium

Simon’s presentation

Post graduate students exploring the Mindful stories.

MasterClass in Fear Analysis and using Mindful Stories

Congratulations to these delegates from London Leadership Academy who attended the Bayswater Institute Masterclass in Fear Analysis and using Mindful Stories.Bayswater Institute delegates

MasterClass in SocioTechnical Systems & the Imagine Method

Congratulations to these Delegates who attended the Bayswater Institute MasterClass in SocioTechnical Systems and the Imagine Method.

Wisdom in Groups events for 2020

The BI is pleased to announce the dates and locations of the 2020 Wisdom in Groups and Wisdom in Groups Intensive events. You are advised to book early.

 

Congratulations to all those who attended the BI Master Class in Double Task and BECM

Congratulations to all those who attended the BI Master Class in Double Task and BECM (Being, Engaging, Contextualising and Managing) for the London Leadership Academy on September 4th. 

The Master Class is the first in a series of three events run by the BI for the LLA in London over the autumn. 

Day 1: Double Task and BECM –  Looking at the nature of the Group and perception

Day 2: Socio Technical Systems and Imagine – Thoughtful Analysis and measurement of group activity

Day 3: Mindful stories and Fear analysis –  Exploring the Fear Mind and the inner journey

Contact the BI for more details about the MasterClasses and future events.

Double Task logo

Double Task logo

Wisdom in Groups Intensive – Cambridge UK

Congratulations to all those who attended Wisdom in Groups Intensive in Cambridge UK, July 1st – 3rd.

Using Mindful Stories – reading, reflecting, renewing – how is it done?

By Simon Bell

Mindful stories as explored on the Bayswater site are intended to help with the renewal of the self and the group. If the idea of the stories in the first place is to help individuals to find peace with themselves and groups to find harmony, then maybe more needs to be said to explain how? How do we find peace and harmony? Surely, if this could be achieved by simply reading a story now and then, the history of human progress would be rather different?

True.

There is more to it and the stories are not an answer. Rather they are a means to gain insight and agency.

What does that mean?

Well, the stories are fictions. They are not strictly true in the literal sense of the word. They are fictions written to illustrate a number of points. Points which on inspection, lead to other points. I would argue that the stories can be read at four levels and each one allows for a different perspective, a different insight and a different opportunity to grow. The stories occupy a space which allows arms-length assessment to take place, assessment at arms-length from lived reality.

Take the last four audio stories on the Bayswater site: The Child, The Walk, Commuting and Going. Each one might be listened to at any one of four possible levels.

  1. As a story or fable. Things happen and then they stop.
  2. As a story pointing to things behind the story. Things happen, puzzling things maybe, unusual things which point to other things, and then they stop.
  3. As a story within and governing the story. Things happen and the cause of those things, the motivations behind the things on the surface are considered, then they stop.
  4. As your story. Things happen and these things indicate ideas and concerns in your own life. You make links and drawn out some inferences maybe, then it stops. 

Not all stories are appropriate for fourfold analysis, but it can help to try in most cases.

Reading the story in a mindful manner can lead to useful reflections. These reflections once considered for meaning can result in renewal of interest, passion and engagement with tricky items.

By Reading, Reflecting and looking for Renewal peace and harmony for individual and group can become.

Artwork © Rachel Furze

Going – A Mindful Audio Story

By Simon Bell

Going

Let the story sink in. When you are ready, here are the questions for you to consider:

Question 1. What is the main meaning of the story?

What message or core or essential meaning does the story hold for you? Can you set them free? There may be many meanings which occur to you but for now try to prioritise just one.

When you feel clear on this, hold it in your mind and read the next question:

Question 2. How is this meaning of relevance to you?

How does the story impact on your life and your challenges right now? Why is it important to you at this point in your life? What element emerges as being most relevant?

Again, give yourself time to think of your response and when you feel prepared try the next question:

Question 3. Think about what is the main value that you can draw from this relevance of the story. What does this value bring to the concern you identified earlier?

Don’t rush your response. Take time to think about the value. The word ‘value’ has connotations for us. What do we value and what of value is here? When you are set try this:

Question 4. What insight does the identified value provide for you?

Finally:

Question 5. What action might you engage with as a consequence?

Feel free to listen to the story several time and don’t expect instant results from considering a mindful story. The whole point is that the story can act as a gateway to another level. Give yourself time to let the ideas which come from the story settle down. Each time you reconsider you may get to a deeper level of meaning and this could result in new ideas.

I would be really pleased to receive your comments and thoughts.

Artwork © Rachel Furze