LSOW - Containers Friday, May 15, 2009 10:50 AM


Large group size. Containers for different intentions. Three phases of discussion:

  1. What would we use containers for in the context of self organizing?
  2. What are the required properties?
  3. What are the limitations of containers?

Stuart Coffman's work on the nature of self-organization. At cellular level the container is co-created and emerges as a process. It must be semi-permeable. Therefore a bit nervous about "building" containers.

Phase 1: Variety of Intentions for using containers to propose self-organizing processes?


CONTAINERS FOR TRANSFORMATION Must be continually moving –structure – direction. Need for change. Change is not transformation – re-arranging parts versus different reality. It’s like the “red pill” in the movie the Matrix. Once you transform you can’t go back. Requires a commitment to stay, invite discomfort, be present to the discomfort, witnessing sensation as resistance; welcome the unknown – consent not to know. Life is a ceremony, a journey, and entry. Something ends, something begins.

We are containers (individuated). When people begin to see themselves as part of a larger system that’s when things shift. Being in “form” allows for action, allows for blessing, The right kind of containment allows us to bless the uncontained.

Paradox of the container is that it is one and many. Oscillation back and forth is what allows movement up the spirit – the spiral to lift. It’s messy energy management (rat in the punch bowl). An expanded soul (bowl) makes it easier to contain disturbances.

Humans are portals for transforming energy. Portals and containers are different. Portals are what brings life energy into manifestation. We can design our portals to focus on specific things. Direct intention can transform, like holding space so you don’t take on the pain of others (e.g., therapy). The “we” as a container separates some from the whole while the “we” as a portal connects everyone to the whole. If the container is a question seeking an answer it has limited power. If it’s a question that will accept whatever the universe says it’s much more powerful. “Holding the whole” has to be a portal.

One function of a portal/container is a purifier of toxins. There is a sacredness of form beyond witnessing. There is power in making distinctions. Containers give content meaning. Is it really about healing self before you heal the world or healing self while you heal the world?

Power & Transformation: being compassionate about the fears that underlie the resistance to transformation. We are tethered by our bodies and communities and each time we think about breaking our addictions it feels like we can’t survive but when we do we do survive. It’s really about letting go of fear.

Thinking the unthinkable: making the intention to be empowered by horrific experiences. Finding the benefits in the disadvantages by shifting the context/container.

In order to help a lower vibration/fear energy rise to a higher vibration someone has to manifest that higher vibrational space and hold it for the other.

Maybe the tightness of a container is conditioned by the level of consciousness of the group, the cultural agility of the group.


CONTAINERS FOR PRODUCING OUTCOMES You need an intent. Clarity of intention is critical. What is the nature of the invitation? Is it one where people choose to be there or are required to be there? In either case must start with the seed of individual passion. People’s self interest has to be consciously connected to the intent.

You need to elevate the connections between people. By making conscious the things that connect people you a) build a sense of alliance and b) build a sense of possibility. There must be opportunities for each to voice what they care about. It can also help to identify shared pain.

Who is holding the intention? Who is hosting? That person must be able to stay present to whatever emerges, to be able to stay in the emergence, to be a non-anxious presence. They have to be genuinely open to what emerges so they have to hold the intention “lightly”. Need to be fully aware of the difference between ‘buy in”  and “emergence” 

There are important contextual issues to attend to in building containers. History. Who needs to be in the room? Cultural contexts. There need to be ground rule of intention.

There are many “convergence processes” that have been created – ways of taking what emerges and focusing them so people can take collective action outside the container. What’s our “first next steps”?


  1. Generating intent and movement group
    1. Need to create clear intent. Whose and where does it come from? How do you identify the self-interest? The nature of the invitation and how it is made.
    2. Need to be genuinely open to whatever emerges is great. Diff between doing something for Buy-in vs. emergence.
    3. Have to find what connects us - it will create the sense of opportunity and shared need. Nature of individual holding the container and the ability to be present with whatever is. "Non-action presence."
    4. How is the cultural context?
    5. Issues around convergence process. Once you have agreement, how do you shift into action?
    6. OST process.

  1. What's happening now in this group?
    1. Tension between compassion to stay open to what is happening and constriction.
    2. Rich experience then seemed like the new-comer had a difficult time integrating until he held the same shape as those in the group.
    3. Essential that shared "something" a generative shared clarity - so that when tension happens, the questions can help cycle back to the generative shared clarity the group holds.
    4. Is this the healing group? Presensing deep subconscious connection. What is happening right now? Knowing in the NOW. The "now" contained in the "knowing." Strong physical sensations of electrical energy at the cellular level combined with deep level of trust.
    5. Another had to step out of her comfort zone to join the group - wanted to deal with the now. Felt extremely connected by the end. The space allowed it to happen. Glad she took the risk. Magic. Is available all the time. What is the scientific explanation for this? Science is becoming able to begin the discussion of a "social synapse," morphogenic fields, quantum physics, and the exploration of perception and what we ALLOW ourselves to experience.


  1. Who sets and holds the container and how does that shift?
  2. What is the nature of containers?
  3. What is the living container we are in right now?

Reading suggestion: Peter Block’s Community – The Structure of Belonging.