Landmark Forum – Immediate impressions

It is puzzling how some things bypass attention until, at the moment they come to attention, it seems right to pay attention to them. Landmark Education is one of those things. In September 2010, while discussion with a newly found friend, an opportunity for collaboration on theatre projects, she explained she was going to a Landmark Forum to see if it would help progress her own thoughts around theatre for community service. On her return, she was enthusiastic for the Landmark Forum as providing vital skill for our collaborative practice. While her explanation about the Landmark Forum was a bit hazy, my own assessment of her ethical motivations, networking leadership, strong-mindedness, creativity and insightfulness, allowed me to choose immediately to do the Landmark Forum.

It took me until Feb 2011 to complete responsibilities in North Queensland and to attend the Forum in Brisbane. It is now one week since completing the Forum. In that time I find myself, periodically, acknowledging new insights, small epiphanies. It seems right to run a review of the methodology of the Landmark Forum and the tools that the Landmark Forum has given me access.

Having never been exposed to this type of coaching before, the methodology of the forum was both daunting and exciting: daunting because I have nearly always conducted myself in a very private and independent manner, and, here, participants were being asked to expose their responses to life to open scrutiny; exciting because from the commencement of the forum, I began to hear ideas that resonated strongly but with which I had wrestled for most of my adult life and failed to clarify. I was incredibly impressed by the ability of the forum through the forum leader, to provide a safe space for the openness of the participants in front of a couple of hundred strangers. I was double impressed by the skill of the forum leader to firmly clarify several distinct thinking/language patterns that we all use, but which creates and closes us into certain repetitive behavioural responses, closing off opportunity for different, new, or creative responses. I was impressed by the profoundness of a simple but clear conversational ‘formula’ that allows the user to use their awareness of limiting language/thoughts to ‘complete’ any outstanding issues with others, and focus on declaring opportunities with the hearer.

If I understood correctly, the stated aim of the Landmark Forum is to help people ‘complete’ themselves, and thereby provide ‘space’ into the future for opportunities that can be markedly different to what has come before. The language/thought awareness to which Landmark Forums coach, is a rigorous practice leading to ‘breakthroughs’ in those aspects of life in which a person might feel stuck. A person might feel ‘stuck’ in a whole number of ways: being a husband, in a career, in a lifestyle. These ‘breakthroughs’ are not just moments of increased awareness but complexities of cognitive awareness and emotional dissolution, leading to actions (conversations) with significant others. Landmark Forum’s coaching value lies, not in the didactic expression of the model of human being they use, but in the connection between facilitating people to confront that human being by language; being increasingly intense in pointing to responsibility in action; and encouragement to that action (conversation of completion with others). I found that the intensity of the Forum, over 13 hours per day including personal conversations, was mildly disorientating at times. It seemed that disorientation came from confronting my own self, the emotional responses of that confrontation and making new conversations with significant others, a complete dissonance set. The benefit of that dissonance creating disorientation is gaining that feeling that, indeed, space is opened up for opportunities with every meaningful person into the future. Certainly, now that the intense forum is complete, the reflective techniques coached at Landmark Forums requires constant practice, a vigilance towards how I am talking of myself, a more purposeful conversation with myself, an identification of the lack of authenticity in much of that conversation, clarification and completion around how others are occurring to me, and allows me to create open space (opportunity).

There are a couple of messages that are now strongly in my story of the future: being unreasonable is now a wonderful, extraordinary presence of mind that is free of the burden of over-interpretative experiences; and choosing as a state beyond consideration, provides at once a freedom from the inertia of the world and a focus on the necessary actions in the world.

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