A few years ago a student began to advocate for us to use round tables for classes at KE. She was motivated by two factors: she wanted to be able to hear everyone and see everyone (and be heard and seen by everyone) in class. She offered to pay for a round table. It turned out that it wasn’t so easy to find an off the shelf solution—especially since we wanted the table to accommodate up to 12 people.
Moving into our own space called the question: Could we now, in our own space find a solution for round tables? Enter another student, who not only helped us out with her expertise in interior design, she also introduced us to the Seaton-Frank Wood Studio who came and measured the rooms and custom built two beautiful round tables that are in each of our classrooms (with a generous in-kind donation) and our original advocate kept her commitment and underwrote the remaining cost of the round tables.
So how was the first week of class different in our new place? Besides all other changes, many of them wonderful in their own right, it was the round tables that generated the most commentary —it is such a different class experience sitting in the “round.” While the practical aspects of being able to see and hear everyone is being fulfilled, there is another benefit; a fulfillment of the metaphor of a “circle of trust.” The circle of trust concept was developed by Parker Palmer (based on Quaker principles of community support)—forming a particular type of trustworthy process where people can share themselves in a group. If you want to learn more about Palmer’s adaptation and use of the circle of trust go to http://www.couragerenewal.org/approach/.
At KE we talk about classes moving from “students who come together to learn” to the coalescing of students into (mini) conscious communities which support and challenge each other in the journey of spiritual growth. Our methodology is different than Palmer’s circles of trust in that we encourage “cross talk” and feedback along the lines of Pema Chodron’s “ruthless compassion.” This too requires (perhaps even more) trust.
The circle of students around a round table, is indeed, a manifesting of the trust we build one class at a time. Trust created the tables (a commitment to having them made) and now the tables will help create the trust to enter further into our conscious communities.
P.S. If you would like to make a donation to help fund the needed furnishings and equipment for our new building please let me know or go to our donate page on the new KE website www.kabbalahexperience.com Thanks to donors Barbara Goldburg, Kristi Dinner and Seaton-Frank Wood Studios for the tables. All donors will be acknowledged on our Tree of Gratitude.