It's been a couple weeks now since I've been back to Regina. I was at Part II, the second in the teacher training series, put on by the Enneagram Institute in New York. The Institute all but burnt down earlier this year, so we were relocated to a Tibetan retreat centre in upstate New York.
The week started off fine. Your first task is to locate your airbnb rental among all the hidden driveways (under an overpass with traintracks?! Okay!), then you and Mr. M spend 10 shivering minutes looking for the thermostat, followed by the realization that "rustic bathroom" means the tub in which you are to stand and aim the yellow shower hose at your head doesn't have a shower curtain. (It was a test of our understanding of physics to make all the water fall down into the tub instead of bouncing off our bodies onto the bathroom floor.)
Then you make your way - using GPS, but without wifi - to a tibetan retreat centre in the Catskill Mountains. Menla is owned and operated by the Thurmans- he, a Tibetan scholar, she, a former model and retired psychotherapist, and both parents of Hollywood actress Uma Thurman.
Four teachers and 52 participants from around the world, representing the sexiest of careers and lifestyles to the sexiest of criminal pasts- professionals, performing artists, members of the armed forces, entrepreneurs, a participant from the Enneagram Prison Project, and of course, coaches and consultants. Alma maters ranged from Princeton and Stanford to my own small Manitoba college. I'm always nervous when I don't know many people, but the teachings and the activities were superb. The teachers were all engaging, decades ahead of us on their unfolding journeys, but still humbly human.
The weeks always go so fast, but as days 4 and 5 rolled around, I knew I'd gotten my admission's worth when Russ Hudson, the principal teacher, gave a definition of leadership that blew me out of the water: "A leader is just the first person to become present." That one "duh" moment made all the other rambling, grasping, superfluous definitions of leadership I'd read receed into the horizon of my mind.
There were many other brilliant things that were said that week, and I experienced lots of other emotional, healing moments, but that one sentence was the highlight.
As tends to happens at these classes, you end up chatting with people who are further along on the teacher track than you, and they lean in to you with wide eyes and say, "OMG, you have to take Part [whichever one is next]. It's going to change your life."
And so I'm already looking forward to Part III.