The Spiritual Practice of Council
The Spiritual Practice of CouncilSeptember 26, 2022 | Posted by Illuman Admin | Council, Drumbeat, Uncategorized
by Jim Burns, Illuman Communications Council Chair
We help create men through the listening we bring to them.
Humans have held conversations around a circle since at least the discovery of fire. The way Illuman applies this ancient practice—what we call the way of Council—is extremely powerful and produces transformative results. We have each experienced this. We participate in Council in support of our “inner work that makes a difference in the world.”
Council as Spiritual PracticeCouncil is one of the five primary methods Illuman identifies as part of a masculine path to healing (ritual, nature, image, story, Council). As such, it is best approached as a formal spiritual practice. The practice of Council helps men develop three challenging but important capabilities:
- Deep listening – Men are often notoriously poor listeners, typically listening critically with an intent to provide a viewpoint or advice. In Council, men practice being fully present, using the art of deep listening to hear without judgment, fixing, or giving advice.
- Shift our primary locus of attention – Men spend most of our time inside of, and operating from, our head-space. In Council, we shift our method of perceiving and acting beyond the thinking, judging brain, down into the feeling, perceiving heart-space, along with the sensing body. With practice comes the ability to harmonize all three of these “centers” (what the teacher Gudijieff calls “three-centered awareness”).1
- Become more authentically open and vulnerable – Men regularly report they don’t feel heard; they have no one with whom they can share in confidence their internal thoughts and feelings. Within the confidential Council space, we share our personal stories in increasingly more open, authentic, and vulnerable ways.
Introducing Men to Illuman via CouncilSetting up and conducting your own Council (what we call being a Council Stoker) is a great way to fulfill Illuman’s Five Touchstones of Spiritual Practice, especially the fifth touchstone of Service, i.e., becoming “men who honor the earth and serve the whole human community.” Inviting men to Council is also an excellent way to draw new men into the work of Illuman without needing to do the heavy lift of convincing someone who knows nothing about us to commit to the time and expense of the Men’s Rites of Passage or attending Soularize.
Many men would like to start and lead Council, and yet actually doing so can sometimes seem like an intimidating and daunting hurdle. But the reality is that inviting another man into a council session—perhaps a session specifically intended as an introduction for new men—is easy, even enjoyable.
To help make this easier for men, we have prepared this document with checklists and written guidance on the method and process for Council. It includes the following:
- Council Background and Context – an explanation of the intention, principles, methods, and process of Council.
- Council Outline – specific steps to running a session
- Council Session Opening Statements – to open and set the container for each Council
- Inventory of Council Prompts – a link to our ever-growing library of topically oriented starting prompts. (The initial phase of this curation work is complete. It will continue to evolve as we continue to curate and better organize prompts, both new and old.)
With these tools, anyone can initiate and facilitate an Illuman Council. However, if you would like even more intensive training on how to be a Council Stoker, consider signing up for our Council Stoker Training Series, starting up again after the New Year. (Details in the next article below on our upcoming Council Stoker Training.)
1 – Cynthia Bourgeault, “Three Centered Awareness, Lesson 15,” https://cynthiabourgeault.org/2022/01/04/three-centered-awareness/