CCI Ireland 2010, Reflections from Janice Wasser

I was asked recently by a co-counseling friend " why do you report things, what do you gain when you do it?" Well, I was a little shocked to be asked the questions in such a way. The first response is to defend myself – I felt like the person saw me as someone searching for attention and indulging myself rather than what I truly feel as a member of a community, an international community with common interests and a desire to expand knowledge and share experiences of enrichment through our individual and shared growth processes. So, there's my answer – I'm thinking about those who also participated and maybe they would like to share their experiences – maybe by hearing from someone else, this would encourage them to join in, or those who weren't able to participate can get a feel for what happened. People I mention in my report can get recognition for their contributions, and others may feel inspired to share their experiences in the future. I was asked to submit a report from people involved in the newsletters. I want to promote these media supports for our staying connected within and across communities.

So here goes….

CCI Ireland 2010 took place in a most lovely setting: An Grianán, run by the Irish Countrywomen's Association founded 100 years ago by a small group of women whose aim was “to improve the standard of life in rural Ireland through education and co-operative effort” I made a point of walking to the beach every day – I ran early in the morning with my running buddies, sometimes took an afternoon dip, and every evening went hoping to see the moon rise. The tree-lined trail led to the golf course and then down to the beach – just a 10 minute walk to heaven. I loved the long stretch of open beach, wide tides and interesting worm mound formations. Sounds I take home with me are of the crunching of small shells under our feet as we had our morning jog, the sound of the clicking golf balls as the golfers' clubs made contact, the calls of the seagulls and the creaking of the wood under the carpet at the venue as we tried to close the doors gently for those who were trying to sleep.

The structure of the workshop was relaxed. As we all know CCIs are always packed with many offerings: early morning, morning, noon and afternoon – support groups and of course 3 meals a day with evening activities as well. Somehow I felt a sense of ease in flowing from one experience to the next. I made good use of the break times and I was able to get online in the library to catch up with family and friends far away.

Workshops I participated in were: "Walking to the beach" with Richard Mills (UK) – focusing on the senses, meditations on the beach. "Cuddling" with Suzen Meagher (AU) – nice physical touch, practicing to ask for what you like, holding another and being held. "Full moon at the beach" – Mira Reus (NL) – sharing on what a full moon means to you, interesting cultural differences, singing and blessing the full moon which was hiding behind the clouds, several from the group went for a late night dip in the sea.

On the second full day, I participated in the "achieving financial success" workshop (the money game) with Steve Roche/Celia Wilson (both UK). I wrote a separate article about this experience which turned out to be quite profound. CCI dialogue café was a great exercise. I was so pleased to see how Agota, JP and Rudolf turned their ideas into practice from our discussions in Germany to the experiments at McCoCo in May and now at the CCI to see the progress. The idea is that we can look beyond our personal life issues and see what's going on in our community, to look for ways to encourage, inspire and challenge our ideas for the good of the group. It was kind of like speed-dating with co-counselors where we would visit different tables of 3, 4 or 5 people at timed intervals answering set questions and writing our ideas on the paper table covers. Those ideas would be discussed with the next group to sit together with the one host staying at the table to welcome the guests.

I was too tired to dance with Mira (evening activity), but I did stop in the pub for a small drink before hitting the sack. This was all quite refreshing to have access to the pub – on site! I was still jolted by the long drawn out discussion on the co-co list and other conversations about drinking alcohol at CCIs. When I asked people about this they said – this is Ireland. The rules are different here. I was pleased since I agree with the premise that we all must be self responsible. I am aware that this may feel different for people who have issues with alcohol. My experience was very positive, and I wasn't aware that others were disturbed by the lenient setting. I was able to discover some fine Irish whiskey and rediscover that I like Guinness stout.

Another workshop I went to was facilitated by Susan Tilley and Jack Sklar (both UK) "parents and children". Although we were a small group we got into some good session work. Some conclusions I made were I am very grateful to have brought these children into this world, and I will remind them that I love them just as they are.

I went for another round of "The CCI dialogue café" more great discussions and connecting with co-counselors. What I realized is that instead of having a lounge where people just hang out after the day's activities, people could come to the co-co café and have a more structured conversation with other co-counselors. This could help with people who may be feeling on the outside of the social circles, but then it might be intimidating for those who find it difficult to speak in a group. Either way, the challenge was there for those who wished to partake. It was nice to see that many people did join in seeing at least 6 or 7 tables active each time I was there.

After my evening walk on the beach I made it back in time to catch a few rounds of story-telling with Dónal Ó Néill (IE). This was extra special because of the setting – as many people know, the Irish have a rich gift of storytelling culture. Donal and Suzen honored us with lovely tales of leprecauns and Yeats' poetry. Others shared poems, songs, music and tales. I had my first-ever sharing reading from a collection of Scandinavian tales. Corrie van Haasteren (NL) put on her famous "woods and water" – we were a small group but there's no limit to this relaxing exercise when the water co-workers know how to use gentle touch and pay attention to their wood workers.

The next day a group of us (21 people!) left early to visit the nearby historical stone age passage at Newgrange which was built about 3200 BC! It's mind-boggling to think how old this is. I live in Israel with many historic sites from biblical times. I hadn't realized that in Ireland such findings exist. It was an interesting experience not only to see this place, but also to be with a group of co-counselors in the outside world.

I was very fortunate to participate in Gucci's (Scotland) workshop, "the joy of touch". He offered this every day of the entire workshop so everyone who wanted to participate could have the experience. This was Gucci's first CCI – I was very impressed with his ability to dive right in and also contribute in such a profound manner. The workshop enabled us to explore the different types of touch – tentative and explicit also to practice saying what we like and don't like while being touched, both partners blind-folded, and what I found very emotional, an exercise where we just looked into each other's eyes and shared a moment with a partner with each of our hands over our hearts.

The last day, Marlies and I ran a workshop on "the power of apology" – this was a workshop that we organized in Israel in June 2010. There was some very powerful work done. The question was "what do you need to hear from the person you wish to receive an apology" – co-counseling is a wonderful way to bring about the discharge through role-play. Especially in that you don't need to involve that other person, it's really the work you need to do for yourself with the aware, caring support of other co-counselors.

The business meeting was as usual filled with many reports from the various communities, sharing of ideas to promote co-counseling and discussion teacher training and certification. What I was most excited about was that Israel is now on the map. It was agreed that Dror would enter a rotation with New Zealand so that every 18 months we switch. Look for CCI-Israel in Fall of 2013.

I hope this report gave you a taste of what happened at the CCI in Ireland. Please contact me if you'd like to see photos. Looking forward to reading about others' experiences if it was in Ireland, Michigan, or wherever.