Welcome to the WEST! This is where the sun sets as we gather around the dinner table in the evening. This the time of Fall harvest, gathering the fruits of the year. As mentors we are tasked with gathering the stories of our students. It is in this shield that we help to weave those stories together and solidify those connections.
So far we have created inspiration and motivation for our students to enter into the perspiration and hard work of the SOUTH. We have taken a break to relax and let those experiences integrate into our whole self. Now it is time to harvest the fruits or lessons of those experiences by hearing stories and asking good questions to pull from those stories. This is where we find out when our students were most engaged and where their blind spots were during those experiences. Most importantly this is where those connections are validated.
Imagine you go out on an adventure and you have this incredible experience where you’ve felt alive, challenged, excited and exhausted. Then when you come home just rearing to tell someone and there is no one there to catch your story, or even worse you find someone and they are not interested in your story. Can you imagine how defeating this is? Now imagine the reverse of that, you come home and someone you admire and respect is there waiting to hear your story. Not only are they actively listening but they are asking deeper questions. How did that make you feel? What else did you notice? What was the most challenging part? Did you learn anything about yourself? What did you feel most connected with? What brought you alive?
Do you see the profound difference between those two experiences? We thrive on human connection and the need for appreciation and belonging. This is why Facebook and social media is a multi-billion dollar industry. But it’s important to have a community of people to interact within the flesh vs. in the virtual world.
We cultivate this in our programs through Story of the Day and the Art of Questioning. When students come back from their experience they are asked to share whatever part of their story they feel called to. Then as mentors, we ask good, curious questions to help engage the students and take them deeper into the experience. There are 3 levels of questioning that we use. You can learn more about this at our Art of Mentoring or through the The Immersion at Wilderness Awareness School.
The WEST role of the teaching team is to gather, lead, and facilitate community. They do this by helping to keep an eye on the pulse of the group. For example, finding ways in which to connect the group to each other and create a deeper sense of community or helping to facilitate the bigger gatherings of the group such as celebrations and stories.
Through the sharing of these stories, strong connections are cultivated in the community. Everyone can now learn and benefit from your stories and experience. When you have a strong and vibrant community you naturally want to offer help and support. The Indicator of Awareness for this shield is Service to Community–the desire to play a meaningful role in service to the community and figuring out how you and your gifts can contribute.
Now that we have cultivated our skills, gifts, and stories on this journey halfway around the Medicine Wheel it is time to look back and reflect. Not just on our journey but on the ancestry or lineage of what we have learned and for that we turn towards the NORTHWEST.