Alan Seale interviews Sascha Krijger, CTPC, Creator of the Transformational Presence Ubuntu Listening Circles, February 15, 2021, Deep Listening
Free Open Listening Circle
Facilitated in English by members of the global Transformational Presence community
First Thursday of each month on Zoom – beginning March 4th
2 pm ET / 11 am PT / 20h CET / 11:30 pm IST
Register to Participate
One of the most powerful aspects of the Transformational Presence approach is the practice of deep listening. It’s a way of listening beneath words, feelings, and what is obvious. Listening, sensing, and feeling into the energy field of a situation or topic, noticing what is asking for attention, and engaging with what emerges from a more expanded awareness.
Sensing a longing within our community for deeper connection during these pandemic times, Sascha Krijger from the Netherlands had the idea to create Transformational Presence Ubuntu Listening Circles. In the second half of 2020, Sascha convened an international group of 12 Transformational Presence graduates to prototype the structure and process of the circles.
The purpose of the pilot group was to create an intentional space for the practice of deep listening and to discover how the practice would benefit the participants. Sascha’s hope was that members of the initial group would then go on to facilitate listening circles within their own communities and networks around the world.
After meeting regularly in two small listening groups for four months, participants experienced a deeper sense of themselves, of one another, and of the connections between them. They also spoke of a more profound sense of their own personal presence – a way of showing up that honors, respects, and supports the people and circumstances in their lives and work.
I was lucky to participate in a special year-end Ubuntu Listening Circle back in December hosted by the Polish Transformational Presence community. I found it a deeply moving and heart-opening experience.
This pilot group is now ready to open the Listening Circles to anyone who would like to further develop their capacities for listening, for full presence in the moment, for being in silence with others, and for holding space for others.
Eager to share their invitation, I reached out to Sascha for a conversation. The following interview will tell you more about the Circles and how to participate.
Alan: Sascha, I am so excited about the birth of the Ubuntu Listening Circles, particularly because they offer yet another way for the Transformational Presence community to connect with one another and to reach out further in the world. Tell us about the name Ubuntu and the philosophy behind these circles.
Sascha: According to Wikipedia, the African concept of Ubuntu can be translated as “human kindness.” However, its meaning is so much bigger than that. Ubuntu embodies the ideas of connection, community, and mutual caring for all. It is a belief in a universal human bond which says: I am, only because you are.
Building on this, the philosophy of the Ubuntu Listening Circles starts with recognizing the true worth of every human being. The idea is to create a safe and welcoming space for people to connect with one another and to have in-depth dialogues from the heart. It’s a space that invites curiosity and compassion as well as appreciation for individual uniqueness and difference. It is a space where we create community, a space where we create Ubuntu.
Alan: What has been the experience for the pilot group participants?
Sascha: During our first four months, participants discovered that by using the power of listening, we formed close and deep relations with one another. We learned more about what is possible when people live their lives from the beautiful Transformational Presence approach and, from this way of living, contribute to the energy of the world. Our connection went far beyond open and respectful minds to much deeper levels of heart and body intuition.
Our deeper connection made it possible to create a safe environment where we were completely present, nourishing, and supporting one another. We inspired each other and lifted each other up, creating space for learning and growth. It didn’t matter what was on the table – what the topic was. There was always learning and growth.
Coming into each meeting, we never knew how much we might help someone else through our listening and presence, or how much we might be helped. Through our virtual circle, we embraced one another fully. We felt ourselves as part of the global Transformational Presence family and of the bigger world. We understood more deeply the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South-Africa:
Do your little bit of good where you are;
it’s those little bits of good put together
that overwhelm the world.
Alan: Within our community, there are several active Transformational Presence Coaching Circles. Some of them are country- or language-based, and others are international, using English as the common language. How are the Ubuntu Listening Circles different from the Coaching Circles?
Sascha: The Ubuntu Listening Circles are about connection, support, and meaningful dialogues. The Coaching Circles, on the other hand, are places to further develop your professional coaching capacities. While the topics explored might be similar in both Listening Circles and Coaching Circles – personal and professional situations, opportunities, and challenges – the focus in the Ubuntu Circles is deep listening and connection.
Alan: What is your long-term intention and vision?
Sascha: Our intention is for the Ubuntu Circles to be a gathering place, whether virtual or in person, where like-hearted people can come together in their full presence and a high level of awareness. The number of circles will increase in an organic way as more people join us.
Our next step is to globalize the Listening Circles within the Transformational Presence extended community. Our ultimate goal is to spread this kind of energy around the world, helping people from both inside and outside our community find their way forward in this constantly changing world. The Ubuntu Listening Circle concept can then be used by members of the community with their clients, organizations, and teams, inviting them into this simple yet powerful way of communicating.
Alan: What is the structure of a listening circle session? What does it look like? And who is invited to join?
Sascha: The invitation is open to everyone in the extended Transformational Presence community (including Alan’s newsletter subscribers and blog readers). You are welcome to join us to get a taste of this deep listening experience. There is no cost. Only the investment of your presence and time.
Supported by a facilitator, each session will begin with a brief plenary meditation. Then participants will move into breakout rooms of 5 or 6 people for the listening circles. The facilitator will support the group to create and hold a safe, intentional, non-judgmental space for listening and for meaningful dialogue. Clear instructions will be given so that participants can’t get lost! The full session will last approximately 60-75 minutes.
Alan: Who will be the first Ubuntu Circle facilitators?
Sascha: The first facilitators will be from the pilot group. Organized by their country, they are:
- Belgium – Peter Plusquin
- The Netherlands – Bryan Benninga, Maartje van der Brand, Sitara Edward, Sascha Krijger, Vivian Vleeshouwers
- Poland – Marta Czapla-Bystrowska, Anna Kania, Joanna Maria Zawada
- Sweden – Katarina Cars
- United Kingdom – Alexandra Powell
- United States – Alison Goldfarb
Alan: When do the Ubuntu Circles begin? And how can people sign up to participate?
Sascha: We will start this initiative with a free Open Circle facilitated in English on the first Thursday of each month at 2 pm ET / 11 am PT / 20h CET / 11:30 pm IST on Zoom. (Please confirm the time in your time zone based on 20h CET.)
If you would like to join a free monthly Ubuntu Listening Circle, please send an email with your name and email address, and include the words Ubuntu Listening Circle in the subject line. You will only need to register one time. Once you have registered, you will receive a reminder email at the end of each month with the Zoom link to join the next Listening Circle session. You can join the circle whenever you are available.
After a few months, we will sense how many people are interested in going further with the Ubuntu Listening Circles. With that information, we may then choose to start more Circles on other days of the week. We may also start so-called “fixed circles,” where participants stay together in the same group for perhaps three months to deepen their connection and experience.
Alan: Sascha, thank you so much for creating and organizing these Transformational Presence Ubuntu Listening Circles. I look forward to participating!