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The Art of Gathering


Why do we gather?

We gather to celebrate, to remember, to mourn, to connect, to play, to create and to heal. The impulse to gather is embedded deep within our biology and can be tracked all the way back to our earliest ancestors. Evolution has equipped us with an unbelievable ability to defend ourselves through our instinct to fight, flee and freeze when threatened. For this ability has allowed us to fend off danger and ensure our survival. This alone is not our only survival strategy to ensure our sense of safety and wellbeing. Evolution has also equipped us with a sophisticated “attachment system” that orients us to human connection as a source of safety, comfort, and physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment. The capacity and need to gather is also what fosters creativity and drives purposeful action. When we gather we discover what we share between us and what makes us unique.

What makes a gathering most impactful and how do we create a gathering that best serves its participant’s?

We can be talking about a yoga class, birthday party, book club or school board meeting. Often when we gather we don’t ask the question, what is the purpose of this gathering and what do I want my guests to feel or experience when we are together. Usually we gather and want it be casual or relaxed about the setting or intention.  We don’t want others to feel pressure or stress anyone out with an “agenda”. Purposeful gathering is not about an agenda, but an inquiry about the connection that the gathering is seeking and for what end.

Why be intentional?

Recently, I went to a holiday party and guests came, drank good wine, ate some delicious appetizers and desserts and then we went on our way. Beautiful evening, I had no complaints. But then I asked myself in the car ride home, what was the purpose of this gathering? Why bring people together and what makes a gathering more impactful to all that attend? Are we afraid to ask people to connect more intentionally? I then went to a gathering for New Years and the host asked us to write a new years intention, place it in a jar. She also asked that we write our biggest win or greatest moment of 2018 in the same jar. Guest starting talking not just about their wins, but their losses and lessons learned from this last year. We had a table conversation that was about each other and our hopes for the new year. The gathering felt intentional and l left the experience with a greater sense of connection to myself, the group and the purpose of the gathering.

Before your next gathering, why not ask, What is my intention in this gathering and how am I going to create the best conditions for that intention? We know that where our attention goes in our life, energy flows. As you gather, witness the flow of connection as you set the conditions for purposeful gathering.

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