All Posts Tagged ‘ligia buzan


Sleeping Beauty: Awakening With Archetypal Stories

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Once upon a time, I was invited to speak to a group of powerful business women about the benefits of play in helping one to relax, be healthier, stronger in saying NO to distractions, and better at dealing with difficulty at work At Attuning we invite storytelling and play into daily routine, opening one to creativity and to ease in face of life’s unrelenting pressure.

Looking around the room, I saw beautiful faces straining to listen intently, trying to grasp how to relax so that they can be even more efficient. A few minutes into my speech, I decided to change direction. I invited these powerful women to spend a minute pondering the meaning of “I am perfect just as I am at this very moment.”

This practice is not about pretending that life is easy and that one has it easy.  This is not about burying the head in the sand. This is about choosing to cherish one’s gifts and vital energy,  about choosing beauty rather than ugliness in every day interactions, and about learning to be in flow with what arises every minute.

I asked them to imagine that they knew how to express each unique gift they had; to realize that they had friends who loved them; I asked them to imagine that their body was fit, and their smile radiant; that they had enough money for all their needs, and that there was no need to compare with others; that they were loved. They took the time to ponder, as directed.

And then, I asked them to consider what they would do if they were perfect just as they were. What would they do if they did not spend so much time trying to change everything about themselves, and others?

People started to look at each other. One voice said quietly “I would go to Africa and fight for people to get clean water;” another jumped in and said ”I would make sure that people all over the world got good education,” and then others added their voice louder and louder, inspiring each other with braver and braver acts of saving others.

I listened. And then, I asked again—”what if you did not have to fight for others, or for yourself? How would you direct that tremendous energy you have?  Can you imagine a harmonious state of getting things done with less effort, a way of being at ease without the constant struggle to improve looks, finances, work, a partner or children?

“No, I can’t stop fighting!” one woman said. “I can’t even remember what I want for myself.  I am always busy with my work, with my patients, with my children, with supporting others. When could I find time to do something for myself?  Besides, it seems so indulgent to take time for myself.”

When they have a choice of stories and archetypes to consider, a lot of powerful women intuitively pick Sleeping Beauty as the vehicle to explore deep desires buried in “the sleeping woods.” We explore issues such as “Who is sleeping? Who and What is she waiting for? What is she willing to give up so that she awakens?” There are a lot of tears of release, of epiphany, of letting go, and of renewed desire.

In exploring narrative techniques in coaching, we are discovering that one can find creativity, resilience, courage and inspiration in the space of letting go, of play, and even during a short moment of asking quietly “what do I need today?” or “how do I feel today”? This personal space, even a few minutes a day, has to be planned, and protected. We do go through changes and transitions all the time, and in the process, we lose or acquire aspects of the self. The work we do with storytelling (narrative archetypes) supports and grounds this transition.

Every time we play an archetypal game, it surprises people how much they learn about themselves.  When they make time to play, to inquire into what is hidden in the “sleeping woods,” to nourish the heart, they replenish their vital energy. The insights uncovered during storytelling or during play time, once integrated into one’s life, transform those who choose to embody awakened beauty.


Attuning To Change TV Show: Steve Slavsky on the Hero’s Journey

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Our guest on the show is Steve Slavsky.  In 2014, a successful CEO, and a passionate Tango teacher, Steve started a steep Hero’s Journey when he was faced with a devastating health crisis. He came back from this dark journey with more love for life, stronger and with more passion than ever. He is inviting us to “dance” with difficulty, and to embrace what we fear!

Steve gives back to the next generation of entrepreneurs as a mentor for the MIT Enterprise Forum, Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, and for Build in Boston, a program that works to keep at-risk High School students in school through entrepreneurship.  You can connect with him on Twitter,

 ATTUNING TO CHANGE is a program about storytelling and “play” as tools to support us through periods of transition, of intense learning, of loneliness, of trying to make sense of life. It’s about personal growth in face of difficulty. It’s about The Hero’s Journey. We talk a lot about the healing power of the story. In fact, we see our work, “attuning” as small shifts that allow people to realign themselves with their core “story”.


Transitioning wisely..

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Attuning Blog May 16

The Art of Letting Go is a ritual in itself where the participants bring old and new identities or “selves,” to the workshop, learn how to transition by embodying emotions relevant to the old and the new situation, and by releasing them. We use creative means such as storytelling, psychodrama, enacting archetypes, drawing and mind maps.  This process is helpful to the individual, as it is to teams who are changing.

Here is an example:

Mary gets a new job. The old job became boring, but it had its perks and was easy. Mary was very good at the old job, and people looked up to her.  She enjoyed that part very much. Yet for a long time she wondered about her ability to take risks, and to grow professionally.

Is this all I can expect from my work now?” she wondered often.

Finally she went through a challenging period while finding something she enjoyed, interviewing and finally, getting a better job with more visibility and more money.

Initially, she loved it.

But soon, she become concerned with the lack of support she got from her new team and from her boss, and with nothing familiar to cling on to, with little time for her family, Mary started fearing that she would be unable to succeed in her new position, In the new company she had no one to help her get perspective, or with whom to share her concerns and fears.

The more Mary felt the pressure from the present job, the more she clung to the old familiar, to the point that she started daydreaming about her old old job, wanting it back.

Constantly oscillating between the old and the new situation at work, she did not understand why she was so unhappy.

First, using storytelling and archetypes, we helped Mary clarify her emotions related to the roles she fulfilled in her previous job. Then, she learned to embrace possibilities for the new self at work, so that she could bring her courageous SELF at work.

She started to feel relieved and more joyful.

As we did so, we created a space where Mary could safely embody and acknowledge parts of herself, and then choose, consciously, what she wanted to let go of. It was a poignant and mindful process that surprised the participants. We heard comments such as: “Oh, I did not realize that I fear so much what others think of me”, “I was not aware that I felt this way”, or “I did not know that I actually loved to manage and coach people..”

As we honored what has worked well in the past for Mary, but might not work so well in her new situation, she chose to let go of it. She found “safety” in other gifts that she knew she could develop.

As we all go through transitions (career, family, moving, starting over, launching a business, etc), fast, without time for reflection and without tools for clarity, we may constantly react to old triggers, and we may continue to suffer without understanding why (“why is this always happening to me?”).  This is not necessary.

Just a few minutes a day may help to acknowledge where we are emotionally and where we want to go. Even with a busy work and family life, we can offer ourselves a few minutes of personal space to help prepare to face challenges better, from a place of strength, calm and integrity!

If you are interested in attuning to changes in your life, let us know if we can help.

ligia at attuning dot org


From Hero to Hermit: The Art of Letting Go!

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Archetypes Art of Letting Go

Participating in a ritual is an act of letting go. By creating sacred space every day, even for 5 minutes, we consciously choose to step into a space of no interruptions, of respite from the urgency and the demands of the day. We let go of the busy self.

Have you noticed that each of the major events in our lives calls for a ritual that has storytelling at the core?  We get married, and special friends are chosen to tell stories about the bride and groom; at a funeral we honor the ones who passed with stories of remembrance; at bat and bar mitzvah we tell stories about possibilities, love for and protection of the young.

Yet there are too many difficulties and transitions in our modern, hectic and complex lives, situations through which we go alone, without a tribe or a community to hold us tightly, without creating sacred space where we acknowledge and release that which does not serve us anymore; without a ritual to call onto new, fresh possibilities, without being seen or heard, trying to put on a brave face, hiding our perceived failures, and trying to move on. With many internal and external old and new “stories,” competing for our attention, it is easy to get stuck

In this space of quiet time, the ritual space, we make room for the magic of the possibility– we transition from asleep to awake, or vice versa, from lack of clarity to having direction, from being stuck to inspired, and from being busy to being relaxed. We make coffee, or tea, stretch, light a candle, read a poem, dance, meditate or breathe, tell ourselves a grand story about how the day will go, and for a few minutes we live in universal time.

In the Art of Letting Go we invite people to join in a ritual of play, acting and storytelling. The participants embody old emotions so that they can let go of them. They embody new possibilities,  to be able to embrace them.

We guide the participants through a process that helps them expand their breathing, their choices, their inner space, so that they can get to a place where they feel comfortable in their own skin. ­The role of the guide is to point towards possibilities, and to support the participant to structure her own process, not to give her solutions.

Yet, how do we manage to create a ritual for a group of strangers who are working on different things and who may not feel at ease to share their personal stories or inner struggles with others?

We invite them to tell stories through archetypes, or through archetypal characters. One such archetype (both male and female) is the Hero. The dark side of the Hero is that she is battling on behalf of the others, always, and unless she sets strong boundaries courageously, her vital energy may be depleted. Most of the times, modern Heroes are depleted.

The participant starts telling her story from a larger perspective (The Hero), and does not need to give personal details to make her story true and poignant. As she delights in storytelling, she is able to detach and see some blind spots, she may become inspired, and she may experience for herself what letting go feels like, and what her transition and possibilities may be. Furthermore, by telling the story of her own “battles,” and doubts (it is really difficult to abdicate from the Hero’s role), she may inspire others to experience and welcome their own “Hero.”

Telling the “story” from the perspective of an archetype frees the participant from defensiveness, from repeating old patterns and allows her to connect with her higher self and with the larger community in healthier ways.  We do not need personal details to be able to understand the essence of a person’s story. Love. heartache, sadness, lust are universal themes. In this environment, one person’s epiphany becomes another person’s release.

In such a group, synchronicity abounds. One person may live the Hero’s difficult story and may yearn to become the Hermit in order to hide from the world for a while, and to replenish. Yet another person in the same group, may have lived the Hermit’s story for a while, and now may yearn to return to the world and be a Hero.  Through shared experiences, these two strangers meet in the middle of their transition path.  Embodying fears and desires they may experience catharsis and personal healing. The release of old stories, in a space structured as a theater play, becomes easier, magical even, and opens possibilities for deeper vitality, compassion for others and for one’s Self.

In one workshop, the “Hero” was depleted and experiencing painful physical symptoms. As she started exploring the journey from Hero to Hermit, and as she was embodying her personal deep emotions and releasing them, her physical symptoms subsided considerably.

Transitions, loss, coming together, moving apart, letting go of all desires or dreams, all these important moments need and deserve a ritual that allows one to close old chapters and to open new ones.

A ritual can be something as small as preparing coffee or tea mindfully, every morning, taking a moment to relax, to breathe deeply, to pay attention to one’s body, to read the news or simply to enjoy a moment of peace before the day begins.

To make the small ritual just a bit more elaborate, one could add an intention daily—for instance to be a better artist, a better storyteller, a person who is good with money, a better parent, partner, or sibling.  One can add a series of repetitive actions that engage the physical and the creative self, such as stretching, writing a paragraph, drawing symbols, or mandalas, solving a puzzle, etc. Directing the mind and the body towards a goal daily, even as briefly as a few minutes, helps one realign with one’s larger purpose in life. As we step into the daily ritual, we have an opportunity to let go of fears and anxiety and to become centered, strong, back into “the body.”  We don’t always, but we have THE opportunity to “embody” new possibilities, literally.

A ritual can be something larger and more elaborate such as a reunion, a retreat or a planned w-end meeting with brothers and sisters, blood siblings, or chosen “siblings. During a larger ritual, participants may tell stories, be “seen” and “held” inside the sacred space of love and empathy. The rules that work best are simple: no judgement, no advice and no interruptions. Being “seen” and “heard” works miracles as it allows us to find and trust our inner voice.

I have developed The Art of Letting Go as a performance, as a ritual in itself, where the participants bring old and new identities or “selves”, learn how to transition into new situations, by embodying emotions, and by releasing them. We use creative means such as storytelling, psychodrama, enacting archetypes, drawing and mind maps.

If you are inspired to create a small ritual for yourself, at home, this is easy to do. You set up a space where you can be alone for even 5 minutes, you create an intention (even something easy such as breathing 20 times mindfully, works), you connect with your body and spirit in any way that gives you delight and enhances your aliveness. If you wish, you can write a one paragraph story about the great day ahead of you, a day when you conquer a challenge, for instance. Try it consistently for 30 days. Observe what happens in your life during that time. You may be in for a treat!



On Not Fitting In!

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blind spot

A lot of people feel that they do not fit in. I hear a lot of talk about being too young or too old, too poor, too fearful, too unloved, too fat, or too depressed to fit in and to be accepted.  Where do we start the journey towards fitting in into our own lives, first?  I start with the blind spots, always. They are the gate to building your personal legend!

Why should we explore blind spots?  Sometimes, we do not know that our perceptions and our inability to “see” are the obstacles to the happy life we envision. Learning to “see,” means learning to clear obstacles.  And with clearing obstacles, there is a lot of energy that is released towards creating what we desire.

Recently, at a friends’ house, around the dinner table in a perfectly friendly environment, a guest started sharing with friends his frustration as a recruiter with various candidates applying for a particular position.

They are all the same, he said. Not one is different. Not one makes me want to click on and open their resume. They all claim that they are “best suited” or the “perfect candidate” for a position and they have no idea what huge amounts of emails I have to sift from to get one good candidate. They all go on and on with their own accomplishments, thinking that it’s what sets them apart from the other candidates.

Most of the dinner participants were stunned, and embarrassed, as some of them were themselves applying for new positions in various fields. One dared to speak–

“Yes, but recruiters and HR people never share what is truly important to them. How can we guess what you need? Based on the job requirements, we try to tell you that we are great at the job, that we have done it before and that we can do it again, even better. It’s so unfair!”

Oh, no, the recruiter said –“you are all trying to fit in, and to make yourself into what you think that I want to hear from you.”

Stories collide. Everybody is right, of course. And everybody lacks the perspective that would create a spectacular outcome.

There are so many examples like this, in which we are trying to do what we think that others– bosses, co-workers, family or team mates — expect from us. We don’t want to ask, for fear of looking foolish. We do not want to start a conversation,  as we are too tired and too disappointed with previous failures in communication. We just want things to get resolved. We do the same thing over and over again, and feel more and more exhausted with the lack of connection.

Is there a way to integrate different perspectives? Yes, there is!

Once I worked with a young man who asked for “career coaching.” He was incredibly talented, skilled, smart, energetic, and likable. Still, he was in his second year of looking for a job.  He thought he did not fit in.  What he needed was “attuning,” or leadership guidance so that he could become his best self, and so that he could own his unique gifts.

He was appraising himself from the employers’ perspective, trying to make himself into what each job required.  We worked quite a bit on his blind spots: what he feared most, and how he reacted when he was fearful, how defensive and impatient he became when he was hurt or disappointed, what his great gifts were, and what he wanted to create in his work, and what kind of people he wanted to work with. He started a project that was dear to his heart, without waiting for permission, or acceptance from others.

He went on courageously and peeled layer after layer, and soaked in all he could learned about himself.  He found out that most of the stories we was telling himself about work and about expectations were not true.  And then he went on courageously to be picky about work that he thought would help him build his personal legend.  Somehow, almost magically, doors started to open and he started being called into interviews.  Having learned what his blind spots were, he walked into each interview owning his power.

Working with blind spots is an invitation to explore and release old perceptions, and to shift towards a more courageous mindset. Shifting slowly, taking steps to creating more happiness and success are real possibilities, not dreams.

Where in your life, do you feel that you do not fit in?  Is this YOUR story?


Small Steps: Embracing Change With Story Awareness!

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If you are struggling with difficult thoughts that reinforce difficult feelings, change the “story” by consciously changing your thoughts. Try small changes in the beginning.  Another story soon follows, and you get used to new emotions, and new thoughts, which in turn allow you to create better stories. Here’s an example of emotion/thought/ action which leads to a new story creation for a person who has lost a job. This can be applied in any situation where a trigger stimulates old stories,  old patterns of thought and action.  ChangeYourStory & Your Life


Real Leadership Beyond Technical Solutions

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Barbara Kellerman, a former professor of mine at the Harvard Kennedy School, wrote a very important book called “The End of Leadership.” (Kellerman, 2012).  Despite the title, which some may assume (as I did) that it was a cynical take on leadership, the book is an assessment of the “leadership industry” which for the last 40 years had promised a great deal but not always delivered on that promise.  Moreover, Kellerman considers that leadership is not always good leadership; it has been and can be very bad leadership moving people into all types of social, economic, environmental, and political destruction.

Kellerman’s assertion has a great deal of merit.  She points out that most of the mission statements of US universities address the importance of creating future leaders but seldom mention the importance of both good leaders and good followers.  From corporate leadership retreats to expensive high school leadership camps, leadership is clearly of importance to society.

We cannot assume, however, that how we define leadership is all the same.  Some intermingle leadership with power, authority, and management.  And sometimes, leaders do utilize authoritarian or managerial skills to move change.  At Attuning, we define leadership as the mobilization of resources for socially constructive outcomes.  This differs from management which addresses the technical requirements of making an organization run effectively.  It also differs from authority or power in which one is required to follow the leader or there may be dire consequences if one doesn’t.

Followers choose to get behind leaders and leaders do not exist without followers. Followers in the 21st century have more power than ever with the use of technology and social media to influence their leaders.  It took very little to bring down the leadership of a New Jersey public school system when a concerned father used a voice recording device to demonstrate the ill-treatment of his son at school.  He uploaded the recording in which teachers ignore the children and speak of their drunken escapades.  Within a day, the father had hundreds of thousands of hits and the school district could no longer dismiss him as an unjustifiably demanding parent.

When Attuning consultants work with clients to assess leadership development or challenges, we go beyond just the technical assessment, and include an inside out and outside in assessment of the leaders, managers, and followers within a system. We ask whether the leader’s priorities are healthy for the organization and followers, or whether the leadership is potentially sabotaging the organizational efforts.

We listen to the stories from both within and without the organization; we complete proprietary assessments; and provide coaching to support organizations in doing the adaptive work that is needed. It is hard work without question, but incredibly important work. Perhaps the “end” that Kellerman refers to is an end to promises without results.  Attuning offers results in creating change in today’s fast-paced and ever-shifting world.

Erik Gregory Ph.D.  |