How the Warriors Train
A Warrior’s primary intention is to be a peaceful, compassionate, and uplifting presence in situations where there is conflict, anger, loss, grief, fear, stress. To develop compassionate abiding and clear insight, Warriors train with discipline in four core areas:
1. Stable mind. The preeminent warrior skill is to be awake and present, to trust ourselves in difficult situations, and to be of true service. To be this for others, we must know ourselves. We need to be aware of our reactions—physical, emotional, mental– and how they color our perceptions and actions. We need to be able to respond rather than react, to be aware of those situations which trigger us, and to gradually reduce our reactivity. These skills are a direct result of meditative practices, where we learn to watch our thoughts rather than be controlled by them. With practice, we become more open and patient, no longer victims of our reactions. As we develop the capacity to pause, to consider what response best serves, we become ever more useful to others when they are caught in strong emotions and confusion.
Meditation practice and instruction play a central role in this training. We practice together morning and late afternoon in the retreat gatherings. We practice together in our small groups and Zoom calls. We require a personal daily meditation practice while in the training program.
We also support developing a stable mind with physical practices that synchronize mind and body–Qigong and/or Tai Chi.
2. Direct Perception/Clear Seeing. Every one of us constructs a world and then lives inside our personal creation. Without training, we cannot see the richness of information that the world offers us. With practice, we learn to experience moments of direct perception, free of our filters and bias. As we take in more of the world, our habitual filters lose their grip. We see with greater clarity and we also experience the world’s innate beauty and luminosity. Our actions become wiser, our compassion deepens, and our commitment strengthens.
3. Skillful Means. Most leaders who train as warriors are familiar with a variety of good tools, such as systems thinking, conflict resolution, constellation work, critical thinking, Art of Hosting processes, etc. In Warrior training, we amplify and strengthen these processes with our capacity for direct perception and the increased information we have available to us. As we work with any process, we are committed to remaining vigilant for when aggression and fear arise–ours and others. We train so that we can offer an atmosphere of confidence and possibility. Through how we act, without naming it overtly, we want people to feel our presence, to know that there’s a warrior in the room.
4. Community. We train in community rather than as individuals because we know we need one another. We need to be able to call on one another for support, consolation, ideas, and humor. We aspire to achieve the level of commitment to one another described by General Sherman in a letter he wrote to his superior General Ulysses S. Grant at the end of the Civil War. He reflected on why they had won the war: “I always knew you thought of me and, if I got in a tight place, you would come if alive.”
Community is created through the structure of the program in large retreat gatherings, in monthly small group video calls (via Zoom), and occasional all Warrior Zoom calls. Also, Warriors themselves organize into interest groups and accountability partners. These multiple means create deepening relationships and the trust that “if I call you, you will come.”
Design of the Training Program
Between October 2015 and June 2017, three cohorts completed one year of training: 81 people from 19 different countries, ranging in age from 35 to 86. This next program is based on experience with these first cohorts: it is designed to be more intimate, focused, less costly financially but requiring more time and dedication of effort. It also engages those who completed the first trainings and are continuing on in a facilitator/guide role.
The initial training occurs over eight months, with two primary elements:
- Two group retreats of entire cohort: month one (5 days), month eight (6 days).
- Small groups of five meet at least once a month via Zoom video calls for two hours/month. These groups follow a set curriculum for study and contemplation. They are facilitated and led by Warriors who have completed their first year of training and are participating in advanced training with the core faculty.
2018: Two Cohorts
- Crestone Colorado, Blazing Mountain Retreat Center blazingmountain.org
Session One: March 15th arrive – March 22nd depart (Six days, seven nights)
Session Two: October 18th arrive – October 25th depart (Six days, seven nights)
- Tuscany Italy, Abbey at Spineto www.abbaziadispineto.com
Session One: April 28th arrive – May 4th depart (Five days, six nights)
Session Two: November 8th arrive – November 15th depart (Six days, seven nights)
Core Faculty, all programs:
Meg Wheatley, Jerry Granelli, Ulrike Ebert
Crestone Colorado: John P. Milton
Tuscany Italy: Chris Grant, Richard Olivier