Getting to Know Open Space Spiritualty
What is Open Space Spiritualty?
Open Space Spirituality is adapted from Open Space Technology created by Owen Harrison to serve group interactions in a spiritual context. The potential exists for disagreement and antagonism when individuals share experiences and points of view that may counter another’s long-held beliefs.
We live in an age of intense polarization and dogmatic adherence to points of view. Conversely, more significant numbers are leaving traditional religious institutions and seeking spiritual fulfillment through various paradigms. Some paradigms are rooted in ancient and new practices, other cultures, technology, or a self-chosen hybrid. There is no one “way” to experience the ineffable, yet some believe their way is “the way.” Individuals may hold these views regardless of whether they come from traditional or non-traditional practices.
The belief in their “path” may close them to other’s experiences and points of view. When one has a powerful experience through a given practice, the shear force may compel them to want to share so others may experience what they have. Some are uncomfortable accepting another’s point of view because it is so foreign to their understanding or misunderstanding. Then others may be tenuously hanging on to their belief system and fearful of having their faith challenged. Regardless of the barrier, the result is similar, an inability to fully explore or experience the vastness of our spiritual natures.
OSS seeks to provide a safe space to explore and share the many ways one may experience their spiritual-human nature and the opportunity to learn from others. It is open, respectful, and caring. The core of OSS is the conviction that one’s truth is valid to one and deserving of recognition and non-judgment. The opportunity to be heard and to learn is powerful. It can be transformative when nurtured in an environment of participation and collaboration.
When should OSS be used?
OSS is an opportunity to share diverse viewpoints where people are exploring their spiritual natures and want to share and hear in a safe space.
Is OSS appropriate for all settings?
OSS is not appropriate in situations where there is an unwillingness to engage in respectful discussion, by persons who hold absolute authority or in traditions that do not welcome divergent points of view.
How does OSS work?
- A theme for the online conference is selected by the group or individual creating the conference and a facilitator is selected.
- Invitations are published/delivered with logistics.
- The conference is held.
Are all OSS conferences online?
No, some may be in person as restrictions from Covid19 and its variants are lifted and it is safe to resume in-person meetings.
Some meetings may continue to be held online as a convenient way for geographically separated participants to attend.
What might I expect from a conference?
Generally, conferences follow this format:
- The Facilitator opens the meeting
- Participants determine the topics
- Topic leaders self-select
- Participants attend the topic meeting of their choosing in breakout rooms
- Scribes take notes of discussion topics
- After the topic discussion are complete, the group comes back together
- The Facilitator leads a check-in
- Participants receive notes from all topic discussions
What makes the OSS experience different from other conferences?
- Participants agree to listen and respond respectfully and non-judgementally
- Participants decide the topics
- Participants self-select as topic leaders and scribes
- Every raised topic is addressed to meet the participant’s needs
- Every topic has the degree of discussion needed by the participants
- There is no designated authority; the conference is community run
- The participants own the value of the experience
What can I expect to get out of an OSS conference?
You will glean a greater understanding of spiritual experiences and practices for which you may have little or no understanding or exposure. Through the stories of others, you begin to see through the eyes of fellow journeyers providing insight into your own experience. When we come together with the intent to enrich one another, amazing growth and interrelationship are possible.
What is the role of the facilitator?
- Opens the meeting
- Explains OSS: Structure and Principals
- Solicits themed topics from the participants
- Asks for topic leaders
- Defines topic discussion time
- Creates breakout rooms for each topic
- Announces breakout rooms
- Leads post- topic meeting check-in
- Ensures all participants receive the topic meeting notes compilation
What is the role of the topic leader?
- Asks for volunteer scribe
- Initiates the topic discussion
- Ensures group follows the OSS Principles
- Ensures everyone is heard that wants to be heard
- Keeps the meeting focused on the topic
- Ends the meeting when the topic discussion runs its course
What is the role of the scribe?
- Takes notes following the form provided
- Asks for points of clarification where needed
- Provides notes to Facilitator at the end of the topic meeting
- May work with other scribes to create a compilation of all topic meeting notes
What is the role of participants?
- Provides topics for discussion
- Shares their wisdom and experience
- Listens non-judgementally to the experience of others
- Engages in respectful discussion
- May join any topic meeting at any time