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AN INTERVIEW WITH JEFF BAUGHER
September 22, 2005, by Alyce Barry
Jeff: The engineer part of me really likes the analytical approach, "Life is a problem to be solved." But in the early 90s, I realized there was this other part of me that likes to connect with people. I no longer wanted to be the classic engineer-head where I'm alive only from the neck up.
In 1991, a friend started what was called a ritual sharing group. It was four or five men getting together every two weeks and using a talking stick. The rules were, Speak from your heart, listen from your heart, and don't try to fix.
Being male, that was gigantic. During my entire adult life, I'd been the only guy in the meditation group, the only guy in the yoga class. I'd been the token male since my twenties. This group was a very different frontier. It was my introduction to men's work and to a more heart-centered expression.
AB: 1991 is about when the men's movement broke open, with books like Robert Bly's Iron John, and King Warrior Magician Lover by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette. Was either of those an influence?
Jeff: One man in the group suggested that I read Iron John, so I did, and I got a lot out of it. Then the local men's community brought in Douglas Gillette for a workshop on the archetypes. I was totally blown away, it was just incredible.
After several years, I stepped back from the ritual group. It was full of Lover energy, support and sharing and feelings. I reached a point where I needed challenge, something to push against. I understand this more in retrospect; at the time, I knew I needed something more but I wasn't sure exactly what. A friend attended a New Warrior Training Adventure and said, Jeff, it's time for you to do this. So I did. And a couple of years later, I did a Shadow Work weekend.
AB: So you were already familiar with the four archetypes in the Shadow Work Model from the Gillette workshop.
Jeff: Yes. I wanted more, it felt powerful, and I couldn't do it on my own. It really helps to be surrounded by people who are doing it too. There's a wisdom of experience that comes through.
Jeff: There were two things that stuck with me.
Audio excerpt The Sovereign visualization (0:54)
First, the Sovereign visualization, where you're standing on the top of the mountain, looking back at the landscape of your life. That just went all the way to my soul. I don't know if I can put words to the feelings, but it was very, very powerful. That idea that we're here for a purpose, and there's a journey. Even when I'm in one of the crappiest, darkest, worst periods of my life, there's actually a point to it. There's some part of me that's going through that to get a greater goal, a greater good in my life.
Second, there was a by-product of going to that weekend with my wife, Becky. We were in the newlywed zone, and we kept the container going between the two of us at night. It was as if there was this giant bonfire in the group, and at night we'd take our two candles home with us. It felt like we never really left the container, and when the workshop ended, our inner container kept on cooking. It was like a free ticket that extended our experience of the weekend for weeks afterward. That was amazing.
Then we did another Shadow Work weekend, and the same thing happened. When we did the Basic Facilitator Training (BFT), which was seven days, it was two or three times more powerful than a weekend. Our marriage relationship has become much more solid by doing this work together. We've had partners attend our Shadow Work weekends who say the same thing. It's an unexpected, unadvertised benefit, and it's worth millions of dollars as far as I'm concerned.
AB: How did you decide to train to be a facilitator?
Jeff: We liked the work, and in my weekly Warrior I-group, I felt inadequate facilitating other men. I'd tried and I'd studied, and I could never really catch on. The Shadow Work Model worked for me, and it offered tools. So supporting the work in I-Group was a personal impetus to attend the BFT.
Jeff: I used to think of the things that stop me as flaws. And now, I think about them as pieces of information that might be useful.Audio excerpt Making omelets (0:34)
If I'm driving down the road, and the person in front of me is throwing eggs at my car out of the back of their truck, I can catch the eggs and make omelets out of them. If it's logs, I'll stop and build a log cabin. Whatever it is, there's something you can do with it. As opposed to, We've hit another show-stopper, and it all slams to a halt, and we just feel bad about ourselves. When the shit happens, that may not be a bad thing. Maybe the fear means we're getting close to something that's really important, a doorway into a healing or a transformation.
Jeff: The part that I've really got juice around is bringing storytelling into everything that I'm doing. If I'm telling a story, even a four-sentence vignette, not only do people enjoy it more and get the point, but I enjoy it more. It's a way of passing on wisdom as opposed to passing on information, and I want to move more in that direction. The world is not hurting for information, in my opinion.
AB: You and Becky are among the few who are running Shadow Work weekends in the U.S. right now.
Jeff: A lot of the certified facilitators have taken the work and morphed it into something a little different. I think that's a wonderful thing. Becky and I are talking about creating a Shadow Work weekend for artists.
I also think that there's something about the pace of today's life, where it's hard to carve out a weekend to do work like this. Every time Becky and I do a weekend, we think, We need to shorten this. And then afterward, we realize that some people wouldn't have reached their destination if they hadn't had that amount of time. When you're cooking beans, you've got to cook them a certain time before the beans are done.
AB: You and I both know that, in a Shadow Work container, there's a lot of laughter. I think that surprises some people.
Jeff: Part of the magic that happens is that, when people feel connected, their inner children really start to show up. Suddenly everybody's throwing balls and rolling on the floor and playing. It feels so good, and it's not something you can artificially create. It comes from the inside-out.
I find that the playing stays with me, too. It's a very powerful, tangible thing that people get from the weekend.
AB: I think you're saying that play is worth the price of admission.
Audio excerpt Play breaking out (0:40)
Jeff: We have this giant stuffed animal, a dog, it's three-four times bigger than life-size, and we just set it out on a Shadow Work weekend. And usually by Saturday afternoon, there's always somebody is playing with the dog or laying on the dog. Every weekend, I wonder, Who's going to end up with the dog on this weekend? These are thirty-, forty-, fifty-, sixty-year-old people, and somebody's going to end up playing with that dog, playing with it, laying on it, petting its head. I call it "play breaking out." All of a sudden on the weekend, play breaks out. I can think of social settings where I've tried to do something playful, and here come the pointing fingers and the shamers. I think that's a sad thing for our culture.
AB: I'll bet there's a correlation between the shame we hold around playing and our epidemics of depression and obesity. Since it's the Lover in us who likes to play, and depression and obesity reflect the Lover in shadow.
Jeff: Yes, yes. We've got billions of dollars for medications for people who are depressed, but here's an organized thing where people get in touch with their play. It seems like one healthy alternative to hospitals full of medicated, depressed people.
Jeff: No matter how destructive a person's issue is,
Audio excerpt Love beneath (1:05)
if you can keep digging beneath that, what you're going to find underneath there somewhere is love. That, to me, is one of the most amazing concepts I've gotten out of doing Shadow Work and the Shadow Work trainings. If you keep looking, if you know how to tease the stuff apart and get beneath the surface presentation, you can find love. I've never not found it in a process. Knowing that not just in my head but also in my heart lets me really embrace and accept people in a way that they feel. People feel your judgments, and if in my head and my heart I know there's love in there, no matter how horribly they're presenting, they'll feel that and they'll respond to that.
Another thing I like, particularly about one-to-one coaching, is that whatever issue the client presents, the Shadow Work Model has very simple mechanisms to work with it. There's a way through and out of every door that's closed, if I'm willing to be there with the person where they are.
AB: So the model is comprehensive.
Jeff: The tools allow me to work with any issue. And you don't have to shame someone to move through it, either. That's not what I was taught growing up. I learned that you use "the shaming stick" if people aren't following the rules. In Shadow Work, there are many ways to handle something without using shame.
Jeff: Yes, I'm able to apply that archetypal way of understanding the world in group and family dynamics.
In the organizations I belong to, sometimes it becomes obvious that there's a built-in pattern keeping the organization from reaching its goals. One energy is inflated, or another one is deflated. And the model gives me some clues about what to do to bring things back into balance. That's another unexpected benefit of pursuing the skills in facilitating.