Aspects of life

Practice don’t Preach Theory U in 7 Breaths! 1st Breath.



We create a space to listen in our Guest House and focus our attention on the Group Being. We share our habitual patterns and images gently and with much courage.


Have you ever imagined that ”downloading” could be a tool?

“Downloading” is a process through which you listen by literally downloading what you already know. You are not at this stage allowing new information to be integrated or assimilated.
In this article we are learning to transform the “downloading” into “processing Self”. Within the safety of our Guest House the listening is the key in order for this to happen. It is not that we are not “downloading”. We do, and we should be, downloading by repeating extensively what we already know. So we use our courage to download at length in order to give our group the opportunity to help us with this important step of “processing Self”.
You are reading an article that is one of a series of nine articles. From the diagram below you will see that we’ve arrived at the 1st Breath – the second article in the series. The first article is an invitation to explore with me the dance through Theory U and the offerings of Guest House Facilitation.




Each breath is equally important in our dance through Theory U. So let’s really savour it and take in this 1st Breath.

Overview of the 1st Breath

This 1st breath consists of an inward movement of contraction (green on the picture), a moment of stasis (red), an outward movement of expansion (blue) and another moment of stasis (red). These are all the phases of the cosmic principle of the Life Pulse. My book Becoming What is Changing: Exposition describes the Life Pulse extensively.


If you superimpose this drawing of the Life Pulse upon the Theory U framework, each stasis before a contraction is located at the outer edge of the U and each stasis at the end of a contraction is located at the inner edge of the U.

As this article unfolds, we will touch into and question in depth each aspect of the Life Pulse, starting with the inward movement of contraction.



We often forget that before we embark on something new we always start with an inspiration. This inspiration moves us inward (green on the picture).

As we breathe in everybody in the group arrives; it’s important to acknowledge this moment and literally allow an inward movement to support each participant to arrive.

Walking is for me an easy and effortless way to arrive somewhere, to connect with the land and with myself.

I will often invite my participants to walk in silence in order to connect while staying with the questions: What are the gifts I bring into this gathering, workshop or training? What is my intention to be here in this moment?

Important questions which can help you as a host are: What do you need to feel at home? How do you want to be welcomed? These are intimate questions which will help you craft the first inward movement of the participants you will be working with.

Otto Scharmer refers to this first movement as co-initiating. I love this term -in this moving inward you are building a common intent, the intent to stop and listen to others and listen to what life calls you to do.

Listening is the foundational capacity of Theory U and of Guest House Facilitation. It requires listening to oneself and to others as well as listening to what emerges through the group being. The group being is the energetic constellation that is automatically created when two or more people gather.

True listening requires a safe space in which each participant can contribute to the whole. This safe space is literally and metaphorically the Guest House which we are facilitating as host. Using this place of contraction we prepare and breath life into this Guest House.



After this first contraction, we arrive at our first moment of stasis (red on the picture) where we gather momentum from deep inside the physical body for our first expansion. We moved from the outer edge of the U in our inward movement to the inner edge of the U. At this inner edge, the moment of stasis is stillness deep inside ourselves.

We honour this stasis by creating a circle around a central point. When I prepare the training space, I like to create a simple centrepiece with a few objects that have some meaning for me.

We go inside and connect with our deepest longing, with the reason why we are here, with our common commitment to be part of what unfolds “now”. Although quite different, the participants often share a profound commitment in their reason for showing up. This common ground creates the beginning of our Guest House Facilitation. Our sacred space is now open. With this ritual, we begin to create coherency in the collective energy field, the group being of our Guest House Facilitation (GHF).

The participants are literally residing deep within themselves.

In GHF we use the same picture as in Theory U consisting of a circle with a dot in the centre. Our definition is slightly different, the circle representing our body-mind and the dot representing our soul. We are spiritual beings (= souls) incarnating in a human body (= a body-mind) in order to fulfil our purpose and experience life. You can read more in the article: How to fall in Love with Our State of Being.

At this moment our soul is residing deep within ourselves and we look at the world around us through our habitual patterns and beliefs, our images and constructs. We literally only see our own body-mind, our physical body and our personality (=mind) with all its flaws and patterns, achievements and struggles.


This is a picture of our house: our soul dancing with our body-mind and the place where the three states of being – reason, emotion and will – reside. Dia13

These different states of being are covered more extensively in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Breaths, that is the third, fourth and fifth articles of this series on Theory U where you will be invited to open your reason (=mind), your emotion (=heart) and your will. The three keys in Theory U: opening mind, heart and will, are from now on be referred to as reason, emotion and will.

Often this is the perfect moment to connect with the group being and explain that our gathering is a living process, a being, a field. The group of participants still circles around the centrepiece.

As the Host of GHF, you invite your participants to ground their physical presence into the Earth and connect in the middle with the group being. At this moment this can still be a bit unfamiliar for the participants.

This picture below shows how the group being is a collective of many different human beings looking at the world around them from their own perspective. The group being also looks at its cultural and social beliefs: how a group being should think, feel and act in the world.


We have now established a connection even though, so far, not much has been exchanged between the participants. This will further unfold in the expansion, which effortlessly follows this moment of stasis. Even if we are not aware of, or possibly resisting, the different phases of the Life Pulse, they are still happening in their own unique timing.



After this moment of silence, we move together to check-in using the Circle Practice format. I would like to honour Ann Linea and Christina Baldwin for their continued efforts in bringing this ancient form of gathering back into modern life (You can connect with Christina Baldwin and Ann Linea on

The check-in allows participants to transition into the space of GHF. The momentum is slowed down and each person brings him or herself into the group. In a clockwise round, I invite the participants to present themselves, share how they feel and share the unique gift that they bring to this GHF.

The overall sense of this 1st Breath in the Theory U model is called “downloading” (Step 1 in the table): our view of the world through our habitual thought patterns and images.

Step 1: “DOWNLOADING”: viewing the world through our habits of thought, allowing our current reality to surface. Re-structuring

Step 7: “PERFORMING”: achieve results through actions, embedding the new into the larger context


OPEN MIND: Re-designing

Step 2: “SEEING”: seeing reality with fresh eyes, suspend judgements, the system being observed is separate from those who observe

Step 6: “PROTOTYPING”: explore the future by doing, prototyping, enacting the new by being in dialogue with the Universe


OPEN HEART: Re-framing

Step 3: “SENSING”: the attention shifts to the inner way of seeing, from object to process. The boundary between observer and observed collapses.

Step 5: “CRYSTALLIZING”: the attention shifts from the inner vision to exterior action. Crystallising vision and intention, envisioning the new from the future that wants to emerge


OPEN WILL: Re-generating



Step 4: “PRESENCING”: Connection to the deepest source

As the host you will become aware of patterns from the past surfacing. Don’t throw them away or ignore them – they are precious. They’ve served the participants in many ways. Honour them and teach the participants to treat themselves with loving kindness and acceptance. Our aim is to integrate the underlying energy into the bigger Self, rather than cutting it out, so that we are literally “processing the Self” in order to allow more of ourselves to become freely available. The more we integrate, the more of us becomes available in the dance between our soul and our body-mind.

In this phase, we gently and with a great deal of love and assistance from our group being begin to see the mental constructs that we project upon the world. It dawns upon us that we do not really recognize what we see in the outside world, “we” come into the way of our own seeing. “We” as our current constellation with all our beliefs and images.

This stage is important and in many organizations this is the brainstorming stage. You can’t skip this stage if you want to reach authentic and deeper levels of listening and being.

“Downloading” is a way of honouring what you already know from your past experiences. It’s also valuable to help you integrate and assimilate all these experiences into your way of being, into your way of living your life, a step towards honouring and celebrating who you are. Accepting at the same time, of course, that this might change over the coming days, weeks, months.



After the check-in we pause, have a stasis (red on the diagram at the beginning of this article). We’ve listened to all the participants, we are connected and at the outer edge of our U. This moment of stillness creates the spaciousness needed to prepare ourselves to receive the gifts of this expansion and bring them back inwards to our Self.


A real first breath experience

This picture shows a real first breath as it unfolded in the moment in a Guest House Facilitation training, which took place in Berlin, in November 2014.

1st breath

In a workshop or training I like to fill in the different components of the Life Pulse as they unfold in the moment.

I invited the participants into a practice in which their inner dancer greeted the four directions. Each direction refers to an element that is present around you and inside of you. The different elements are earth in the south, fire in the east, water in the west and air in the north. This practice brought us deep inside of our physical body.

In the stasis I guided the group through a ritual in order to become aware of the group being. The expansion unfolded through a circle practice around the question: What is my intention for this training?

We completed this 1st breath with a teaching on the different components of the Life Pulse.




This First Breath is an opening, a beginning.

Through Circle Practice we introduce the use of a talking piece. This simple practice is very important to create safety and security. When you have the talking piece you have the possibility of sinking deep within yourself and nobody will invade or interrupt you. You will appreciate how valuable a tool the talking piece is as we progress through the steps of our Guest House Facilitation. The talking piece assists us in Holding a Listening Space, a key feature and capacity of this breath.

We celebrate who we have become so far and we honour what our ancestors have done; we honour those on whose shoulders we stand. We realize that what has been created isn’t all perfect, and yet this is a necessary step towards integration.

We listen to each other’s stories, to our patterns and beliefs, to the images we have of what happens to us and around us. We tap into this energy consciousness and awareness of ourselves, this unique and precious dance of our soul with our body-mind. We don’t as yet recognize what we see. In order to recognize what we see we need to open our reason, the area around our head. This is what we make ourselves ready to do with the 2nd Breath.

Your comments and stories are very welcome. If you like this series of articles please share them with your friends and colleagues.

With love and appreciation




This series of nine articles could only arise with the amazing assistance of all those magnificent people who attended a Guest House Facilitation workshop or training. They provided me with wonderful experiences that contribute to our dance through the U. One of the participants, Elaine McGoogan co-created in a delightful way through her excellent and fluid editing work!


veerle caminoVEERLE DE BOCK is a social entrepreneur, a change-maker, physician, healer, facilitator, trainer, coach and author of the trilogy, Becoming What is Changing. She spent nearly three decades of her life as a physician specializing in geriatric care, including a 21-year career as department head in an Antwerp regional hospital. In 2003, she began her study as an energetic healer, teacher, process facilitator and supervisor at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, and since 2007 has been leading many other trainees to master these same skills. In 2010 she was trained in the practice of Dynamic Facilitation by Jim Rough, which she now incorporates into her workshops and training sessions. In 2012 she decided to devote her work exclusively to writing, facilitation and coaching. That same year, she devised a new integrative practice of facilitation she calls ‘Guest House Facilitation’, that helps teams learn how to listen and utilise both the inner and outer processes within their organisation, to see it as a dynamic and living organism, and to reconnect to its intrinsic purpose and intention. Her book, Becoming What is Changing: Exposition, is the first part of a trilogy aimed at managers, team leaders and responsible employees who wish to bring this kind of transformation into the workplace, so they can create an environment where people are happy, satisfied and continuously growing.


Contact Veerle about the book, or to discuss coaching/hosting for your organisation at: