Aspects of life

Practice don’t Preach Theory U in 7 Breaths! 2nd Breath.



Opening our State of Being “reason” deepens the dance between our soul and body-mind, coalescing into “seeing” and “observing” in a wave of curious asking.


How to practice Theory U? Just imagine how disappointed you are when a meeting ends as it begins with “downloading”. How can you have more conversations that matter in your organization and in your daily life?

You’re in the right place to find out! Here, in this series of articles, we dive deeply into new practices to move through the “downloading” stage and, if we need to, we can always revisit this “downloading” tool.

This article fits into a series which explains how you can effortlessly move through Theory U while at the same time allowing the steps of the U to expand and even transform you. We dance Theory U within a literal and metaphorical Guest House. The breaths refer to whole and complete cycles of the Life Pulse.

The first article in the series offers you a framework and introduces you to Guest House Facilitation and the magical, cosmic principle of the Life Pulse. The second article familiarises us with “downloading” as a tool to process the Self. It is the 1st Breath of the series of Seven Breaths of moving through Theory U.

The diagram below shows where we’re at now in our dance.


Our 2nd Breath is the ‘seeing’ stage of Theory U and as you notice in our diagram it’s also called ‘observing’. I invite you to explore with me what its deeper meaning is!




Overview of the Second Breath Dia04

The Second Breath is again a complete phase of the Life Pulse as the drawing illustrates, an inward movement of contraction (green on the drawing), followed by a moment of stasis (red on the drawing and at the inner edge of the U), an outward movement of expansion (blue on the drawing) and again effortlessly moving into stasis (back to red and now at the inner edge of the U).



We move inward to assimilate what has happened to, and around, us in this magnificent phase of ‘processing the Self’.

How does what is shared so far land in us, how do we feel within the Guest House, how does the teaching reverberate through us?

This inward movement is how we prepare to open our State of Being: reason. What is meant by opening our reason?

The diagram below shows how reason is located at the upper part of our body-mind. For those familiar with the chakra system it is the opening of our seventh and sixth chakras. The seventh chakra stands for our ideas, our mission. The sixth chakra has a front and back aspect: the front aspect being the concepts we can see and the back aspect how we are able to create a vision, that is, a step by step approach to the concepts we see. For more explanation on the chakra system, you might enjoy Anodea Judith’s magnificent book on Chakra Psychology. Opening our reason (or mind in the language of Theory U) is literally creating space in our energy field around our head – 360 degrees.



This inward movement or contraction (green on the overview of the 2nd Breath in the beginning of this article) can be taken as a silent walk in the environment of the literal Guest House or it can be time spent individually in silence or it can be a dancing practice.


I love a dancing practice where you invite the inner dancer to graciously dance with the different elements in the four directions. The inner dancer represents for me our soul, the spiritual being which we are and we dance with our body-mind. We connect with the earth of our body and with the earth around us, the fire inside and around us, the water in our precious bodies and the water all around us, the air and spaciousness inside of us and the breath of life all around us. This is a great practice to prepare us for the opening of our reason.



This contraction, this inspiration completes with another moment of stasis (red on the overview), connecting deep inside of ourselves – at the inside of the U where we gather momentum from the field of endless possibilities to move outward into another wave of expansion.

Each breath is complete in itself and could not be anything else. It is a natural principle which exists in all of life around us and within us – a moment of contraction, stasis, expansion and another moment of stasis.



We are now ready for an outward movement or expansion (blue on the overview). The participants are given some basic guidelines about Guest House Facilitation. I assure them, they are all guests and that any contribution is welcome and valid.

With our reason centres open, we are ready to have conversations which matter and which go deeper. A great way to establish this is through Dynamic facilitation, a powerful technique invented by Jim Rough. You can read more about the practical applications and principles of Dynamic Facilitation (DF) in my book Becoming What is Changing: Exposition).

To explain some of the principles of DF: any contribution from a participant is reflected and written on a flipchart. Four flipcharts are used, three of them with the headings Data, Concerns and Solutions. The fourth flipchart harvests the How-questions.

As a host, pay attention to the flipchart with the How-questions: these indicate a shift in the conversation. A shift can arise out of a contribution to any of the other headings on the flipcharts.

What is written is the responsibility of the participant – you own your contributions and how they are written. If it doesn’t feel completely aligned, ask your host to change what is written.

One of the important principles in DF is that all the participants address the host and take turns in sharing. I invite them all to speak to me and not to each other in order to create safety for the unfolding process within the group. You can speak when the other has completely finished. I explain that Dynamic Facilitation is not a dialogue, it is a “we-flection”, creating space for the “unknown” to unfold.

We move through this wave of expansion, reaching out and sharing through the model of Dynamic Facilitation.

DF allows the participants to move further down the U and truly begin to open their reason. During this expansion they start to explore the next step of Theory U –‘seeing’.

This process allows for an effortless letting go of preconceived ideas and concepts by opening reason (= mind in the table below). What is revealed is a desire to see reality in a new way. The field already affects the unfolding process. You can understand the depth of this phase of ‘seeing’ in the Theory U model (step 2 in our table).

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

Through the precious New Space Technology of Dynamic Facilitation you hold conversations that matter. You reach deep personal territory and clarify the right how-questions, the longings and the intention.

The How-questions are very important keystones in this phase. In the methodology of DF the shifts literally happen through the fact that a new how-question emerges, a question which always starts with how can I or how can we. They brings us in touch with the deeper sense of “seeing” the reality as it is and we cultivate this by paying attention to the questions.

Otto Scharmer points to the capacity to suspend the voice of judgement, self-judgement and judgement of others as a key feature in this step.

However, I wonder if it’s really about suspending our judgements. I’d like to invite us to take a closer look at our judgements in order to understand them. What is held underneath our judgements? What is our need hidden in this judgement? Unravelling our judgements without judging our judgements is a key feature needed to move from projection into true observation. This is a huge step, even if it might seem a small step in the framework of the U. It is huge to take back our projections and to become aware of where we still function as hooks for the projections of others.

The graphic representation of this second step is an orange circle with blue dots moving to the edge of the circle. In the perspective of Guest House Facilitation the orange circle is the body-mind and the blue dots indicate the metaphorical movement of our soul. T-seeing

We start our soul’s perspective from deeply hidden inside of the body-mind and our soul looks at the beliefs and constructs of our body-mind. Through the movement to the edge of the body-mind, the soul inhabits the body-mind more intensely. This is achieved through the act of opening reason in the energy field of the body-mind.

The dance of our soul and our body-mind continues and becomes more intimate.



Another moment of silence (= stasis, red on the overview) in connectedness arises and we arrive at the outer edge of the U. We are connected and yet we still objectify in order to understand, in order to learn, to process.

Objectification is a hard concept for us to digest and often it feels shameful. We might judge ourselves and feel guilty. Maybe, however, we could consider objectification as a tool which enables us to gain more insight into our organizations, systems and most of all ourselves. It is not good or bad, it is what it is – we do not see the other or the organization as part of us, we see it as an object outside of us. Even if we acknowledge our judgements and are ready to understand the deeper meaning of them and see the underlying need, we still objectify while in this phase.


A real 2nd breath experience

The next picture shows an actual 2nd Breath, which unfolded in a Guest House Facilitation training in Berlin in November, 2014.

2nd breath


Our contraction phase was rather short in time. However, it’s important to name it as a distinct phase and allow integration and assimilation to happen. This is a non-linear process – overall the amount of stasis, contraction, stasis and expansion needs to be balanced.


In this 2nd Breath, the preparation of our food and eating together is all part of the inward movement and of the stasis. We are a literal and metaphorical Guest House and what happens in our Guest House – whether literal or metaphorical – is also a part of our experience within the flow of the Life Pulse. We prepare our food together as an expression of caring for each other and our environment.


We completed the first day of the training with a check-out as suggested in the principles of Circle Practice.



Our 2nd Breath is the opening of our State of Being: reason (or mind). It is the clarification and bringing to light of our judgments. We introduce here one of the New Space Technologies, Dynamic Facilitation, as a magic tool to gently move through this step. And you may have another similarly powerful tool in your toolbox with which to support your group through this first step in Theory U.

We are learning and refining our capacity to ‘observe’ through curious asking. What makes you curious? What do you want to understand more or better?

We begin to recognize what we see and we don’t yet have words to express what we perceive and what we are beginning to understand. Our knowing is still separate from our words.

In order to learn to put words on what we perceive we move on to the 3rd Breath. In this 3rd Breath we begin to open our emotion (or heart) and we dare to stop objectifying.

If you are curious and want to read more, check in with us next week!

Any comments and stories are very welcome. And please share this article through your preferred social media (click on the buttons on the upper left of this article).


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:

Aspects of life

Want To Have A More Appealing Sleep? Read This!

Want To Have A More Appealing Sleep? Read This!

DSCN1876Sleep is something fascinating; we all need it and very often we don’t have the sleep we want, we are awake for hours. How can we understand our sleep and make it part of our life pulse?


How is your sleep?

We all sleep. It is an inherent part of our human condition. Did you know that we use only 5 to 10% less energy while we sleep than when we are awake? A great deal is written about sleep; this article offers you a new perspective.

Sleep helps you to define who you are. It nourishes and nurtures you and it completes what you started during the day. Who you are is a spiritual Self or soul that forms a partnership with a human Self. This human Self is a physical body and its energy field or personality. This energy field has seven distinct layers that penetrate each other and the physical body; you can also discern seven energy vortices or chakras. Barbara Brennan offers us in-depth descriptions of our human energy field in her books.


In this article we start with the scientific perspective, and then we add the spiritual knowledge and make use of our insights on the life pulse.

  • The purpose of our sleep is to integrate and assimilate what happened to us and around us during the day.
  • Our different sleep stages correspond to specific brain waves and each set of three stages is alternated with a phase of dreaming.
  • The moment between waking and sleeping is a moment of deep connection between our soul and body-mind.
  • Our sleep itself is a process of moving back from the seventh (outermost) level of our energy field inward through all the levels until we arrive back in the cells of our bodies for another moment of stasis.


What is the purpose of our sleep?

Sleep is universal in the animal kingdom, and during sleep most systems in an animal are at a heightened state of growth and rejuvenation.

Our metabolism is only decreased by 5 to 10%. So our sleep is not a time when we conserve energy. We need this expenditure of energy, as research has revealed that the overall role of sleep is the consolidation and organization of synaptic connections that were formed during learning, experience and recent memory. The complete purpose and mechanisms of our sleep are only partially clear from a scientific perspective.

How will our insights of the life pulse add more depth to these scientific perspectives? The life pulse is a cosmic principle of alternating phases of expansion, stasis, contraction and again stasis, through which all living beings and nature move.

Like the life pulse, sleep consists of stasis, contraction and back to a moment of stasis before the start of a new day. You assimilate and integrate what has happened to you and around you in the outgoing movement, in the expansion of the waking hours.

Awareness of these phases adds to the quality of life in this human incarnation. Now we will delve deeper into the scientific stages of our sleep.


Dreaming and non-dreaming stages of sleep

Our sleep is divided in two broad types, rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM).

NREM sleep has three stages. The first stage takes place between wakefulness and sleep. Research has revealed that the muscles are active, involuntary movements occur easily at this stage, and there are mostly alpha brainwaves.

In the second stage, sleepers move to theta brain wave activity and become gradually harder to awaken.

In the third stage, sleepers have delta waves and they are less responsive to the environment.

After this third stage, a phase of REM sleep helps us to return from deep sleep into an NREM stage-one sleep.

REM is associated with our capability to dream. These brainwaves are similar to the waking stage, which are mostly beta brainwaves. Oxygen consumption by the brain is higher than when the sleeper is awake. We have REM sleep almost every 90 minutes and more REM in the second half of our sleep. Dreaming is the perceived experience of sensory information. We use images, sounds, taste and feelings, all our senses can be used. When we reconcile this information with what we know about our energy field, we realize we use dreaming on the unstructured levels of our energy field. The seven layers of our energy field are alternating. The first, third, fifth and seventh are structured with lines of light and the sixth, fourth and second levels of our field are unstructured, more with clouds and waves of colour. On these unstructured levels, we access the senses through the different chakras. Scientists are now convinced that we are composed of energy and that we are surrounded by energy.

In REM sleep, within the physical body, the neurons of our cerebral cortex fire randomly, which presents nonsensical sensory information from which our forebrain creates a story in an attempt to make sense of this brain activity.

The firing of our neurons during contraction is affected by our expansion during the day.

Our expansion affects our contraction and vice versa. We often feel uncomfortable when we are awake during the night. And maybe being awake is okay and what we need in the wave of contraction of our sleep.

We gain insight in the NREM and REM phases of our sleep. We are ready to journey back through the levels of our field for a deeper explanation of the sleep cycle. A summary table is provided at the end of the next section.


A deeper journey exploring the sleep cycle

Our sleep starts with a moment of stasis in the seventh level of our field, a phase between waking and sleeping. This moment is an opportunity to connect your body-mind with your soul. It is often joyful. We may experience a connectedness with all living beings no matter how our expansion unfolded during the day. We are not always aware of this precious moment. This is the first stage of an NREM type of sleep. We are still easily awakened or might have difficulties falling asleep, surrendering into sleep.

Regression hypnotherapist Michael Newton discovered a great deal about our lives in between lives and our sleep through his work with clients. He says, the first thing we do when we fall asleep is clear our mind. I guess that makes sense, and we do this as we move through our seventh level back inward. He assumes we have received a great deal of information that we do not need. Some traditions invite us to go over our day consciously to clear our thoughts, images and beliefs before journeying into sleep.

We continue with the contraction of our sleep from our seventh level back inward, we move through the second and third phases of NREM. The seventh level holds our Divine knowing and all our beliefs of how we assume the world is. In the second phase of NREM, we assimilate what we already know and strengthen our beliefs of how we see the world through what happened to us and around us during the day. In the third stage of NREM, we nourish our seventh level and access Divine knowing.

We then arrive in our sleeping time at our sixth level, which is Divine love. When our sixth level is well nourished, we experience bliss in this stage, a profound happiness. It is a meeting with our soul. In this phase of our sleep we move through a REM sleep. We dream about the spiritual love. Regression hypnotherapist Michael Newton says this is a phase where our spiritual guides come in and where we eventually travel through our soul channel towards our spiritual family. Our soul channel is the tube that connects us with the spiritual realms on one side and with the Earth on the other side. Through this channel, we incarnate as a spiritual being. It holds our longing, our life task, and our intention to accomplish what we want to achieve in this human reality.

In some people, this level can be constricted and not hold much energy. As a result, they will experience less bliss and connection with the spiritual world.

We move further in and arrive at the fifth level, which is the level that provides order and clarity to make sense of what happened during the waking state. It feels this is the stage where we combine and assimilate all our knowledge; we combine new information of what happened around and to us with what we already know. This is another stage described by Michael Newton. We see new solutions from assimilating all that we already know. We again move through the three stages of the NREM sleep.

We move further in, and on the fourth level there is again a phase of REM sleep. We have different dreams in this REM stage, we engage more in relationships. Often our dreams take more time on the fourth than on the sixth level. The amount of energy in this level affects the depth of our dreams.

We move further inward and we arrive on the third level, where our thoughts reside or resurface. I notice how I often wake up during this time of my sleep. Sometimes I might remember my dream of the fourth level at this moment in my sleep. I easily worry and have thought complexes around what I have to do, should do, ought to do. However, if I align my soul and body-mind or open my mind, I am able to gain clarity and stop worrying—it is possible to really gain a balance between my intuitive and rational mind here. Here we again move through the three stages of NREM sleep.

The next level deeper is our second level. This holds how we feel about ourselves, and it makes sense that this is strongly affected by our thoughts. This is again a REM phase where we dream. These dreams might be more easily accessible and have to do with how we feel about ourselves. The duration of our dreaming depends on the strength of our level of the field. If we run more energy in our second level, our dreams might be stronger and more vivid. It seems that most people dream more in the second half of the night, which might represent stronger lower levels of the field. The content of our dreams will be different according to which level we are at in our journey inward. Our dreams on the sixth level are more related to Divine love, on the fourth to relationships, and on the second more about our sense of self.

The next level is our first level, and this level is about our physicality, how it feels to be in a physical body. At the first NREM stage, we can wake up perceiving physical symptoms and eventually remember our dreams of the second level. The second phase of the NREM sleep is the end of the contraction wave of our sleep. We take care of our physical bodies.

Our sleep is not yet complete. We need to move through the third phase again of this last NREM phase of our sleep. This third phase is another moment of stasis, deep within the cells of our physical body. We keep on going deeper in our cells, within the cells, into the molecules, into the atoms and in between the atoms into the void, and we have a deep, really deep sleep. We get nourished and nurtured through the spiritual world, through a deep connection with essence. We have finally completed the full cycle and we are ready for the coming day. From this deep sleep, we sometimes move again into a last REM phase dreaming sleep, already the start of our expansion, and we start dreaming our day into being, so to speak, and be really fit and joyfully ready for our new adventures in life.


NREM phase 1 7th level of the field Between waking and sleeping. Deep connection between our soul and body-mind. Clearing excess of information received during the day.
NREM phase 2 7th level of the field Assimilating what happened and checking our beliefs
NREM phase 3 7th level of the field Connect with our Divine knowing, nourishing our seventh level.
REM 6th level of the field Dreaming, a stage where we easily visit our spiritual family, receive guidance.
NREM phase 1 5th level of the field Assimilate what happened during the day, possibility to wake up and have difficulties falling asleep again
NREM phase 2 5th level of the field Rebalancing order and clarity with what we already know.
NREM phase 3 5th level of the field Connect with Divine will, precise order of everything, nourishing our 5th level.
REM 4th level of the field Dreams related to our relationships.
NREM phase 1 3rd level of the field Thoughts and worries can wake us up.
NREM phase 2 3rd level of the field Rebalancing our rational and intuitive thinking.
NREM phase 3 3rd level of the field Clarity, nourishing our 3rd level.
REM 2nd level of the field Dreaming around our feelings and emotions about ourselves.
NREM phase 1 1st level of the field Physical sensations, eventually pain in certain areas of our body, we sometimes wake up.
NREM phase 2 1st level of the field Physiological balance, nourishment of our first level.
NREM phase 3 1st level of the field Deep connection within the cells of our physical body, gathering essence for the next wave of expansion.
REM 2nd level of our field Dreaming the start of our new day.





Our sleep is an amazing opportunity to reconnect with our soul, to nurture and integrate.

All that has been discovered so far scientifically and spiritually makes sense in the broader perspective of the life pulse.

Awareness of the waves of expansion will affect the quality of our sleep and of our life.

Discerning this movement back through the levels of your energy field can help you to understand your sleep patterns, to assist you in accepting where you are on your journey and to have the sleep you need, not the sleep you want.


This article provides you with unique insights of the life pulse and how awareness can affect your sleep and your life. The life pulse is a fascinating concept extensively covered in my book Becoming What is Changing: Exposition.


Knowledge only becomes wisdom when we are able to connect it with our own experiences. I look forward to reading your comments.


June 14th, 2014


GHF V in action 1VEERLE DE BOCK is a 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/facilitation for your organisation at: