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I Talked to the Trees...
How to give your audiences an experience that
brightens their lives and endears you to them forever
by Burt Dubin

July 1980. I drive my new Toyota to a conference in the foothills of Southern California's San Gabriel Mountains. I don't know the conference leader, Brugh Joy, is going to expand the consciousness of all 30 of us. To awaken us. And in a surprising way.

Brugh sends us out at dawn each morning. Out and up. We are to avoid each other. "Climb the mountain," he tells us. "Be alone and silent. Be back by breakfast time." This allows me about 2 hours out in the crisp air. Healthy exercise at the least.

We are told to find and select an aspect of nature to communicate with. To have a discussion with. To ask questions about something significant in our respective lives at the time. This is part of the learning experience. It doesn't happen in the presence of the conference leader. It happens for each of us while we are alone in nature. And only to the degree we allow.

What aspect of nature? The choice is mine. A tree, any tree, a bush, a stream, a boulder, a rock, a cactus, a plot of grass, a flower, a bird, the sky, one cloud in the sky, any animal I might see during my climb.

After breakfast we convene for the morning session. We share our experiences alone in nature. Insights have surfaced for most of us. Answers to challenging questions. Wise counsel regarding choices. Understandings regarding puzzling decisions that are to be made.

I am later to discover the roots of this process. Where and when it started. Why it is so effective. Dating back to prehistory, before there was writing, way back before what we now call civilization.

Thousands of years ago indigenous peoples lived in tribes as hunters, as gatherers. Shamans, monk-like ascetics, witch doctors, wise ones, elders evolved and emerged. By whatever name these seers were respected and revered for their wisdom.

And they all spent long hours alone and silent in the natural world. There they found access to the truths of nature and of the human experience.

The process of being alone and silent in the natural world worked then. It works now. It worked for ancient wise ones. It can work for you and for your audience. The challenge, of course, is finding a resort, a conference center, a hotel abutting nature.

Years later, I attend another conference in a facility on a beach. Pretty much the same formula works there. We are directed to speak to the waves, to the seagulls, to one seagull. We are to engage in discourse, in dialog with the dry sand, with the damp sand, with a sand crab, with little stones.

Today I host conferences in Sedona, Arizona. (I use a resort hotel abutting nature.) These events include alone time, silent time outdoors in nature. Much of the value participants harvest here is self-generated.

Can you create such programs? You decide. You must be the sponsor to create such experiences for your attendees. You guarantee the facility a certain number of room nights. You need a source for the food needs of those you attract. And you do risk some of your own money.

Be careful. The first time I did this I had a net loss of $4000. The second time I only lost $2000. The third time and every time since, I made a modest profit.

Your biggest outcome when you create such a program is knowing you are opening an awareness window for each person present. A window that cannot be opened any other way. And once that window is opened, once you have widened someone's awareness, there is no way to undo it. Just as there being no way to go back to being a virgin.

As Brugh said to us, "Once you have tasted the nectar there is no turning back."

 

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 © Burt Dubin
 1 Speaking Success Road
 Kingman, AZ 86402-6543
 928-753-5315

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