What is Temenos?
Temenos is a Greek word for a transformational container, such as a cut off piece of land dedicated to a king or god. It is a contained space of spiritual importance.
Temenos is also the name of a special kind of experiential laboratory (usually delivered as a weekend lab) that Siraj Sirajuddin has created over many years integrating diverse influences such as Buddhist, Islamic, Jesuit and Hindu spirituality, mythology and Jungian psychology. He’s been using these labs to support lean and agile transformations in his practice as an Organisational Transformation Mentor.
In a broader sense, Temenos is also a philosophy and mindset.
In brief, deep bonds and healing result from exploring each other’s personal history (how we became who we are) and visions (who we want to be). We use the conceptual model of a container to help us perceive and understand our relationship with ourself and others, so that we can consciously let go of emotional baggage and create strategies that serve our and others’ needs in an exercise we call Clean Slate.
This is the start of a series of multiple blog posts that Olaf Lewitz and I will publish over the following weeks with the help of Siraj and other Temenos practitioners.
Temenos Outcomes and Mechanics
The diagram below is intended to be a sketch rather than a definitive guide of the why, how, and what of Temenos. A key objective of Tememos is to get people into a state of relational flow where they are aligned and don’t keep bumping up against people’s wounds and challenges. The bottom items (what) are the actual activities that are conducted in a Temenos.
Healing ourselves using authentic connections
- Influence Maps – sharing what our influences are
Growing strong containers
- Clean Slate – getting rid of baggage
- Containers – how we create safety and opportunities for transformation
Building Authentic Connection through Sharing Perceptions and Appreciations
- Temenos Feedback – how we help people see their better selves
- Update Strategy – how we deliberately modify our relationships with others
Alignment of Personal and Shared Visions
- Who do I want to be? Where do I want to be?
- Where do we want to be?
Through Lean/Agile and other approaches it has become clear that high-performing environments (containers) live on a foundation of trust, safety and respect. Temenos lab is an experience centered around fostering the relationships between beings. This is helpful for people who work together as a team. In particular it was designed to help leadership teams go first in the transformation of their organisations.
Why Attend Temenos?
Attending a Temenos lab can serve multiple purposes. Without limiting your options, I’m listing a few common intentions that participants had in attending a Temenos lab or organising one. Siraj hosts monthly labs at Kayser Ridge in West Virgina, about 2h drive from Dulles airport (Washington DC). We’re planning to organise Temenos labs in Europe later this year. Ping us if you’re interested!
Temenos for Your Personal Growth
The endless curiosity and passion we’re born with gets dampened when we meet the limits of the context we grow up in. This can hurt, and deviate us from our path of growth. Attending a Temenos can help you clarify for yourself what you want, who you are, who you can and want to be, and help you devise a strategy for your success.
Temenos for Your Team
A team’s effectiveness and performance is strongly correlated with its members’ ability to articulate what they think and feel, say what they want and help each other achieving it. Attending a Temenos lab together gives you this option, and may lead you to create a shared vision.
Temenos for Your Leadership Team
The leadership team of an organisation is a special kind of team, as the product you co-create and grow is your organisation. Communication habits and behavioural styles within this team give an example to all people in your organisation. Achieving a clean slate and shared vision in the leadership team, nurturing your ability to create and sustain authentic connections to other beings, will greatly improve your effectiveness in helping your organisation achieve its goals.
“The Temenos session at Play4Agile 2013 with Olaf Lewitz and Michael Sahota helped me to see more of my person and talents and my intuition which helps me in my work. I got enriched by opening my inner self in the deep process in this secure container. I had the impression that I entered a room where we all are in connection and help us to see ourselves with all our aspects. The process allowed and invited me through getting in resonance to the stories of other people to heal my wounds and to see that I’m not alone. Now, I have a better understanding how it feels that we are all connected.” - Christine Neidhardt, Coach, Nürnberg
“The Temenons workshop gave me a lot of new insights to recognize who I am and what made me the person I am today. It connects different experiences in my life with strengths & weaknesses of my character and the environments (containers) I live in and grew up to a whole picture. A picture of different colours, structures and signs of beauty and ugliness. A picture that shows me who I am and that I can be what and who I am.
Especially the influence map was one of the tools that showed me in a very simple but effective way which things, persons and experiences have influenced me in the past but also in the present. The method of the influence map opened my mind and my heart and I guess I have shown more of my fragile personality than I wanted to show.
Maybe it’s hard for the other people in the workshop to deal with such a high level of openness. But I have always reminded me, that on the first hand I don’t do it for the other people, but I do it for myself to recognize myself better. If I recognize things and structures in me, it helps me to understand people, their character and structures better. So I can consider it in my daily work with them in my way to communicate with them and solve problems.” - A Scrum Master about a Temenos lab Olaf convened at a client
Further Writing by Others
More people participating in Temenos labs have been publishing their experience:
- Experience the Power of Temenos Vision Labs
- A New Mythology For Women—Temenos November 2012
- Temenos Retreat – A Journey of Change
- My Experience Building Deep Trust
(if you know of or have written a blog post about a Temenos lab experience, please ping me so that I can complete this list.)