a good meeting
This is how a good meeting feels to me:
I feel at ease, relaxed, and during the course of the meeting, I see beautiful new things—I am visualizing and thinking in ways I have not before, I am experiencing aspects of existence that I would not have without the other people at the meeting. I walk away from the meeting with my mind blown, thinking, "that was amazing. . ." I have a mental high, the world feels different than before, and I am grateful to the other person or people who have helped me to get to be that way. The good meeting vitalizes me to be intensely creative in thought and other behavior, it gets me powerfully excited about being alive and about what I want to do while I am alive.
What I described was the 'great' meeting. . . I like the 'nice' meeting just as well. It is like the great meeting, but without such intense emotion, like the difference between 'peak' and 'plateau' experiences, if you have read about those or can imagine what they might be.
I think good meetings happen when you get people together who want to have a good meeting, and who have been together enough to be familiar with each other (and so also like each other enough to keep spending time together), and who have generally the same purpose in coming to the meeting—though often people express that purpose very differently. I think it helps to have people who are very aware how they feel: whether they like a certain way of interacting or not, whether they like the location and feel of the meeting place, . . . people who can think of a way of improving or maintaining the meeting. Actually, I'm not really sure about any of this. . . none of these hypotheses have been empirically tested. The few characteristics I think I can be safe in attributing to people who have been present at 'good' meetings are these: they sometimes have questions to ask, and they are easy going. I would like to think that these people also have a basic love of people—that they could probably appreciate anyone as finer than any artwork, as something sublime, no matter how unappreciable others might think the person to be, but that is not accurate either. I don't really know why good meetings happen.
Great meetings seem likely to occur when at least one of the group members has an idea or issue she is burning to talk about, an idea she has thought a lot about before coming to the meeting. Her excitement and thought-out ideas can give the other people something to react to, and acting on and reacting to each other, the group can create something that did not exist in anyone's mind before the conversation began.
When no one is burning to talk about anything in particular, and everyone is at ease and relaxed, this is more likely to be a 'nice' meeting—one without too much excitement, a meeting more characterized by serenity. Sometimes, people talking together about nothing in particular will find something amazing they have never thought of before, but generally only if they feel like looking, at least a bit.
To be honest, I have not really had a successful meeting with a large group of people (more than four, and having a good meeting with four has been rarer than with two for me). Some of the problems with larger group meetings are, I think: (a) A reduction in the intimacy of the meeting. . . when I am all alone in a room with one or two other people, that feels differently than when I'm in a room with more people, even if we are all divided into smaller groups. Although, some people don't like the feeling of meeting in small groups with relative strangers, and I know I generally really wanted more people to come to meetings.; Another problem is (b) the loss of responsiveness to each individual which occurs in larger group meetings. If the meeting consists of only you and one other person, the meeting can be as responsive to you as that other person is responsive to you. In larger meetings, the attention of each other person will likely be more divided among all the other people of the meeting. While for some few moments you may be addressing the whole group, the opportunity for continuous dialogue with another person is lost, unless you happen to be one of two people who are dominating the discussion.
I think mostly what the meeting needs is people who want to have a good meeting. So when I think of what kind of work I could do to keep the being meetings going, it is primarily telling more people about the meetings, and finding ways of describing the meetings that attract some people. Of these people, maybe some will keep coming.
As you read further down the timeline, you will see how I tried different ways of attracting people to being-group-type meetings. It is, in a sense, a record of my advertising experiments, though I am never really sure what I am advertising.
I've written all these lines here purportedly about a good meeting. . . but I feel I might be doing something wrong. The good meeting is what feels right to me, it is when I am experiencing what I want to experience, and the other people feel the same way. It takes some questioning and rationalizing about my feelings to try to guess and to either preserve or bring about the kind of life-environment (meeting environment) I want to be in. I construct hypotheses in an effort to bring about the kind of emotions I want to experience most in life. At the being meeting we are working together to create the kind of emotions in ourselves that we want to experience. Life as (more than) art.
It is simple, and it's not easy at all. I warn myself about asking too many questions. I realize I can take anything apart if I want to. . . question questioning. I am about to take apart this whole writing I've spent some time on. But I'll leave it here for now.