What is The Contemplation Cafe?
I’ll explain by starting with why.
Then proceed to what.
Brace yourself, a bit of reading ahead.
It has been widely said:
Teach What You Need to Learn
Build What You Want to Have
To that I’ve added a twist:
Create and Offer Something You Would Want to Attend
So that is what I have done.
Think of our time together as a modern salon turned inside out:
Reaching within for self exploration and contemplation,
but in the company of others, instead of alone.
In a modern, and the original, salon, you are expected to converse, display your erudite self, possibly even compete with others to be the most witty or entertaining or brilliant.
In contrast, when many of us think of a cafe, we imagine sitting alone with a beverage, a book or journal (or today, a laptop or phone), and quite possibly, with another who can share that space intentionally, with intimate conversation.
The Contemplation Cafe is designed to provide a combination of both worlds,
with the pressure to perform eliminated.
I am one of those people, by life circumstance and the nature of my work, who spends a reasonable amount of time alone. And I spend some of those solo hours watching TEDTalks and doing a lot of reading, and truth be told, watching too many Facebook videos shared by friends.
But I also wish I could get to a local PechaKucha more often, find great workshops, or be with others in community to explore as I treasure the opportunity to laugh, learn new things, in the physical company of others, when I want.
Even so, I don't always want to have to prepare for the subject at hand, or have to expound on my thoughts and opinions as I am forming or refining them, especially afterward. To be in a space without the challenge to do more than focus on my own thoughts about the information before me, but with others nearby doing the same thing.
But not in a sea of thousands (or hundreds, even.)
And given the opportunity to speak or network before or after as I choose, with no pressure to perform, sounds wonderful to me.
Add to that, delicious food and drink provided, music and content compiled by someone else created expressly for this experience, and a space to breathe deeply, relax, laugh, turn on my curiosity and focus on nothing but me....with my brain turned on. Otherwise, I'd likely be on a hike, or at the spa, when I'd rather turn the deep thinking off!
I think you have the idea by now.
My introvert -- extravert desire for balance is rarely fully satisfied, in that situations and experiences are generally tilted to one or the other. I'd like, sometimes, without going on a silent retreat in a group setting, to have a place to experience both in the same space.
I believe I'm not alone. In our busy, modern lives while we are caring for others, fighting for causes we believe in, working so hard in many domains, most of us don't take this type of time for ourselves. Again, maybe a spa visit or run, or programs to get CEUs--but those are required!. Not a lot of champagne for the brain a la the modern salon.
And we are more often than not only in the company of those we agree with and avoid those we disagree with -- or perceive we do. More on that subject another day.
So what does this evening look like?
Let’s begin with the pleasure of delicious food and drink ready for you. No cooking or cleaning!
Then we take the time to decompress from the day, connecting with others or finding a spot to yourself with no pressure to network -- your choice.
You may sit beside someone who has different spiritual, political, or social beliefs. This is a place to be in community with others who may very well be different in ways you'll never know. This is not the place to debate or argue or demean. And you may agree on more than you realize.
As we gather, we put away all else (including cell phones!), settling in to give yourself the gift of time with no demands other than what is in front of you, and how you choose to explore.
And my responsibility?
To curate, convene, and facilitate, based on the topic.
Afterward, to provide resources to support continuing the internal conversation as you wish, and possibly explore further with others.
Yes, so what actually happens when we're there, you ask?
This will inevitably evolve, and vary by topic, but I’ve planned music, words, experiences, and prompts to get us on our way. You will have the time to breathe, move, contemplate, write, plan, converse.
This is not therapy, but it may prove therapeutic.
This isn’t a networking event, but you may very well make new connections.
This isn’t designed to be a wild party, but a delicious drink to start is always available.
This isn’t education for credit, but you might discover something you didn’t know before.
We will explore a different concept each month, but options will be available if you wish to stay with that topic after the evening is over.
The Contemplation Cafe will be held at Holly's Gourmet's Market. I am beyond thrilled to be partnering with Holly Hambright to bring this to our local community. The space is perfect for our time together, and the food and energy from Holly and her team is exceptional.
How do you know if you’ll like this?
I’m not sure, and this won’t be for everyone, or anyone at all times, but here are some ideas:
You want to have more time to think about abstract concepts (such as Abundance and Connection, our first two cafe themes.)
You'd like someone to provide additional resources if you want to go deeper.
You may seek out TEDTalks, On Being or Radiolab podcasts, PechaKucha in your spare time or are curious about them.
You don’t cringe at silence or laughter – both are mandatory components of the evening.
You either like to journal, or are interested in trying to explore your own mind by writing.
You may enjoy exploring things outside your comfort zone or wish some support to try.
You would like some time to focus on you, what you think, without pressure or responsibility of expectations of anyone other than yourself.
You are able to put away your electronic devices for one hour!
You would like an hour or so a month to have a place to do these things with others.
You want someone else to put all of this together for you, and all you have to do is show up (well, and pay to attend.)
If a reasonable number of the above seem like a fit for you, and you want to join us to try, here are the initial practicalities, as we kick off the first month in January 2018.
This is a local Knoxville, Tennessee event, at the outset.
The Contemplation Cafe is planned to be held once a month, at Holly’s Gourmet’s Market.
Doors open at 5:45 p.m. with food and drink at the ready. Come in and eat by yourself, join friends, or arrive before 6:15 so you can be settled before the program begins.
The program begins as 6:15 for roughly an hour, and departures from Holly's are by 7:45 p.m.
The fee is $39.
What do you need to bring? A favorite pen, if you have one, but otherwise, nothing, unless you which to use a journal other than the one provided.
Our first evening is planned for Monday, January 22 where we will explore the notion of Abundance.
The second Contemplation Cafe is scheduled on Monday, February 12, and Connection will be our focus.
The concept and final date for March is still in the works.
Want to know more? Have a general or specific question?
Contact me, Andria.
I hope to see you at a Contemplation Cafe in 2018!