Music and Deep Democracy

Deep Democracy is a term in process work that Arnold Mindell developed in the course of his research and which first appears in the book The Leader as Martial Artist[1]. He came to this term through his many experiences with groups he worked with worldwide. This approach has become very significant in process work and is used today in many different ways, be it in political groups, in organizations, teams or in working with individuals.

Max Schupbach, a colleague of Arnold MIndell, who helped develop the process work from the very beginning, founded in 2006 together with Ellen Schupbach and a small team the Deep Democracy Institute. In the meantime there are training courses in Deep Democracy worldwide.

Deep Democracy, as the name implies, is deeper than our normal understanding of democracy, which is mainly based on majority opinions that are expressed through democratic votes. In short, Deep Democracy in process work means that all voices in a group as well as in an individual are considered equally important. In addition to the voices that represent the habitual identity of a group or an individual, other voices or roles are considered equally important.  These can be critical voices of a minority or moods that are usually ignored. Following the paradigm of Deep Democracy, we consider all voices and energies in a group. This often results in surprises in terms of insights, solutions and relationships among each other. The inner attitude in Deep Democracy means to be in friendship with all parts of the group or even within myself, so that new and very creative, unpredictable conflict solutions, paths etc. can develop from the cooperation of all voices.

On the page www.kulturland you can find more information and videos of Max and Ellen Schupbach

Who’s playing? A little thought play about Deep Democracy in concert

I play a concert in front of an audience. So when I consider myself a team, not only one player plays but several. Who is playing? When I pay attention to all the inner voices, I realize that there are several players with different intentions in me.

A player wants to please the audience. Another one wants to be successful and hopes for next engagements through this concert. Another is a visionary and believes that music changes the world. And certainly there is still the one voice that would rather stay at home, because it is much more comfortable than sitting on a stage and playing piano with adrenaline.

For example, before a concert I can work with these voices or partial aspects of myself, because each aspect has something to contribute to the whole. If I devalue and suppress the comfortable part of myself because it does not fit into the concept, it can hinder me during the concert by disturbing my concentration. If I listen to him and develop his inclination, I may discover that he can guide me in giving a concert the atmosphere of “being at home”. This is his role. To neglect it would mean not being fully present at the concert. An important role would be missing. If the cosy part is allowed to play consciously, it might counteract a stiffness that often accompanies classical concerts. This part, consciously observed and developed, can transform me as a musician and give my concerts a very own, individual quality. This in turn may please the successful person in me, because my concert becomes something unmistakable. The visionary would certainly be happy about this, too, because at home she can show her visions completely unveiled. My concert will probably touch the audience, because I am a congruent musician and all my different parts are allowed to be present in the music.

Deep Democracy can change and transform concert forms, can transform myself and with me my surroundings and the world. Simply by letting all voices participate. It is the same with all forms of groups. Are all participants in it or are there those who are rejected and marginalized by the mainstream? What are they doing there? Their bad mood, their injuries will infect the field and significantly disrupt the identity of the group.  In the Deep Democracy group process, everyone is given the opportunity to express themselves and their role. Everyone is working to help the group become more whole, renewed, flowing and successful.

[1] Arnold Mindell : The Leader as Martial Artist an Introduction to Deep Democracy, Harper, San Francisco 1992

On the website www.deepdemocracyinstitute.org you will find further basics