Barry Heermann’s Deep Currents— Course looks deeply into work, self
- Published: April 24, 2014
Local author and consultant Barry Heermann has created just that with his Deep Currents TeleCourse. And this spring he is offering the course locally, free of charge, and in person.
Using English poet David Whyte’s book “Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity,” Deep Currents leans on reading, personal journaling and group discussions over eight sessions to help participants learn “who they are at work” and find meaning and direction in their lives, according to Heermann.
“People have lost touch with their deeper calling because there’s so much superficiality everywhere,” Heermann said. “As a culture we’ve lost our soul. There is so much focus on money and material things, so many people left with the question, ‘What is this all about?’”
Whyte, meanwhile, writes that a job is more than a way to bring home a paycheck, defining work on the book cover as “an opportunity for discovering and shaping the place where self meets the world.” Whyte argues that one of the great triumphs of life is to feel that our work is both right for ourselves and good for the world.
“To have a firm persuasion, to set out boldly in our work, is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consummation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task,” Whyte writes.
Those interested in joining a local self-facilitated course can contact Heermann at 937-767-0280 or [email protected] and visit deepcurrents.org. Groups will be formed and begin meeting in early May.
Heermann has been helping people find their passion and purpose as the creator and facilitator of the Deep Currents TeleCourse and telephone courses on his 2004 book “Noble Purpose: Igniting Extraordinary Passion for Life and Work.” In addition, Heermann, who has lived off and on in Yellow Springs since 1976 and now also lives part-time in California, is a team-building expert with decades of experience in organizational development. He is the author of “Building Team Spirit,” published by McGraw-Hill in 1997 and his team spirit program has been used by organizations such as AT&T, Volkswagen of America, General Motors and Lexis/Nexis.
“I do a lot of work with people wanting to enter into vulnerable conversations to discuss their purpose and meaning in life,” Heermann said of his work. “Purpose has an edge and it’s about where do I go from here?”
Courses such as Deep Currents have the power to change people’s lives from the inside out, and can be far more effective than a traditional book group, Heermann added.
“It’s one thing to read the book, and it’s another to respond to it deeply, respond to journaling questions, then come into small groups, and share,” Heermann said, adding that his personal gift in creating such courses is in crafting journaling questions.
Heermann has personally facilitated more than a dozen telephone courses on Whyte’s “Crossing the Unknown Sea” and finds Whyte’s poetic language a match for his Jungian psychology approach, in which the symbolism and metaphor can guide people to inner revelations. Heermann has witnessed the course’s lasting impact on participants who have gone on to find new work or re-discovered the joy in their current work situation, with the only limiting factor “how ready they are to go on the journey,” he said. Above all, Whyte advocates bringing an awareness and “presence” to life and work.
“Like a person in a relationship and marriage and like a vocation, you must constantly get to know yourself again and again in order to keep that interior conversation alive,” Whyte said in a 2009 presentation. “And this interior conversation has something to do with being utterly present in the inherited life and to refuse the abstracts of wanting a different life or someone else’s life.”
Whyte, a Yorkshire-born poet and a consultant for Fortune 500 companies, is best known for his poetry volumes and his 1996 book that introduced poetry into the business world — “The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America.”
Local resident Emily Seibel participated in a telephone version of the Deep Currents Course in 2012 that she said helped her become more confident in her work. The course also touched on themes beyond career choice, to encompass relationships and “how you articulate yourself at work,” Seibel said.
“Work can be a suitcase term — you can pack a lot into it — but this [course] is about looking within and exploring how we can powerfully and courageously engage through our work” Seibel said. “It’s not about being successful or working harder or having more. It’s about work as means of interacting, living authentically, doing right by ourselves and the world, and discovering a sense of belonging.”
The most valuable aspect of the course to Seibel was the group sharing, which is like “holding up a mirror” with others to find similarities in personal experiences and which helped her discover a lot about herself, she said. That’s why Seibel has volunteered to facilitate a local group.
To Heermann, the opportunity for a “beta test” of his new course in Yellow Springs came about as he endeavored to make his courses more accessible and reach more people. While professionally-facilitated courses can cost in the range of $300 to $400, he is creating a model of self-facilitated groups that can meet for only $65 per course and recently crafted a facilitator guide (which will be used by Yellow Springs facilitators) to achieve his goal. In Yellow Springs, the first course will be free. Whyte, Heermann says, is excited by the prospect of reaching more people and has approved all elements of the course.
“[Whyte] is always talking about fire starter conversations, what brings people to a heightened sense of presence and that’s exactly what the course does,” Heermann said.
Heermann is passionate about personal development and wants to help people locally and around the country and world “take the courageous step” in Whyte’s words. In the end, finding one’s life purpose is a worthy pursuit, as reflected in one of Heermann’s favorite Whyte quotes, in which Whyte asks:
“What would it be like to be the ancestor of your own future happiness? To be the saint that you pray to in thanks?”
For more information on the course, visit: http://deepcurrents.org.