What is Relational Alchemy?

A Relational Workshop

Relational Alchemy is a monthly evening workshop I lead in the SF Bay Area. The workshops are about 2 1/2 hours long, attracting everyone from veteran coaches and counselors to people who have a hard time looking someone in the eye. The intention of these nights is to give everyone the experience and practice of deepening intimacy with each other.

These nights include some embodiment, eye gazing, structured sharing, having one person share and the other listen, small group conversations, whole-group exercises, etc. There is a lot of talking in these events, but with an undertone of presence and even reverence, rather than surface conversations. There is also some embodiment work, and the initial exercises are usually silent exercises to build more connection before letting participants open their mouths.

Relational Alchemy emphasizes structure and practice over theory. The approach is “do this and notice what comes up for you” instead of “do this in order to see what I’m talking about.” I don’t decide which insights they will have that night, which gives them the freedom to grow at their own pace.


A Set of Principles

Relational Alchemy is also a set of principles and attitudes that invite more intimacy, profound interactions, and deeper relationships into your life. For this program, I have divided these teachings into 8 modules or ‘metaskills': Connection, Leadership, Vulnerability, Welcoming, Authenticity, Grokking, Crafting an Experience, and Fostering Community.

By ‘metaskill’ (a term from Processwork) I mean that I’m not so much teaching ‘how to connect’, but rather why connection is important, what experience feels and looks like, and what attitudes and beliefs lead to more connection or less connection.


An Evolution of Personal Growth

In the transformational world, there is a tremendous amount of emphasis placed on personal growth and taking responsibility for your experience. Relational Alchemy, with its emphasis on relating with other people, both supports that personal work (e.g. being able to see yourself through the eyes of others) and also builds on top of that work to create a new level of relational growth.

Within relational work, it becomes less about ‘you’ and ‘me’ and more about ‘we’. Instead of “you made me angry” it’s “I feel angry” or even “we feel angry.” The meaning of ‘responsibility’ shifts from what you did to what you can do. Instead of going into explanations and trying to control each other to avoid feeling uncomfortable, interactions are allowed to unfold. Avoidance and judgement gives way to curiosity and enjoyment.


For Your Audience

This is how I currently describe Relational Alchemy in my event copy:

Do you want more intimacy in your life? More community, more profound relationships, and more transformative interactions? Intimacy is a capacity that can be developed. There are some skills and structures that point the way, but it is more like exercising a muscle than learning a technical skill. These Relational Alchemy nights, which I have been leading for over two years, are like a gym, practicing connection, communication, vulnerability, curiosity, and authenticity in a way that is experiential rather than prescriptive.

‘Relational Alchemy’ is an evolution of personal growth into relational growth. We begin from a place of embracing and taking responsibility for our unique personal experience. That is the foundation of integrity. From those roots we reach out, with love and respect, to relate with each other’s experience–and that is where the magic happens! When we tell the truth, the truth changes.

There is no cookie-cutter mold for how you should be or what relating should look like. Everyone is a complete universe unto themselves, has a unique style, personality, and integrity that is perfectly *them*, and everyone is perfect and amazing as they are (including their belief that they aren’t.)

These nights involve a series of fun, social exercises that demonstrate and explore relational alchemy, getting to know yourself better while at the same time learning to see and appreciate more about everyone you connect with.

All this is within a lighthearted container which is safe for getting real, taking emotional risks, and personal growth. Everyone has an opportunity to profoundly see and be seen, where there is nothing to ‘get’ and judgements and distractions fade away.

Things to expect: laughter, relief, anxiety/excitement, reverence, love and connection, new friends, and new possibilities for how you engage the world