The TAE process
Initially, you will come to Thinking at the Edge with something that you would like to explore. It might be a creative project that you have set aside, an aspect of your work or life that you would like to explore, maybe an impulse to do something new in life, based on your lived experience. You could work on something that stresses you, or something that delights you. During the TAE process, your idea of what you are working on will inevitably evolve. But at first, it is good to come into the course with an idea of a “project”.
Allow a felt sense to form: Thinking at the Edge starts with going to the “edge” of what you already know and paying attention to your bodily felt sense of your project.
Find the crux: Allow your felt sense to show you what is the most essential part of it, and write freely: You will start writing what you do know about it, even though you can’t say all of it yet.
Notice what seems illogical or paradoxical: There might be something about your idea that seems impossible, paradoxical, impractical, crazy, etc. This can be the most valuable part, because it is something that is not readily understood in society, something that could create meaningful change.
Find relevant examples in your own experience: In order for you to have this “knowing”, there must have been times in your life when you experienced something that has to do with it. It could be something that you experienced as a child, as an adolescent, or as an adult. It could be something that has caused you to suffer or something that gives you great joy (or both!). You will explore moments of your own experience (“instances”) that somehow have to do with your felt sense, and “extract” the knowledge inherent in these experiences. In Thinking at the Edge, this is called “finding patterns in instances”. “Patterns” does not refer to things that happen over and over. It refers to the pattern created by each experience. Each of the experiences that are relevant to your felt sense will have a slightly different pattern. The differences in each pattern give you vital information about what you know.
“Crossing” patterns and experiences: You sense into one pattern through the lens of another. This “crossing” of two felt senses has the effect of deepening the felt sense and bringing clarity, often giving you the ability to express your ideas in more detail, or in a new way.
Working with words: Again you’ll attempt to express your felt sense in words, drawings, etc., making sure that your words and images express what you really want to say, without being taken over by “public” meanings. Working with words is often the first part of the TAE process. But it is better to wait until you are able to walk around in the landscape of your lived experience. Familiarity with that inner landscape allows your words come from a broader and deeper felt sense.
Select the words or phrases that are especially meaningful: As we come to the end of the process, you’ll have a rich new vocabulary of words and images that come from your experience. You will select your “terms”: several words or phrases that are full of meaning for you. “Crossing” these terms brings further depth and clarity, making it possible to express your ideas as new concepts.
Your “talisman sentence”: You’ll end up with a short sentence that encapsulates what you have discovered. In fact, the process will have already changed your way of being in the world. But you’ll have your talisman sentence to remind you and give you strength as you meet the challenges of implementing your new ideas.