The Gentle Touch — The power of modern day Salons


A dear friend asked me this morning what the difference between a Salon, Webinar, Master Class, and Workshop is. And yes, we are not referring to the wild west, a reception room, an annual exhibition, or the kind we go to for pampering and grooming. :)

Conversations and gatherings of all kinds are natural to being human, In ‘Building Corporations as Communities’, Juanita Brown and David Isaacs remind us that conversation is the medium through which collective action emerged.

There is no shortage of conversational spaces in our interconnected world. Each having a purpose and place — without negating the value of any such spaces — not all of them foster trust, understanding, deep listening, and honest sharing and exchange of ideas, perspectives, insights, knowledge, and experiences. Some are quite destructive, harmful, and counter-intuitive.

Humanity has become consumers and gatherers of information and knowledge during the Age of Information and the Knowledge Economy. Much wisdom is hoarded, lost, and not applied or directed, as many conversational processes do not allow for continuity, or for wisdom to be harvested or synthesized. Likewise, not much time, nor processes are available for processing, internalizing, integration, or application of learning and discoveries.

A world in need of Wisdom

Wisdom, unlike knowledge, is not something that can be communicated or be taught. Many wise ones through the ages spoke about wisdom. Charles Garfield in Wisdom Circle reminds us that we all contain an enduring spark of the wisdom at the heart of creation. When unsupported or isolated, it is but a small spark. United with others, those sparks grow into a flame of illumination and strength for us all.

Mary Catherine Bateson believed that wisdom is born of the overlapping of lives, the resonance between stories. And that there are depths of unknowing when lives overlap and flow together.

The purpose is not to create or make something happen, but to allow the space for it to happen. Morton T Kelley

Creating the atmosphere and spaces in which wisdom shows itself, is quite a talent and gift. Salons are such prolific, catalyzing, and embryonic spaces. These timeless events combine old time wisdom and magic, with present moment awareness and insights, to explore and shape a desirable and meaningful future.


We, in modern society, even in our highly sophisticated and technological advanced world, have lost the pleasures and value of some of the most inspiring and meaningful gatherings of the past. Salons are not new to humanity. These assemblies or gatherings of people of social, literary, artistic, political or intellectual distinction between the 17th and 20th Century, were fertile soil for tender connections, creative’ thinking, idea expansion, experimentation, exploration of other perspectives, and applied wisdom. Interesting topics were discussed, pondered, and mused upon.

In such vibrant, cheerful, congenial, relaxed, elegant, stylish, stimulating, fertile, nourishing, catalyzing, fulfilling, purposeful, and meaningful environments we get the opportunity to step out of the bounds of binary logic and the mundane world for a while into a world of possibility! We are reminded of wonder and beauty, can enjoy the simple pleasures in life, and luxuriate in our element.

This ability to come together in lush tranquility and camaraderie, of being captivated in timeless eloquence, and being aligned to a greater purpose, is a fulfilment of our secret passions. In this realm hidden talents emerge, and our genius can freely explore possibilities, consider other perspectives, cross-pollinate ideas, and we are able expand our awareness, without excessive control that inhibits free flow of information, ideas, insights, and wisdom.

Something Kind

Without the fear of being ridiculed, judged, humiliated, or criticized, nor the need to justify, explain, validate, or defend our ideas and perspectives, we can connect deeply with others and engage in a spirit of openness, warmth, trust, appreciation, acknowledgement, inspiration, understanding, participation, acceptance, safety, fun, learning, innovation, and personal growth. We learn to listen in versus listen to. During the latter we listen to respond, to evaluate, and to understand, and thus take in very little of what is shared, and during the former we listen to receive and are able to perceive more.

It is in this state of receptivity that we are able to connect the dots, expand our perception, stimulate our mental capacities, feel with others, look beyond the surface, and sense into the collective wisdom arising during such gatherings and encounters. Instead of focusing on ‘to know’, which takes a lot of energy and attention, we enter the flow of ‘knowing’ and ‘to know with’, which transcends mental and psychological filters, prejudices, and limiting perspectives. A multisensory experience, our faculties are both nourished and stimulated.

How can we not tap into this wealth available to us beyond roles, functions, stereotypes, position, status, and subject matter?

Something Trusting

Everyone’s experience and perspective matters and is valid. It is a powerful way to use the energy of relaxation, community, and geniality to consciously converse and explore themes that can shift and shape experience and reality. The interactive, flowing, and organic ability to explore themes from a variety of vantage points and perspectives, co-create new context, and apply meaning, is both fulfilling, inspiring, and exhilarating.

A Salon is great way to gently introduce new approaches, processes, and strategies. Participants get the opportunity to explore these in a relaxed, calm, and dignified manner. Imposed change from the outside in is hardly ever successful or sustainable.

Encouraging honest and clear communication, the Salon instills speaking up from the heart with impeccability and authenticity, and from direct experience without judgement, projection, superiority, shame, guilt, or blame. The light- hearted, relaxed, non-invasive, and graceful process inspires wholehearted participation and genuine feedback. It transforms give-to-get mindsets and behaviors to those of share and receive.

Trust begets trust. Fear of not being, knowing, doing, or saying enough dissipates when we are able to freely share. Deeper trust and respect is cultivated when there are no hidden agendas, prejudices, preconceived ideas, or any expected outcome required. This does not mean that the event is not intentional, or meaningful. The natural outflow is not limited by a specific result and hence much more valuable.

The need to be seen, heard, and understood can no longer be ignored. In the event of being indifferent or rigid relating to these inherent human needs, we encourage mental and emotional health issues. Salons create the perfect nourishing and creative environment to coalesce these individual needs and that of the group-, community-, team-, or organizational needs.

Transcending generational, relational, positional, and cultural gaps, Salons can be used in any environment, or context. It creates a natural bridge between hybrid in-person and virtual events.

Something Invaluable

Coming together in such an elegant, relaxing, informal, flowing, and stimulating way has numerous benefits. It feels good to be with others. Salons enable us to:

· Instill a Sense of Belonging

· Connect at a Deeper Level

· Orchestrate Coherence

· Create Trust and Confidence

· Cultivate a Sense of Stability

· Activate Deep Listening Skills

· Improve Mental Health

· Support Emotional Wellbeing

· Engage Fluid Thinking

· Stimulate Mental Acuity

· Strengthen Physical Agility

· Expand Perception with Awareness

· Catalyze Meaning and Purpose

· Inspire Passion and Spontaneity

· Integrate and Direct Learning

· Encourage Authenticity and Courage

· Reenergize and Rejuvenate all involved

· Take a Break and relax our rigid Routines

· Invite in Fresh Approaches

· Respect and Embrace Diversity

· Foster and Inspire Inclusion

· Nourish hidden Talents and tender Viewpoints, and

· Bring Beauty, Fun and Joy back into our Environments

Something unconventional and different

Other conversational processes can also provide the benefits mentioned above, yet with much more deliberate effort, action, attention, resources, and energy.

The reason being is that Salons are not:

· Controlled conversational environments

· One-sided agendas put forth for discussion with specific outcomes and expectations in mind

· One way communication

· One way communication with ability to share in the chat or ask questions during a formal Q & A section

· A gathering/meeting/workshop with an expected outcome or experience in mind

· Mostly one way communication, during which an individual or a group of people share information, insights, or knowledge relating to a specific topic, subject matter, or initiative, as in a masterclass, webinar, or forum,, with the ability to ask questions during a Q & A and to respond in the chat.

· An interactive experience, such as a workshop, during which a facilitator guides participants to explore and discuss a topic, theme, subject matter, or phenomena, in a predetermined, structured way.

· A lecture or training event during which a teacher, subject matter expert, or scholar imparts knowledge and wisdom.

· A talk during which a speaker, teacher, subject matter expert, share knowledge, inspiration, and wisdom with an audience, nor

· A logical, linear, thinking-based engagement such as a think-tank, debate, dialogue, indaba, consultation, deliberation, negotiations, or conference

Modern day Salons happen in both informal and formal ways. We have found that informal gatherings deem to be more impactful and flowing in nature. Fluid thinking is a much needed ability in a world where we can easily get distracted, or bombarded with an overload of information. Salons graciously provide the environment during which wisdom organically unfolds and multisensory, multi-directional, and coherent communication flows and blossoms, resulting in subsequent synchronized, aligned, coherent, and generative communication action and interaction. Impact is felt, recognized, appreciated, and experienced.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Processes and tools are in place to synthesize and assimilate wisdom arising through the process, to track the flow and dissemination of wisdom unfolding after the events, and to strengthen relationships and connections initiated during events for radical expansion, extended discovery, and continuity of exploration of themes.

Homeplay is fun and enables participants to prepare before Salons and to digest, process, integrate, and direct discoveries and learning in a meaningful and purposeful way after the events.

Sense of Humor

Wisdom has a way to sneak up on us when we least expect it…If only we are open, receptive, and available when it gently wants to land in our awareness.

Carl Sagan, Astronomer, believed that somewhere, something is waiting to be known. We say somewhere, something incredible is always ready to be known to us and through us! And Salons are the perfect spaces for such adventures and serendipitous events to surprise and delight us!

A Flow Salon harnesses the power of peak experiences, flow states, and multisensory explorations. We live in such a harsh world, a gentle touch goes a long way.

Whatever is for the highest good, I am open to the experience. Australian Aborigine Proverb



Hannelie Sensemaker Wor(l)dPainter Venucia

Hannelie loves to bring joy and to create and share enriching and expansive experiences and perspectives that remind us of our greatness, potential and genius.